Weird Death-and-Time-Inspired Board Game Gets Digital Redesign

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Perhaps they’re what cells would look in the fluorescent wonderland of Tron‘s grid. Or maybe they’re little visual aides at a science center exhibit on chemical bonds. Whatever these odd little widgets are, incorporating them into a game seems a bit easier–and more intuitive–than trying to gamify sand timers. And if you can track that line of thought, you’ll have a grasp of what the folks at Move 38 were thinking when they used these flashy “AutomaTiles” to devise a new tabletop game, Live Free or Die.

The team first looked at Tamsk, a title described as “one of the weirdest games in the history of board games.” With the aforementioned sand timers used a game pieces, Tamsk integrates both time and “death” into its design, asking players to constantly be flipping, lest any sand run out. Naturally, play has opponents trying to block each other from replenishment until only one party has “living” pieces on board. By Move 38’s reckoning, Tamsk is a flawed execution of an interesting premise. Using sand timers as game pieces overly complicates things. Not only do they drive the price point up too much, they’re unreliable and they demand too much of players. So, that’s where these AutomaTiles come in.

Engineered with enough sophistication that they can actually “communicate” with one another, these hexagonal pieces chart time basically in terms of half-life, taking on the burden of calculation and logging off the players. The full rules are listed on Move 38’s website but, in short, Live Free or Die is a uniquely-fatalistic game about dying cells. Players maneuver the arrangement of their locked-up pieces, and the skill and cleverness of their moves determine how fast or how slowly their AutomaTiles (and those of their opponents) will be extinguishing. It plays like a game of the future, not just for the novelty of its concept and mechanics, but also for how the technology pretty much allows any surface to become a game board for it. Pretty neat, no?

Would you pick Live Free or Die up once it’s finished? Does it seem like an improvement over Tamsk? Let your opinions spread in the talkback.

Featured Image Credit:  Move 38

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