Intelle board game review

REVIEW – My wife and I were recently at a gaming convention and asking after two-player games.  Someone recommended that we pick up a copy of Intelle, so we bought it on the spot and took it home to give it a try.  This review is a quick summary of our thoughts on the game.

What’s in the box?

  • 7 system tiles that become the board
  • 24 white cubes and 24 black cubes that are played on the board
  • 4 white meeples and 4 back meeples that show who controls a tile
  • 2 pages of English instructions

Gameplay

The theme of the game is about a black hat hacker trying to break into a corporate network protected by white hat cybersecurity professionals.  Sounds pretty cool in a nerdy sort of way, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, the theme has nothing whatsoever to do with the game. Intelle is a two-player, cube-placement, area-control strategy game.  The players take turns laying their cubes onto the system tiles.  If I lay my cubes in certain patterns on the spaces of any given system tile, then I will control it, which I then mark with a meeple.  If I control three tiles in a certain pattern, then I win the game.  In general, it takes my wife and me about two minutes to set up and about ten minutes to play a game.

The most interesting game mechanic comes from placing cubes on the spaces.  Each system tile is one of seven colors–look around the edges of a tile to see its color–and each tile has seven spaces within it, and those spaces are each one of the seven colors.  When I place a piece on a space (e.g., the blue space), that forces my wife to play on the system tile that matches the color (i.e., the blue system tile).  When she plays, she, in turn, forces me to play on the matching system tile.  This is what makes the game challenging, because every time I play I am simultaneously trying to control my tile, trying to see where I do (and don’t) want my wife to go, and wherein turn that might force me to go.  It’s kinda like chess in that you can look ahead as many moves as you want.  From a gameplay point of view, Intelle feels very, very similar to Gigamic’s Quarto, though the latter eschews any attempt at a theme.

The pieces of the game are well constructed and should last for many years.  The artwork, which is supposed to represent computer and networking components, is very simplistic.  The colors are vibrant, though the red and orange colors are too similar; I often had to look twice in order to tell which was which.

In my mind, there are two shortcomings of the game.  One, the setup is the exact same way every time, which reduces the variety and thus the replayability of the game.  Two, the early game, the first six or seven moves, have almost no impact on the game.  I feel like I’m simply putting pieces down wherever until there’s enough on the board to start making my choices meaningful.

There is an expansion to the game called Firewall, but I have not tried it.

What I like

  • Easy to set up, easy to learn, easy to play
  • Challenging game mechanic that simultaneously impacts my moves and my opponent’s moves
  • Quality construction

What I’d change

  • Add some variety
  • Change the early game

Final thoughts

Intelle is a fun abstract strategy game for two people.  It’s easy to learn and play, and yet it challenges me by requiring me to think a few turns in advance, particularly once the mid-game begins.  It suffers from low replayability, yet it’s a good game to pull out from time-to-time when I want to play something different.  It’s a decent two-player game that is worth adding to your collection.

Price:  $23
Where to buy:  Fisher Heaton Games
Source:  This game was purchased by James Garriss from Fisher Heaton Games at TantrumCon 2020

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