Epigo Review

A game that I've been wanting to review for quite a while is Epigo.

Epigo truly strikes me as the love child of Robo Rally, Abalone, and Yomi. The basic game is fairly simple. You have pieces numbered 1-7, and they are setup in a line (along with an X) in whatever order you would like. Your opponent does the same thing, and at the same time, you reveal your pieces. Now, on each turn, you and your opponent select three pieces to move (and a direction) and you reveal them the same time (Robo Rally). The higher numbered piece goes first, and you execute all of the moves. If both players show the same number in the same move (for example, if you both are trying to move the 5 as your second move) the orders cancel and do not occur (Yomi). If when trying to move your piece, but there are more of your opponent's pieces in front of you than your own pieces (at any point on the line), then you cannot make your move (Abalone). The goal of the game is to push three of your opponents tiles off of the board (More Abalone).

Whereas I mentioned that Epigo has elements of other games that I have played, it really melds them together into a fresh and unique gaming experience. Each turn you are trying to figure out how to move your pieces to successfully push your opponent off the board - or set it up so that you can do it later. At the same time, you have to balance preventing your opponent from pushing yours off - and sometimes the only way to do that is by successfully canceling their order! Sometimes, however, if you can out-think your opponent, you might be able to even move out of the way just in time and get him to push his own piece off the board! I like that the game is very simple, and yet can really make you think (and overthink) your moves. It truly strikes me as an elegant design and gameplay that works remarkably well.

21 variants!
The next pro for Epigo is the replayability. Even in the base game, because of the element of out-thinking your opponent, there is significant replayability. However, in case you are one of those people that likes to play something new every time (I'm like that), Epigo has 21 two-player variants included with the base game. 21! And, that's not including the four-player variants!! I have definitely not played all of these, but I played around with some of them, and I enjoyed what they added. Some of them seem a bit confusing, but some of the others do interesting things. One of the ones that I really enjoyed has you setup the board a bit differently, but also has you leave your "X" marker on the board after setup - and this piece acts like a black hole and any pieces that are pushed into it are lost, just as if they were pushed off of the board. I would say that more than anything else, the greatly varied options of Epigo are it's greatest strength.

There's really not that much to Epigo, so I will go ahead and move to the cons now. Really, I only had one con. For whatever reason, Epigo didn't grab me and leave me wanting to play it more. I enjoyed the game every time that I played it, but I still didn't find myself wanting to pull it off the shelf. I think that this might simply be because I'm not very good at pre-planned movement games (like Robo Rally and duck, duck, Go!). I'm willing to admit that I'm not good at these games - and I'd bet that if I were better at them, then I would enjoy them all quite a bit more.  Either way, though, I can only base my opinions of a game on my experiences - and Epigo isn't one that I run to the closet to grab.

Overall, I give Epigo an 8.0/10. If you like Robo Rally, then you will really enjoy Epigo. If you like Abalone, you will probably enjoy Epigo. If you like the out-thinking your opponent aspect of Yomi, then you might like Epigo. If you like planning movement in advance, or really like games with variants, then you will love Epigo!

If you like Epigo, you might also check out Yinsh, Stratum, and Quoridor.

I would like to thank Masquerade Games for providing me with a review copy of Epigo.

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