Strategy board games are generally recognised as great ways we can all use creativity and logic to develop problem solving and social skills. They encourage us to play with family and friends. This is something we at OpozO value greatly and is at the core of all our Modular Play Systems.
Developed as a family game, OpozO combines strategy, creativity, innovation and fun. It allows us to make what we can imagine a reality from the OpozO tiles we have at our disposal. It encourages us to experiment with possibilities. OpozO is not a game, it’s a new way for you and your family to work together to create play. With OpozO, you decide.
The first OpozO game was developed in 1999 and was called Swords & Shields. It was a 2-player strategy board game created by a father for his young family. The idea was to build confidence in a young players ability by finding a simple way to introduce difficulty as a step change in strategy play. The objective was to produce a game similar in complexity to Checkers but played with two different play tiles types, each endowed with different play attributes. We wanted an ability to play a game with one play tile type and then change the game by adding another play tile type.
Swords and Shields was different to other strategy board games because we introduced the concept of using strength and the ability to combine that strength in the same way teams might collaborate. Combining strength offered a new play dynamic and needed a new way to play so we invented OpozO Push. With OpozO Push we apply strength to move opponent play tiles from board spaces they occupy rather than taking opponent pieces. If we want to eliminate an opponent tile, we push a tile off (beyond) a game board boundary. OpozO Push works on the mathematical principle that 1 > 0, 2 > 1.
Traditionally most games start the same way and allocate equal numbers of play pieces. However, the way we might deploy our forces on a battlefield is a vital tactical consideration. To make setting up a game more fun we created the option to place play tiles into different starting formations. Player formations could be matched or mismatched. Varied starting positions works really well and supports the concept of planning in advance. It also provides opportunity to hide starting positions creating uncertainty and surprise.
We wanted to create play choices and experimented with varying play tile allocations for each player, meaning a less accomplished player might be given advantages and enjoy play with improved chances of success. Children love to win and winning fairly is the best feeling of all. This is the foundation which OpozO Modular Play and OpozO Play Equality are built upon.
Swords and Shields was based upon ancient battlefields where soldiers had different fighting capabilities. To make play more realistic and interesting we divided strength into two distinct categories and introduced the concept of Attack Strength and Defence Strength. Attack Value 2 is now greater than Defence Value 1. A Shield can be more defensive, a Sword more attacking. The ability to vary play tile qualities beyond directional movement and range of movement meant we could deliver a richer play experience.
Now we needed a simple way to win our games without reliance upon eliminating all our opponents’ tiles. For this we looked at the game board and determined to introduce an easily identifiable win objective similar to a logistical challenge. We created Village Board Tiles, allocated one to each player and placed these into our game board. The game board now had a function beyond a collection of squares. The objective was who could occupy their opponents Village Board Tile first would win. Children can easily identify with targeted play and this opened up opportunity to create new objectives and apply our new way to play to different play themes.
Setting up different ways to play added a new dimension and required different levels of strategic thinking but was still within a young person’s grasp to understand because we could explore new complexity in a modular, tile by tile way. We kept the game boards to manageable sizes 7 x 5 or 6 x 6 squares to ensure set up and play time averaged no more than 10 minutes. The idea being to create and play many different games rather than one long game which is more suited to short attention spans and no less beneficial in terms of cognitive engagement.
Because we could change our games, play never became boring. Children love to make things and show us their creations. Introducing a constructive element to Swords and Shields provided an opportunity to make something new and be confident it can work. Confidence building is not just about winning but being recognised for our creative accomplishments too. Creating a challenge to be solved can be as equally enjoyable as solving the challenge. And making something we can share with our friends has great social benefits.
We are not all equipped with the same levels of determination, skills or experience, so adjusting games to keep it competitive and interesting for each player is important. No one wants to play games they cannot win. In Swords and Shields, we found a way to Equalise the Game so a novice could have a strong chance to win against a more accomplished player.
The way we wanted to play Swords and Shields boiled down to simple choices. Make a game board the size we wanted. Select our play tile types. Choose our win objective(s). Set up play suited to each player.
We quickly found the only limit to our games were the number of Board or Play Tiles available to us. So, we made new Board and Play Tiles giving each tile new functions and attributes and experimented with different play themes and objectives. We found that we could change the environment of our game boards by introducing obstacles to play like a Hole and a Mountain!
This was the beginning of our journey which has led us to create OpozO, our unique Modular Strategy Board Games Play System. In 2009 Swords and Shields became OpozO Battle Warlords and all the different and unique ways to play collectively became OpozO.
OpozO is not one game but a system or methodology that binds many variables to create something new and unique. OpozO has inspired us to imagine since 1999. We hope it will inspire you to imagine too.
Oh, and if you want to see us play a simple game just like the original Swords and Shields, visit our Video Guide and look out for a Swords and Shields game coming soon!
The word OpozO is a combination word we created derived from the French Latin Oppōnere, to set against, and from the Greek Ozo, to combine.