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Ingenious is the new abstract placement game from internationally-renowned game designer Reiner Knizia. Players place colored tiles on the hexagonal board, scoring points, blocking opponents’ tile placement, and trying to protect themselves from being blocked by their opponents.

Marvelously elegant and compulsively replayable, Ingenious is an excellent introduction to German-style abstract board games. It’s ingeniously simple, and simply ingenious!

Ingenious is suitable for up to four players, as well as for solo play.

User Reviews (12)

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
32 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“Who's feeling a little Ingenious today?”

I am introduced to a lot of games via the website, and also through the intervention of my friends. I learned of Ingenious through a friend of mine named Jason, who brought Ingenious to our local game store and opened it up to play. I remember my first thought when it was shown to me as the pieces of the game were revealed, and that was, “Hmm. It kinda resembles Scrabble a little bit.” I can honestly say after having played the game many times now that it is about as similar to Scrabble as a Van Gogh painting is to a Picasso; sure, they are both fundamentally works of art, but there are pleasant differences in both.

Ingenious, at its heart, is an intellectual game. The name itself almost broadcasts this freely to the observer. But it is intellectual in a way that tests the abstract and requires a fair bit of strategy that can and often will change on the fly. Players are trying to amass points on a color pegging board of 6 different colors. Points are earned by placing colored tiles on a hexagonal-style board with hexagon locations within. Each player draws 6 tiles to start the game, and places them on a supplied tile holder a la Scrabble, but this is about where the similarity between the two games ends.

Each tile is composed of two hexagons linked together, with two various colored shapes on the face. Tiles can only be placed next to a location that matches up with a color/shape on the tile. Once a tile is placed, it is scored, and points are amassed for each similarly colored and shaped tile that is connected in a line with the placed tile. For instances, if a tile with a purple circle is placed next to two existing purple circle tiles, it will score in the two directions where those circles are, and count every other purple circle that connects in that direction in an unbroken chain. If there are 5 circles one way, and two circles the other way, then 7 points will be tallied, and the score marker will move 7 spots along the purple track. The player who places a tile then reaches into a bag that has extra playing tiles inside and draws a tile to replace the one just played.

So far, the premise is pretty simple, but the game throws a few elements into the game to really make it interesting. The most striking feature of the game is the way the game is won. The game continues until no more tiles can legally be played, or until one player succeeds in completing each colored score track to its maximum of 18 (in which case, it’s an instant win for that player). When the game ends, if there is no instant win, then the winning player is the player whose least scored color track is the highest among all the players. This bears a little explanation. Say you have a player who has all the colors maxed out on his or her scoring track except for one that they neglected; say the color yellow only has a measly 2 points. That player’s opponent has not scored as much, but has all of his or her color scoring at 9 across the board, except for orange, which is 8. By this example, the first player’s least scored color (yellow, 2) is lower than the opposing player’s least scored color (orange, 8). So, the opposing player wins. In other words, it matters how much you score, but only to the point where you take care of your weakest link.

So why would you want to score all of your other colors as high as you can, then? Well, this is because of the game’s other notable feature: The Ingenious. When a player maxes out an individual color all the way to 18, they shout “Ingenious!” and immediately get to place another tile on the board. This is important in that a player can take advantage of a coveted space on the board that would yield important points for an opponent, or help the player improve their own scoring totals in another color. This is also important in that Ingenious results stack; if an extra tile in an Ingenious placing triggers another Ingenious, then that player can place an additional tile as a result of that as well. I personally have seen (and performed) three Ingenious maneuvers in the same turn, and the results of that can be crippling to an opponent.

The game also has a handy little rule to prevent a player from getting too handicapped by bad tile draws. If a player has no tiles of a certain color, that player can show their tiles to their opponent (to show they have none of one color) and draw six new tiles from the tile bad, replacing the old tiles back into the bag after this is complete. This is done to ensure that at any point, a player can play a tile in a legal space, even if they would yield no additional points by doing so.

The game accomodates 2 to 4 players, and the board playing field expands in order to extend the game for additional players. I really enjoy how the game scales for extra players; it’s nice and neat, and doesn’t suffer from the usual handicaps that occur when you add more players to an existing game. I actually think the game benefits from a 4-player style, as the game forces you to think beyond the immediate and try to plan ahead for what you might need in the future.

My impressions of this game? I love it. I would play it anytime. The board set-up is simple and takes little time to arrange, and it takes equally as little time to put away. The rules are easy to understand, and while scoring might take a little bit to get used to, once one understands the basic concept, it comes quite naturally. Plus it is quite fun to be able to shout out “Ingenious!” and put a little bit of flavor to the game. However, like all intellectual games, this game has the potential to make someone feel inferior if they happen to lose a game by a large margin. Unlike most intellectual games, the chance of this is surprisingly low. Since the game can be won by who has the most balanced scoring, there are no real ‘blowouts’ in a game of Ingenious. And personally, I think that is the real Ingenious detail of this game.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Mask of Agamemnon
Novice Advisor
27 of 29 gamers found this helpful
“Pink Hearts, Orange Stars, Yellow -- Oh, This Isn't Lucky Charms?”

Sometimes the Lady and I have guests over that don’t want to play games with a heavy theme. They’re not interested in controlling ghouls or tritons or sorcerers while playing Small World and they don’t want to sit at a table full of people doing their best pirate impersonations during a round of Scallawag!, no matter how easy the game is to learn or how much fun it might be.

For those wet blankets I break out a little gem called Ingenious.

An Abstract Strategy Game? Let’s summarize.

You’re a gamer; that’s why you’re here. You know that games like this one are, essentially, competitive puzzle solving. In Ingenious your goal is to line up hexagonal tiles of the same color/shape, playing one per turn and building on the other tiles already played in a very dominoes-like fashion, until you have the highest low score.

Other than the scoring system, which takes a few minutes to wrap your head around, this plays very easily and is intuitive to learn, even for your non-gamer friends.

Sometimes a person’s turn can be slow and ponderous as they evaluate all of their options, which can make this either a complex and competitive game full of defensive strategy and carefully-planned plays, or a quick game where players drop their tiles and accrue points as fast as possible.

Dump the Box on Your Table and Play!

Setup involves unfolding the board, shaking up the bag full of random hexagonal tiles, and distributing a tile-holder tray and score card with markers to each player. Game on!

As I understand it, there is a mass market version of Ingenious that uses cardboard hex tiles instead of plastic ones. That may require some board-punching. If you’re going to pick up this game, I encourage you to find the longer-lasting version with hard plastic pieces for an extra ten bucks. It’ll be worth it after you’ve played the game a few hundred times.

Getting Your Game On — an Abbreviated Guide

Players get six tiles, each one a pair of connected hexagons with a colored shape on each side. Shapes are simply for the colorblind — all stars are yellow, rings are purple, etc. One tile is placed on the board each turn, with the goal being to connect to as many of the same color as possible, radiating in a line from each side of the played piece.

Your score card has one track for each of the six colors on it, and each one goes up to 18. If you get a color to 18, you absolutely must scream the titular “Ingenious” at the top of your lungs. Then you get another turn.

When there’s no more room to place tiles on the board, which is designed to be one of three different sizes, depending on the number of people playing, the game is over. Of your six rows of points, the only one that matters is your very lowest — i.e. if you scored 18 red, 16 orange, 18 yellow, 13 green, 5 blue, and 14 purple, your final score is 5. The highest low score is the victor, and gets to rub it in everyone’s face for at least three minutes while putting tiles back in the draw bag and preparing for the next game.

What You Get in This Bright Red Box

Mentioned above, there is a mass market edition of this game with cheaper-quality components and a lower price point. I can’t give you the rundown on that version, but here’s what you get in the super-ultra-deluxe, Big Spender version:

Lots and lots of plastic tiles, stored in a really sleek fabric bag. These components are made to last, and the bag has lots of space for shaking tiles around and stuffing your hand deep, deep inside to get the perfect random tile from a deep, dark corner within.

Scrabble-style tile holder trays, to keep your opponents from seeing what you just might play next, and a score card for each player that includes six rows of 18 points. Oddly enough, I’ve seen two versions of this card in the deluxe edition game: both sturdy cardboard, one with peg holes and colored pegs, the other flat with colored cylinders to place along the track. There doesn’t seem to be a way to tell which type of score card you’ll get with your copy, but the hole-punched version with pegs keeps your score tokens from sliding all over the place when one of your friends inevitably bumps the table.

The board. Very sturdy cardboard stock, quadruple-folded, that’s going to last you for many hours of play time.

To Buy, or Not To Buy? That is the — Wait, I think I already used that line in another review.

Very few gamers are going to sit down for an entire evening of Ingenious. It’s certainly the type of board game you break out for a casual gathering with a few friends, surreptitiously guiding them down the dark and deadly path toward becoming a true game-loving nerd.

This game is easy going and relaxing to play, as there’s no time limit and no speed involved. It’s easy to teach, which lends itself to being a great opening choice for a small party or in between longer, more complex games. Definitely a buy for the casual gamer that wants a simple pick up game, or for the avid gamers that enjoy a variety of options on their shelf.

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Rated 100 Games
Stone of the Sun
Advanced Reviewer
Novice Advisor
32 of 35 gamers found this helpful
“Do you like an abstract challenge?!”

Ingenious is an interesting and challenging game. The concept is simple. Each turn a player places a double-hexagonal tile showing two colors (and corresponding symbols) on each hexagon (the colors can be the same on a tile) on the game board. For every matching color (or row of colors) the tile is placed next to the player scores points. For instance, when a yellow tile is put next to a row already containing three yellow hexagons in a row, three points are scored. This is done for each hexagon connecting to the tile placed. At first the scoring looks difficult, but after one or two games it becomes crystal clear.

The board size itself depends on the number of players and already has six hexagons of each color printed on it. When the first player puts his or her tile next to one of these starting hexagons no one else may place a tile next to it until that player has played another tile. This is to ensure the starting player isn’t penalized for putting the first tile on the board. The next player gets the same advantage at a different staring hexagon until all players have placed one tile. Then you can place your tiles anywhere on the board!

The points scored are tallied on a scoring sheet. When a score reaches 18 (or higher, but you cannot mark a score higher than 18) the player calls out ‘Genius!’ and gets to make another move. A string of ‘Genius!’ can create oppurtunities for one player, while destroying them for others.

Now the most interesting part of this game is the way you win. Your overall score is determined by the color you have scored the least points in. So you might have got ‘Genius!’ four times already, but green is still at zero. Then you overall score is zero as well (and that will not make you win!).

Ingenious is challenging, fast and fun to play. Trying to get the most points yourself while thwarting the plans of others keeps you on your toes. “If he just didn’t put a tile there, than…” is a frequent thought during a game. If you are into abstract games and like a challenge, Ingenious is a game to try out. I think all age groups can learn the concept and will enjoy it.

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3 Beta 1.0 Tester
I Am What I Am
37 of 42 gamers found this helpful
“Great Abstract/Puzzle Game”

Ingenious is a quick, lite, abstract game that involves placing two-sided tiles, dominion-like tiles onto a hexagonal grid. Each side of the tile has a different color, and players score points by lining up tiles that share colors. Sounds simple, and it is, but there is some cunning involved here.

Specifically, the winning player at the end of the game is the one with the highest, lowest scored color. What this means is, if I have 10 points in 5 of the six colors, and 2 points in the last color, you will beat me if you have 3 points in each color (because 3 is greater than 2). This creates scenarios where players must evaluate whether it is better, or even possible to block off his or her opponent from scoring points in the colors that they need the most.

Ingenious has about as simple of a rule-set as they come, but it can be fiendishly competitive and plays lightning fast, so players will be sure to be begging for rematches let and right.

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5 Beta 1.0 Tester
Advanced Grader
34 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“Simple fun - great gateway game”

High quality pieces and very simple rules set this game up as a great introductory board game or a palate cleanser between more complex games.

The scoring mechanic lends itself both to simple plays for a few points and strategic plays for loads of points.

The game rewards a balanced play style more than a power-gamer style of building chains to score dozens of points at once. Players place colored tiles trying to build up chains of colors, scoring more points for longer chains, to increase the points in a single color on a player’s scoring track. The win condition is to have your lowest scored color have a higher value than your opponent’s lowest scored color.

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25 of 32 gamers found this helpful
“Ingenious is Brilliant”

Ingenious is an abstract tile placing game where you try to score points across six colors by making rows of matching sets. The game ends when the board is filled out and no more of the dominos-like tiles can be played. The player with the highest score on their least scored color is the winner!

What makes the game good in my book is that you can approach it from multiple different directions. Many players swear by the maximization approach, playing to max out one color at a time so they can earn extra turns. Other players go for breadth, trying to score well in multiple colors. Both strategies are sound, and usually a good player will switch between the two throughout the game based on their luck of the draw and how the other players are sculpting the board.

The game is great for 2, 3, or 4 players, making it very flexible for when a strange number of players (like 7) shows up to game night.

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Professional Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
30 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“Another good strategy game for the family”

Reiner Knizia has a knack for developing simple, but good strategic games. Ingenious is a tile laying game of colorful tiles where each player scores points in one of the six colors as they make connections. This game combines a neat scoring method that encourages players to keep making connections that increase your score per color you put down. The person with the highest LOW score among their colors wins the game. There’s some subtle depth in laying the tiles especially near the end game where you can try and block your opponents from getting their low scores up while keeping your colors moving.

This game is a hit with my family of various ages!

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I play blue
19 of 39 gamers found this helpful
“My favorite of Knizia's abstract games”

This game plays quickly, and is accessible by all types of players. A lot of fun and easy to play.

The Good Stuff:

The game scales easily from 2 to 4 players, adjusting the board dimensions depending on the number of players. There’s even a solo variant that will allow one to try to achieve their highest score compared to previous plays. While I’m all for solo plays, this game shines with two people..even three. Tried it with 4 and oddly enough, some analysis paralysis came in to play. Could have been the crowd, but I really like it as a quick 2 player game. My wife and I can break this out and get a game [or two] in under an hour. The plastic bits are also of a pretty high quality, and are usable with those that are color blind. Match the shapes instead of the colors! BOOM!

The Bad Stuff:

Some slight warping on the game board came with mine. Previous versions also didn’t have peg-board score counters. While these do, and look and feel nice, the pegs are a little small. Maybe I have sausage fingers? I don’t know. Oh well. Not much bad about it really…other than the pegs.

This game is a gem of an abstract game. Of the abstract games I have played, this one stands out. I’d rather play this than Qwirkle. Similar features as Qwirkle, but I like the score tracking [despite the pegs] and the player interaction as well. Every once in a while, someone will make a mean and dirty move that will throw off your score for the game. While I typically don’t like that about some games, this one…I barely notice it. Fabulous game!

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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
16 of 33 gamers found this helpful
“Great quick little game”

Played this game a bunch of times with various people. Always have a good time. The game is a great filler for when you are waiting for your gaming group to show up or just want some good brain work fun.

I have the original set of the game, the components have held up very well with a lot of use. The box I have is not quite as pretty as the new box but it does its job.

Great game that is accessible to pretty much any gaming experience level or type.

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Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph Beta 1.0 Tester
24 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“One of My Favorite Abstracts”

This game is a combination of Qwirkle and Blokus style games. However, the scoring track brings the strategy up a notch, making this one of my favorite games to play with the family.

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5 of 39 gamers found this helpful
“Easy Gateway to Abstract Strategy Games”

This is one of the easier games to teach and play, and works great to introduce to the non-abstract gamer for this genre of play. Try it out for sure!

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2 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“Great abstract game”

Great for adults and kids!


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