A Review of For The Win
For The Win is an abstract strategy game where players take turns playing down tiles with various powers. As you are playing you will be reminded of classic games like Othello, Backgammon, checkers, etc. Each player has five different types of tiles with unique powers such as teleporting another tile away or replacing one tile with another. As tiles are used they are flipped to an “inactive” side…but to achieve the winning condition you must have tiles still on their “active” side, and flipping them back takes more time. Thus is the question…use their powers, or try to achieve the win without bogging down in turns of flipping tiles from one side to the other and back again. The tiles are fun- you have stuff like a pirate, a ninja, and a zombie, among others- and the powers are each different and make sense thematically. The game plays quickly, often can be done in 10 minutes or less, and always has the feel of a light, on-the-go game, in a good way.
The tiles are similar to dominoes in quality, and feel much better than if they were wooden or cardboard chits. Beyond the tiles there isn’t much to the game, reference cards, a few markers, etc. That helps keep the box small, small enough to easily slip into a bag or large pocket for any impromptu gaming. The MSRP might be a bit steep for what’s in the box, but you can likely find a cheaper deal online.
For the Win feels a lot like Munchkin or Fluxx- light, party-friendly games that can be played relatively quickly with not too many rules to explain, and can appeal to non-gamers. Honestly, though, as I was playing it I was reminded most of Chess. You can take your turns and play your actions, trying each time to make little movements toward victory, but the way to really succeed in this game is to predict what your opponent is likely to do and plan your own strategy out several turns in advance like the best chess grandmasters…
Gripes/Things to improve
My group found the Active/Inactive images on the tiles not as immediately easy to identify as we would like. Inactive sides all depict the Active image with a large X on it, but some were not as quick to recognize as others. One easy fix would be for all the Active sides to be one color of print and all the Inactive sides another, either with or without the X. Also, this game may be best played with 2. You can play with up to four people (with the expansion, which just adds more tile components), but with that many actions being taken between your turns it becomes very difficult to plan long-term in a way that is reminiscent of Carcasonne when you get more than a few players at the table. If you like the chaotic uncertainty element of something like Munchkin, that won’t bother you, but if you prefer to develop and follow a strategy you may find that difficult.
Not a bad game, small and portable, quick to play and a potential “gateway game” for non-gamers. Good when you need something light and lighthearted between epic empire-building games, or when you just want to goof around and not have to think too much. If you can pick it up at a discount, not a bad addition to any game collection.