It's Gobbals vs Wabits in Ankama's Brothers
Everything you need for a puzzling good time with a hint of Tetris!
BY PAUL GIFFNEY
A simple shapes-as-points game that is well made and suitable for all ages
The parcel arrived from Coaching for Geeks. My first game to review. I opened the parcel and yes, there is a box. A sturdy, solid, colourful box that beckoned to be opened, drawing me in with bright cartoon imagery.
So, I opened it.
What's in the box?
Facing me was the very thin rule booklet (8 pages of a just shy of A5 format) and a stack of thick carded playing pieces. So often the box promises and the pieces fail to deliver. Not this time though. The thickness and smoothness of the tile pieces being easily pressed out made me a very happy gamer. But focus, read the rules first…
Well, not yet. I smiled at the artwork. Two playful-fighting brothers who are fantasy-style farmers greeted me both on the box and on the rule book. They reminded me of the fun game Crash Bandicoot that had the lively characters to bounce and run with. So let’s bounce!
The rules of Brothers
Rule book: Introduced players simply and quickly to the story, the pieces and then the set-up of game. Then the gameplay. Very simple, not my usual cup of tea. (Hesitant but not played yet so give it a chance Paul!) Arrange your pieces on board and score for the pieces left over. Same shape pieces (3 squares in either a straight line or L shape) are yours to fit on a taken-in-turn game-play-area akin to Carcassonne in tile laying but more Tetris-influenced as can be any shape defined only by simple edge to edge ruling.
We played one round. Over in two minutes. Oh. We both looked at each other. Keep going…
“Then switch so the other player has the other pieces. Re-lay the meadow (base map) for the pieces…” Aha, now the game is understood more and... Yes, I won. #sorrynotsorry to husband!
Getting tactical with Brothers
The remainder of unplayed pieces score against you in each round. L pieces score 2 whereas the straight 3s score 1. The winner is the person with fewest points.
Tactic: Realise the limit of both your piece and opponents – block them quickly whilst ensuring you have game space for your own.
A good dynamic and one that can easily be grasped by game-playing children and tired, drunken older children (you know who you are!)
Then, as typical we tried to ‘break the game’ and couldn’t. It's set up so there will always be at least one piece left over, not all pieces can be laid and therefore someone will lose. There is a possibility of stalemates but the rules cover that too. Therefore someone will win each time. It’s all good.
This is a simple game definitely for any age - it suggests 8+ but younger could grasp it and the pieces are robust enough for younger: clever 5 year olds and upwards, and the strategy is there enough to amuse for a few minutes. It suggests 15 minutes. We played this in 5 minutes for both rounds.
Satisfied? Yes. We have played Blokus and this felt like a very kid-friendly version of those ideas whilst also maintaining a degree of challenge and annoyance with your opponent blocking you off an area. Would I play it again? Yes but would I return to it again quickly? This is where I struggle as it seems to be a good break-filler, warm-up for longer game but not a game you’d ‘choose’ to directly play.
A simple game that is well made and suitable for all ages. Very well constructed, box perfect sized for pieces and very clear rules and diagrams make this a very good game for those with children or those who like quick games.
A simple shapes-as-points game that is well made and suitable for all ages. Very well constructed, box perfect sized for pieces and very clear rules and diagrams make this a very good game for those with children or those who like quick games. If you have Blokus, I’d stick with that though as there is more challenge there. But for a fun little game it achieves its goal of entertaining.
The Good Stuff:
- Low cost and simple to understand
- High quality components and artwork
- Excellent introduction to abstract strategy games
The Bad Stuff:
- Overly simple for experienced gamers
- Only really plays well for 2 players
- Lacks originality and replayability
Review by Paul Giffney