Ctrl: A 3D Abstract Strategy Game of Area Control | Casual Game Revolution

Ctrl: A 3D Abstract Strategy Game of Area Control


Place your blocks and vie for control by ensuring your color appears the most across five faces of the cube!

From Pandasaurus Games, Ctrl is a unique game with some unusual components and a tricky puzzle as the crux of its gameplay.


Each player takes twenty-two blocks in their player color and a flag. The central cube is placed on the table. During the game, you do not pick up the cube. The bottom side always stays on the table. Each player places one block on one side of the cube, attaches their player flag to it, and the game begins.

On your turn you remove your flag, then place one block adjacent to one of your blocks already on the cube (adjacent can be on top of it, forming a stack). You then place an additional two blocks so that it forms a straight line out from the block you just placed. If anything would interrupt this straight line, it is not a legal move and you must build your line elsewhere — the three blocks you place on your turn must always form a line. If you reach the edge of a side, the line wraps around to the new side. If you reach another block, your line builds on top of it. If you reach a stack of blocks, you stack your line so that it starts to climb up to the same height as that stack. Blocks cannot go on the underside of the cube or be blocked by flags.

After you have placed your blocks, you then place your flag on any exposed face of a block of your color, so long as this does not cause the flag to point down. It’s now the next player’s turn.

Play continues until everyone has placed all their blocks. You then look at each side of the cube individually (top included). When you examine a side, you count how many cube faces of each color you can see. If a flag is in front of an opponent’s block face, it blocks it from counting for that side. Each player earns one point for each block face that can be seen on each side. It is possible for a single block to score more than once if one face of it can be visible on one side while another of its faces can be seen from another side.

The player with the most points wins the game.

Ctrl Components


Ctrl is instantly eye-grabbing. The idea of an area control game being played out across a 3D surface is a unique one for a board game and makes it stand out immediately. The block placement rules provide a challenging puzzle, as does the placement of your flag, both during the game for stopping opponents, but also in the final round for scoring.

The block placing rules, while a little complicated to explain in words, are quite intuitive when you’re looking at the cube and placing your blocks, and this makes it an easy game to teach. The game packs a lot of strategy into some pretty simple rules.

Ctrl has some really fun player interaction as you battle it out for each side of the cube, place your flags, and put blocks on top of opponents' blocks. There’s lots of back-and-forth gameplay, and checking what your opponent is doing and trying to cut each other off.

There are a few small issues with components. We found that the blocks themselves fit into the cube and each other well, and we didn’t have any issue with them falling out while playing. The rulebook emphasize keeping the cube on the table — if you do that, everything stays together nicely except for the flags. The flags aren’t horrible but can be a bit fiddly. Also, the game box doesn’t have any sort of insert, so once put away the plastic blocks are all loose inside. Finally, while a scoring sheet can be printed off online, there’s none actually included in the game. Since you really do have to make notes during the scoring process, it would have been a nice touch to include a scoring pad. We found these issues to be minimal, however, and not to detract from our enjoyment of the game.

Ctrl is a great tactile experience. It’s very satisfying to snap the blocks in place and the visual result at the end is appealing, while the puzzle at the game’s heart is both challenging and engrossing.

Pros: Tactile experience, 3D gameplay, scoring system

Cons: Some component issues, no scoresheets included

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.