August 20, 2016
There’s a reason that we tend to feature so many awesome titles from Blue Orange in our Review section and Gotta-Play choices. Our latest review is a perfect example of this, and highlights one of the newest and hottest games from their top-notch line-up. Brix is a two-player abstract strategy game of cunning moves and clever planning; deceptively simple, but deeply complex. Ultimately, Brix is about outwitting your opponent through the careful placement of brightly-colored plastic bricks, sharing its genre with traditional mainstays like Go, Connect Four, and Tic-Tac-Toe.
Playing Brix consists of laying twenty-two colored and marked bricks into a “wall” configuration in order to get four particular sides in a row – vertically, horizontally, or diagonally – before your opponent. Each plastic brick is composed of two squares and has an orange half and a blue half. Each half has two faces marked with O and faces marked with X. Each brick is exactly the same as every other one, which means there are no “better” pieces than others in the game. Winning is 100% percent dependent on a player’s strategy!
It may sound simple enough, but each placement is hugely meaningful and requires players to carefully study the wall before adding their bricks. Every turn will necessarily put into play both a color (blue or orange, naturally!) and a symbol (X or O), building up the wall with both breadth and height. At the beginning of the game, each player will choose one or two winning conditions and attempt to satisfy those conditions. For example, if one player chooses orange and O as their winning conditions, the other player would represent blue and X. This alone determines the game’s goal for each player, but the strategies only blossom from there. If you can place a single brick to advance both your color and your symbol, you can force your opponent into making difficult decisions or into missing something that’s already in the wall. But you must be careful that one of your own bricks does not add too much to your opponent’s progression, or you may doom yourself to an early loss.
Brix is a deep game of abstract strategy with a bright orange-and-blue persona that hides a wealth of subtlety. From a personal perspective, I’ve found that Brix has many interesting situations that arise during play, and I feel like each choice and placement really matters. I noticed that having to deal with two different characteristics at once (i.e., orange and X) added a whole other level of depth that sets the game apart from other abstract strategy games with a similar feel. I never felt overwhelmed with complexity, however, and was able to appreciate the significance of each move throughout the games I played. In essence, I found that Brix strikes that pleasing balance of simple rules and complex decisions that is a hallmark of well-designed games. And since one of the designers of Brix also designed the perennial favorite Gobblet, we already know it’s got a healthy pedigree.
The components of Brix are clear and easy to read during play and do not feel cheaply made. Though we really hope that Blue Orange one day produces a wooden version of the game, the playing pieces do feel good in hand and have a pleasing weight. The instructions are clearly worded and come with several other ways to play. It’s also worth mentioning that due to the way each brick is produced, the wall to which both players contribute appears exactly the same on both sides of the playing area – ingenious engineering!
Brix is a great way to relax and take your mind off things while still getting some proper strategic noodling in. It’s also very easy to teach to new players, and you can easily get a game completed in about ten to fifteen minutes. All in all these qualities make Brix an excellent game to have around for both serious board gamers and for people who just want a fun way to pass the time in someone else’s company.