Gigamic has gone and given noughts and crosses a serious upgrade. No longer is the game of Xs and Os a common or garden scrap of paper activity that you play with Grandma.
No, here, Quixo is a thing to behold. A beautiful, wooden, circular board housing a 5 x 5 grid inset and filled with 25 cubes. The components are smooth, solid, and just beg to be held.
So, how do you play Quixo? What's different to the traditional version? Well, each cube has a circle on one side and a cross on the opposite, with blank sides on the other four faces. Note that they all start off showing a blank face at the beginning of every game.
On your turn, you select a cube from the outside edge (not the middle 9) that is either blank or showing your symbol. Rotate it (if it was originally blank). Then, slide it back into one end of the row or columns left with a space to fill. If you get 5 of your symbols in a row (orthogonally or diagonally), you win!
As with all of these Gigamic abstract games, the rules are simple but the gameplay goes deeper. This one especially, as traditional noughts and crosses is such a familiar and easy puzzle to pick up.
And I for one will admit to there being more crunch to these cubes than I expected. Especially as we rattle through games in under 15 minutes. But the think is there, and it comes with rows changing whenever blocks are picked and then slid back in from different angles. That makes for a dynamic playing space that can work both for and against you. And, like other brilliant strategy games, the opportunity to snooker your opponent and force them to place their cube right where you want it is ripe for the taking… if you can see it!
Unlike most games where familiarity breeds speed, the more we play Quixo the longer we take. It’s like we are hunting for the sweeter taste of victory at the expense of the other player (rather than just whipping through and sneaking through 5 of our own symbols). Don’t get me wrong; you won’t be up for hours playing Quixo. But you are unlikely to be able to play only once. The chance to chain games in a row is irresistible. You’ll be tempted to try again… again… and again!
And, unlike many purely abstract strategy games, and the original noughts and crosses, you can play Quixo in teams. Up to 4 can play and still not a scrap of paper or a pen needed. How? Well, you may have noticed the small dots on the cubes. In the team version, each member of a 2 player team sits on the opposite side of the board. Then on your turn, you can only select a cube where the dot is on the side closer to you than your teammate. You still have to get 5 in a row, but suddenly the cube choice is even more restricted!
Husband v wife, parent v child, this game works well as a gorgeous filler. It’s a game our son wants to play because it has that Labyrinth style sliding mechanism and it is simple to learn and play.
We have only played the team version of Quixo once so far, but we really liked it. Seeing the cube you need, but being on the wrong side of the board to take it (and knowing that you are just about to change the landscape again), is a step up on the tension ladder! In fact, we might actually try out a two-player team variant where we each play two sides, alternating between them both, to see what happens… I am excited already!!!