Tessellations are a series of identical shapes that lock together to form a continuous whole. Inis goes one better once the map pieces lock together it always looks like a map of Ireland. Somehow.
INIS is a dudes on a map game set in ancient Ireland with beautiful (recycled) Jim Fitzpatrick artwork. Players control a group of warriors trying to reach an end goal control target on an expanding map.
Each player has a limited amount of identical bearded warrior dudes and has to control six territories, be present near six amount of sanctuaries or subjugate (outnumber) six enemies. Do that and maintain it until the end of the round and you win.
The game starts with a small map of large interlocking pieces. The pieces are gorgeous. The important one being the central citadel, ownership of which determines the first player and one or two other benefits. This is usually heavily guarded and regularly fought over. Players draft a hand of cards from a central pool and these standard cards allow things such as move and fight, defend, build forts, add more warriors and so on. One allows you to explore adding an extra tile and others to draw epic events. Bit of a misnomer to be honest.
Some cards are played in reaction to Thwart or benefit from an opponent’s card or in combination with your own for some extra bonus. Getting a wild card makes winning much easier but they only come from a difficult to achieve played epic card. A wild card counts for one of any of the win conditions making victory a little easier.
Once you’ve met the criteria in your turn to win you have to show a pretender to the crown card (a little like shouting last card in certain card games) so others have a chance to ruin your plan. It’s neat that and stops someone from winning quietly.
Like a lot of games you play for the first time you can’t see the shape of things or how close people are to winning. You get it quick though with Inis. More so as others are misdirecting you with shouts of “he’s about to win!”. The game is close and tense. It’s forgiving. You often feel like you screwed up but not that it will cost you the game. You can get back on the track pretty quickly or at the very least have a damn good go at it.
Inis is by the same people that brought you Cylades and Kemet. Both good fun in your face games. Inis is a solid addition to their stable. It’s fast, easy to learn, gorgeous artwork, strong theme and fun to play. I’m a fan