Ever played a game that feels like another, a game that has completely different mechanics and theme yet somehow manages to evoke the same emotional response? Because Breaker Blocks make me think of Housing Crisis, a Kickstarter game I reviewed last year that I still don't think made the light of day. The two games are completely different, but evoke the same, and I think that's a good thing.
The first thing you notice about Breaker Blocks is the components. Breaker blocks isn't made from your typical punched cardboard, all the components are laser cut from acrylic. It's a simple change that makes a big difference. The game would work just as well if it were made from more traditional materials, but there's something to be said for the tactile quality of a game. It's the reason why the chips is Splendour add to the game in a way that's hard to quantify.
The main code block at your disposal is a simple number, the point scoring system that wins you the game. The clever feature with the number blocks is that as the number goes up the number of terminals goes down. A block that's scores you zero gives all the connectivity options, whereas the top scoring three block only has a single terminal, ending any circuit it is connected to.
It's a bit more complicated than simple numbers, as a selection of power up blocks are available to boost your options or hinder your opponent. Power ups range from the annoying destroying of blocks, clearing players’ hands and Authenticate Blocks that can end the game.
As with many games you have more options then you have actions, so you can never achieve all you want in a single turn, and your actions this turn often sign-posts to your opponent what you're planning to do next turn. Which in turn puts you're opponent in a bind as they try and work out whether to stop you or stick to their plan. It leads to that wonderful give and take, that chess-like combination of positioning, tactics and strategy.
So why does this game remind me of Housing Crisis? Because both have the similar reactive gameplay, both are about area control and both have the same issues with causing analysis paralysis and knowing who's won two or three moves before the game has ended.
However for a couple of reason I prefer Breaker Blocks. For starters this game is actually available, you can guy a copy direct from Spriteborne and a snazzy deluxe version is on Kickstarter now. Although largely theme-less, this game wins over on theme, but most of all this is the most portable micro game I own. You just grab the bag and go, it's a bit clunky and makes a rattle in your bag, but it's really quick to tip out and play, and you don't need much space to do so.
If you're looking for a two player micro game that travels well then I highly recommend looking into Breaker Blocks. It's a short transportable game that packs a lot of tactical gameplay into a small bag.
This review is based on a full retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.