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Oversight: Abstract Strategy Game
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- A 4-in-a-row strategy game
- Easy and difficult version of play
- Instructions available in 4 languages: English, French, German, Spanish
- Symbols available on tiles to allow for those who are color blind to play
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Exercise your mind and outwit your opponents with Oversight, the new fast paced 4 in a row abstract strategy game! Oversight is set up on a board of movable squares. Two to four players compete to be the first to get 4 tokens in a row. On their turn, each player can either place a token on the board, or shift an entire row or column of moveable squares over by one space. The rules are simple but the game gets increasingly challenging as players learn from their mistakes and predict their opponents’ moves.
This addictive brain-bending game and can be played by anyone aged 7 and up.
From the Manufacturer
A fast paced 4-in-a-row abstract strategy game. The goal is to get 4 of your pieces in a row before the other players. The added difficulty is due to certain rows and columns being able to slide. Each turn requires either placing a piece on the board or sliding a row. The colour of tiles on the board does not effect where you can place your pieces. In this game no one is guaranteed victory.
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The board is basically a 7 x 7 grid of tiles in four colors (red, yellow, green and blue), 16 of which are affixed to the board; immovable, a row of four for each of the four colors. The other 33 spaces are filled in randomly by a set of 34 square tiles (same color scheme), with one tile left over for a component of game play. At the beginning of the game, the 33 loose tiles are placed on the board randomly, with the one leftover tile placed near the board. Each player receives a set of 12 circular disks, also colored red, yellow, green and blue (each with a different symbol on it), which they will use, in turn order, in an attempt to place four of their disks in a row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
Simple enough. On your turn, you place one of your circular disks on one of the tiles on the board. Play moves clockwise and opponents place their pieces, one at a time. This continues until one of you has succeeded in placing four of your disks in a row, which, of course, leads eventually to blocking maneuvers, as players attempt to stop an opponent from completing his four-in-a-row task.
The trick with this game lies in the alternative to disk placement on your turn. Instead of placing one of your pieces, you are allowed, on your turn, to use the extra square tile left after initial placement to push a row or column of square tiles, either up, down, sideways right or left. This will push a tile off the board, which now becomes an extra tile available for someone else to push the same or a different row in a given direction.
Since there are four rows which contain immovable tiles, affixed to the board, not all rows and columns can be pushed this way. Only rows of tiles (thinking of them from bottom to top) two, four, and six can be pushed this way. Rows one, three, five and seven can't be moved. Same with the columns; columns two, four and six can be moved. Columns one, three, five and seven can not.
This makes for some interesting decisions, primarily defensive in nature. In the beginning, players will find themselves tackling the `four in a row' issue, working toward creating a line of the four necessary. When, however, a player is on the verge of placing a fourth, winning disk onto the board, an opponent will, more than likely, use his/her turn to push a row or column, thereby moving one of these `four in a row' pieces out of alignment. Clever players will, of course, try placing disks in a way that creates a `double jeopardy' situation; no matter which way an opponent pushes a row or column, it will create a winning line of four.
Easier said than done.
This game plays vastly different with three and four players than it does with the more traditional two-player scenario. In a two-player game, it's a somewhat manageable war of wits. You've got only one other set of disks to worry about. With three and four players, there are disks all over the place, and you'll find yourself in situations where pushing a row or column to thwart the aims of one player can well assist another player. At a deep thinking level, this creates quite a challenge, although to be honest, it's rare to encounter such deep thinking when you're playing this. Unless you're sitting down with some seriously serious folk, who might attempt to analyze the situation(s), you'll end up playing a light-hearted game that'll be over in less than 15 minutes.
There is virtually no reason for the square tiles on the board (the ones you'll be pushing around) to be colored the same way as the circular disks employed by the players and placed on these square tiles in game play. In fact, one suggested variant is to place these square tiles initially face down, so the colors aren't seen, leaving only the 16 affixed-to-the-board tiles, showing their colors. Something in a gamer's head (or maybe it's just me) wants the colors of the square tiles to have some significance in game play, but they just don't.
The option of pushing a row or column of tiles, to either benefit yourself, or thwart an opponent, is not, at least in the early stages of this game, of much use. This turn alternative generally comes into play at a moment of desperation, when it becomes clear that an opponent is about to complete his task of placing four of his circular disks in a row, and you have to do something or lose. This, of course, reduces the number of circular disks you have in play, because when you push a row or column, you don't get to play a piece. I played three games of this against a single opponent, and won all three, without ever pushing a row or column of tiles, and once my opponent began to push rows or columns, I just kept adding more and more pieces to the board, increasing my chances of winning, on pure mathematics alone; more pieces, more possible ways for them to be aligned in patterns that eventually led to four in a row.
It's easy enough for a reviewer to sit back and second guess a game designer. "Maybe the game would be better if there was this rule, or that mechanic involved," but in a discussion with one of the designers of this game (Reisa Schwartzman; although the BoardGameGeek entry for the game does not designate a designer), I discovered that they'd thought through this game a lot before they published it. The game doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is; a light-hearted, abstract strategy game, with a fun mechanic (row or column pushing) to throw a curve ball into an otherwise simple goal of getting four of your pieces onto the board in a straight line.
Still, I had to wonder whether the game might be more challenging if pushing rows or columns were not an option, an alternative to piece placement, but mandatory on one's turn. At first, as the game started out, this wouldn't do much. You'd place a piece at grid coordinate 2 (row), 7 (column), for example, and maybe push row 6, not affecting your placement, at all. A square tile would be pushed off the board, and play would resume. But as the board started to fill up with pieces, the mandatory push move would create more and more havoc; a monkey wrench, as it were, in not only an opponent's plans, but your own. Schwartzman agreed, thinking that perhaps in future editions, this might be written up in the rules as a variant. Feel free to try it before the next edition comes out.
Oversight is published by Griddly Games and is intended for 2-4 players, 7 years old and up. A single game will occupy between 15 to 30 minutes of your time, depending on the analysis tendencies of the player(s). Retail cost is in the vicinity of $20. A copy of the game was provided to the author for review purposes.
Anyway, Oversight is cleverly designed so anyone can play (provided they're not completely color blind and/or can't see the symbols on the pieces that help color blind people play just fine) and what's fun about the game is how you start to predict moves as tiles are placed and slid or not moved at all once they're on the board. It's a mix of Connect Four and Tic-Tac-Toe with a nice twist of being able to push an entire row of pieces in order to secure a victory or prevent your opponent from winning. I know the device crowd would go bananas over this game, but as of yet, I haven't heard of any plans to bring Oversight to the digital world just yet. Well, I don't own an iPad or Android device anyway, so it's not as if I'm missing anything if I only buy the board game. Besides, when the cloud collapses and no one can get a signal, I'll be running my Oversight casino, winning everyone's rations and water while waiting for the power to come back on.
This allowed for great defensive moves by destroying your opponents set up by simply sliding a row. The kids were as good at this game as we were. Actually they often pointed out how we had an "Oversight" as they made their last move for a win.
We definitely take this game out over and over again.
It can get fierce!
Fun game and easy to pick up for the young kids. They like the colors. I played with a friend and we ended up in a bitter battle shifting rows back and forth for a while! The colors are a visual distraction adding to the complexity of game play. I almost let my opponent score 4 in a row!
The board is also comes with reversible playing pieces in the event someone is colorblind! Thoughtful!