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Cover Up

Cover-up is a tic-tac-toe-like game, for all the best reasons: easy to learn, quick to play, and different enough from tic-tac-toe to make you have to think. It's made of heavy plastic, also for all the best reasons: the pieces feel good in your hand, the playing board is 3-dimensional, and the base of the board serves as a storage compartment for the pieces.

It's a two-player game, like its forebearers. Each player gets 12 discs: three large, four medium, and five small. The board is a 5x5 grid, but each space actually has three different levels. The lowest level accommodates the smallest pieces, the middle the medium, and the top level the largest. Players take turns placing discs in available spaces. Or moving the large discs. Once a smaller disc has been played, it remains in position until the end of the game.

Four-in-a-row wins. Not four-in-a-row-on-the-same-level. Just four-in-a-row. Of the same color. Now, as you move around your big guys ever so freely, covering what lies beneath with abandon (there only three of these pieces, so you need the smaller ones also in order to win), you do have to be alert to what you may uncover in the process - like one of your opponent's pieces, which happens, now that you notice, to be exactly the fourth piece in a row, which means, alas, the victory is hers.

So it's strategy, and just enough memory to make you have to pay closer attention, and it's easy to learn, and it's fast, and it's well-made - everything you'd want in a majorly fun thinking game.

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