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Turing Machine Board Game Review

Turing Machine

WBG Score: 9

Player Count: 1-4

You’ll like this if you like: Decrypto, Break The Code.

Published by: Le Scorpion Masqué

Designed by: Fabien Gridel, Yoann Levet

This is a free review copy. See our review policy here.

Turing Machine has been billed as a board game where you are playing with an analogue computer. Intriguing, isn't it? I didn't quite understand the concept before I played, but quickly learnt. It is fairly simple, and I was instantly fascinated by this experience. It is certainly unique when it comes to board games, and in this Turing Machine Board Game Review I hope to delve into the depths of why this game is so absorbing. Let's get it to the table.

Turing Machine Board Game Review

How To Set Up Turing Machine

The first thing to do in Turing Machine is decide which problem/level you want to do. Within the rule book you will find 20 to try, but online via the Turing Machine website you will find millions more!

Turing Machine Board Game Review

Once you have made your selection check the numbers associated with the criteria and verifier cards that are being used in your chosen problem and collect them from the deck of available criteria and verifier cards. Place these cards accordingly around the "machine" card on their correct locations, A-F. Give each player a player aid, note sheet and pencil (not provided) and place the punch cards in their holder intro a central area. You are now ready to play.

Turing Machine Board Game Review

How To Play Turing Machine

Each player will begin to read the criteria cards in play. These cards tell you what you can "test" in this game, to find information out about a three digit code that you need to decipher in order to win the game. Understanding how these cards work together and what they can teach you will be crucial to your success in the game.

These cards vary game to game. Some allow you to test how many numbers in the solution are odd or even. Others give you information about which number, the first, second, or third, will be the largest or smallest. You can learn if certain numbers in the sequence are larger or smaller than others, and if they are higher or lower to other specific numbers in the sequence. Checking the criteria cards before a game starts will give you an idea as to what number you want to test first. When players are ready they will write down their starting three digit number onto the first line of their note sheet and then when all players have done this, each player can "question" up to three of the criteria cards.

Turing Machine Board Game Review

Making a test involves taking the three numbers you chose from the punch cards, overlaying them to form one single punch card with just one available hole, and overlaying this on top of the verifier card you are testing. The reverse of the criteria cards shows a series of ticks and crosses. Based on your selection, the hole you are left with will then show either a cross or tick telling you if what you are testing is one thing or another.

It takes a little of time to get used to this process. For example, if you are testing a verifier that says you can find out if the yellow square number is either higher than, lower than, or exactly four, and you put a three yellow and it comes back with a tick, this doesn't mean the yellow number is a three, it just means that it is under four. If it came back as a tick if you tested with a four, then that does mean it is a four. Because there is only one variable. It is either a four or not. But when testing if it is below a four and you get a tick, it could be three, two, or one. You have narrowed it down, but not deduced the exact number. Make sense?

Turing Machine Board Game Review

Each round you can test up to three verifiers, but you don't have to do that many, and you don't always want to because this is a race game, and the amount of tests you do could affect your victory. More on that soon.

After everyone has tested as many verifiers as they like, you will now interpret what you learnt that round. You can make notes on your sheet, and cross out numbers you have ruled out for the solution as you go to help your thinking. Each player then needs to decide if they want to try and solve the puzzle at that point or go for another round. All players will present either a thumbs up or down on the count of three to show their intentions. If you think you have found the code then write it down in secret on your sheet and then check to see if you are correct. The answer is shown in the rule book for the 20 available there. Or online under 'test a code' if playing there. If the code has been correctly guessed then the game is over and that person wins. If two people are trying for the solution at the same time, and they both get it correct, then the person who has made the least test's wins. If no one guesses it correctly, the players who were incorrect are eliminated and the game will continue for the remaining players.

If the code has not been correctly guessed and there is still at least one player left, then all remaining players will choose their next three digit code to test, and run through the process again. This continues until a player wins by correctly guessing the code the quickest, or all players are eliminated.

Turing Machine Board Game Review

Turing Machine Board Game Review

Piecing together the clues and information you gather in this game to eliminate numbers to finally get the correct answer is highly satisfying. Not everyone will enjoy the process, or find it equally clear how best to do this. But getting there and getting it correct feels great generally for everyone. Putting this process into the game creates a race. Everyone will be able to eventually get the correct number, it is a process of elimination. But in the game, this is not about eventually, it is about how fast can you do it.

This adds pressure. Under a mental challenge some people will not like this. It could make them feel stressed, frustrated, or even question their intelligence. This is a logic challenge. A puzzle. This is a board game in as much as Sudoku is a board game. It has board game components that make it feel more like a board game from the table presence it brings. But this is a logic puzzle. As such, the game is marketed as a deduction game to fit into the board game ecosystem but its very essence and lack of board game style mechanics will make it fall flat for some people.

However, for those of us who enjoy this kind of challenge Turing Machine could become your new obsession. There is something very addictive to playing this game. It is the sort of puzzle that you either "see" or you don't. However, you can train yourself to get a more clear picture. For my first five games I was generally getting the code correct, but never the quickest, and often needing to use more tests than I should have. As I played more, I realised the overlapping clues you can take from the verifiers that are in the game. I started to make better choices with my first number and was able to greatly reduce the amount of tests I needed to get the answer correct. My son (Ten) however, saw this from game one, and was able to win most games we played using a lot less tests, and never guessing the number wrong. He said he could just see what he needed to do to eliminate as many numbers at once. Some tests will get rid of one number. Others will knock a load down. It's the equivalent of getting a yes for "Do they wear glasses" in Guess Who! Making choices to test something that eliminates more numbers than the other players can is how you do well in this game.

Turing Machine Board Game Review

I think most of us will know what sort of player we will be at Turing Machine. Someone who gets it right away and loves it. Someone who can learn how to get better at it and begins to really enjoy it. Or someone who just will not enjoy this experience at all. As such, this may be one of the easiest games to recommend or not as you will know by now where you may sit in this. Will you will enjoy this game or will it frustrate you more than entertain you?

For me, I am loving the learning curve and challenge this game presents and can see a real progression in my understanding of how to play the game more efficiently. This pleases me and makes the process of playing Turing Machine an enjoyable one. I think the game is unique enough for it to be something that everyone should consider. But if you are the sort of person that would not enjoy this, perhaps it won't ever become fun for you. For me, this is a real winner and with the millions of codes to solve, perhaps will become the game I end up playing the most in my life.

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