Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Inis

I'm not usually one for games that fall into the "dudes on a map" category of board games. I've never been good at strategy, and find it hard to see those critical moves in map games.

But Inis is based around Irish mythology, with card art by Jim FitzPatrick, an artist I grew up seeing in my text books throughout my schooling. I had to at least have a look. And thanks to a local convention, I got to try it out with a friends copy before I took the plunge myself. As it turned out, it took me about 16 hours before I owned my own copy.

I fell madly in love with Inis from the moment I played it. It is a legendary experience, full of magical moments. Win or lose, I always have a great time playing it and come away with great tales to share.

Inis is an area control game. It's a battle of wits to be in command of territories on a modular map that changes every game. You can declare your intent to become King and win once you meet one or more of the three possible victory conditions.

Inis is a drafting game. You have to react every turn to the cards you end up with in every turn from a tiny selection of possibilities. There are only 17 Action Cards in a full four player game, with four dealt to each player every turn and the last one burned, or placed to one side. Rather than keeping the hand delt to you, you pick one, and pass on the rest. You keep doing this until you have a hand of four cards. This gives you some control over the cards you have every turn.

Inis is fast, easy to learn. The rules are intuitive and allow the game to flow nicely, though your first combat takes a little work to get through. Once you see one play out, combat is a breeze as well. The strategy layer is clean and clear, and really accessible. I never felt overwhelmed by Inis, though I still love seeing the amazing moves other players manage, and learn from every game.

In my experience, Inis always results in excitement and laughter, whether you win or lose. At the end of almost every game I've played we've talked about the amazing actions or surprises that each player managed in the game while we're packing up. The final, winning move is nearly always an epic play, resulting in whoops and cheers regardless if you end as High King or defeated clan.

It's also one of the very few games I have played that genuinely work in all its player counts. Lots of games claim 2-4, or 2-5, but really only work with 3 or 4 players. Inis works with 2, 3 or 4. My 2-player game was an incredible head to head, filled with fast card play between two players that had played the game a few times. The whole game lasted a hair over an hour and felt really good.

The board and cards are beautiful to look at, evocative and full of colour. The components are fantastic, with really nicely detailed minis to represent your clans. One of the molds has a great moustache too.

Thanks to cutting back on new board games this year, I've played Inis more than any other game in my collection in the last seven years since moving to Vancouver. While at SHUX in October, I ended up teaching the game to nine different groups of people, resulting in about 30 new players, and played in four of those games.

This is easily my most treasured board game right now. I crave another game like some sort of addict. After over a dozen games played, I might even win a second time!

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1 comment:

Leland Steel said...

A great and concise write up that I couldn't agree with more. I just love how this game tells a story right down to the game winning Epic Tale card!
I love the limited actions you have to deal with every round as well. While players benefit from repeated plays, a new player will know what all of the action cards do by mid game and be on equal footing with veteran players.
So grateful to have you teach us. Inis is definitely a game I'll be adding to my collection!