Designed by Kimberly Coker.
Published by Bailiwick Enterprises.
Reviewed by Ken Tidwell.

2-4 players
~1 hour

Bailiwick is a delightful American strategy game derived, unintentionally I understand, from an ancient Indian game. Think about the board from Ludo/Parcheesi/Sorry, that venerable line of race and pursuit games. Euclid would have loved this square board with its straight track divided into even squares for movement. Now suppose some crazy post-modern mathemetician got hold of the board and translated the whole thing to polar coordinates. Add a backtrack to allow pawns to move both forward and backward but prevent forward moving pawns from interacting with backward moving pawns. Then make the board slowly sink in toward home across several levels like the tiers of Hell from Dante's Inferno. Spice things up by allowing captures from above and below. And cap it all off by making the last tier a small and dangerous place to be. That's Bailiwick.

Despite my apocalyptic description above, Bailiwick is every bit as much of a light family game as Parcheesi. The circular board, multiple tiers, and 3D captures add flavor to the game but, in practice, do not make it that much more complex to play. In fact, if I had to find something to complain about here, it would be that the game runs a tad long for what it has to offer.

Players begin the game with their pawns off the board. Two dice are thrown and each die is treated as a seperate move. Odd rolls allow pawns to enter the board. Four spaces on each tier give access to the next tier. To move up (or is it down? Purgatorio or Inferno, eh, Dante?) a pawn must first land exactly on one of these four special spaces. Once a pawn leaves a tier it may never return. Pawns may move backward by entering a special, parallel backtrack and then move forward, again, by reentering the main track but may not combine movement in both tracks using a single die roll. Landing on an opponent's pawn removes that pawn from the board. The main and back tracks are designed such that a main space on one tier points to a back track space on an adjacent tier. Landing on a space that points to an occupied space removes the pawn that is pointed to from the board. Phew. Got that?

As I said, the rules appear complex and the rule set included with the game does little to clarify but once you wade in it all seems fairly direct and simple. This would make a great game for a family or a light gaming group. Strategy gamers should check this one out for the novelty of the board layout and interaction alone. As I wrote this I had a tendency to refer to a space as a square. Sometimes it is good to have our preconceptions challenged by new games like Bailiwick!

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell