There have been a few attempts to capture the feel of video games like Fortnite and PUBG in a board game, but the latest game to bring to mind the tense competition of a battle royale is something quite different.
Passo is a two-player game that on its face resembles a miniaturised draughts (or checkers, for those of you outside the UK). Players line up five discs in two colours - black and red - at either end of a square grid. On their turn, each player can move one of their discs one space to an adjacent square - although, unlike the diagonal-only movement of draughts, you can move to any square, including going backwards.
Encountering another disc doesn’t stop you from moving onto a square, either. Instead, you can simply pop your disc on top of one or two other discs, which stops anything below the top piece from moving until freed.
Where the Fortnite element comes in is in Passo’s steadily shrinking board, which gradually reduces the playing area - much like the closing storm of battle royale games that squeezes players into an ever-tighter battlefield. (Or the nineties checkers-like board game Zértz, if you prefer.)
Whenever a disc moves off a square, the tile it moved from is removed from the game if it’s then left empty. (Any other discs stay where they are if they were under the moving piece.)
If any tiles are completely cut off from any remaining spaces as a result, they also get removed - taking any discs left isolated with them.
In order to win, either player must be the last player left standing or able to move a disc - the battle royale victory, if you will - or move one of their pieces past their opponent’s starting row, as if they would move off the board towards their opponent, a step beyond kinging a piece in standard checkers.
As well as its standard rules, Passo includes the option to add power-ups to the game in the form of three power tokens secretly picked by each player from a set of six possible options in their colour. The one-time abilities include gaining the power to add to a stack of three, move a disc twice, carry stacked discs together, jump gaps, avoid removing a tile or even replace a removed tile.
Passo is due for release by publisher Steffen Spiele at this year’s Essen Spiel, the German board game convention that kicks off this Thursday.