Grackles is a game for 2-4 players ages 10 and up. Folks in the board game sphere would refer to this as an “abstract”, or in other words, a strategy game that’s light on narrative, where every player has the same info and relative starting circumstances, and must overcome and outwit their opponents as the game progresses. Each player picks a color of token to start, and then the two starting tiles are placed in the middle of the gaming area (forming a black diamond at their meeting point.) On each turn, a player may draw and place a tile. This extends the game board until, ultimately, the final board will be 5 x 5. Players may also line their tokens or “birds” up on the game board to score points, which is the bread and butter of the game. You can place a token on a space of your color and line them up on any empty spaces between that point and another point of your color. Lines can only be vertical or horizontal, and you can’t cut through a line that’s already been made by another player. Players may extend their lines later in the game if opportunity allows, but they can only extend in the same direction the line is oriented, you can’t make an “L” shape. Lastly, 5 times per game, you may rotate an empty tile. You may want to foil a very obvious beneficial move for your opposition, or set yourself up for success. Each player may rotate tiles up to 5 times, and use their rotate tokens accordingly. The starting tiles are immune from being rotated. Once no valid plays remain, everyone counts the number of tokens played on the board. Whoever played the most wins!
Grackles is a simple concept with a medium amount of depth. The true challenge lies in trying to plan your moves while thwarting others. If you get tunnel vision, you may let someone score a big line, or have your carefully made plan foiled by someone’s rotation of a tile. The difference between playing with 2 and 4 people is quite different. The more players, the harder it is to strategize. Thank goodness there’s a handy card to remind you of the rules. Another neat detail is that the dots on the game tiles have varied outlines to help distinguish them for colorblind players.
Should I get it?
Grackles is a fun and easy game to pick up. You likely won’t have anything quite like it in your board game collection already, so we recommend getting it!
- It’s a graphically simple game, with bright colors and clear design.
- There is a colorblind friendly feature on the board.
- There are rule cards for easy reference.
- It’s a simple game to learn.
- It can feel a bit too simple with just 2 players, at least compared to 4.