Full disclosure: A preview copy of TANGL was provided by Fisher Heaton Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
More Kickstarters this week! I think it’s been a super busy month for Kickstarter, but September was the same, so, who knows? Maybe it’s all that post-Gen Con money finally coming in, or people want to start Kickstarters before Essen? I’m honestly not sure. Anyways, we’ve got more this week coming from Fisher Heaton, who did Gartenbau a while back, which I also really enjoyed. This is part of a set of their Analog Apps, which are board games that are simple to pick up and play, which, nice. Good angle. Anyways, let’s dive right in.
In Tangl, you’ve got a variety of pieces and one thing in mind: you hate corners. You just, loathe corners. You need to put these pieces together with as few outside corners as possible, but you’ve gotta do it fast, otherwise your opponents will beat you to the punch! Will you be able to cut enough corners to be successful? Or will your opponents be able to edge you out?
Not much! Give everyone 11 tiles:
You’ll need to choose one and put it in the center. One last thing is to set out the sand timer and the six Bonus Tokens (0 – 6):
You’re all ready to start!
The game’s pretty straightforward. As soon as the game starts, you need to put your tiles together as quickly as possible. Tiles can connect or lock together or pretty much whatever you want; you just can’t overlap the tiles. You may, at any time, swap one of your tiles for a tile in the center area; you must just have 10 tiles at all times. Once you’ve finished putting all the tiles together, take the lowest available place token and flip the timer if it hasn’t been flipped.
When the timer runs out, the game ends! Players score one point for each outside corner (convex, not concave) on their finished Tangl. If you haven’t completed your Tangl, helpfully, every remaining polyomino tile you have counts as its own unique, distinct shape. Isn’t that fun? Then, add in your bonus token, if you have one.
The player with the fewest points wins!
If you want to play solo, there are 7 puzzles and sets of recommended tiles. Each puzzle ranges from easy to difficult; see if you can beat them all!
Player Count Differences
The major difference is that there are just going to be more tiles in the center in play during the game, so hopefully you’ll have more exchange options over the course of the game. Just be careful! If you spend too much time looking at the center, you’re not necessarily going to be able to execute when you actually need to build your Tangl. It can spike your analysis paralysis, which is never what you want to see during a real-time game. The solo game is pretty different, since you’re just doing puzzles with the Tangl tiles, so, that’s fine too. Either way, I don’t have a strong personal preference on player count for this one.
- Corners are the enemy. I guess, just outside corners, but still, corners are very bad. Try to eliminate them if possible. That’s sort of the whole game, yes, but still you should really try to do that.
- Look for synergy areas. Trying to put tiles together so that they can reduce their total number of corners is really the best way to go. Sometimes you get super lucky! Sometimes you don’t.
- Don’t spend too much time messing with the tiles in the center. That’s an easy way to run out of time. Make the best of what you have; don’t wait for the perfect tile to be put in by another player. Similarly, don’t spend too much time swapping tiles; indecisiveness is going to be your enemy if you can’t settle on a particular shape.
- Big rectangles are your friend. Rectangles have so few outside corners! Relatively speaking. The bigger rectangle you can put the pieces into, the fewer total corners you’ll end up with.
- It’s not necessarily worth dropping three places in the ranking just to eliminate one corner. This is something that not a lot of players consider when they’re playing; they want to focus on eliminating corners and they often forget that the bonus tokens add additional points to your score. Shaving one or two corners off
- It may actually be worth having more corners and flipping the timer early to mess with your opponents. This is a great way to get them to scramble, and if they scramble enough you might actually get them to mess up and not even finish a structure at all! Then you force them to score two different Tangls, which is excellent for you. You’re not really here to make friends; you’re here to force your friends to score ludicrous numbers of points so that you can eventually win the game.
- It’s also not a bad idea to count corners if your opponent beats you to the punch. That will give you a bit more time to determine whether or not you’re going to win or if you need to keep going. Just, you know, be speedy about it; it’s a real-time game.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Super easy to learn. There are barely any rules; you just can’t overlap the tiles. That’s pretty generous, as far as rules go.
- I love the tile shapes! They’re very unique and fun. I mean, that’s kind of what you’d expect from weird shapes like that.
- The patterns are nice, too. They’re bright and colorful, and the final Tangl looks super weird and I love it.
- Plays very quickly. I mean, BGG essentially lists it as 3 – 10 minutes. That’s pretty accurate. I think we ended up playing it six times or so on our first go at it? It’s definitely one of those games that you can just like, finish and then immediately replay.
- I really like these kind of real-time puzzle games. I think I have a slightly softer spot for Nine Tiles Panic, but that’s really more because it’s got a theme to it whereas this is kind of abstract. This one is still a super fun little puzzle, especially as you try to smooth out the edges.
- The tiles are kind of small. I think this is another game that would benefit from big chunky tiles; a bit easier to manipulate, in my opinion. That might just be the whole preview copy thing.
- The lack of theme is a bit disappointing, but this seems like a tough game to theme, anyways. I think I just generally appreciate games that are a bit themier, even if they’re kind of abstract. That said, there’s not a lot of themes that come to mind for a game like this, so, I don’t really have a ton to say beyond just like, theme would be good but no theme is fine here!
- If you’re not a fan of spatial games, this game will not be for you. It’s all real-time space game and some counting. For people who enjoy those sort of tile-laying abstract spatial reasoning games, they’re probably going to love this. If that sort of thing isn’t your bag (and it’s not the thing for a lot of people), then you’re probably not going to enjoy this either.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, I think Tangl is pretty great! For me, these kinds of games are always a favorite of mine. This one’s a bit on the themeless side, which is a bit of a bummer for me, but I also don’t think you could do a ton with the theme anyways, so, that’s okay. It’s not something I’ve seen a lot of, because it’s just kind of weirdly shaped, and that’s cool! Most games try to look smooth and clean, and Tangl wants to, as well, but I respect that for the most part it looks kind of garish, right? It’s got weird shapes and weird patterns interlocking and touching in a weird way and the overall final looking thing is almost bizarre. But if you can get rid of enough corners, it looks great! It’s super cool. The solo options are nice, but I’m not necessarily always into puzzle games as a solo experience; that said, I’m glad they’re there. All in all, I think it’s a neat, scaling puzzle experience that’s great with lots of players, and I still enjoy the real-time elements because that’s just … one of my favorite kinds of games. If you share my love for real-time games, puzzle games, or tile games, I’d recommend checking out Tangl! It’s a solid pickup for a quick puzzler.