Surviving the Purge: Indigo (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designer: Reiner Knizia
  • Artists: Eckhard Freytag, Walter Pepperle, Stefan Wingen & Betty Yao
  • Publisher: Ravensburger Spieleverlag GmbH
  • Players 2-4
  • Time: 30 Minutes
  • Plays: 22

By 2013, my family and I were playing a lot more board games. It had become our thing to do. We had an eight-year-old daughter who at that time enjoyed hanging out with mom and dad far more than hanging out with friends, and a two-year-old who was just hanging around whether she liked it or not. It was about that time that my focus in games kind of shifted a bit — they became a bit more family oriented and less oriented to my wife and I, or other adult friends and family. In other words, less Game of Thrones: The Board Game and more Indigo

Indigo is a path-building game that will feel instantly familiar, yet unique when you play it. The instant knee jerk reaction is that it’s very similar to Tsuro, but apart from building paths to move things along, the goal is completely different, and that really changes the entire feeling of the game. 

Indigo plays two to four players. At the start, each player will get a number of tokens based on the player count in their chosen player color. Along the outside of the board there are six gateways. These gateways are in between the blue starter tiles — called treasure tiles in the rulebook — that are placed on the board. In a two player game, each player has six tokens and does not share a gateway so they would place two tokens of their color in the chosen gateways. In a three player game, each player will own one of the gateways and share two others with each other player. In a four player game, like in the photo above, each player shares a gateway with each other player and does not own one. The set patterns for setup are shown in the book. Along with the six starter tiles in between the six gateways, there is a starting tile in the middle as well. That tile is started with five green emeralds and one blue. The outside starting tiles have a yellow gem on them. At the end of the game, each yellow you collect is worth one point, each green is two points and the blue is worth three. Each player then gets one starting tile, a player screen — to hide your gems as you collect them — and you are now ready to start playing Indigo.

Turns in Indigo are straight forward. You have a tile in your hand and you play that tile on the board. The goal is to get the gems to the gateways that you control. If a gem makes it to a shared gateway, both players will get a gem of that color. When you place your tile, you will place it in any unoccupied space, it does not have to be adjacent to anything, as long as the hexagonal space is empty, and you are not placing a tile as to block an exit at a gateway, you can place it there. If you place it adjacent to an existing tile, you may be able to move a gem. If a gem is on a path that you extend, you move the gem as far along that path as you are able to, stopping as soon as the path ends. If you do create a path that causes two gems to collide, both of those gems are removed from the game. After you have placed a tile, and possibly moved and collected gems, you draw a new tile. The game proceeds until there are no more gems left to collect, and the player with the most points from collected gems is the winner. There are no tiebreakers, you will just share the victory if more than one person has the highest point total. 

We can instantly see what makes it different than Tsuro. Instead of being a game where you are eliminating players by diverting their paths off of the board, you are working towards your own goal of collecting gems, even sometimes working together with other players because you share a gateway with them. In two player games, you naturally don’t see that cooperation since each player has individual gateways. Two player is a far more confrontational game with meandering paths due to your opponent trying desperately to redirect that gem to their gateway instead, especially that coveted blue gem. For what it’s worth, we do play it where each player gets two tiles in hand, it allows a bit more of a feeling of choice and a bit more control. 

On the table, Indigo is one of those games that starts out looking empty, and in the end, you and your fellow players have created this intricate map of pathways that interweave all over the board. Which if you know me, that’s one of my soft spots in board games. I absolutely love the feeling of building something, whether it be a map or a tower. Especially something that looks as fun as this does. 

Indigo has been passed over quite a bit over the years in favor of other family weight games, both in our house and elsewhere, but maybe it shouldn’t be. With it’s simple rule-set and family friendly play, it’s a game that longs to be a family favorite.Dr. Knizia knows how to make fantastic games that can allow players to feel free to play how they want to play, as aggressive as they want to be, or passive, exploratory or by the book, and still feel like they have a chance and are actively working towards the goal, I think he has greatly succeeded here and I think that’s part of what makes a great family game, because not all families have the same dynamics in play. I won’t go so far as to say that Indigo should be on the shelf of every board gaming family, but I also won’t say that it shouldn’t be. 

Indigo was one of the recommended titles for the 2012 Spiel des Jahres Award.

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers

James Nathan (6 plays): I haven’t undergone Brandon’s purge process, but Indigo is a “previously owned” for me.  I had a rocky relationship with the game –it was one of those games where I couldn’t get it out of my head after the first time I played it.  But that wasn’t my copy. Things happen, and it was some time before I had a chance to play it again. For that to happen, I bought my own. 

But it just wasn’t the same.  Maybe there was something magical in the first game, or maybe the game and I were in different places now.  

For me, the dial on this one is embedded in the tactical end of the spectrum, and any strategy is too easily lead astray by an opponent with too large a selection of tiles (that is to say, it isn’t a Carcassonne situation where the specific tile for a situation may be rare.) It veers towards take that feelings in that way, even without Tsuro’s player elimination.  (Take enough of the gems I was working on, and practically speaking, I am eliminated.)

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it. Brandon K

I like it. John P

Neutral.

Not for me. James Nathan

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5 Responses to Surviving the Purge: Indigo (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  1. Pingback: Surviving the Purge: Indigo (Game Review by Brandon Kempf) - Rollandtroll.com

  2. Pingback: Surviving the Purge: Indigo (Game Review by Brandon Kempf) – Herman Watts

  3. toucanas says:

    The game remains in my collection though it isn’t getting played as often. I agree that tactically, it can be frustrating when a gem slips from your grasp. However, this is a short game and should be played with expectations that match the duration of the game. I think of Indigo as something akin to Raj/No Thanks!/11 Nimnt.

  4. Pingback: Surviving the Purge 11 | The Opinionated Gamers

  5. Pingback: Indigo – The Dao of Board Gaming

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