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Ingenious Travel

Review: Great travel game for 2 players

Ingenious Travel Edition is a nearly perfect travel adaption of Ingenious. It is published as part of the Kosmos 2-player game series in what should be an entirely familiar mini-pizza-box format (although more recent editions come in a similar, but thicker, box) 

The travel edition is two-player only version (so played on the smaller central part of the Ingenious board) and comes with a hard plastic molded board and a cloth bag full of the standard ingenious playing pieces. Perfect for travel, the pieces actually sit firmly over the hexagonal nubs on the board and are perfectly stable, even on a moving vehicle.

The board also contains a built-in rack for the player's set of six tiles. This forces the players to sit on opposite sides but certainly isn't unplayable between two players sitting next to each other in seats. The one not quite perfect thing is the score track. In this travel edition, this is kept by moving teeny tiny plastic pegs from hole to hole along a track. The pegs are easy to dislodge while moving the next one, and are perfectly sized to fall into the heater slots of Hungarian intercity trains. With a little care, they can be made to work.


The game is identical to Ingenious played with 2 players. Each player receives a random set of 6 tiles which they maintain through the game. Each tile is formed of two hexagons joined on a side which may have the same or two different colours. The game has 6 different colours which are also represented in shapes which is handy for colourblind folks or anyone playing in non-ideal light conditions.

Players take turns to lay tiles onto the board and score points for lines of adjacent matching colours leading out from the sides of the two hexagons which form their placed tile. There are six score tracks, one for each colour and the appropriate peg is moved for matching colours. A player who manages to move their peg to the final (18th) position declares "Ingenious!" and gets a bonus tile lay from their

In typical Knizia fashion, end-game scoring is done by comparing the colour lowest on each player's scoring track. Ties are broken by comparing second lowest etc. This turns the game from a simple race into a delicate juggling match, particularly as it becomes progressively easier to get large scores for a colour once a large group of it exists, but at the same time this opens up opportunities for one's opponent. Often a single long line should be capped (by putting a non-matching colour in line) once a player has advanced their colour enough.

One nice touch is, before tiles are refreshed from the bag, a player has the opportunity, if they have no tiles matching their lowest colour(s), to display them face up, and take 6 new tiles from the bag before discarding their old tiles back into the bag. This is somewhat of a desperation move, but since the game can be lost on not bringing up a single colour, can be an essential move.

The board starts with 6 existing coloured spaces which are, in the 2 player game, situated on the very edge of the board so they can't be surrounded. In most games, matching coloured groups spring up around a few of these but the other big scoring opportunities emerge on the board as people take advantage of pieces with a non-matching end.

It's interesting to see how tile-laying can be done aggressively in the endgame to deprive your opponent of the extra tile lay they could use to win. Typically in the end-game, one or both players has an opportunity to get a one or more colours up to 18 and take an Ingenious bonus tile-lay if only they sacrifice advancing one of the colours which is furthest behind.

Typical lowest-peg values in the game range around 8-12 depending on how kind the tiles and your opponent have been.


This is a great game to take travelling. The hard board makes it difficult to pack into a smaller box (or combine with other games) but it usually comes along anyway just in its own box because it's such a great game. It's a lightweight and easy to explain abstract with simple rules that plays fast and appeals to a wide range of game-players. Highly recommended.