Oh my gosh it’s the board game version of Bejeweled! To start, you fill the board randomly with all non-glitter gems (the glittered ones are special and called “Power Gems”) and make sure you don’t have any 3-in-a-rows of the same color gem either vertically or horizontally. Then you play. On a turn a player flip-flops any 2 adjacent gems – and again, no diagonals. This swap must result in a 3-of-a-kind (or more) of at least 1 color gem – if it results in two 3-of-a-kinds (or more) that’s even better for you! For each 3-of-a-kind you collect 1 token of the matching color. If your 3-of-a-kind includes a Power Gem you get an extra token. If you get a 4 or 5-of-a-kind you get extra tokens for each gem above 3.
Once you remove the gems included in your “of-a-kind” from the board you need to condense the gems remaining on the board. Starting from your side of the board, you push the row(s) of gems with vacancies away from you. If by doing this you make more of-a-kinds you get to collect tokens for them and remove those gems from the board. Once there are no more of-a-kinds you select gems at random from the box of extra gems and fill in the open spaces. If you make an of-a-kind during this time it doesn’t count and one of the gems needs to be randomly replaced.
Players are trying to get 3 tokens of 3 different colors (there are 7 colors in the game) so there’s some strategy to which of-a-kinds you’ll want to make. You need to consider both tokens you need and what you’re opponents are looking for. This multi-player aspect of the game is definitely different than the app version of Bejeweled and I found enjoyable. There is also a bit of pre-planning and thought that goes into making a move which makes the game way slower than the app but not slow enough that I was bored. Still, this is going to be dictated by whom you’ve chosen to play with and in a 4-player game time between turns could be lengthy.
One other think I should note is that the game really changes if you don’t re-shuffle the board when you play games back to back. When multiple of-a-kinds were easy to find in the first game or two, by the third or forth game there are fewer moves to make. I’m sure there’s some mathematician dying to tell me that there’s a theory explaining why this is, but from the player’s perspective we found it quite interesting. What I didn’t like about the game is that it is easy to place just the right gems on the board for your opponent at the end of your turn – but I guess some might blame that on luck.
Overall I wasn’t sad I took the plunge and bought the game. It really is nice to look at for an abstract strategy game and as long as you’re not buying it because you like the quickness and ease of the app I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
$9 Amazon and likely ebay (2015 update)
Ages 8 and up