Posted by: gschloesser | August 11, 2011

Solomon’s Stones

Design by:  Paul Edels
Published by:  Solbenk
2 Players, 10 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

I recently receive two abstract strategy games designed by Paul Edels, and published by Solbenk.  I thoroughly enjoyed Saikoro, finding it intriguing as a nice tactical maneuver game.  Sadly, I cannot give the same praise to his other design, Solomon’s Stones, which I find to be very basic and simply not much fun to play. 

The game is played on a plastic board whereupon 28 hematite gemstones are placed into an isosceles triangular grid.  Players will alternate removing stones – singly and in groups – attempting to force their opponent into removing the final stone. 

It warrants mentioning that the components are very nice.  The stones are actual hematite, and the board is constructed of sturdy plastic that has a depression wherein the stones are placed as they are removed from the board.  It is a quality production that is, sadly, not matched by the game play.

Each turn, a player may remove one or more stones from the grid.  If he opts to remove more than one stone, they must remove them from one row or column.  These stones do not need to be adjacent, so players do have numerous options.  Play continues until one player is forced to remove the final stone, giving victory to his opponent. 

That is all the rules.  The game is exceedingly simple to teach and learn, and can be played in five-to-ten minutes.  The game is one of tactics more than long-term strategies, especially in the early stages of the game.  As more-and-more stones are removed, then players can begin attempting more maneuvers to trap their opponent and limit their options.  Usually, the winner will become clear when there are still several stones remaining on the board.  

Perhaps there are deeper strategies, but if so, they are eluding me.  What’s more, if they are, indeed, present, I really don’t have a desire to find them, as I find the game dull and unexciting.  There really is little, if any, tension generated during play, and there is not much of a sense of accomplishment when victory is achieved.   The game works, but it simply is not exciting or terribly strategic in nature.  When measured against other two-player abstracts, there are far better games to choose.

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