When people hear “board games” they common think of the old-style family games like Life and Monopoly, unless they are in the know and realize the hobby is quite diverse. However, some of the general public’s minds may also go to the more classic abstracts. You know, like Chess, Backgammon, Chinese Checkers, and so on. And while those ancient pastimes have a long history, games in the same style continue to be made.
Confusion is a game first published in the early 90’s and rereleased a few years ago which feels like an interesting modern take on the old school abstracts. Its like Chess meets Guess Who, oddly enough, but it works. There’s a spy theme thrown on top, which I suppose works with the double agent, but this is a straight up abstract and one of the few I found interesting enough to buy.
Confusion has a chess-like board setup, with each player pieces on their end. The goal is to grab the suitcase in the middle, and take it to the other side. Each piece moves differently, however, you don’t know how they move! You only know how the other player’s pieces move, since the movements written on the pieces are facing you, and vice versa.
This idea is inherently interesting, and is the reason to play the game. In order to move your pieces, you have to ask permission. If the piece is able to move that far and in that direction, the other player must tell you. If not, you lose your turn.
So with this hook, the game is really a deduction game over a two-player abstract. As you find out what your pieces can or can’t do, you narrow down possibilities on the movement book. However, each side also has a double agent, which they are allowed to lie about. It’s all pretty cool.
The reprint of this older game has some top notch components. Which is good because components are crucial for a game like this to work.
Each piece is made of sturdy Bakelite. But how do the unknown moves work you ask? Actually its pretty cool. Each piece has two parts, the casing which has an icon on it for players to refer to. There is also a center piece which slips inside which shows the movements. Therefore these middle pieces can be shuffled and put into different pieces.
The other neat and important component are the movement dossiers. They are designed like confidential spy folder, and inside they have a list of every movement piece. You use dry erase markers to mark off the options to narrow down your moment. Pretty awesome.
Confusion is one of those “hook” games, with such a neat mechanic it draws you in. The concept of trying to figure out how your pieces move is really cool. The components are important in being able to make this work, and they are of high quality and function, so no problems there.
I guess my only issue with Confusion is that the strategy behind the goal of the game isn’t overly interesting. What you need to do is capture the suitcase and bring it to the other side. There are some strategic moves to get around the other player, but the strategy still feels like it comes up short when faced with this awesome premise that the game promises.
So I guess what I would say is that Confusion is an interesting game to have in your collection, but I don’t think its one that will be played much or analyzed much. It’s one of those “check this neat game out” kind of things, but not really one which will demand a lot of attention in the end.