Layers by Ludicorn
Players: 1 to 4 Players
Playtime: 20 to 30 minutes
Perfect for: Players who love visual puzzles and speedy competition
Layers is a game of creating patterns faster than your opponents. To set up the game, missions of three varieties are placed face down: images that can be constructed using 3, 4, or 5 layers. When each mission is revealed, players go as fast as they can organizing their double-sided layers or filters, arranging them from top to bottom so that the final overhead view of them matches the mission card. The quicker the players can figure out the correct order of the layers, the more points they score.
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What works in Layers is the alacrity of the game, both in teaching and in execution. The game mechanic is incredibly easy to pick up, and games move incredibly fast given that typically one player for every puzzle can visualize and create the solution rather quickly. There is also a penalty for claiming completion only to discover your solution is incorrect in that the points claimed go on to the next player who assembled the layers in the proper order. The fact that Layers comes with different colored patterns on both sides on the filters and are most are asymmetrical means a large number of combinations (i.e. puzzles) are possible.
While Layers gets high marks for its simplicity, it’s replay value is going to be largely contingent on the group of individuals playing it. The enjoyment factor is going to largely reside on how similar the players are in terms of skill. Visual learners may have innate ability to put the puzzles together over others, which causes problems in both directions—those who just “get it” might get bored easily, and those that don’t might quickly get frustrated. If anything, the game might be best among younger players who are just learning special recognition and patterns. There’s also a solo version that might reduce some of the time-induced stress.
Layers definitely has a bit of cleverness to it and the components work as intended, but it lacks a real balancing mechanism or engagement factor other than the speed element. Layers might be fun for kids who are developing related skills, but older players may find it less satisfying.