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The Meeple Guild: Manoeuvre through the fenced maze to win at Quoridor

It plays quick, looks great and should be on the great, great grandchild’s table
Trevor Lysons makes a move on the beautiful Quorido board.

EDITOR's NOTE: The Meeple Guild is providing additional reviews over this holiday week, so check back daily for new game reviews.

YORKTON - One of the things that sets many abstract strategy games apart is that they are heirloom in nature.

Quoridor, from publisher Gigamic is most certainly heirloom quality being made almost completely of wood – pieces and board.

The game is one of several by Gigamic – Quarto, Quantik, Qawale among them – which beg to be on the office desk, game room table, or coffee table just because they look awesome.

In the case of Quoridor, a 1997 design by Mirko Marchesi, the game is rather fun too, and it has been well-received.

In 1997 it was a Mensa Select winner and in 1998 a Games Magazine Game of the Year winner.

The object of the game is to advance your pawn to the opposite edge of the board which is pretty straight forward.

On a player’s turn you may either move your pawn or place a wall – in a two-player game you have 10 walls.

The walls hinder piece movement but you can’t completely block a piece from crossing the board.

Now the idea of placing walls to limit the movement of pieces is not new or unique.

Designer Philip Slater used it in the 1975 released Blockade which is quite like Quoridor but of course has that 70’s plastic production, and is difficult to find outside of thrift stores – but worth grabbing if you see one.

Then in 1999 Rich Gowell released Entrapment, which certainly shares lineage with Quoridor. Entrapment is a deeper, better game, in my mind but is seemingly out-of-production – so glad I have a copy.

So, Quoridor remains the most accessible of the three and since Gigamic is the publisher you know you are getting a quality-made game.

As a two-player game Quoridor can bog down a bit into a wall building phase creating long corridors for am opponent to traverse, and then a boring race move-by-move to see gets through the maze quicker, the only wrinkle being if a player holds a wall for late game placement. It’s OK as two-player for its tactile and quick player, but far from greatness.

Now one thing Quoridor does that is a bonus is allow four-player games – each having five walls and crossing the board in two directions.

Typically abstract strategy games don’t scale past two players very well. There is a tendency for players to gang up on whoever is deemed the greatest threat early on, and that skews things away from being fun – at least for the victim, and that still exists here.

But the reality is that if a player pulls ahead in incumbent on the other players to block that early success – it’s defence – if they hope to mount a come-from-behind win.

In Quoridor each player is striving to get somewhere different, and since you must balance wall placement with piece movement it feels like it sort of plays fairer for four – but the early leader will disagree -- and that is a good bonus for a game essentially a head-to-head affair for two.

Ultimately abstract strategy games falter a step or two when trying to accommodate more than two. Here the early leader will get stomped, and it might well come down to ‘the weakest link’ acting as king maker with a later wall placement allowing one of the middling pair to win.

It plays a bit like a microcosm of some regional civil war I suppose.

So folks Quoridor is not top shelf like Hive or Yinsh or Arimaa, but it is interesting. It plays quick, looks great and should be on the great, great grandchild’s table 100 years from now which all combine to make it one worth consideration understanding it is a ‘middling-style’ abstract strategy game.