Repello Review

Another intriguing looking game by Mindtwister USA (makers of the fabulous game of Pentago) that I had the opportunity to play was Repello (which for some reason they don't seem to sell through Amazon).

In Repello (the first game I've played by Mindtwister that doesn't involve twisting the board) the object of the game is to score points by knocking pieces off of the board. This is possible because every piece "repels" every other piece - but you (as the active player) get to choose which piece gets repelled, and which piece stays. To start your turn, you move your piece one space in any direction (and leave behind a round black disc from your pogo-stick looking marker). Each square on the board has a number on it, and after your initial single-space movement, you continue moving by this many more spaces. If you run into a wall, then you "bounce" back in the opposite direction (or at a 45 degree angle if you come at it diagonally). After your move is completed, you must check to see if any two pieces on the board are adjacent to each other. If so, you must move one of them directly backwards from the piece it is adjacent to - if there are several pieces adjacent to each other, you choose the order that the "repelling" occurs in. After this initial "repelling", you again check for adjacent pieces, and you continue this process until the board is in a "resolved" state (no two pieces are adjacent) - this repelling is how you knock pieces off (to score points). Play continues in this manner until each player's pogo-stick marker is out of black discs. At that point, the game is over, and players score points for each of their discs.

The first pro to Repello is that it is incredibly chaotic. The game starts off (and can end) a bit slowly, but there is a peak in the middle of the game where a player will push pieces all across the board. Since each turn adds another disc to the board, the game is setup so that there will be adjacent pieces at some point. And after several of these pieces have been left behind (and before too many of them have been knocked back off) there will be some turns in which a player may wind up moving 10 or more pieces. These turns are great, and they are really where some players start to get a major point advantage in the game.  This is also the most fun part about the game - "I'm going to move here and see what happens..." <five minutes later> "Ok, I'm done!" (after scoring 5 points).

The next pro to Repello is that it is really kid friendly. I can see people of any age playing the game, as the rules are simple enough to teach to kids (I would guess) as young as 6-8. What's more, kids may actually have more fun than adults with this game, as I could see them just enjoying the actual playing of the game, and so they would play it quickly (see the con below for how it works with adults).

The final pro that I will mention is one that I was the victim of the first time I played - you can knock off other players. Specifically, when you knock off other players, you get to steal a disc from their pogo-stick, and you also get to steal a disc that they had previously collected (such as that gold disc worth 5 points). This adds to both the fun and the strategy of the game; the fun because most people will enjoy knocking their opponent off, and the strategy because once you have collected valuable discs you need to make sure that your opponent cannot knock you off. However, after you are knocked off, you get to return to the board in one of the "green" (starting) tiles - and then you get to resolve all conflicts before making your move. This essentially gives you two opportunities to knock things off of the board! So, whereas it is not good to be knocked off (you lose a turn and a disc), you can really gain quite a few points when you come back on the board.

Now for the cons... ANALYSIS PARALYSIS (having so many options and/or so much input that you take forever to make a decision). Criminey, gee wilikers, and holy schnikes, Repello may as well have invented Analysis Paralysis! When playing with strategic minds, most of what you will see when playing the game is people sitting in their seat pointing at the board and counting to themselves. Each turn you have 9 different directions that you can move, and then you may have dozens to hundreds of combinations that you can do with repelling the pieces back and forth. In fact, you have so many options that when you finally do find what appears to be the "best" option, you then go back and ask yourself, "crud, now how did that start?" What makes this even worse is that you can't really do any of this until your turn starts because your opponents will quite possibly change up the entire board - and will at the very least change where they are located (which could mess with your entire chain). (I mentioned earlier that this is kid friendly. I don't think that they will deal with this as much, as kids are more likely to just play and see what happens.)

The next con is that the rules are not quite as clear as I would like in a few instances. For example, I'm still not entirely sure what all the rules are when a player runs out of discs on his piece. If, for example, one unfortunate player (me) has been knocked off the board several times, does his turn get skipped once he is out of pieces to leave behind? What about if he gets knocked off the board - does he get to come back on the board? I believe that the instructions do talk about these things, but it wasn't in clear enough language that we were confident that we were playing it completely correctly.

Overall, I give Repello a 7.5/10. I thought that it was fun, unique, and interesting. However, the Analysis Paralysis can cause this "30+ minute" game to take an hour and a half or more when I play it, and I think that this causes the game to drag a bit more than I would like. If you like spatial reasoning games, this is definitely one that you should consider - and if you have kids that like chaotic games, this can deliver there as well. 

I would like to thank Mindtwister USA for providing me with a review copy of Repello.

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