It Takes Two: A Double Spot Review

by Corey Whelen
7 November 2019

2 Players, 45 Minutes, Low Complexity, Medium Strategy, Ages 8+

Two-player board games are somewhat unique in that there are a few things a two-player game needs to be in order to be successful. It needs to have interaction and competition. It needs to have clever mechanics and a tight ruleset. It needs to be simple to learn and difficult to master, and most importantly, it needs to be fun! Many board games share these traits, but they’re especially critical in two-player games- otherwise, why not just play a larger game with only two players? MindWare’s delightful Double Spot was designed to exemplify all these traits, and what results is a fast (and fun) battle of wits- and a perfect game for two players!

Everything you need for a 2p Brain Battle (much preferable to a heart attack)

Double Spot is based on the classic Connect 4 “four”-mula, but it takes things several steps further, adding several layers of strategy and depth to the game. Connect 4 is an extremely binary game, hinging on two players taking turns dropping their respective colours into the gameboard as they try to create a single line of four same-coloured circles. Double Spot shakes things up from the get-go; players have four colours to chose from! They aren’t trying to reach one line of four, they’re trying to create multi-coloured patterns of three shown on two “goal cards”, and they need to do it five times to win!

Having the game be “first to five points” helps a lot with the games pacing. It makes the game longer, absolutely, but there’s also the possibility of early leads, shutouts, come backs, and “Hail Mary” plays that can turn a game around in the fourth quarter. It makes scouring the board for patterns a big part of the game as well, since new goal cards are introduced after scoring one of the two that start on the table. The card can be scored immediately if the pattern exists in the play area already- but only by the first player to see it. This creates a sense of hyper-tension as both players race to find potentially non-existent patterns, and this edge never really goes away. No matter how thoroughly you scour the board for patterns, you’re never fully convinced they’re not there. The goal cards can ask for patterns in lines and L’s, making the search even more difficult. I try not to pick up the goal cards (so as not to announce my plans to my opponent) but I spent a lot of my game time mentally spinning the pattern in my head, desperately seeking a place where it would fit.

Can you find the patterns hidden in the main board? It might be trickier than you suspect...

The addition of new colours also makes Double Spot that much more intense than Connect 4, since they make the patterns on the goal cards that much more difficult to create and identify. This is where the luck element comes in: Every round you roll a die to see which one of the four colours you drop into the game. Sometimes, you get to choose between pink and yellow or blue and green, but basically, you have a one in three chance of getting the exact colour you need, which means you have to have multiple plans on-the-go, while trying to keep your opponent in the dark about all of them. It can be difficult to hide your motivations when you only do one thing per turn- this leads to a surprising psychological element where you insist that you can’t use the colour you rolled and are instead, dropping it randomly. Sometimes it is a horrible roll and you actually are dropping it randomly! Then it’s really fun to work your opponent up and make it SEEM like you had a great turn. I love this extra dimension to the game, but I understand how strategy purists might prefer to play without the die and choose which colour they drop every turn as well- and that’s totally an option as well!

Perhaps the most notable thing about Double Spot is how it creates mirror images for the players. Every coloured disc you drop is double-sided, so when you use a pink disc on your side, it actually appears yellow for your opponent. This would be problematic if the Goal cards were not also reversed- one side will ask for a string of Yellow, Pink, Blue, but the other side (which is generally only visible to your opponent) will ask for Pink, Yellow, Green. This means that every time you help yourself, you’re also helping your opponent get closer to the same goal, so much like the original Connect4, you have to set up plans carefully and discreetly if you want them to go off without a hitch!

For a game called Double Spot, I was surprised by the quantity of spots included. Far more than two.

Overall, Double Spot is a fantastic successor to Connect 4, taking what works from the classic game and reimplementing it with new rules, more finesse, beautiful pieces and intriguing gameplay. It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon with someone special in your life, and if you have a board game rival, it’s a wonderful competition to butt heads over. It helps develop skills like planning and pattern recognition, and it makes for a fantastic way to introduce someone to hobby board games.

*Distributed by Outset for MindWare in Canada only