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Continuing with my reviews on some of the best Ivan Moscovich's creations, this week I bring you a different type of puzzle, a board game. Now, usually I'm not a big fan of board games, because I don't find them challenging enough and most of them just rely on luck to find a winner. Fortunately, Ivan's Reflection, manufactured by Fat Brain Toys, doesn't need a couple of dice to determine who wins. Instead, victory belongs to the player who best uses his visual and spatial abilities coupled with fast decision making. Moreover, it's a game that helps you keep your brain healthy.
Reflection is a superb and brilliant concept where you basically use a mirror to reflect part of a game card and try to score as much points as you can with the different colored spheres. There are some strategies that you will most certainly learn as you play more and more, but first let's get to the basics:
|(Click to Enlarge) - Game's Contents|
- The game comes with 60 cards, and each one has a different arrangement with four possible colored spheres (red, blue, green and yellow). Not every card contains all four colored spheres, though, and the total number of spheres varies from card to card.
- You start the game with one of the cards and up to four players choose one of the 10 possible axis lines of symmetry. Each axis line can also be reflected from both sides, making 20 symmetry lines in total, so each player must choose which side they want to be reflected prior to place the mirror.
- When all players place their tokens on the board signaling their chosen axis line, the mirror is placed and the spheres are counted to see who scored the most points. You count all the spheres you see, both on the card and on the mirror. Note that no two players can share the same axis line.
- The scoring is simple: First you count the red and the blue spheres - It's always the difference between red and blue, and not the other way around. Then, you add the number of green spheres and finally, subtract the number of yellow spheres.
- When all players' score is counted, place another card on the board. The player with most points after 10 rounds wins.
(Click to Enlarge) - Game Rules Scan (Front & Back)
What captured my attention right away was how the mirror is used to play the game. At first, you might feel a little confused by how the game works, but as you play you'll start to understand its mechanics and before you know it, it turns into this highly addictive battle between who can choose the best possible symmetry line.
What I found most interesting, even after being more familiarized with the concept, is that it never ceased to surprise me, when I finally got to see the actual reflection contrasted with the image I had in my head. Obviously, with experience, you gradually can predict with more certainty what the final sphere arrangement will look like, but in the heat of the game and the pressure of choosing the best line first, there'll be times where you get unexpected results and think to yourself "How did I miss that?".
(Click to Enlarge) - Reflection's Box (Front and Back)
As mentioned above, there are strategies that you, with time, will learn how to use in order to get the most points. Spotting which lines capture the most red and green spheres, and avoiding the ones with blue and yellow spheres are some of the best ways to win the game. Also, sometimes it's best to go for a low sphere count and have a positive score than to risk on an axis line with plenty of spheres, which ultimately can result in a negative and unexpected score.
Throughout my experience with the game, I've seen scores go as high as 7 or as low as -5. I'm not certain what's the maximum or minimum score, but they pretty much vary between these numbers (see examples below).
(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Low Score (-5); Right: High Score (7)
Reflection is essentially a multiplayer game, but it's also possible to play it solo, although it's not as much fun. One of the ways to play it solo is to pick a random card and, without using the mirror, try to find an axis line that will yield the most points and one that will yield the lowest possible score. When you think you have the two highest contrasting lines, use the mirror and check all the other lines to see if you were correct. It certainly serves as a nice training for when you're not playing with others.
Ivan's Reflection is probably one of the best board games I've ever played. I was very surprised at how much fun and addictive it can become once you get into it. The rules are simple and easy to understand, and it's based on your skills to be won and not on pure luck. The high number of challenge cards keeps the game fresh for a long time, and most importantly, it never gets boring. Highly recommended for any puzzle or board game fans. It's the ultimate battle of wits.
Example of a four-player game round with the same card:
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(Click to Enlarge) - Blue (4 Points) and Red (3 Points)
(Click to Enlarge) - Green (2 Points) and Yellow (0 Points)