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The Meeple Guild - Otrio: looks good, plays easy

Game offers ability to play with four players

YORKTON - You are probably wondering – unless you are a rather avid board game player – what a ‘meeple’ is.

Well it’s one of those created words of our world, meaning a small figure used as a playing piece in certain board games, having a stylized human form.

It just seemed like a good word to use for our little group as reviewing games evolved over the years – we’ve been at it for more than a decade – or more than 500 games – since it is produced weekly.

The guild is a loosely connected group of game players who recognized we might have to grow older but we could still be young in our hobbies.

The result is a couple of game rooms filled with board games – we never seem to sell any – role playing games, and literally boxes of dice and hundreds of gaming miniatures.

In  the weeks ahead we’ll share our thoughts on some new games, some old favourites, touch base with game designers and champion players around the world, and hopefully inspire readers to rise up from their televisions, put their cellphones on mute and play some board games with friends.

Certain gamers are attracted to certain types of games like moths to a flame as they say. 

My grandmother loved trick taking card games. 

Guild member Adam gravitates to miniature skirmish games, his pile of rulesets getting ever higher, the miniatures waiting on his painting table become an ever growing legion of fighters, mages and thieves. 

See a game in the Tiny Epic series, Trevor has it in his pile, or has it pre-ordered, or is actively looking for a copy. 

Me, as readers will know, gravitates to abstract strategy games, preferring to lose because I failed on my own accord rather than simply because the roll of dice failed me. 

So a few years back I spied Otrio on the shelves of a bookstore in Regina. It is an abstract strategy game roughly based off tic-tac-toe, and has a wooden board, which is another lure that grabs me. 

But, in the end the game stayed on the store shelf. When heading to Regina there is a budget of ‘mad money’ to spend, and that means balancing a desire for a game with a desire for a new Sherlock Holmes novel, or maybe a graphic novel, and on that trip books won out. 

Then one day a couple of years later Otrio was on a local thrift store shelf, so of course it could not be passed up. 

The game is visually quite nice, although somewhat mixed. There is the aforementioned wooden board, but the pieces are plastic, in a sort of pastel hues. 

The game accommodates two, three or four players, although like a lot of abstract strategy games it doesn’t seem as workable at three-players. 

As a four player game it is interesting as most abstract strategy games do not allow for that, although there are a few gems which do; Blokus, Through the Desert, Battle Sheep, Photosynthesis and Eko being among the best. 

Otrio doesn’t achieve the level to be among the best, but it is unlikely that was ever the expectation for the game. 

Played on a three-by-three grid, players place one of their nine pieces, a large, medium and small circle. In the process you are trying to achieve three-in-a-row of the same size pieces, or in ascending order, or the three pieces in a single space. 

With four players planning ahead is impossible, as in most games, so moves need to be reactive. 

Two players each get two colours – the colours would be an issue for the colourblind -- which makes keeping your plan in focus a bit challenging as it is somewhat a split attack. 

The game is nice, and it’s quick, but a better value from a thrift store than it would have been at full price. 


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