18 June 2021
Ctrl+F for fun
Area control, but in three dimensions, and a bit like LEGO. That may well have been the pitch in the Pandasaurus offices for their latest party-flavoured sort-of dexterity game, Ctrl. But what areas are we ctrl-ing?
The game starts with a simple black base cube that players attach one of their own coloured cubes to, and stick their flag into. Then, in sequence, players take turns place three of their cubs in a straight line from their starting cube. Once complete, players can then put their flag into their coloured cubes in any direction except outwards – which would be pointless anyway. Pointless, because, the flag pole acts as a blocker to other players placing their cubes on the base cube – you simply can’t mess with someone else’s flag. When your move takes you into contact with someone else’s cubes, you go over, if it’s one above. The same applies if you’re going around the corners of the actual cube.
The end goal here is domination on each side of this 3D object. If, when scoring comes around, you have the most cubes on each side, or own the most sides, you’ll be the winner. And as it’s everything ‘on view’ from each of the four sides (we don’t mess with the base side) going having ‘gone over the top’ on one side can actually make you quite visible on the others, until you get blocked somehow of course.
It’s intuitive and pretty ruthless. Watching other players make their move that in some way will block off a side you’re working on winning can be borderline heartbreaking. And there’s a sense that everything’s always up for grabs – at the end of your turn you feel triumphant and by your next turn you feel like you’re on the back foot. In our games, the occasions that one player would turn the cube around and see they’ve not got a single colour on one of the sides, and then panic, was numerous and humorous.
There is a small issue of build quality, however. The connector between the cubes and the force that you have to insert the flag can sometimes mean that if you’re not particularly careful, you’ll knock out a bunch of cubes, causing not only a mess but an argument. The connectors can also feel a bit loose on the outside, and most around the table were concerned that they wouldn’t stand up to a hard rotation in a kid’s collection. But that’s also to say that we played five or six games of it in a row without getting bored, and feeling like we could still be playing it after. Ctrl is more tactical than its colours suggest, and well worth a look – even if it might not last forever.
Christopher John Eggett
A really strong multiplayer puzzle game that is both smart and extremely competitive. A little let down by the components, but only with the fact you’ll want to play it so much in mind.
If a 3D puzzle, like that in Mental Blocks, is to your taste then Ctrl is the little brother to this spatial party game. Less collaborative, but in that lies the fun.
Designer: Julio E. Nazario
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
Time: 20 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 1 Black base cube
- 20 Blue cubes
- 20 Yellow cubes
- 20 Pink cubes
- 20 Green cubes
- 4 Flags
This article originally appeared in issue 48 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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