Designed by David Abelson and successfully funded on Kickstarter, Intelle is a two-player abstract strategy game about hacking the system. One player is the evil black hat hacker determined to infiltrate the Corporation’s system and wreak havoc. The other is the white hat hacker, the Corporation’s only line of defense, who must protect the data. Intelle is currently available direct from Fisher Heaton Games.
How to Play Intelle
The goal of the game is for players to control 3 adjacent systems. System tiles are controlled when a player gets 3 cubes (a.k.a. code blocks) in a straight line or a triangle.
- The black hat hacker places a cube anywhere except on the middle tile
- The white hat hacker must then place a cube anywhere on the tile matching the color of the space the black hat hacker played on
- This repeats with each player placing cubes on the system tiles matching the color of the previously played space
- When a player gets 3 of their cubes in a row or triangle, they mark the tile with one of their meeples. They control this system. Control cannot be lost, but cubes can stilled be played on controlled tiles.
Intelle is basically a colorful hexagonal ultimate tic-tac-toe except with more ways to win (24 compared to 8). The hacking theme makes Intelle more appealing than something bland like tic-tac-toe, but doesn’t influence the gameplay. Although, as someone who codes and watches Mr. Robot I like the theme and prefer it to a theme-less abstract game. The biggest downside for me was the possibility for ties. It deflated the fun a little bit when you realized no one was going to win.
The cube placement rule is such a clever mechanic and makes for a very interactive game. I really enjoyed how you made moves to dictate the other player’s turn. It was even possible to trap a player in a situation where a system tile only had one space left, so they didn’t even have a choice. Pretty satisfy move to control your opponent in this way. On the flip side, I will say that in most games about two thirds of the way through it can feel like there is nothing you can do to stop a loss. You can get caught in a loop. Regardless of where you place, it is eventually going to lead to the same tiles and the same inevitable result. Being on the winning side of this is great, you’ve assured your victory. Being on the losing side sucks, because there is nothing you can do to change the result at that point. This makes moves in the first third of the game more important then they seem, so don’t go placing cubes willy nilly.
One of the great things about Intelle is the simplicity of it. The rules can be explained and demonstrated in less than a minute, then it is straight to gameplay. Perfect for playing while you wait for more players to arrive because it has such a quick start and plays in under 20 minutes. Planning ahead and analyzing potential moves is far easier than in games like chess. You know which tiles you can send your opponent to and can easily see which tiles they could then decide to send you to. This makes it easier to pick up the strategy and be challenged by less experienced players.
Intelle boasts a simple design making it easy to plan several moves ahead and teach new players in a matter of seconds. At only two players it is a great filler game to play before everyone arrives for game night or at lunch with a coworker. The ability for all paths to lead to the same result at a certain point in the game is quite a drawback. However, considering the short playtime, most of the game is enjoyable up to the point where you realize you just lost no matter what. Intelle was able to differentiate itself from other abstract strategy games enough to make it a worthwhile addition to my collection.