It’s a labyrinth, like any else. That’s what I said, when I stood at the beginning. I could feel only cold walls and see no further because of the dim light. All four of our team were waiting for a signal. Suddenly, a loud noise howled around. We looked at each other. Is that it? We can definitely heared footsteps. We must start to run! Just a few seconds later, I peripherally saw a glimpse of a figure dressed in white climbing some wall. Our target is still not in sight. We must hurry, otherwise we will stay here forever!
One such vicious labyrinth awaits us in small abstract game Less, with subtitle Like Chess but Less. Its author is Aleksandr Starovojtov from Slovenia. His thoughtful work was published under the auspices Invented4 (Inventedfor.com), but the release was mainly made possible thanks to supporters from around the world. They have gathered almost fifty thousand dollars (ten times more, than author demanded to fund the project). There were a total of 1730 supporters, which is an impressive number for such a small project from Europe.
Game to each candidate arrives in a small box, which is white and covered in different rectangular shapes. Soon, we will learn, that these are the walls, that have make it difficult for players to move around the maze. This information will be discovered together with rulebook and especially twelve square cardboard tiles. Each contains four boxes. Besides the pile of plates are also eight wooden figures – four dark and four bright, all made of wood.
At the beginning of game, players draw random nine tiles and connect them together to create (square) gaming area measuring six by six fields. In this activity, you will notice something, you probably would not expect. All pads have recipe for a drink on the other side and they are actually coasters! Will there be a reason to use them in this manner or will you have enough fun?
Starting whistle will be heard, once players put their pieces in opposite corners in a square formation. From that moment, race is on. Rivals will alternate in turns, moving their pawns in an attempt to get to the opposite side (where are currently standing opponent’s pieces) and do this as quickly as possible.
Each opponent has three movement points to spend. Using one, stone can be moved to a neighboring position, but also to jump over any adjacent one stone to move forward faster. Pawns can also overcome the walls, but players will need to spend two movement points to emerge on the other side. Sideward movement is prohibited.
Once one of the players takes on the position of the four fields in the far corner, he becomes winner of the round and get as many points as rival is lacking to complete his goal. Thus, it is possible to play several games in a row and level up the advantage of starting player, which always one of the participants must have. Winner is the player, who achieves higher points gain after hitting a designated (ideally an even) number of laps.
Less is an abstract game, which will not want much from you. Of course, you can think about each move for several minutes, but the game is best played by guts or at least to a certain time limit for each round.
In its essence, it’s all quite simple. It’s all about movement. Just like in Chess, to which the game is compared in its subtitle (Like Chess, but Less). But any planning can go in vain, when the opponent is positionally better or does know how to take advantage of his starting player turn. Four figurines guarantee, that player has plenty of options to move each turn.
Because the game plan is always drawn at random (nine out of a total of twelve tiles is used), each game is completely different. Some player may have less walls on his side and better start, but he will have to grapple with opponent’s walls on his way too, so its assymetric. Everything is absolutely fair and the best way to win is to use jumping over the stones. Thus, it is possible to overcome two fields in one action point. Other times, it is better to climb it over, than to run around.
In addition to fights in two, this little box can surprise. It can be played in the four, but you need to own two games to do that. Square with sides of length four cards requires sixteen tiles. Then, players can await chaos as all four opponents trying to achieve the opposite side as quickly as possible. This option will be liked mostly by players, who do not like to think too much, but prefer chaos. It is virtually impossible to plan ahead, but the game is very interesting.
With two players, we have a classic abstract marathon in front of us, in which two adversaries weld their brains. Players must plan their track well, think ahead and try to use the positions of their pieces. The game is fast and completed within fifteen minutes. Thanks to a small box, Less can be taken with you on the road.
Less will not disappoint in processing. Cardboard tiles fulfills their function to perfection and wooden stones look on it all very nicely. Pleasing graphic on the back is really just such a bonus. Less is definitely not so little (= less) as it might seem. And above all, it is a truly unique entertainment in four players.
Less is such a small game, that does not try to somehow impress. Basic version for two players did not fail, because is pleasant but not exceptional logical entertainment. Four player game changes everything, being a crazy stampede and quest for the best position. Due to sufficient supply of tiles, game is variable, but still only for two. To play in four, you need two boxes, which is a pretty big disappointment. In addition, game players can think longer and make the game stretch. Overall, we liked Less and it entertained us very well.