Dale Yu: First Impressions of Spexxx (Waterfall Games)

 

Spexxx

  • Designers: Ruben Dijkstra and Ruurd Lammers
  • Publisher:  Waterfall Games
  • Playesr: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30 min
  • Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Waterfall Games

spexxx

Spexxx was a game that barely hit my radar prior to leaving for SPIEL 2014.  It just popped up on the BGG preview in the final week, and I really didn’t have much time to do any research on it.  However, it was one of the first games that I saw at the press conference on Wednesday, and I’m glad for this chance encounter.  The company’s booth was in the hinterlands (otherwise known as Hall 4), and I’m not sure that I would have run across it otherwise.

Spexxx is a tactical dice game which is easy to learn and play.  The game revolves around the multi-colored board which has a grid of spaces on which you can place cubes.  On a turn, you roll the 5 dice (regular d6).  You can re-roll up to three times, and you can set aside or re-roll any dice each time.  When you’re done rolling, you look at the combinations that you can create to allow you to place a cube on the board.  Each column and row on the board has a set combination of dice, and you essentially make a set of coordinates to place a cube.  Only one cube can go in a spot, and if it turns out that you cannot place a cube, you simply discard a cube.    You are not obligated to use your entire roll – you can pick and choose the dice you want to use.  There is an example in the rules which shows 6 different possible cube placements for a full-house roll.

There are two special spaces – the silver and gold spaces.  You can freely place on any silver square if you roll a small straight (4 dice in numerical order) and you can freely place on a gold square for a large straight (all 5 dice in numerical order).  Additionally, if you roll a 5-of-a-kind, you can place on any empty space on the board.

Scoring occurs when you make or extend a Spexxx – this is a row of at least three cubes in a row.  Each of the colored spaces on the board has a different scoring value.  You simply score the value of each space in your Spexxx.  If you have extended an already scored Spexxx, you simply add the point values for the newly added space.  Additionally, if you make a Spexxx of at least 5 cubes in length, you also get a 5-point bonus for that.  The final bonus is for making a 3×3 square on the board – if you are able to do this, you score a 25 point bonus.

The game ends when all players have placed or discarded all their cubes (16 turns in a 4p game, 18 for a 3p game, 23 in a 2p game).  The player with the most points wins.  There is nothing in the rules to deal with a tie, so I guess everybody wins.

My thoughts on the game

Thus far, this has proven to be a surprise hit.  The rules are simple to teach, and you can get in a good game in under half an hour.  The board gives a nice risk/reward matrix – the higher scoring spaces require you to roll either a full house or a 4-of-a-kind, and you have to weigh your options on each turn. Of course, once you’ve decided to go down the high-risk pathway, you’re committed to it for the rest of the game because the only way it will pay off is if you are able to get 3 cubes in a row in that area!  The advantage of this is that you will likely not have a lot of competition for that part of the board, but you will need a lot of luck to have it pay off.

One of my sons does complain that there is a bit of simultaneous solitaire going on.  While I don’t think that this is exactly true – there is a lot of indirect interaction.  That being said, there isn’t a lot of direct interaction though.  The reason for this is that you primarily are working on your own lines.  It would be rare to devote an entire turn to simply trying to stop your opponent.  The more likely scenario would be trying to place a cube to disrupt an opponent only when you couldn’t place one to help yourself.  The rules for placing cubes certainly allows you to consider defensive placement of cubes because you often have multiple choices of where to play.  The downside of a defensive play in a non-2p game is that you don’t get any scoring benefit for giving up your play to block someone else – thus, the motivation to play this way is severely reduced in a multiplayer game.

Thus far, Spexxx has been a delightful  game to play with the kids and the family.  Turns go quickly and it doesn’t out stay its welcome though it can get a bit long near the end as you sometimes have to really try to figure out where you want to place a cube and how you’re going to roll the dice to get there.  I’m glad that I ran into this game at the press conference, and it will probably get a fair amount of play as a filler/closer over the coming months.

 spexxx-board

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Lorna: Lots of dice games this year, Spexx was interesting with 2 players. More difficult to score than first impressions might give but maybe it’s due to my poor dice rolling skills!

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers 

  • Love It:
  • Like It: Lorna, Dale
  • Neutral:
  • Not for Me:
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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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One Response to Dale Yu: First Impressions of Spexxx (Waterfall Games)

  1. Thank you Dale and Lorna for your very positive words about Spexxx! I very much appreciate it!

    Ruben Dijkstra
    Author Spexxx

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