iGy’s by developer Kristopher Conrad is a no-nonsense implementation of physical abstract boardgame Gyges, where players take it in turns to move pieces into one of two goal spaces on the board. Sitting somewhere between checkers and chess on the strategy scale, it provides a fresh challenge for abstract game veterans, although is hampered a little by a lack of options.
Each of iGy’s two players has initial control over 6 pieces: three pairs of counters marked with one, two or three concentric rings, indicating how many spaces on the board they can (and must) move.
Once the initial laying of the pieces is over, then iGy’s innovative twist kicks in: a player can move any of the twelve pieces, whether they were the ones they originally placed or not. Only pieces on the row nearest to the player may be moved, and when selected they must be moved the exact number of vertical or horizontal spaces as indicated by their ring markings. Pieces can move backwards or forwards; they can also double back, moving into the space they just came from.
The goal is to move one of the pieces into your ‘goal’ space at the opposite end of the board. A piece must finish its move in goal, requiring some forward thinking to work out the best likely route to success.
If a piece finishes its move on top of another piece, the player has two options: to ‘bounce’ the moving piece (where it gains an additional number of moves equal to the piece it landed on); or to ‘replace’ the piece (where the player moves the piece which was landed on instead). It’s possible therefore to build up chains of moves, where pieces bounce and replace each other towards the goal: and of course, each player is trying to maneuver pieces to stop their opponent getting this kind of edge.
Doing away with any bells and whistles like sound or (sadly) any AI opponent, iGy’s is only able to be played by 2 human players. Although online Game Center play is available, you’ll be lucky to find an opponent to play against, meaning a game of iGy’s is only really an option when you have another person with you to play on the same device.
Graphically, the title is functional, with a pleasing wooden style; the pieces are also big enough to select and move easily: although a little more in the way of player feedback (e.g. highlighting available spaces to move to) would have perhaps made things more intuitive. Early bugs where the game appeared to hang between moves have thankfully been ironed out, meaning that if you have a like-minded friend to play against, iGy’s provides a solid alternative to other abstract strategy games in your collection.
With a bit more polish and the addition of AI play, iGy’s would be a great addition to the abstract genre. As it stands however, it is a little too limited to recommend to anyone other than completists who have real-life opponents on tap.