Playing with Hexagonal Dominoes
Ingenious was designed in 2004 by Reiner Knizia. It has a very good reputation in the gaming community ranking very high among abstracts.
As you can see in the picture above, you play the game with domino-like hexagonal tiles showing brightly-colored shapes. You have a rack (much like the one used in Scrabble; see below on the right side of the picture) to hold 6 of these tiles.
On your turn, you normally play one tile onto the board. Then, considering each side of the tile individually, you get points for adjacent matching colors/shapes extending out in each of the 5 possible directions. Quite often only 2 or 3 directions have matching colors/shapes.
In the picture above, imagine you had just played the double orange/hexagon tile near the center. the upper half of the tile touches 3 other oranges. (You can’t count the other half of the tile you just played.) The lower half of the tile scores 2 points for the 2 oranges extending toward the upper right, for a total of 5 points.
You keep track of your score on a board as shown above. If you accumulate 18 points in a given color (orange, above), you call, “Ingenious!” and take an extra turn.
If you manage to get 18 points in all 6 colors, you win automatically – though this is rare. Normally, each of the 2-4 players will end up with varying amounts of points when the board in full and the game ends. The winner is then the player with the highest low score. If the board above were yours at the end of the game, your score would be 8, because blue was your low scoring color.
Ingenious is extremely easy to learn and to play. You can attempt to be nasty and will want to be when playing against experienced players, trying to cut them off by playing tiles of certain colors that prevent them from getting high scores. Even fairly young children will catch on to the strategies rather quickly.
Ingenious is a fun, family-friendly, abstract game that doesn’t have that sterile feel that many abstracts do. Try the full-blown board game or the smart phone app soon.