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INBETWEEN
A 2-Player Game  Published by BOARD & DICE  Designed by: Adam Kwapinski 
Eye-Catching Illustrations by: Seweryn Borkowski, Sebastian Zakrzewski & Tomasz Kalisz

This is a most unusual two-player tug-of-war style game. Set on the streets of Upsideville where creatures are night-stalking the populace with intent on eating each and every one of them. Of course the folk of Upsideville aren't over keen on being dinner for any monster, drooling, hideous or just plain ugly, and so they set about defending their friends and neighbourhood by whatever means they can. Victory looks easy for either side, but thoughtful and clever play, along with a little luck (the thoughtful play can help you a lot with your luck) makes it more of a challenge no matter which side you play.

One player takes on the role of the Townsfolk and the other player controls the Creatures. The Town player is trying to make the town safe by securing 3 Character cards whilst the Creature player has to 'eat' (devour) 3 Characters (cards). Either side can win by being the first to reach the 6th Awareness Level or if at anytime only 5 Character cards remain in play. 

There are 18 Character cards, each double-sided with the Human side of an Upsideville character on one side and the characters in the Creature Dimension on the other. Each side of all Character cards has four symbols down the left edge; this is the Safety Track which consists of 3 symbols (a single and a pair, thus 2 different types) and the fourth - the last in the column - is the ability that can be activated during the game. These symbols are in either the Human Dimension or Creature Dimension and have similar but slightly different meanings for each side. The Town symbols are in column/dimension order: Alert (1) Guarded (2 & 3) and Secured (4). The Creature symbols are Nervous (1) Terrified (2 & 3) and Devoured (4). If an Action requires a card leaves the game then it leaves the game back into the box. Energy cubes when used (a little more about Energy cubes below) are placed back in the supply for possible later retrieval.

Each player has their own deck of 28 cards: all unique for the Town player (including 8 equipment cards) and for the Creature player there are 7 different types each duplicated by 4. Town and Creature cards are played to interact with the Character cards. The Character cards also have Icons on them, one Red and one Blue. These match the available Red and Blue Tokens which can be placed onto the Character cards to advance the possibilities and characteristics of them; thus a card showing a Red Gun symbol and a Blue State Road symbol which has a Red Tooth Token placed on it can be activated (Add or Move its Safety Marker moved) if, during the Play A Card Action Phase, the Town (Blue) player selects and lays a card with the State Road symbol or if the Creature (Red) player lays a card with either the Gun or Tooth symbol on it. If the player doesn't want to or cannot activate a Character card they may instead place a Token that matches the symbol on that card onto any Character card. It's not as confusing as it sounds, believe/trust me.

Players each have an 'Awareness' card which has a column marked 0-6 on one side and the word 'Awareness' on the other. To begin with neither player has any Awareness but they both have their copy of the card face up, showing the 0-6 and the possible associated Actions. Once they gain Awareness they can activate the Awareness card, using any one of the actions equal to or above their Awareness Marker (Purple Block). Each Awareness Ability has a very useful value which of course gets better as the number rises (ie. #5 is graduatingly slightly better than #1, 2, 3 or 4) but the mean thing is that the card may be used only once during the game, thus if you use it on #2 when you get to Gain 2 Energy that is it, you must flip the card over and it doesn't get flipped back again under any circumstances during the game.

By placing Tokens on the Character cards it allows you a better choice of abilities available to you when you play cards with matching symbols. Thinking back to my earlier example where there is a Character card with a Blue State Road symbol and now a Red Tooth and a Red Gun symbol, if the Red player lays down a card showing either of those two Red symbols then they can use the ability on the card. The Blue player can use it if they lay a card showing a Blue State Road symbol. Tokens placed on Character cards may not match symbols already printed on the card. 

However, just to throw a spanner (not a Spaniard as I once heard someone say) into the works and to add to the fun, once a player has selected and played a card and either activated the ability of a Character card or Shifted the Safety Marker on a card, if they have enough energy they can also activate the ability on the played card. Energy is shown in Blue on the lower left or Red in the lower right of their respective cards. 

Energy: There are 10 Energy cubes for each side and players begin the game with 5 energy each, plus three cards drawn from their personal shuffled deck. Energy can be gained by Resting (doing nothing in their Turn) or by activating the ability of certain cards when they are played; the number of Energy gained is denoted by the played card's ability or by the number of Character cards showing the player's dimension (Red or Blue) face up and the number of Energy cubes available.

There is an arrow marker within the circle of the ten Character cards that make up the playing area, that shows the way the Character card Marker (a cylinder with one end Blue and the other Red) is to move, usually beginning clockwise and the colour of the Character card marker's edge is face up to match the colour of the Character card selected as the Start card (by the Start Player). By flipping the Arrow the Character card Marker then goes back the way it came, possibly preventing a major 'payday' for the next player.  Play is alternate Turns with each Turn having 4 phases. After every fourth phase the Character card marker is flipped and moved, thus when each player ends their Turn they flip the Marker and move it onto the next Character card. Some cards may mean by-passing a card leaving the marker to land on a Character card of opposite colour to its face up end - this can be beneficial or it can screw up someone's plans (an added bit of meanness just for fun).

The Phases are Awareness, Action, Activity and Movement. There is a solid representation of what can be done for each of these in the very well laid-out rules booklet. There are very few examples in the rules booklet but there are a lot of notes and reminders which are just as good and ensure fast, efficient playing. Your first game should take around 30-40 minutes as you read and take in the rules and learn the abilities and usefulness of the cards. After that first game 20 minutes is about average time for a game, though if you like to plan and think (or just one of those actions) you will add time on. Although it is a fast-paced game it is enjoyable and creative throughout; it isn't fast like 'Snap!' or any of those hold the deck in one hand and flip over the cards one at a time genre games.

Only the Creature player gets to flip Character cards over from Human Dimension to Creature Dimension but to do this Mandi must be in play and Creature side up and her ability has to be available for the Creature player to use it. Also she has to be 'Inbetween' meaning that there is no Safety Marker on her.


Online it is priced between £17.00 and £26.00 though there may be postal charges. Probably about £25.00 in your local store. Either way it is a game with much replayability, especially as only 10 of the 18 Character cards are used in each game. Your value for money includes: Quality cards, excellent artwork, nice but simple game tokens and markers and a superb rules booklet. Plus one of the most innovative box game designs you will ever have seen - you have to look at the end-edges of the box to see the name of the game INBETWEEN - the cover artwork, Human Dimension (all brightness and light complete with the proverbial picket fence, white of course, on the front and the dark, gnarly, eerie Creature Dimension on the flip. A most impressively clever design for an impressively clever (and different) game within (or INBETWEEN the box halves). You won't be disappointed if you purchase this. I don't give numerical or percentile points like some reviewers, but if I did this would be in the high, highs.

PS: Although it is a game where the Creatures are out to eat the Humans, it is not mandatory (or suggested) for the Creature player to sink their teeth into their opponent.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015