One Zero One is a two-player abstract card game designed by David Harding and published by Grail Games. It works for ages 8 and up and plays in about 10 minutes. It retails for $12.
How it works:
In One Zero One, one player plays the number “0” and one player plays the number “1.” Both players have a deck of 16 cards, which they play to five rows of code. The rows are marked 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50, and those are also the points players get for controlling those rows, so the rows with higher number rows are worth much more than the ones with lower numbers. But in most cases the lower value rows must be filled before cards can be played to the higher rows.
Ten of the 16 cards have computer commands, such as “print,” “save,” and “delete,” which affect the card nearest the command on the card. (Commands are printed in different locations on different cards.)
Players hold three cards in their hand at a time, and draw up to three each time they play. The game ends when one player’s deck runs out or there are three cards in row 50.
Why you might buy One Zero One:
Even though the theme doesn’t have a lot to do with the gameplay, the retro feel is cool and fun to play with.
The game is really short, so you can play several rounds without getting bored.
In addition to the five types of commands in the base game, One Zero One adds five more advanced commands you can mix and match, so no game is ever the same.
The gameplay is interesting and well crafted. It doesn’t allow for many mistakes, but that makes sense for such a short game.
The price is excellent, and there’s a lot to love in such a small box.
Why you might not buy One Zero One:
Abstract games are games like Chess or Go. While Chess has a theme, it’s not very important to the gameplay. It’s all about reacting to the other player and coming out ahead. In a much simpler way, One Zero One is like that. You have limited moves, and you have to react and plan ahead, but not too far ahead. If you don’t like that sort of game, this probably won’t win you over.
The game is also unforgiving. Early mistakes will likely hurt you later. That’s just the nature of a short game, but there’s not much to be done about that.
If you don’t like minimalist art — the card are solid black with a big green or gray 1 or 0 and a tiny command printed in the same color — or you hate computers, this may not be for you.
I love One Zero One. I’m always on the lookout for a good two-player game, and this one is solid. It’s really fun, it’s fast, and it has tons of variety. I expect this game to get lots of play at my house. In fact, it already has.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of One Zero One from Grail Games. I was not required to write a positive review. This is my honest opinion.