- Designer: Prospero Hall
- Publisher: HABA – http://www.habausa.com/conex/
- Ages: 8+
- Players: 2-4
- Time: 20-30 minutes
- Times played: 4, with review copy provided by HABA USA
Conex is one of three small box games that just arrived from HABA USA. It has the “Game Night Approved” logo on it, so this is meant to be part of the new family line of games. I love the fact that HABA continues to try to make games for the family market – with the constant stream of acquisitions and mergers in our hobby, it’s nice to see another company working to bring this level of game to the table. Conex also brings another delightful game from Prospero Hall – which is not a person, but rather a design collective. In the past year or two, I have enjoyed other designs from them such as Bob Ross: Art of Chill game and The Wizard Always Wins.
Conex is based around a 52 card deck which has interesting geometric patterns on each card. Each card has a distinct background color and then has a number of “CONEX corners” superimposed on that background. There is a scoreboard which is placed in the center of the table, and each player places their scoring marker on the starting space of the track. The deck is shuffled and each player is dealt a starting hand of 5 cards.
On a player turn, the active player has two options. He can either choose to draw two cards from the deck and add them to his hand OR he can choose to play one of the cards in his hand to the table and carry out any actions that might be found on that card. If you play a card, you must lay it on the table so that the CONEX corner on your card aligns perfectly with the background of a previously played card or scoreboard.
You may not cover any other CONEX corners with your card, and your played card may only touch one previously played card. Finally, you are geographically limited to the surface you are playing on – you cannot play a card that overhangs the table edge in any way.
When you successfully play a card, you go ahead and score points equal to the number printed on that CONEX corner. If your card is played upon a “+2” card, you will also score two bonus points for your placement. If you play your card on a “die” card, you roll the special die and draw cards or take one of the special action stars depending on the roll.
If you get either star, you must wait until your next turn for a chance to play them. The silver lightning star can be discarded to allow you remove a previously played card from the table – so long as no other cards are on top of it – prior to you playing your card for the turn. The blue 2x star can be discarded to allow you to score double points for the turn.
The game continues until the end of a round where a player reaches the end space of the scoring track (35 points) or when no one has a card left that they can play. Whomever has the most points at the end of the game wins the game. There is no tiebreaker.
My thoughts on the game
CONEX is an interesting spatial puzzle game. In my first few games, I had a hard time visualizing how the cards would lay out on the table, but after those initial games, it became much easier to do this. The cards expand out in an eye-pleasing array.
The game is definitely one of timing. While you won’t score points without playing cards – winning the game will not come from simply playing cards as quickly as possible. Given the varying point values of the different CONEX corners and the special scoring abilities of the stars, sometimes it’s better to wait for a great opportunity to maximize your score. The game end can be trigged by reaching the end of the track (35 points), so a nice doubled score – say 12 points – is more than a third of then needed total!
The die adds an element of luck to the game that helps keep it interesting. It’s the only way to get the action stars, so usually there is a lot of competition to play upon the die cards when they show up on the table. I often feel it is worth a suboptimal scoring round if I get a chance to roll for one of the stars.
Graphically, the design is clean, and there really isn’t much flavor art – the game looks quite abstract on the table. My only quibble with the art design is the un-numbered serpentine scoring track. We have bumped the scoring numbers every now and then as the scoring markers have to be stacked on top of each other to fit in the spaces. I would have also liked to see the track be numbered as it would be easier to quickly place your marker on the correct space on the track – even having a small icon denoting each 5th space would have been nice.
Some of our games have gone off in a single direction. Once cards are played, there is definitely a bonus to playing on cards which give a special ability. Thus, it might happen that all the cards are played off a single corner of the scoring chart, only to start on a new corner once the room on the table is exhausted!
The game should play quickly, though our first few games went slower as I think we all had problems processing how the cards were going to lay out on the table. One Playing time has definitely sped up since then, and now we are clocking in at 15-20 minutes – a nice time for a game of this weight. Of the three small games from Spring 2018, this is the most abstract, and likely the most “gamery” of the bunch – but it’s still easy enough to teach to all comers. The lack of theme may be offputting to some, but I don’t mind that at all.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Not for me…