Sailing the wooden waves across the Channel, Gigamic and Hachette Board Games UK are bringing us another gorgeous wooden abstract, SQUADRO!
Publisher: Gigamic Hachette Board Games UK
Designer: Adrián Jiménez Pascual
Release date: 2018
Favouritefoefunlearning score 8/10
*2 Player * Strategic * Simple Rules * Wooden Game * Abstract * Logic * Prediction/Anticipation * * Pace* Grid Movement *
This week Mini-meeple targeted another game in the excellent Gigamic abstract strategy collection for his special sort of road-testing; Squadro!
I saw three ships go sailing by…….
Taking the board and bag out of the box, I was expecting it to hit the table fast. And true to form it did. One board, 10 pieces, 2 willing gamers. That’s all you need to play Squadro.
Sitting to one side of me, Mini-meeple popped the pieces in the slots with the dots even before I had told him what we were doing. He then looked eagerly at the board, desperate to start moving things about.
“You just have to get 4 of your 5 wooden ships from your side of the board over to mine and back.” I said with a smile.
“Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, Mummy” came his reply.
“Ah, but you can only move each piece the same number of spaces as the dots on its slot. And if I hop over one of your ships on my turn or you do the same to mine, that one has to go back to its starting dock and the other person gets to move an extra space!”.
Fearless. The child is fearless. No trepidation. No hesitation. No aversion to epic fail. I wish I were 6 again!
Wave hello to a winner!
Mini-meeple got the idea of how the pieces move very quickly. With only one direction to think about, he was able to concentrate on how many spaces he could send them out each time.
And of course he was laser focussed on blocking me. Every turn centred around sending one of my pieces back to base. I wasn’t as mean, although I will confess to capturing some of his pieces. But knowing that he could get as good as he was giving helped in several ways.
It made him think about the board as a whole. If he is only looking at one of my pieces, the other 4 are likely to slip through. It also showed him that it might be better to find a balance. To try and advance his own pieces using their relative “strengths” as well as block mine.
The first few games tested the water, got him familiar with the idea of racing and pacing. And he really enjoyed them! He didn’t like seeing his ships go back to base, of course. Frustration in a 6 year old bubbles up fast but fades just as quickly. And he didn’t shy away from trying to get them out again.
Ship Shape Strategy
Mini-meeple is some way off developing a winning strategy in Squadro. To be fair to him, so am I! haha ShadowMeeple beats me every time. In a life imitating art type way, I focus on getting out in front as quickly as possible. Pro-active rather than re-active. Putting distance between my position and that of my opponent.
But in Squadro, that’s not always a good idea. You want to avoid being captured most of the time, without doubt. But sometimes you also want your pieces to hang back. To let your opponent sail on into a position where they have docked a few ships. Why? Well, that means they have fewer pieces to block you with as the game goes on. On a board where it’s 5 versus 5, the playing space is crowded. But if you have 4 ships and they only have 2, you may be able to turn their early lead into a late loss. It’s a risky strategy – timing is everything in this game after all. But it might just pay off.
Explaining that to a 6 year old is not easy, I can tell you. Reassuring Mini-meeple that he would be in a better position if I took some of his pieces got me a very suspicious look. I think it may have also marked me as a “cheaty-pants”, when in fact I was doing the complete opposite! I’m used to it, mind you. The day just doesn’t feel right if I haven’t heard the words “OH MUMMY” at least three times! Haha
Squadro is another beautifully made abstract strategy game from Gigamic. It’s definitely one of those games that you’ll be good at if you “get it”. And by that I mean, you understand how to set up and slip through traps. And in a short game, that is a skill!
ShadowMeeple is one such player. He was instantly comfortable in the playing space and is very good at predicting what I will do, even if I don’t know myself!
Mini-meeple is already displaying signs that he has inherited his daddy’s abilities to think ahead and analyse the space around him. He has the heart of an engineer and so games involving grids and predicting flow are definitely in his sweet spot. And with that in mind, I think Squadro is a game that is going to become more and more appealing as his develop.
Seeing him go up against ShadowMeeple warms my own heart. Okay, so Daddy has to take a hit for the team in this one right now. But the joy and excitement on Mini-meeple’s face when he docks a ship or sends one of Daddy’s ships back to base is worth losing for. And even after only a few games, it’s obvious that it won’t be long before the tables are turned. Before the pupil becomes the master!
In the meantime, we grown ups are having fun with Squadro too. I’m doomed to fail more than I win (thanks neurodiversity, old pal!). But I’d like to think that Shadowmeeple gets almost as much joy from seeing me improve as he does Mini-meeple! Haha
If you like the sound of Squadro check out my reviews of the other titles in the Gigamic Abstract Strategy Collection (including Quoridor and Quixo and Quarto) which are being published over the next few weeks, or click here to go to my feature overview of them all!
[Please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publishers for review. I am not paid for my comments, however, and all opinions are my own].