Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Ingenious’ Continues To Be Renewed, And For Good Reason

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Ingenious is a hexagonal tile game of making lines of the same color or shape to score points. But the focus might be on each and every shape as the lowest scoring color/shape will be your final score. The game was originally published in 2004. There has been many version of the game due to its success. Recently KOSMOS has kept the rights for the game and has came out with the 2023 version of the game. It plays in 30-45 minutes. It can be played with 1-4 players, and is recommended for players age 8 and up. It’s an abstract strategy game using patterns and tile placement to score points. KOSMOS has published many games that we have been able to check out: Dragonkeepers, Lord of the Rings: Adventure to Mount Doom, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Ingenious box art

What’s In The Box?

  • 120 Tiles
  • 1 Fabric Bag
  • 4 Tile Racks
  • 24 Score Pegs
  • 4 Score Boards
  • 1 Gameboard
  • 6 Duel Game Tokens

How’s It Play?

Players take turns placing tiles to align similar shapes together to score points. To start you will all play out on a board, and will use certain colored hexagons to place your tiles depending on the number of players in the game. Each player will have 6 tiles to start and at the end of their turn will randomly draw a new tile from the bag to get back to 6 tiles on their rack. 

Ingenious components on the table

When placing tiles, the first round you will need to place a tile near one of the 6 starting shapes. After the first round, you can place your tile on any two empty space on the game board. But to score points, you will want to match adjacent colored symbols with matching symbols on your tile you are placing. After placing a tile you will score for each direction of both symbols on your tile. 

You will count how many similar shapes match your tile’s shape in each direction until there is a shape that doesn’t match it. So you will continue in each direction in a straight line until there is a break. So really, you could score in 5 different directions, as the tile can’t be scored from the other shape on the same tile. Then, you will score the same way for the other shape on the tile. 

When scoring points, you will move your peg of the matching shape up on its track. There can be some confusion on exactly what scores, but know you never score the shapes on your tile, just the tiles adjacent in each 5 directions in a straight line. Whenever one of the pegs hits the end, which would be the number 18 mark, you will gain a bonus placement. This allows you to play another tile before refilling your hand of tiles. 

Ingenious placing a tile

At the end of your turn you will refill back to 6 tiles, and the next player will go by placing a tile and scoring it. Also, after scoring a tile, and before replenishing tiles, if you don’t have a tile in your hand that matches the symbol of your lowest peg, you can exchange your tiles to gain all new tiles. 

The game ends when the game board is full and no other tiles can be placed on it. Scoring is done, and is pretty straight forward and simple. Each player will have a score of the lowest peg on their player board. The player with the highest score of their lowest peg, wins the game. In the event of a tie, you will score the next lowest scoring peg. If someone is able to get all 6 pegs to 18, they automatically win the game. 

You can also play the game using different variants. You can play solo, a team game for 4 players, or a duel for 2 players.

Ingenious placing tiles near similar shapes and colors

The Verdict

There is a lot for people to like about Ingenious. It’s a Reiner Knizia design, so it will make sense that all your hard work when playing the game is defined by your lowest scoring peg. Which just means players should understand that the objective is not just get the most points total for each shape, but rather to focus on all shapes, making sure you score points for each. Someone can appear to be making lots of points, but if they are at 18 on all shapes except one, which is low, and another player played the game so that they slowly raised each, maybe even skipping opportunities to score way more points for some shapes, then this second player would win.

That’s exactly what I most like about Ingenious, it’s not based off of total points, but rather the area you did the worst in. The turns are quick to play, the rules are easy to understand. You will bend your brain a little bit when trying to figure out the best ways to score points with both shapes on your tile. Sometimes you have to create opportunities yourself, while other times they might present themselves to you.

Ingenious player score board

I know there are other version of Ingenious, as it has been pretty successful. I’m not sure how the other versions were presented, but this version has nice plastic 2×1 hexagon tiles, and each player has a tile rack to place their 6 tiles on to view their options each turn. It’s a great concept for a game, and when playing you will see ways to score points that you didn’t even anticipate. Ingenious is more a game I’d play with my kids and family, than taking it to play with the game group. It would also be an excellent selection for those who don’t play a lot of board games as the rules are simple to understand, playing the game isn’t hard to do, but there is still those strategic choices within the game.

Images via Kosmos

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