Dale Yu: Review of Axio Rota

Axio Rota

  • Designer: Renier Knizia
  • Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
  • Players: 1-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 15-30 minutes on the box, 10-15 minutes in reality
  • Times played: 5, with review copy provided by Pegasus Spiele

The tagline in the rules says this is “A clever tile-laying game for 1-4 shrewd minds”.  Though, maybe it would better to say that it a clever tile-laying game for 1-4 ingenious minds…  In this game, players will place tiles to the board (in five of the colors/icons that you might have seen in Einfach Genial – I guess someone really hated the yellow circle).  Each player gets their own scoreboard which shows the five colors and a scoring track that goes from 0-12 in each color. As you might have guessed, each player also gets a colored cube which goes on each track.

The 60 tiles all have a quarter of a circle in each corner, most of which have a single colored icon in them, so a few of the quarter circles are empty.  The tiles are mixed and then four are flipped up and randomly placed in a 2×2 square to start the game. If there are any empty quarter circles in these four tiles, rotate the tiles so that the empty quadrant is in the center of the 2×2 grid.  You’ll know that you’ve done things right as you’ll have a full circle in the center and then parts of circles surrounding it. Each player then deals themselves a facedown deck of twelve tiles and then takes the top tile into their hand.

A start player is chosen and then turns are taken in order until all players have played all their tiles.  On a turn, the active player plays his tile into the display on the table – always playing so that it is adjacent to at least one other tile and fitting into the grid of tiles.  Then, the tile is scored; each quadrant of your placed tile which is added to a circle portion on the table is scored separately. Essentially, you will score one point in the matching color for each icon already seen in that circle’s area – the icon that you played does not score.  Thus, you can score a maximum of three points per icon – that would happen when you complete a circle that already has three like symbols in it. If you play a blank quadrant, you can choose which color it will score when placed; however, on any later turn in the game, it will not score as it will be considered a blank space at that time.  As you score, move the matching marker to the right to show your score. If you get to the end space of a scoring line (the 12th space), you yell “Axio!” which I think is ancient Etruscan for “I’m a genius!”, and you take a tile from the supply and immediately play it and score it.  Finally, when your turn is over, you draw a new tile from your personal deck to ready yourself for the next turn.

Again, the game continues until all players have played all twelve tiles from their personal deck.  Then, the winner is the player who has the highest amount for their worst color. If there is a tie, look at the next worse color, etc.  The rules do have a sudden death victory condition where a player immediately wins if they get to the end of all five scoring tracks, but I have yet to see anyone come even remotely close to this…

So, if you can’t tell, this is pretty much Einfach Genial in a smaller box.  Sure, it’s a little different, as the tiles limit any particular scoring play to only three points instead of the long lines possible in Einfach, but the overall feel is the same.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the same colors and icons are used. That being said, this is another example of the genius of Herr Doktor Knizia in that he can take a solid game idea, tweak it slightly, and give you another game to buy from him 😊

Sure, this isn’t as complex as Einfach Genial, but this version of the game can easily fit in a jacket pocket and it possibly could be played on an airplane tray table, so there are definitely times when having this version of the game would be handy.  Given my druthers, I think I prefer the larger and nicer looking original version, but yet, I can’t make myself give up my copy of Axio Rota because of the portability issues… Maybe once there is a card version that will be even easier to put in a pocket, then I’ll be able to give this up – or once there is a dice roll-and-write version!

Turns move lightning fast, in part because this tile game allows you to draw your tile at the end of your previous turn so that you have an entire table cycle to look at the board and find the right place to play your tile.  Honestly, all tiles games should allow the players to draw their tile early to keep things moving… There is a fair amount of tile luck here as you only have one tile in your hand at any time, so you’ll certainly do better if you are simply lucky to have the board set up for you when your turn comes around; but this should all even out, and even if it doesn’t, it’s a ten minute game, so you can set it right back up and hope you are luckier on the next go-round.

Anyways, Axio Rota is a pleasingly simple game which should appeal to all levels of gamers, even those who don’t game much.  And, for those with some experience, the familiarity makes it easy to pick up. If it were the right time of year, this would be a perfect stocking stuffer…

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Brandon K – Honestly, I asked someone to mule this back from Essen for me because I thought it was an expansion for Axio. Yup, even I can be guilty of not knowing what exactly I am asking for. It’s a fun little game that compresses some of the feel you get in Axio and lets you feel it in a smaller space and time frame. Also, I have no idea what Einfach Genial is, all I know is Ingenious, wink, wink. Ingenious and Axio are joined at the hip, one has hexagons, one is squares. One creates useless empty spaces, the other has a use for creating those empty spaces. But all of this is neither here nor there as this is Rota, and not Axio or Ingenious. I liked Rota for what it is, a shorter, more compact version of the Axio/Ingenious system, but I’d still rather play the bigger versions. Rota felt too quick for me and playing with fewer players means fewer options on the board, it feels like you are playing half a game at two players to me. My copy is staying in my collection though and it sits inside the Axio box. 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Brandon K.  Dale Y
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

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.
This entry was posted in Essen 2019, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Dale Yu: Review of Axio Rota

  1. Pingback: Dale Yu: Review of Axio Rota - Rollandtroll.com

  2. Pingback: Dale Yu: Review of Axio Rota – Herman Watts

  3. ScrappySPJ says:

    “If there are any empty quarter circles in these four tiles, rotate the tiles so that the empty quadrant is in the center of the 2×2 grid.”

    It’s probably not ideal that the photo directly underneath this paragraph doesn’t follow this rule.

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