Slither a definite big board gem

When I reviewed Alea evangelii recently, a game played on a 19x19 board, it got me to thinking about other games which can be played on the big board which board gamers are likely to have at hand as it is the typical size for full scale Go.

Go of course is widely held as the best abstract strategy game there is, and is one where players dedicate their lives to being good at it. As a result it’s daunting for many gamers.

But there are other options on a 19x19 board, including Slither, a game from Canadian game designer Corey Clark who created the game in 2010.

As a relatively recent abstract strategy game Slither doesn’t maybe have the following it deserves. In part that is because abstract strategy games, as much as they are my favoured genre are not hugely popular with the masses. That the game can be played with existing material, dig out the Go board and stones, Slither has never been actively marketed either. The rules are free online, which is a huge plus for anyone wanting to try it.

And try it you should. The game is rather compelling in nature.

“Slither is a unique square board pure connection game in which players move and place stones. Slither is exceptionally robust and an ideal connection game to play on a Go board. A game of Slither cannot end in a draw,” details the rule set. Slither can actually be played on any square board, although Clark notes 8x8 is recommended as a minimum size, and the full size Go board adds a lot to the game in terms of depth, although play time jumps too.

“The Objective of Slither is to connect your designated sides of the board with a chain of orthogonally connected stones. Black attempts to connect the top and bottom edges while white attempts to connect the left and right-hand edges. Corners are considered to belong to both adjacent sides.”

Play starts with black.

“On your turn it is mandatory to place a stone. A stone may be placed on any unoccupied cell such that it does not create any diagonal adjacencies to like coloured stones unless a common stone also connects them orthogonally,” details the rules.

I will grant you that sounds complicated, but in actual game play comes naturally quite quickly, and placement is supported by illustrations in the downloadable rules.

“You also have the option to move one of your stones already on the board. A stone may move to an orthogonally or diagonally adjacent space. After the movement phase your stones are allowed to be diagonally adjacent and not connected orthogonally, as long as the newly placed stone connects them orthogonally.”

Of note, no draws are possible in Slither, which a definite plus too.

And, that’s it in terms of rules. Study the illustrations, and once you get into a game or two, Slither will soon feel quite natural, certainly no more difficult to grasp than the aforementioned Go.

Slither will not be a board game for the casual player, but if you like head-to-head competition, minus the vagaries of luck, and with depth to explore, it should be on your ‘must try’ list.

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