Posted by: gschloesser | August 12, 2011

Triangular

Designer:  Klaus Schröer
Publisher:  Ekos / Temple Games
2 Players, 10 – 15 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

Occasionally I read the rules to a new game and think, “Is that it?”  The image of the game-play conjured from the rules-reading is not that enticing, and I begin expecting a rather dull, unexciting experience.  Sometimes my fears are confirmed, while at other times they are pleasantly dispelled.

I had just such an experience with Triangular, released by Ekos and Temple Games.  Designed by Klaus Schröer under the Brain Art label, the attractively-packaged game features handfuls of cardboard triangles as its ONLY components.  Abstract is in full-bloom here!  The rules were just as Spartan, filling about one-third of a small page.  In spite of their brevity, however, the English version of the rules was confusing, mainly due to the poor translation from the original German.  Fortunately, the poor translation did not render the game undecipherable.

Game-play could not be simpler.  Each player receives triangles of a color (yellow or gray), and the lone red triangle is placed onto the table.  Players alternate placing triangles to the table following one simple rule:  a newly placed triangle must touch a previously placed triangle along one edge.  That is it.

The goal is to form isosceles triangles with your pieces at the corners.  The triangle can be of any size, and can contain pieces of either color, as long as your pieces are at the corners.  When a placed piece forms this geometric design, the player receives points equal to the length of one side of the triangle.  So, if a triangle has a side consisting of four pieces, the player scores four points.

Multiple triangles can be formed with one placement, but only if the triangles facing in different directions.  If multiple triangles are formed in the SAME direction, only the largest is scored.  This rule is difficult to understand until one actually sees it occur during the course of a game.

Another insidious rule is that if a player forms a triangle with his pieces at two corners and the red piece at the other, he wins instantly.  Game, set, match.  This can suddenly and drastically reverse one’s fortunes, and snatch victory from the proverbial jaws of defeat.  Players must constantly exercise vigilance to insure their opponent does not accomplish this feat, while at the same time seeking the opportunity to complete this dastardly deed.

Scores are tallied on a handy chart on the back of the rules.  The game ends when all pieces are placed, and the player with the most points is victorious.  Generally, a full game takes 10 – 15 minutes to play, but can end abruptly by using that red piece!

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Well, it isn’t.  It is actually quite challenging.  The board can develop in a free-form manner, and it becomes difficult – at least for me – to spot where potential triangles can be formed.  I far-too-often overlook scoring opportunities for my opponent, allowing them to smugly place a piece and score points.  Likewise, I often fail to spot beneficial scoring opportunities.  Worse, I will often work to quietly develop a potential triangle, only to sullenly watch as my opponent places a piece to block my efforts.  Arrggh!

The manner in which the triangle pieces fit together can cause a seemingly infinite number of patters to develop.  Attempting to decipher the various triangle possibilities from the myriad of shapes and intersecting lines causes my brain to revolt in protest.  I have to struggle with it, insisting that if I just concentrate a little more, I will be able to spot a great move or pattern.  Usually my brain does not believe me!  This warfare with my opponent and my own brain is sometimes frustrating, but always challenging and intriguing.

Triangular is addicting.  It is one of those games that immediately upon completion, you demand to play again.  You always feel that you can do better the next time.  The time investment is short, so there is little disincentive to not play it again and again in succession.  That is most certainly the mark of a good game, and one that I am pleased to have in my collection.  Now, I just have to get those triangle shapes out of my head when I am trying to sleep at night!

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