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[Review] Warp 6

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Joined: 03/23/2011

I had seen Pair-of-Dice games in GAMES magazine over the past few years and had never given them much thought - other than to think that using dice as pieces in games was an interesting idea. When I received Warp 6 (Pair-of-Dice Games, 2001 - Greg Lam, Luke Wiesman, and Brian Tivol), the game actually looked boring to me - a lot of dice but not much to interest me. My first game played was lackluster and disappointing, and I was ready to write it off. When reading over the rules, however, I had missed a critical one (in which players can not move and change a number on a die). When adding this rule, I replayed the game and enjoyed the game quite a bit more.

Warp 6 is an excellent abstract game that seems to play equally well with two or three players. There is a bit of luck in the beginning of the game, but it soon settles down into a rather clever tactical and strategic game. The dice and board aren't the highest quality, but gameplay is fairly quick - an easy game to digest and play. The game is actually heavier than it feels, offering a lot of choices and options; but since players quickly move or change a die, downtime is minimal, and Warp 6 is a fun little game.

A board is placed on the table, showing a spiral of dots, each connected by a line with dotted lines that connect the rings to each other. The spiral ends in a "black hole" in the middle, while the outside ring holds the starting spaces for players' pieces. Each player gets one eight-sided dice, two six-sided dice, and three four-sided dice (in a two player game, players get three more dice.) Each player rolls their dice and then places them on spaces on the spiral, starting with the player who rolls the highest. This player places one of their dice on the outermost dot, with each player then placing one of their dice in alternating order down the spiral. Once all dice are placed, the player who placed first also goes first.

On a player's turn, they can either move one of their dice or change the number on one of their dice. When changing a number, a player can either increase or decrease it by one. When moving a die, a player simply moves a die spaces on the spiral equal to the number face up on the die. If the die ends in an empty space, the turn is over. However, if the die lands on another die, regardless of color, it "warps". This means that the die travels directly down the dotted line to the next ring of the spiral. If the space it moves to is occupied, the die moves down another ring, etc. Whenever a die "warps", it is re-rolled by the player before placed in its new position.

Play continues until one player has gotten four dice (six in a two-player game) off the board by either warping them to or moving them into the black hole. A die that lands here (doesn't have to be by exact movement) is removed from the game. This player is the winner!

Some comments on the gameā€¦

1.) Components: The game comes with a felt board, which is black with a printed white spiral on it. The dice are standard dice - in three colors (white, yellow, and black) - although they don't roll as well as one would hope. I'm used to four-sided dice being problematic when rolling, but even the eight-sided dice weren't very good. The dice and board are the entire game and are housed in a plastic snap-shut container. The game is fairly low quality but functional, and the price of the game is quite low.

2.) Rules: The rules are on two sides of a page and include some examples and illustrations. The game is extremely easy to teach; everyone I've shown it to, including some folk who rarely play games, have picked it up easily and understood it. Warp 6 has the essentials of a good abstract game - short, easy to teach - but a bit of meat.

3.) Luck: A game that's solely made up of dice would seem to have a good bit of apparent luck. But that's really not the case here. While it is true that initial die rolls have some bearing on the game, as well as the rolling of dice when they warp; it's much smaller than you might think. The game rules even provide the option for players to secretly choose what numbers their dice start with. But really, the numbers work out quite well; if you roll high, the dice can move quickly around the loop, while low numbers often have a better chance of warping down quickly. The number rolled on a warped die is more important, but I'm usually just pleased to get the die to warp, period.

4.) Strategy: It's fantastic how the dice interact with each other. As the game starts, there's a lot of quick warping; since it's almost impossible NOT to warp, the dice are too crowded together. And a clever player (or someone who takes advantage of a poor move by another player) can warp down multiple rings at a time. As more dice move down, however, they often can find themselves stranded, with no recourse other than to slowly move around the ring. Even the eight-sided die at speed "8" still doesn't go as quickly as that four-sided die that just dropped down three rings of the spiral. Players must therefore use their dice in "teams," having them help each other move downwards (the game reminds me of Magic Hill in this regard). The player who wins often does so because of good maneuvering of their own pieces. Yet tactics does play a decent role in the game, as players must watch for openings to jump down using their opponent's dice. More importantly, you must make sure that your opponents never have the chance to use your own dice. I sometimes moved a die simply so that my opponent couldn't use it as part of a "ladder" to drop to the bottom of the spiral.

5.) Theme and Players: Okay, your dice are spaceships - right? And they must travel down the spiral, using other ships to warp downwards -okay? The believability of the theme isn't quite there, but it doesn't matter; it's just an excuse to make this abstract strategy game. It works quite well with both two and three players, which is an oddity for this type of game. After several games with each, I can't really decide which I like more. There's the slightest bit more chaos in a three-player game but also more options and opportunities to bounce off of other players' dice.

6.) Fun Factor: I think it's great how dice are used in this game, yet I would in no way consider it a dice rolling game. It's great fun to set up a chain by which you can warp a die four or five levels down, and just as much fun to move a critical die in the chain that your opponent was about to use. Players can set up moves in advance; but because everyone can see each move, it's hard to surprise a good player.

Warp 6 is one of my favorite recipes for an abstract strategy game - a dash of luck seasoned with some easy but viable strategy. It's not the best looking or themed game I've ever played, but it certainly is worth the price. If you're looking for a two or three player abstract game - one that can be played in about thirty minutes or less, then Warp 6 is worth checking out. I've been pleasantly surprised by recent plays and think that this will join what has become my regular rotation of strategy games.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"

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