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Board Game Review: ‘seraQetra’ from Bruce Baker

seraQetra from Bruce “Almighty” Baker is a game that feels at once ancient and futuristic. Its sense of classicism comes from its archetypal build as a strategy game played on a geometric board, reminiscent of the likes of Go, shogi, and especially chess. Baker exploits that timeless feel by developing an entire mythos around the game, citing centuries-old traditions about godhood and self-improvement: “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Each named piece is considered philosophically with perspectives of reward and punishment. Yet the production quality of the board gives seraQetra another sense of grandeur,…

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seraQetra from Bruce “Almighty” Baker is a game that feels at once ancient and futuristic. Its sense of classicism comes from its archetypal build as a strategy game played on a geometric board, reminiscent of the likes of Go, shogi, and especially chess. Baker exploits that timeless feel by developing an entire mythos around the game, citing centuries-old traditions about godhood and self-improvement: “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” Each named piece is considered philosophically with perspectives of reward and punishment.

seraqetra

Yet the production quality of the board gives seraQetra another sense of grandeur, worthy of Star Trek’s three-dimensional chess. SeraQetra is truly a monumental game, most likely to be one of the largest in anyone’s collection. The most eye-catching piece is the 24-inch-by-24-inch transparent board, which comes wired to light up when plugged in. Rather than being something to tuck away on a shelf, it would well suit a serious gamer’s home as a centerpiece or wall hanging. If the latter, it will certainly need to be placed in a handy spot to be taken down and played. It’s a game readily learned but perhaps never fully grasped in its infinite complexities.

The gamepieces of painted stone rest in leather carrying cases until taken out to give each player a set of 25: the simple “minion,” “spies,” “priests,” “warriors,” “ambassadors,” “rulers,” and one GOD piece. While other strategy games such as chess and checkers begin with all pieces laid out upon the board, and building games like Go prompt players to add pieces until the board is filled, seraQetra takes a novel direction by allowing players to set up their pieces in any position, even holding some back in reserve to be “gated” onto the board at a later, opportune time. This flexibility of play conjures up a sense of unfolding deployment rarely seen outside of computer strategy games.

In seraQetra, players take turns moving one piece at a time, whether a piece on the board or adding a new piece into play. When a player takes a space occupied by an opponent’s piece, that enemy is captured. Rulers serve as the most powerful pieces, moving in any straight line, while the other pieces may move by sides of the octagonal space or through the edge, bringing players to think multi-dimensionally as a space “next” to a spy or warrior is not actually touching it. Gods and minions move only one space at a time, although both are deceptively powerful, with gods being the “king” to capture to win the game and minions being able to be “kinged” as in checkers by being replaced by a previously captured power-piece.

seraQetra is a strategy game for two to three players. Players old enough to participate in a good game of chess will enjoy the tactics and nuances in this “leveled up” play. With its wealth of innovative play blossoming from a relatively small learning curve, seraQetra offers a chance for strategy-lovers to dive directly in and spend the next thousand years pondering the most effective moves, as Baker’s illustrative video shows.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.