Eternas Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 6+)
  • For 2 players
  • Approximately 5 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Visuospatial Skills
  • Bluffing and Misdirection

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Borrowing from the classic games Score Four and Connect Four, Eternas offers a refreshing new take on the classic abstract strategy game of four-in-a-row pattern building. Up, down, and diagonal are all here, but the new twist is that the columns in which the players build on are in a circle. There is no longer a board or grid edge that the player’s cannot cross or are restricted by and the only limitation is the height of each column. Best of all, there is never a chance for a tie as the players use and reuse their pieces until one player completes the necessary pattern to win.

Eternas, by Maranda Enterprises, is comprised of a wooden circular disc that is the base of the game, 16 wooden posts that will be mounted to the base, and 32 beads (16 white and 16 green). The game is very solid and all the parts are made of thick wood, making it not only durable, but visually appealing.

Example of a game in play

Game Set Up

To set up the game, unless you are keeping it out on your coffee table, you will need to insert the 16 posts into the circular base. Each post has a slotted end which is inserted in a round hole on the periphery of the circular base. This is easily done and takes no more than a minute or so. Do be careful when putting in the posts, however, as the they can snap off and break if too much pressure is applied. We suggest an adult put the game together for the first couple of times until the posts are loose enough in the circular base holes to make game set up an easier task for the little geeks.

Once the circular base has all 16 posts, place it in the middle of the playing area and have each player take all 16 beads of the color of your their choice. Pick a first player and begin!

Going in Circles

The game is played in turns with each player taking one of their beads and inserting it on one of the 16 posts. No post can have anymore than 4 beads and the beads can be placed on any post the player wants. The object of the game is to create a pattern of four beads horizontally, vertically, or diagonally that are all adjacent to each other.

Players continue to add beads to the posts until one of the two players creates the necessary pattern to win. When a player uses all their beads, they take any of their beads that are currently located at the top of any of the posts and relocate it to any other post. In this way, a player always has a bead to move and a chance to win.

To learn more about Eternas, see the game’s official web page.

Prediction

Not much to think about on this one. My little geeks have played and continue to play Connect Four and have shown a real knack for it. My 5 and 8-year-old have all but mastered the game and my 2-year-old is just now taking an interest in it, but not the game play so much as the pieces. The plastic frame for the game has been bent and a twisted, but the little geeks keep playing it so I keep fixing it. It’s not a game the Parent Geeks like playing much because of the repetitive game play, but we’ve never turned a game down, either. This new way of playing the classic game of four-in-row should appeal to the Parent Geeks who are sick to death of the standard row and column equivalent. For the Gamer Geeks, I doubt this game will hold much interest.

Teaching the game took no time at all. I mentioned it was like Connect Four, and all the game participants were good to go. I did, however, take a moment to show each player what constituted as a “win” by showing a pattern of beads horizontally, vertically, and diagonally aligned on the columns. This was done to ensure there were no hurt feelings based on incorrect assumptions of what the players were working for. Most players said “duh” after I showed them. Those who didn’t were just being polite.

And so, as I set the game up for my little geeks to play, I asked them each what their early thoughts on the game were based on what they had learned so far.

“Connect Four in a circle, Dad. Pretty simple, but I really like how there are no edges to bump up against.” ~ Liam (age 8)

“I like the beads better than the checkers. Easier to see where I need to go with my pieces.” ~ Nyhus (age 5)

My little geeks are ready to play! Let’s get the game started and see if Eternas is a worthy replacement of our bruised and overly played Connect Four or if we are just running around in circles.

Final Word

The Child Geeks enjoyed Eternas and were happy to play it again and again. It is a game that can be played very quickly and with little to no help from the Parent Geeks. My little geeks kept playing the game against each other until they simply got tired of it. I believe the count was 7 games (they had to break a tie based on total wins). They were both happy with the game and my 5-year-old did just as well as his older brother, the 8-year-old. My 2-year-old also had no problem playing with the game (not actually playing the game) and enjoyed making patterns with the beads. From the Child Geek’s perspective, Eternas was a total success.

Parent Geeks were less in love with the game but enjoyed it with family and friends. In short, the Parent Geeks liked the game play, how it was done, and thought the circular base on which the game was played was a unique twist, but didn’t find anything new to get terribly excited about. One Parent Geek said, “it’s a new way to play an old game, but it’s still the old game”. Well said and certainly the opinion shared by the majority of Parent Geeks we played it with. They still enjoyed it, however, and were impressed with the game’s quality. We should also point out that all of the Parent Geeks were concerned about the games overall durability. They believed the posts would break if they left the game out on a coffee table due to an unfortunate mishap while the little geeks were playing in the same room. As of the publication of this review, that has yet to happen.

Gamer Geeks took the time to listen to my pitch, played one game (mostly out of respect), and then excused themselves from playing another. “It’s Connect Four, Cyrus”, they said and that was enough for them to not play the game again. When pushed for more, they said it was a “fine game”, but not nearly enough to give it a Gamer Geek approval endorsement.

After winning a game against his “Old Man”, my 8-year-old started to get cocky

Gamer Geeks, based on the feedback we received from our test groups, we cannot recommend this game for you. Abstract strategy games tend to be big hits with the more elite and seasoned gamers, but this one is just a bit too simple to provide much in the way of deep strategy or tactics. The circular based is certainly unique, but the game play is not. The game’s overall presentation is enough to draw the eye of the Gamer Geek but not spark any desire to play the game.

Parent Geeks, this game was enjoyed by your peer group and applauded for its unique style and quick game play that left family and friends satisfied. The game was the biggest hit with Parent Geeks playing with their Child Geeks and non-gamers. Two of the non-gamers said they were going to purchase the game as soon possible and one Parent Geek offered to give their copy of Connect Four away to another family after playing Eternas. While we cannot guarantee your reaction to the game will be one that spurs buying or gifting of games, we can say with confidence that you and yours will enjoy Eternas.

Child Geeks, this is a fun and new way to play the classic game of four-in-a-row. The beads are easy to handle and the patterns are easy to spot. Where you will be challenged is remembering that you are playing on a board without any edges. There are no boundaries except how high you can build. This means you will need to focus more on considering the entire game from every angle instead of just one. This will come naturally to you, however, and we don’t think you’ll have any problem learning how best to beat your opponents.

I prefer Eternas to Connect Four for two reasons. First, there is never any tie as the game continues until a player wins. There is nothing more frustrating than playing a game that ends in a draw. This was a nice touch they built into the game and greatly appreciated. Second, the circular playing area gave me more to think about but not more to stress about. There’s a fine line between providing more options and opportunity for a player to exercise their strategy and tactic skills and simply making the game more difficult to win. Any and all difficulty in the game is based on the opponent’s skills and not because of any game mechanism. This provided a nice mix of unique game play without making the players learn something new. New thinking, certainly, but not something so different the player’s mind couldn’t easily grasp it and see their own path to victory clearly.

If you are tired of the same old four-in-a-row pattern matching game and looking for a new take on an old theme that is also visually appealing, do focus your eyes on Eternas and sit down for a game as soon as possible.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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