AOX Board Game Preview

AOX is an abstract strategy game for two players. It is being created by Half Wing Games, the makers of Package and Schism. The main aim of AOX is to capture three of your opponents tiles. Or move one of your triangle tiles onto a highlighted square in your opponents end of the board.

Trust me this is not as easy as you think. Imagine the love child of Chess, Noughts and Crosses (tic-tac-toe) and Draughts (checkers). Each turn your possible moves are restricted to tiles drawn or swapped. You will need patience to play this game well.

What do I get?

AOX comes in a very portable drawstring bag and is designed to be easily carried in a pocket or a bag.

  • One, four piece interlocking game board.
  • 12 Player tiles (6 per player).
  • 18 Move tokens (9 per player).
  • Two drawstring bags.
  • One Initiative coin.

The pre-production copy I received for review also contained the Square, Spiral, Star Expansion which consisted of:

  • Six Square/triangle move tokens (three per player).
  • Two Square player tiles (One each).
  • Two Spiral player tiles (One each).
  • Two Star player tiles (One each).

More on this later.

Playing AOX

You begin a game of AOX by placing your tiles on your end of the board. You need to play one of your triangle tiles last into a highlighted square. Players place their move tokens into their respective bags and draw three. This will set out the possible move each player can make. Their are three distinct options:

  • 3 - Different symbols allows you to move one tile.
  • 2 - The same (one different) allows you to move two tiles once i.e. X,X,O would allow you to move one X tile and one O tile.
  • 3 - The same lets you move the two matching tiles once each.

OR

  • One tile twice

OR

  • Place one of your captured pieces back onto the board in one of your highlighted spaces.

There is a little wrinkle that really starts to ramp up the strategic part of the game. The player who is designated first player has a choice of two options before they move.

1) Keep the move tokens they have drawn. Take the first move and pass first player token to opponent.

OR

2) Exchange one of their drawn move tokens with one of the opponents (must be different). Opponent moves first but retains first player marker for the next turn.*

*You do not swap these back at the end of the turn leading to a real mixed bag (quite literally).

Move me

OK so that is all well and good. But just how the heck do I move? Is it all the same? No that would be boring. Each of the three symbols move differently:

  • CROSS: Move one space diagonally, OR may switch place with one of your adjacent O (circle) tiles. Can capture and be captured.
  • CIRCLE: Move one space orthogonally (up, down, left, right), OR may switch place with one of your adjacent X (cross) tiles. Can capture and be captured.
  • Triangle: Move one space in any direction, OR my jump over any one tile (yours or opponents) thus moving two spaces. Cannot capture but can be captured.

Capture?

One of the ways to win a game of AOX is to capture three of your opponent's pieces. This is not as easy as it sounds. Or should I say capturing them is easy enough but holding onto them is harder. Having three captured at one time counts. Any that the opponent replaces onto the board do not count towards the three.

How do you capture? That is easy, as when you move your tile you place it on top of an opponent's piece you immediately capture it. Remember triangle cannot capture.

Highlighted

If during a game of AOX you manage to place one of your triangle tiles onto your opponent's highlighted sections, you can win the game. Your opponent does have the chance during their turn to capture your tile if possible in retaliation to stop the win. Think of it as a bit like the difference between “Check” and “Checkmate” in chess.

Expansions?

You might remember I mentioned AOX also having expansions. Well in fact it actually has three (yes 3). Each expansion adds extra tiles and movement options. The expansion pack contains all three and consists of:

  • Two Spiral player tiles (One each).
  • Two Square player tiles (One each).
  • Two Star player tiles (One each).
  • Six Square/triangle combination move tokens.

You can use each of these expansions individually or all together to really start to melt your brain.

Even more moving

  • Square, allows for blocking. Cannot be captured and can push other tiles around.
  • Spiral, Can use the movement tokens of adjacent tiles, can capture or be captured BUT does not count towards the three tile capture win condition.
  • Star, Use movement of other tiles. Cannot capture but can be captured. Can mount other tiles freezing them in place so they cannot move or be captured. Does not count towards three capture win condition.

My Thoughts

AOX is a very nice looking portable strategy game. The components of the preview copy were nice quality and I can only assume the production copy would improve on this even further. As for gameplay AOX is most definitely a deep strategy game hiding in a game with a random draw component. There is a very small amount of luck in the three movement tokens you draw that is where it ends though.

How you use those movement tokens is very important as well as the decision of “Do I need to go first or do I swap a token so I can go first next round but have extra of a particular symbol”. You will not be rushing through a game of AOX, it is designed to be a slower paced thought fest. So no hurry up tactics are going to work here.

In Short...

PROS.

  • Abstract.
  • Playable by all ages.
  • Slower play style.
  • Portable.
  • Two player.
  • Minimum luck.
  • High Strategy.

CONS.

  • Abstract can be off-putting for some.
  • Only two player.
  • Slower play style.