Published by Graham's Games
Designed by Graham Lipscomb
Reviewed by Stuart Dagger
Two player abstracts are as common as little German card games and they nearly always have a blurb on the box that proclaims them to be deeper than chess. This is invariably a lie and they are nearly always forgotten within a year. They are also not to everybody's taste and indeed I rarely buy them myself. However, this game and its companion have an originality and a subtlety that lifts them above most of the competition and if you do enjoy such classics of the genre as Abalone, Cul de Sac, Pagode and Twixt, they are well worth your attention.
Creeper is a game that you might have invented yourself if you had had a Reversi set, some pawns, an original turn of mind and the right pattern on the bathroom floor. All gamers know that you can tile the plane with regular hexagons. If you try to do the same with regular octagons, you find that they don't quite fit together and that you need some small square tiles to fill the gaps. It is this tesselation of octagons and squares that provides the board for Creeper. The four corner octagons are home bases, two white and two black, with each player's pair of bases being at opposite ends of a diagonal. The object is to connect your two bases with a path of discs in your own colour.
So far the game is another in the tradition established almost fifty years ago by Piet Hein's game, Hex - a game of interest to mathematicians as well as gamers, because we can prove that there is a forced win for the first player but nobody knows what the moves needed to achieve it actually are. Where Creeper strikes out on its own is that it is not the path-making discs that provide the main play, but a set of pawns. Each player has eight of these and they begin on the edge of the board, near the home bases. They move on the squares and the options are:
If it is an opposing pawn that is jumped over, the leaped piece is captured and removed from play. If it is an empty octagon, a disc of your colour is placed there and if it is an octagon occupied by a disc of your opponent's colour, the disc is flipped so that your colour comes to the top. It is a nicely logical set of rules and they make for interesting play.
The best of these path making games are generally reckoned to be Alex Randolph's Twixt and Eric Solomon's Thoughtwave, but my early impression is that this game belongs up there with those two. The game is very well presented and with the rules comes a booklet containing an illustrated and annotated game to help you shorten the learning process. The price quoted is the one you pay if you order direct from Graham and includes UK postage. For orders from outside the UK, add 20% for the postage. Contact Graham at:
12 Old Shoreham Road
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell