We’re kicking off our analog game review series with Zodiac Clash, a new strategy game from Spin Masters. This games comes in a clear box, so before even opening it, the game board is visible. It is comprised of 4 discs which are offset at different heights, and which rotate independently from the level below them. So turning one level will move it, and the tiers above only. This design gives the game its unique flavor, since the board is constantly changing as you battle you opponent to try to align your stars first. Also visible are the game tokens, with one for each of the twelve zodiac signs, and the brightly colored stars that played drop on the board.
The objective is deceptively simple yet delightfully complex due to the innovative game board. Simply align four of your stars, with one on each tier of the board, and you win. Turns are comprised of taking two actions, which include moving your sign, placing a star, removing your opponents star, or rotating one of the astral discs to shift the board. Each zodiac sign also has a unique astral ability that adds another layer of complexity to the game. For instance, Scorpio allow you to move two spaces for one action, while Taurus allows you to drag your stars along behind you in a line as you move through the cosmos. With the variations in abilities, no two games should ever be quite alike. Additionally, the rules have a list of “interesting Match ups” which highlight some of the opposing forces that can make for very competitive games.
This game is pure strategy, there are no dice rolls or other luck mechanisms that can sway the outcome. This is a game where everyone starts on equal footing, and wins by outsmarting their opponent. While some zodiac signs may be stronger than others, analyzing the current state of the board, planning you next few moves, and reacting to the last move is really all you need to do to win. The games last about ten to fifteen minutes per round, so it’s easy to squeeze a quick round in between other activities, or take turns if there are a few people who want to play. This game does support four players, who play in teams, but it really shines when it’s one on one.
My only complaint with this game is that moving the board in and out of the box seems unnecessarily difficult. The plastic pieces that the various levels of the game rotate on doesn’t lock together, so you can’t lift the board up with out it coming all apart. It’s not that big of a deal, and is more of an inconvenience, but it is a noticeable pain point when setting up or cleaning up. That said, it’s not something that will keep me from playing the game. The overall construction of the board and game pieces are high quality and feel nice in the hand. The artwork is subtle but thematic, and the overall gameplay is fast paced and fun.