Wednesday, April 22, 2015


We found this old gem at a yard sale for a dollar or two — the decals hadn't even been applied and the plastic pieces were still attached to each other, so it was like new. And I'm glad I didn't pass it by! A 2-player game, Input plays pretty quickly, and after filling my brain with zombie games and RPGs and 60-page rulebooks, sometimes a game like this is just refreshing :) So compared to those more intricate games, it's no wonder boardgame website ratings on this were just so-so. But I think it's well worth pulling off the game shelf every now and then.

Gameplay is pretty simple. One player is red, the other is blue. The diagrams on each piece match the gameboard. Each player's 6 pieces are different, but aside from colors, each player has matching diagrams on their pieces. The hollow circle a the bottom of each of your pieces represents that piece's starting square. And the connected, filled-in circles represent the only path you can take from your starting square. So each piece is preprogrammed, but you control when to put it into play and when to move it.

Each time it is your turn you have three choices to make:

1) Move one of your pieces from your tilted/hidden tray to the "on-deck" square at your right. (you HAVE to do this on your very first move). This square is the only one that can be occupied by multiple pieces — up to three — but whichever one is on top is the only "free" piece.

NOTE: You can never have two pieces occupying the same space on the gameboard. If one of your pieces is in the way of another one of your pieces, you can't move that second piece. If an opponent's piece is in your way, you have captured it and remove it from play (into the storage bins at each side of the board).

2) Move one of your pieces from the "on-deck" square to the gameboard. You have to move it to the corresponding space in the starter row — the one that is in the same location as the hollow circle at the base of your gamepiece (the starter row is marked with dots the same color as your pieces).

3) Move one of your pieces along its designated path. Once it reaches the end of its path — and hasn't been captured — you can then move it back to your tray or back to its corresponding space in the starter row, skipping the "on deck" square. But if you move it back to the tray, then it does have to go to the "on-deck" square the next time you want to put it into play.

As you are moving along the path, there are two things to watch out for: can you take an opponent's piece by landing on it? Can an opponent take yours with his/her next move? You can see where everyone's "next move" is, for the most part — so it is very exciting to see if you can escape from certain doom by forcing your opponent to move the attacking piece before it can attack. I find myself constantly reminding my son: "Are you suuuuuure you want to move there...?"

The winner is the person who has captured all of the opponent's pieces. I have had this end in a stalemate — each of us with one piece, and those pieces never catch up, no matter what we tried. Not enough overlapping filled-in circles on our last diagrams. We could have kept going to see if one of us would make a stupid mistake, but that seemed silly :)

This game seems so simple, is so easy to learn, and yet affords you some unusual gameplay and a fun challenge. It is a little like someone took simple games like Connect-4 or Tic-Tac-Toe and put them on steroids.

It's an older, hard-to-find game (1984) but I have seen pictures of handmade versions of Input — pretty cool! And I guess it would be easy to make, as long as you can find a picture of all six diagrams. But I'm glad I found the sleek plastic gameboard — I love the look and feel of it while we play! (Click here for an image I found of a homemade set.)

Hasbro's website still has a PDF of the rules. Click here to see it.

So don't pass them by just because Chthulu isn't one of the characters — have fun trying the old games that are new to you!

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