Calvin’s Commentaries: Oxono

When it comes to board games certain companies are very good at carving out little niche areas where you know whatever they release will fit snugly into a particular area of gaming.

Cosmoludu is one such company. They have a line of two-player abstract strategy board games which all come in similar book slipcase-design boxes that look awesome on the game shelf, and inside that box are nice wooden components and games easy and fun to learn and play.
The games are not as ‘deep’ as say Chess, Hive, or Yinsh, but are what might be better described as coffee time diversions, typically playing under half an hour – most closer to 15-minutes.
The series includes Kamon, Mana, Yoxii, Hokito, Pantarei, and now Oxono.

Oxono is a brand new 2024 release by designer Jeremy Partinico, and as you might gather from its name owes at least part of its heritage to Xs and Os.

To win Oxono, a player must be the first player to line up four pieces of your color or four pieces of the same symbol, orthogonally. In the latter instance, all the pieces need not be your color.
At each turn, you take two actions.

First, you move what they term a totem of your choice either the X or the O piece as many open squares as you like, but always orthogonally. Then you place one of your pieces with the same symbol as the totem moved, on a free square orthogonally around the totem’s new position.
You can only move a totem if you still have pieces of the same symbol in reserve, otherwise, you will be forced to play the other totem.
It is about as simple a set of core rules as you can get.

But there are a couple of wrinkles as a game develops.

For example, when a totem is surrounded, a player can then play the totem over the surrounding pieces, and if you land on another encircled square, you can place your piece anywhere on the board. The latter instance has the feeling it was added as a rule to patch a hole in the basic game, but you play for it to happen as it is generally a winning move.
The game was more fun than the rule read-through felt like it would be, and since it’s quick – this is a 15-minute or less offering – you will want to play again. The Canadian best-of-seven idea of hockey is a good option over an extended coffee.

Is Oxono a top-shelf game?

No, the depth is not here to rate that, but it is a game you will enjoy, and the box will look great – albeit on a lower shelf.

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