A short time ago I received a game in the mail that I had never heard of before. The game is Pentago invented by Tomas Flodén of Sweden and published in this country by Mindtwister USA.
Pentago is a very simple two-player abstract strategy game that can be played in around five minutes. Players alternate turns placing marbles on a 6x6 grid in an attempt to be the first to get five of their marbles in a row. The twist (pun intended) to this game is that each time a player plays a marble, he also twists a single quadrant 90 degrees in either direction. (The box cover pictured above should make clear what I'm talking about.)
According to the box, this game is all the rage in Sweden, even winning their Game of the Year award for 2005. I haven't bothered to verify if that is true or not but I suppose it's possible. I'm afraid that I'm not really up to speed on what's big and what's not in Sweden.
This is a very simple game but the idea of rotating a quadrant of the board raises the game above your standard Tic-Tac-Toe variant by significantly increasing the number of potential threats. Anyone who is familiar with Pente will immediately grasp the basic strategy but the ever-changing board definitely adds an interesting element. Being able to visualize how the board will look when any piece is rotated is an essential skill in this game.
The packaging and components are quite good. The board is made of attractive wood pieces on an attractive contrasting wood base. Metal slats divide the quadrants. Black and white marbles come in their own little wooden compartments. It's an attractive game that would look good on any end table. At approximately 5"x5", it's also small enough to travel well.
This will never be one of my favorite games (it's too simple for that) but it is a very nice game that is a good choice for people who are fond of pure abstract strategy games. I have a weakness for games that look good on a nick-nack shelf and this definitely fits that description. I'll be keeping my copy and if my distributor ever gets any in, I'll consider stocking it.