Quoridor

Today I’d like to introduce you to a fun little board game that is incredibly easy to learn and plays in less than 5 minutes but still manages to offer immense depth and room for strategy.

A game of Quoridor in progress.

A 2-player game of Quoridor in progress.

That game is Quoridor. Which I assume is how ducks would pronounce Corridor if they could speak.

The game is for 2-4 players (best with 2) and played on a 9×9 grid. The aim is to be the first person to move your piece from one side of the board to the opposite. The moment you do so, you win!

The rules of the game are so simple that they can be explained in just a couple of sentences.

On your turn, you can do 1 of two things – Move 1 space orthogonally OR place 1 wall between two squares anywhere on the board. If you have no walls left (you start with 10 in a two-player game), the only thing you can do is move. You cannot place a wall so that it makes it impossible for a player to reach the other side of the board and if two players are next to each other, a player may jump to the square behind the other because two players may never occupy the same space.

And that is it. Simple… right? Move or place a wall. You only have 2 options on your turn. Despite the simple ruleset and the ease of play, the game turns out to be a vicious, nail-biting race to the finish line.

The viciousness comes from the 2nd option – wall placement. You cannot move through walls and so obviously, the main purpose of wall is to block your opponent’s path to victory. The game lets you take your turn just for the sole purpose of of getting in your opponents way. It’s mean and nasty but it has be done if you want any hope of being able to reach the end first.

Every time I place a wall down directly in front of my opponent, I find myself almost wincing slightly and expecting a fist or some object to come flying at my face. The good news is that my opponent can retaliate at any time in the exact same manner so it never feels like the nastiness is all one-sided.

There is a moment, however, when you are playing when you realise the walls do not necessarily have to be used for blocking your opponent. It is in that same moment when you realise just how deep the rabbit hole goes for strategy and tactics in this game.

I am referring to placing walls defensively in order to prevent your opponent from blocking your intended route. For example, you could place walls behind you to stop you going backwards, you could barricade an entire half of the board, forcing both players to race down your preferred side. You could build a small corridor with one exit around yourself to punch a hole straight down the board. See, the game is not all about aggressively blocking your opponent wherever they may move, but is also about setting up clear paths for you to race down to reach the other side first.

The game is all about discovering these new little nuances of play and outwitting the other player. I find it brings me the same kind of joy of discovery that I feel when playing my all-time favourite game, Go.

And like Go, I feel that Quoridor falls under the same category of games that are “a minute to learn… a lifetime to master’. As can probably tell, I really enjoy this game and while I may never master its subtleties, I look forward a lifetime of enjoyment and discovery from wonderful game.

3quoridor

The game is currently available in 3 different formats, all of which are published by the French publisher, Gigamic.

Firstly, there is a large wooden board which would look great displayed on any table or shelving. Secondly, there is a smaller wooden version that is around half the size. Finally, there is a new pocket edition made from plastic which folds in half and has drawers under the board to securely store all the pieces. I opted for this version as I am always carrying my games around and I love easily portable it is.

In case you would like to just give it a try without having to buy the board, you can play online FOR FREE at Boardgamearena. I am always looking for people to play with so if this sounds like something you would like to try, leave a message and let’s organise a game together!

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