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[Review] Hex Hex

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Joined: 03/23/2011

I was able to demo Hex Hex (Smirk and Dagger Games, 2004 - Curt Covert) at Origins 2004, and immediately knew that the game was for a certain niche group. The game that we played was wild; and while I played many good, solid games there, some of the funniest moments of the convention came during my playing of Hex Hex. I was pleased to bring home a copy and realized that the game had great potential, especially among my teenager game group.

Hex Hex doesn’t pretend to be a game of deep strategy, rather it’s a blatant “take-that!” game, where players try to explode a “hex” that is being passed back and forth between players. There is some strategy in the game, but it’s mostly just a fun time of passing, multiplying, and blowing up a hex (or two, or three) in someone else’s face. The game has a minor annoyance in that some hands end entirely too quickly, but a simple rule variation makes the game much more interesting. Kids pick the game up very quickly, and it makes an excellent game to play before or after the main event. It’s especially good in being a game that someone could join in the middle and not disrupt the flow of the game.

A deck of ninety-four cards is shuffled, and five are dealt to each player. A pile of hex tokens is placed in the middle of the table, and one “normal” hex is given to the starting player. Each player also gets a “Voice” card, with a track from “-13” to “21” on it. A voice token is placed on the “5” space of each players card. Each player examines their cards, because a few of them say, “Play immediately when dealt”. These cards give that player a larger hand or a special ability. In any case, the starting player attacks another player with the hex by naming that player and passing the hex token to that player. The player then has the opportunity to play a card from their hand. There are several different kinds of cards:
- Basic Deflections: These cards make up the majority of the deck. They deflect the hex away from that player either right or left, or possibly across the table to another player.
- Enhanced Deflections: These cards also deflect the hex away from the player but do a variety of things. For example, one card splits the hex into two, another hex token is placed on the table, and both hexes are passed around at the same time; with the affected players playing cards simultaneously. Other cards “boost” the hex, and a “boosted” token is placed on top of the hex, showing that it has increased in power. Still other cards deflect the hex to a certain player, while resolving some other action (like causing all other players to discard a card).
- Counter Hexes: These cards can be played to cancel cards other players play, dispel a hex, or - best of all - detonate the hex in someone’s face.
- Maddening Compulsion: This card changes the hex to a maddening compulsion hex (a new hex token is placed on the table), which travels in the direction specified by the card (right or left). Each player must send the hex in that direction, or it explodes on them.
- Hex*Hex: This card can be played at any time and voids the entire round. Each player must drop all their cards and raise both of their hands over their head. The last player to do this loses three “voice”, and moves the marker on their card accordingly.

If a player cannot play a card deflecting a hex away from them, or someone detonates a hex while it’s in front of them, or they cannot play the proper card when a maddening compulsion; then the hex “goes off” on them. The player who is “hexed” may play a “Play only when hexed” card, if they have any; otherwise, they lose one voice and the person who targeted them gains one voice. A boosted hex causes the loss of one additional voice for each time that it has been boosted. When the last hex in a round goes off, all players discard any remaining cards they have; and a new round begins. The player to the right of the start player becomes the new start player, and five more cards are dealt to each player. After a set number of rounds occurs (usually one for each player), the player with the most voice is the winner! (Ties are broken by playing one more round, with all points doubled).

After a winner is declared, they may make up a rule for the next game, like making all players stand up to play a card, or removing a certain card from the deck, etc., etc.

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The cards are very simply designed, with the name of the card at the top, a “hexish” looking symbol, and clear text as to what the card does. After a round of play, most of the basic cards can be recognized by their symbol alone, speeding up game plays. The hex tokens are really nice, because different acting ones (such as boosted hexes and the maddening compulsion hexes) are different colored and are easy to tell apart. I’ve never had to use every hex token included with the game (there are 12), but I’ve come close, and I’m glad they included all of them. The voice cards are feasible, but I discarded the voice tokens the game included and used some small glass tokens instead. Everything comes in a darkly illustrated box that holds the cards okay, but I wish the box had been glued, and that a better method of holding the hex tokens was available. The game fits in the box, but it can be a pain. Still, the good quality cards can take a lot of damage, so I’m fairly pleased with the components.

2.) Rules: The rules are on two sides of a sheet of paper, that’s folded up to fit in the box. Pictures of most of the cards along with detailed explanations are included. The game is extremely easy to teach, and players catch on immediately with what they are supposed to do. No one will ever accuse this game of being “deep”; and even though the game says “12 and up”, I feel confident that children aged seven or older could easily handle it.

3.) Theme: I realize that some people wouldn’t be too pleased with the “hex” theme of the game. But in reality, the theme isn’t that big of a deal. When we play the game, we treat the hex tokens as if they are basically little bombs going around the table, and “voice” basically equals hit points. When viewed in this light, the game is also easier to understand.

4.) Potential Problems: Some cards state that they cannot be played as the player’s first card. This would include “Detonate”, because if a player used that card immediately, there is basically no round; and players would have been dealt a hand for nothing. The problem lies within the fact that a player can play these types of cards as their second card, and that can be almost at the beginning of a round to begin with. This can get annoying to all players, because it’s really not a lot of fun to get dealt five cards, and then never get a chance to use any of them. Fortunately, with a large group, this problem can easily be solved - just start with two hexes. If one is dissolved quickly, the other one is still around. In fact, the designer told me that the number of cards dealt and number of initial hexes can be changed to get the speed of game play to where the players desire.

5.) Fun Factor: The game is a lot of fun. Frankly, the strategy factor isn’t that great, as most of your decisions consist of deciding which player to send the hex to. But the game can be a lot of fun, and threats and yells usually accompany the playing of most cards. The game calls itself “delightfully mean-spirited”, but I can’t imagine anyone with a mean spirit even wanting to come close to the game. It reminds me a lot of very simplistic games such as Family Business, or other card games where players can “attack” one another. It’s a lot of fun to play, and makes for a great introductory filler for a game night.

Hex Hex is primarily going to be a hit with the “non-gamer” crowd, as its ease of game play and simplistic strategy probably won’t appeal to those seeking something heavier. But it’s incredibly fun to throw hexes, or bombs, or whatever you call them at one another. When people watch the playing of the game, they want to jump right in, and it’s possible with Hex Hex. This alone makes it worth it, as the game is fairly inexpensive; and I recommend it for anyone who needs a quick, loud, fun game that they can introduce people to gaming with.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

[Review] Hex Hex

Interesting review, but how do we know you're the REAL Tom Vasel and not some Matt-Horn-inspired imitator?? ; )

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