Abstract Strategy Board Games Dice Games

Triad Game Review

It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Andrew waxes rhapsodic about the wonder of simplicity in this Meeple Mountain review of the abstract puzzler Triad.

I think I might be done with heavier games? “Done” is doing a lot of work here. I’m in the middle of a love affair with Barrage. I would play The War of the Ring right now if you asked, and it is 4:30 am. It’s just that I’ve noticed over the last several months that my tastes have made a hard turn towards abstracts and party games.

Those are certainly the areas where I’m finding the most joy, and the most memorable play experiences. I picked up a copy of That’s Not a Hat! (Justin’s rating is a solid 1 star lower than my own) recently, and I can’t get enough of it. People cry with laughter over the course of its 10-to-15 minutes. A recent game of Pan t’es mort, a simple and silly push-your-luck game, was wondrous (About three quarters of a star lower than I’d rate it, if Meeple Mountain allowed for quarter-point shenanigans). Yesterday afternoon, I had one of my most reliably heavy-leaning gaming friends over for four or five hours, thinking we might crack into Inferno from GMT.

Instead, we played Carcassonne: The Castle, which I tried for the first time two days ago and was eager to show him. We got in two games of Mindbug, a round of Medici v. Strozzi, and a game of Race for the Galaxy (we both know Race very well), with a few rounds of Similo: The Lord of the Rings thrown in here and there for variety. It was a lovely afternoon, with interesting decisions happening around games that were capacious enough to allow us to be fully social the whole time.

The game we played the most, three times over the course of the day, was Triad from Gerhards Spiel und Design. We couldn’t get enough of it.

The board, a handsome wooden square that rises to a pleateau in the middle, together with the black and white dice, which come in a white cloth bag.
Gerhards games come with minimal packaging, all of which is biodegradable.

I, II, III o’Clock, III o’Clock Rock

What a modest, perfect little game this is. Each player has six dice, laid out in a row at the start of the game. The sides of each die show I’s, II’s, and III’s. On your turn, you pick one of your dice, rotate it to a different number than the one it’s currently showing, and move it that many spaces in a straight line, whether that’s orthogonally or diagonally. The path has to be clear. There’s no jumping.

The game during setup.

The goal is to create Triads, groupings of three dice that either contain each number once—they don’t have to be in order—or one number three times. A Triad has to include at least one of your opponent’s dice to be valid. When you complete a Triad, you remove one of your involved dice from the game. The first player to remove three of their dice wins.

Like most of my favorite abstracts at the moment, every move feels as much a mistake as it does the right choice. Aggressive plays may put you in the driver’s seat, but they also increase the chances that your opponent can capitalize on a mistake. The removal of your own piece with each success is one of my favorite rules. As opposed to chess, where the winner often increases their dominance over time, the idea that the leader decreases their options as they go keeps games from feeling too one-sided without the losing player feeling coddled. Triad shares that dynamic with another of my favorite abstracts, YINSH.

One player has managed to line up a black 2, black 1, and white 3, in that order, making a Triad.

Right Game, Right Time

To be honest with you, I would own every Gerhards game if I could afford to, both in terms of money and square footage. Aesthetically, they’re everything I want in a play experience. Minis are cool (or not!), elaborately designed boards are great, I love illustrations and all manner of design, but sit me down in front of a plain, carefully crafted wooden board and hand me some wooden cubes and I’m all yours.

That’s always been the case, augmented at the moment by the fact that this happens to be exactly where I am in my gaming lifecycle. This is the type of game I want to play. I want to sit down at a table with someone I care about, explain the rules quickly, and enjoy making discoveries together. Triad fills that role wonderfully.

The board near the end of a game.

  • Great - Would recommend.

Triad details

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

1 Comment

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  • Your experience with this game sounds a lot like my first experience with The Duke when I taught my wife. She caught on quickly, we laughed a lot, and she kicked my but like three games in a row.

    This sounds like it could be a good time. I will see if I can find a copy and try it out!

    Thanks for a great review.

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