Doing things differently since the Carter Administration
Publisher: Melissa & Doug, 2012
For 1 to 4 players
A turn-based, three-dimensional tabletop game of action & dexterity
Basic playing time: approximately 15 – 20 minutes
…and it comes in a tube.
Although this game might be a lot like a game of politics, the adventure here actually begins by emptying a clear plastic tube, filled with shaped metal rods, a couple pieces of wood, and one uniquely-coloured d6.
I invited two of my classmates, Alan and Johnny, to play Suspend; I showed them the simple, single page of setup instructions & rules, which were included in the plastic tube.
The instructions also act as the outward-facing label– hooray for an attempt at environmentally-conscious packaging!
After briefing Alan and Johnny on the basics of Suspend, a game of dexterity, we set up the game at a large game workshop table. There are three straight rods included. These rods serve as a base when properly inserted into pre-drilled holes on the sides of the half-moon shaped wooden piece (though the tower structure looks like some kind of medieval instrument or a great idea for drying small paintings).
We had to decide whether the wooden connector joint would be in play as a hanging point.
We selected from three suggested playing styles:
A single player can play a solo game, where a freestyle structure is built using any combination of pieces. Per the instructions: “Ignore all the rules above, and just have fun!”
Although any Goe’nahk over the recommended age of eight might be able to play Suspend, gameplay often requires the skilled hand of a surgeon in order claim your rightful place as the victor. The basic premise of Suspend is to take a mechanically-bent piece of metal and hang it on the tower structure, usually with the added intent being not to disturb any of the other hanging pieces. Gameplay is executed one-handed. In our playing session, we declared “house rules” and let it slide whenever we accidentally started to use both hands to hang our pieces.
We couldn’t find any instructions to determine who should go first, but we
somehow quickly decided that Johnny would take the beginning turn. He rolled a yellow on the d6. Because the Suspend‘s yellow metal pieces are bent unevenly, it offered Johnny an extra challenge of finding a good position on the tower. He delicately placed the yellow piece at the top tower joint, where it swayed gently, nearly falling. Moving clockwise— I rolled next, contributing my evenly bent blue piece so that it stabilized the swinging, yellow piece. Alan rolled last, and placed his black metal piece at the middle hanging point.
We survived one round!
The game sheet offers players tricky ways to hang pieces in order to “amaze your friends,” such as The Brink, The Shoulder Rub, The Hitch, and The Wedge, but we weren’t quite prepared for that level of expert play.
Each turn brought nervous laughter from each of the players. The unpredictable structure grew in size and we were never sure if the structure would hold during our roll.
At one point, we all tried some kind of daring move. For instance, I fed my metal piece through two other pieces and relied on their weight to hold up the entire precarious situation (…akin to the stability of the whole Goa’uld/Asgard Protected Planets Armistice), hoping that it would collapse on the next player because of the shift in weight from that extra piece.
In the end, Johnny won. I almost won, but I regained three pieces when a move I tried did not succeed: I was ahead for most of the game, but that overconfidence likely contributed to some poor decisions on my part, and both Johnny and Alan had caught on to the basic methods of hanging the pieces, so either one of them could have won in the end, really, if not for that major collapse after the midway point, which left a mound of pieces in Alan’s corner.
Though much of the outcome in Suspend is skill-based in terms of physics-based gameplay, some factors may possibly be unaccounted for— wind, un-sturdy table setup, pets, or even mood.
While we used our skills and knowledge to play this game, we also relied on a bit of good ol’ luck.
I plan to play this game for many years to come, as the instructions are easily accessible (read: uncomplicated), offering a range of options that vary in challenge and time length. The tube is compact (approximately a foot tall and six inches in diameter), and I am able to carry the small container in my standard-sized backpack. The rules are bendable— unlike the sturdy pieces— in order to suit the needs of the group, and we also were happy that we weren’t constantly referencing the rulebook. Who knew this simple holiday gift would offer an opportunity for creative, unpredictable, and dynamic entertainment everlasting?
For more information about Suspend and other games, visit boardgamegeek.com