The World’s Ugliest Checkerboard


designed by Peter Mariutto , published by Freshwater Game Company

[Note: this is a prototype submitted to the reviewer by the publisher in advance of their Kickstarter campaign, which can be found here].

Players: 2-6; Playing Time: 30 min.; Good for: Abstract game fans, people who like bright colors

Outwit your opponent in this duel to make the world’s ugliest checkerboard. Well, actually, to score the most points by laying down tiles to form different patterns on the board. Tiles feature four colors, two different colors on each side, and players take turns placing tiles on the board. The only rule is that matching colors cannot be put next to each other (basically opposite dominoes). Players thus use these orthogonal placements to form patterns simple patterns like “the line” and “the x” or more complex patterns like the “big w” to score points for the shape in that color, as well as bonus points. The game ends when the last tile is placed and the person with the most scoring cards wins! Or you simply go color-blind from all those colors on the board…you can do that too.


Like other games of this type, the key is figuring out the best placement that will allow you to score points but to prevent setting up your opponent. The fact that the tiles are double-sided with different colors AND that you can put tiles on top of previously placed tiles allows for some brain burning strategies. But getting a cascade of different shapes when scoring points can be pretty satisfying. But with so many choices, it can also promote some crippling tunnel vision.

One Line Verdict: Abstract fans will probably enjoy this, but if you struggle with too many choices, you might want to stick with Qwirkle.

Review by Paul

Good God, Is That a Review of Qwirkle?! …. Yes, Yes It Is.


designed by Susan McKinley Ross, published by Mindware

The classic abstract game that’s basically Scrabble with colors and symbols. Tiles come in six different shapes and in six different colors. On your turn, place tiles crossword-style onto the main playing area, trying to get rows of either six of the same symbol in different colors, or six different symbols in all the same color. Earn points for each new row you complete, and a completed row of six earns you 12 points, a Qwirkle (shouting that out loud is optional)! Draw new tiles to replace the ones you placed, or if your tiles are complete garbage, skip your turn and replace as many tiles as you want from the draw bag. Play until all tiles are exhausted and the player with the most points wins!

Like Scrabble, but easier…but also harder because it takes a little bit to wrap your head around the color and shape matching. Opens up lots of spatial options. Like the ad for another boardgame once said: a minute to learn, a lifetime to master! Well, maybe two evenings.

One Line Verdict: No wonder it’s a classic, unless you don’t like abstracts, then you should probably pass on this one.