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Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew.

Explore the worlds of Irish Celtic fantasy with this rules summary and reference for Matagot’s Inis.

It took me a couple of plays to realise what is so different about Inis (pronounced Inish). While it looks like an area control ‘dudes on a map’ game, with its miniatures and interlocking territory tiles, it’s actually a very clever card game with DOAM trimmings. Winning is all about the careful use of a limited number of Action cards, because you can’t do anything in this game without playing a card.

And it’s quite ingenious. Thinky without being too brain-burning, Inis challenges you to approach winning in far more clever ways than the usual conflict and conquer. In a way it’s the spiritual opposite of its Matagot stablemates, Cyclades and Kemet. In fact, when you enter a ‘clash’ with another player’s clans, you’re encouraged to discuss the situation with your opponent and agree not to fight – a mindset that’s a little tricky to get into, at first.

I can see many games of this in the future and all kinds of interesting outcomes. I’m not a big fan of the illustrator Jim Fitzpatrick’s brightly coloured style – though I think better graphic design could have done it more justice – and visually I think it’s a bit of a mish-mash (though many others disagree). But the game is a fascinating exploration of the line between board game and card game and well worth adding to your collection.

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