If you like abstract strategy games then have a look at this one!
The Game and Set Up
Codinca, is an abstract strategy game for two to four players. Each player controls one set of four tiles of the same colour, and symbol. In order to unlock Codinca, players need to move their tiles into patterns specified in cards they are dealt. The first player to match patterns in each of their four key cards unlocks Codinca and is the winner.
To match patterns players must ensure that their tiles in the right pattern. Tiles are double sided, with one side having the symbol in gold and one having the symbol in stone. To match the key card players must have the right side of each tile facing up too.
To set up the game arrange the sixteen tiles in a square measuring four by four tiles. There is a diagram on the inside lid of the box which shows how the tiles should be arranged. Each player selects one of the colours to control.
Each player is then dealt a key card from each pattern group - line of four, diagonal four, a block of four and four corners. Whilst the players all receive cards from all four pattern groups, they are not all trying to make the same patterns.
The players are then dealt three spirit cards each. These cards award bonus actions which a player can take on their turn and are discussed more below.
How to Play
A player may take two actions on their turn. Each action may be either a switch or a flip. To perform a switch, the player swaps the position of any one of their tiles with an adjacent tile. Tiles may also be switched diagonally. You must always include one of your tiles in a switch. To perform a flip, the player turns one tile from its gold side to its stone side or vice versa. You can perform the same action twice on your turn. However, if you perform two flip actions, one of the tiles you flip must be one of your colour.
Once the player has performed their two actions, play moves to the next player. That player may not immediately undo the last action taken by the previous player.
The players move tiles around to attempt to match their key card patterns. A line of four can be formed horizontally or vertically. A block of four must be formed by four adjacent tiles, whereas the four corners can be formed with the four corners of either a three by three square or the four by four square.
When a player has moved their tiles into the correct position so that they match the pattern shown on their key card, they show the key card to all other players. They then place the card face up in front of them to show it has been completed. If you match a key card pattern your turn ends, even if you have only taken one action.
To assist players in matching the key patterns they also have three spirit cards. Using a spirit card does not count towards your two available actions on a turn. The spirit card enables a player to perform a line push, a block rotate or a trap. The line push and block rotate actions are the same for all players. The trap action is shown on the back of your spirit card with each card having a unique trap action.
In the line push, a player may lift the end tile in a row or column and move it to the opposite end. Tiles are then slid to fill in the spaces so that a four by four grid is formed once more. To block rotate, the player selects any block of four adjacent tiles and rotates them clockwise or anticlockwise either 90 or 180 degrees. A trap action is played by placing the card, trap side up, on any side of the grid with the red arrow pointing towards the tiles.
These cards show a pattern of stone and gold tiles. The player who played the trap must turn tiles over until the pattern of tiles in the grid is the same as those on the trap card. The trap cards only cause tiles to flip over from stone to gold or vice versa. They do not cause any tiles to move places.
The first player to complete all four of their key card patterns wins the game.
I like the fact that Codinca is an abstract strategy game which can be played with up to four players, as this is unusual for the genre. Of course, it gets more competitive with more players but I feel the mechanics handle the differing player counts well.
The concept of the game is simple and can be taught/learnt very quickly. However, the depth of strategy comes in working out when to play the Spirit cards. The Spirit cards are clever, giving you an extra action of a different variety, but only getting three cards means you have to be careful when you play them.
My one gripe about Codinca is the quality of the cards. They are very thin and can stick together rather easily. This can lead to issues when dealing out the patterns and spirit cards. Apart from this, the components are good. The tiles are chunky in bright colours so they stand out on the table.
A lot of the play in Codinca is reactive. You may be trying to get all of your pieces in a diagonal line, but often players can mess this up, intentionally or otherwise, on their turn. You therefore have to be able to be flexible in your strategy and react to what other players have moved. Often whilst one key card may no longer be possible to achieve, you can make good progress towards, if not complete one of the others. This is especially the case at the start of the game.
I like the variety of patterns which the key cards show, and that each player gets one of each category. There is plenty of replayability in the game as a result of the variety of patterns on the key cards and the different Trap cards.
Overall, if you love abstract strategy games and want a quick, easy to learn game, I would recommend looking at Codinca.