Tom Naylor Associates, £20
Designed by Tom Naylor
2 Players, 5-20 mins per game
Reviewed by Mike Siggins
It must be some time since I have enjoyed an abstract strategy game as much as I did this one. In fact, I would probably have to go back to Abalone or David Watt's Manchester to provide a suitable comparison. You know by now that I don't normally like abstract games (essentially because I'm hopeless at them) but some of them work in a slightly different way, thus letting me play them to a reasonable standard yet remaining enjoyable at the same time. Fibonacci has both these qualities and accordingly gets the Sumo seal of approval.
The basic set up is, typically, symmetrical. Each player has a home piece, a number of 'strikers' and pawn type men. All pieces have basically the same powers with the exception of the strikers that are your offensive weapon and the only way of winning. All the pieces are laid out on a hex shaped board intersected with gridded triangles forming a large number of nodes. The pieces are placed in long snakes along two sides of the board, with the home piece on its own. Turns are taken in a series of mathematical progressions (spot the connection). Player one takes one move, player two takes two, player one takes three and so on up to six moves per turn.
The movement system is unique and gives the game its flavour. Say you have a connected line of strikers on your base line and wish to move forward towards an oncoming enemy snake. You are free to move any piece in the snake one node or to travel along the snake and land at any adjacent point. If you land on another piece, friendly or enemy, you may displace it to the node you just left. This gives rise to rolling snakes moving around the board, diving into the middle of enemy formations and cutting them in half. For those familiar with Core War, the feeling is very similar. Play proceeds in this manner, forming and reforming snakes, moving lone pieces, attacking and defending.
The game is won by completely surrounding your opponent's home piece with all six of your strikers. At any time before the coup de grace, each striker piece that is adjacent causes the other player to lose one move, so as you close in for the kill, the game slows and comes to a natural end which I thought a good idea, having been involved in interminable games of chess where my opponent has toyed with me for ages. In feel, it definitely has elements of Abalone where the pieces are much more powerful in numbers (while forming a snake) than split up into stranded singles. It also allows some quite sophisticated tactics which, as is the way with these games, expand with experience.
The strategy is, without exaggerating too much, virtually limitless. Even in the space of the half dozen games I've played it has been possible to experiment with a number of tactics and each game has been very different in feel. Apparently there are something like a billion or so possible moves which should keep you quiet for a bit. Add to that the possibility of varying the setup positions (an advanced player setup is supplied) and you have quite some potential.
There is a constant intriguing balance between attack and defence as one way to break up an attack is to launch an assault on your opponent's snakes or base unit hopefully depriving him of moves in his next turn. The other strong element is speed - with up to half a dozen moves in one go, the game can change rapidly from a strong position to being in dire trouble. For me, this partly precluded the tactic of looking ahead several turns and probably increased my enjoyment for that reason.
On this subject, the other element of the game (which virtually amounts to a separate game in the same box) is to use the set of numbered cards supplied to randomize the number of moves you may make in a turn. These vary from one to six and, for me, improve the game even further. It wasn't clear from the designer which came first as a concept (I think the cards might have been original) but the card version is now seen as a different but 'basic' game as the luck element is that much higher. Personally, I preferred this official variant because I didn't have to remember how many moves I had that turn. It also made the game flow rather better in terms of removing the near total equality, typical of the two player abstract game, and because, even with ropey luck, you can play a blinder with two sixes in a row.
In summary, Fibonacci is an excellent game of its type and, by way of a patriotic outburst, it is also British. If you like the occasional two player abstract game or play them exclusively, then this one should definitely be in your collection. Granted it is isn't outstanding value for money but it is professionally done and should give you plenty of enjoyment. If you are in town you can buy it in Just Games, some Virgins or Harrods or you can order direct from Tom Naylor Associates, 5 Dryden Street, London WC2 9NW, England for £19.95 inclusive of UK postage. Cheques payable to Fibonacci.
On to the review of Revolution and Quick or back to the review of Tutanchamun.
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