A cube appeared in the meadow behind our village. No one knows where it comes from or what’s inside, but everyone wants it for themselves. It has a lot of holes on each side and the locals believe that it would stand out well in the garden if it is grown by a nice shrub. Maybe sumac. But he won’t give it to me. What if all those holes and symmetry make sense?
The cube looks mysterious, but in reality it is completely ordinary. She probably dropped out to one of the players who wanted fun in the board game Ctrl. The game was created by Julio E. Nazario and was released under the banner of Pandasaurus Games in 2020. However, it is spreading across Europe thanks to Esdevium Games.
It is a smaller box, but it is still large enough to fit a lot of plastic cubes. And also one black cube with holes, just like in the title story. On the lid, players see a series of colored squares. Each participant in the game chooses one color and gets all 22 dice and one big elongated plastic flag. The individual participants then each attach their dice to the starting position of the common black cube. This is a hole that is middle in the bottom row. It is to this cube that players attach their flags.
Players take turns in the game and get a chance to connect three dice. But first they have to detach their flag so that they have complete freedom. However, they will be blocked by the flags of the opponents and also the table, because the cube can be turned, but never lifted from the table.
The active builder then chooses a place to attach his first cube to the area of his color. He also has absolute freedom with the first piece, but then he chooses the direction and with the next two dice he must continue the row to this side. However, it will surround the cube with its stones and any already connected cubes. This way the stones overlap each other and only the top ones are visible on each side.
Then just attach your flag, anywhere. He must keep in mind that this long stick has the power to block opponents who can not cross it. The only other real wall is a mat or table top. If a player chooses a direction that cannot be followed precisely because of these blocks, he must not choose a direction.
Players connect one die after another until they run out of supplies. At that point, it’s time to score, during which players must look at each side of the dice and count the colored dots that are visible when viewed directly. And the one who has the most dice that remain visible in the sum becomes the winner.
Ctrl is an interesting spatial abstract game in which opponents try to cover the cubes of others so that they are not visible. It’s not about being continuous. The connection is always important only in the turn, when the player must connect and continue in a straight line. But then each cube has its clear value and they are all equal.
The idea is really funny. Spatially encircling the plastic cube with more and more stones increases it, and a larger circumference means that the player does not cover as much space in one turn. Gradually, the tactics develop, but at the same time also increases the number of dice, and thus the potential starting positions against the beginning, when he has only one.
Most importantly, the rules allow players to see ahead and plan moves so that the whole construction really takes place according to their ideas. This is crucial for this type of game, because abstract entertainment is expected to be completely under control. It is clear that the opponents influence each other, but even this positional struggle belongs to everything.
The game is excellent in two, despite the fact that you have to learn how to make special rules. Everyone will take control of two colors. But that’s where putting the dice back and forth is the most tactic. In more players, more uncontrolled situations enter the game as the dice changes too much. The game news, which only slightly exceeds fifteen minutes, is also positive news.
Unfortunately, where the gameplay is promising, the overall impression spoils the processing. The pieces tend to fall out and not stick together. And it is in such a game, where the whole mechanism is based on their distribution, the absolute K.O. criterion.
You could buy Ctrl with promise and a hint of an idea with gusto. But if you learn that when handling the cube, the whole building tends to fall apart or, at best, become unstable, so you will hardly want to ruin your day. And this could be a great abstract game, but this way, Ctrl is only average.
Ctrl will give us hope and a taste for abstract entertainment, in order to spoil it with unnecessary technical problems. At the same time, overlapping the colors of the cubes in three-dimensional space has a chance to be really interesting, while still maintaining the playing time and fun. The tactical options for this innovation fit perfectly, but when the cube falls apart, the fun you might have with Ctrl also falls apart.