InBetween Review

InBetween Review

I can firmly say that I am a massive fan of Stranger Things, the Netflix television series that mixed 80s movies, Dungeons & Dragons and a smidgeon of Cthulhu. What is there not to like? Which is why I was very excited about the new little game form Board&Dice, InBetween. For starters it’s Stranger Things the card game, and is certainly a lot better that that Eleven egg waffles nonsense that was recently announced.  Secondly the game was designed by Adam Kwapiński, and although he may not yet be a household name, I think he is always one to watch.

The town of Upsideville has a problem with a creature from another dimension (another dimension another dimension another dimension another dimension).  Each player will take the role of either the townsfolk or the creature and will play cards to try and drag the residents of Upsideville in the dark dimension or secure them in the real world.

InBetween Stranger things card game review

Each of the 10 townspeople has a symbol on them and you simply play a card with the matching symbol to move them one step further into your dimension. Each card also has a special effect that can be played but will require the spending of energy. You might want to save that energy however for the final stage because if the current towns’ person is in your dimensions you can also spend energy to increase you awareness level, and getting your awareness level to 7 is the most common way of winning the game.

Muck like the dual dimension theme of the game, there are two aspects to consider every turn.  Not only are you managing your hand in an attempting to fire off your abilities you also have to consider the location of the activity marker because if that person is in your dimension, you have the opportunity to use their special ability or increase your awareness.

InBetween card game review town cards

The result is that InBetween is like a game of tug of war. Every single action is there to pull the game further in your direction, or anticipate your opponent’s actions and prevent them from pulling the game to their side.  This is going to be one of the weirdest analogies ever, but imagine you have a row of weighing scales and your aim is to get as many of them tipped over to your side as possible, and there is a frog hopping between scales. You can either add loads of weights to your side of the scales and guarantee that the balance is in your favour or put just enough on the scales so that when the frog lands, it tips everything to your side.

At first it’s a slow process as you gradually chip away at every character, gently pulling them towards you. Every action at first feels small, insignificant, even pointless at the beginning of the game, but each tiny movement of a cube and each townsperson you have pulled into your dimension slowly pulls the game closer to your victory. Sometimes this slow action can feel frustrating and it's certainly true that the draw of the cards, both in the townspeople that form the setup of each game and your own action cards can have a big effect on your relative success. It also means that InBetween does suffer from that rare problem where a game can be called a few rounds before it actually finishes, because although you can carry on chipping away, once your opponent has started a landslide there's not much you can do.

InBetween card game review creature cards

The game is fully of that joyous frustration (joystration) of attempting to benefit yourself or hinder your opponent and because it can take several rounds to get a character in just the right condition for when the awareness token lands on them it can often feeling like you are spinning plates.  This does mean that it can be frustrating to keep on top of everything and also that once you start losing, there doesn’t appear to be a lot you can do to reverse the situation.  This isn’t too much of a problem, as most games I have played have been extremely tight.

There is however something very familiar about InBetween, and if you have played Board&Dice's other small box games; Multiuniversum and Pocket Mars, there is definitely a feeling of familiarity between them.  The themes may be very different and, certainly on the surface the mechanics looks nothing alike, but each game uses cards selection to alter the state of the game and each action is not a big swingy change but that careful chipping away.  It’s more of a feeling than something you can put your finger on and it’s not really a criticism form myself just something that helps create an identity for Board&Dice’s games.

InBetween Stranger things board game review

InBetween may look like a relatively simple game, but that just means that it’s quicker to get to the table.  It’s a tug of war, where you are slowly trying to bring the game over to your side and everyone I have played it with have really enjoyed it’s simple but fun gameplay.

This review is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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