Friday, June 7, 2013

Print & Play: Ataxx

The best of the print-and-play boardgames (games like Hex and Splut!) are worth building not merely because they're awesome and fun, but also because they're not (or barely) commercially available. That's especially true of the 1980s softboard arcade game Ataxx (BGG). It's fun to play in emulation, but abstract strategy board games are always better to play against other people. Sadly, it seems like the original copyright holder was acquired and liquidated in bankruptcy, so the IP is perhaps abandoned; Most contemporary software versions of the game are released under other names (like Infection), and this gem is not so well-known as it should be.

The board is foamcore with linen hinging tape and low-fi homemade bookcloth (made with black broadcloth, copier paper, and glue sticks), with the printed board glued on. The pieces are simply small biscuits of salt dough, painted. The instruction manual is set in a simple mockup of the original game's bitfont, created with Bitfont Maker 2.

I was concerned that manually flipping the pieces over would be more troublesome in a hardboard version than they are in a softboard version, but it's no real bother. It's a quick, light, fun strategy game, that is tricky with constant reversals of fortune.

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