Theseus: The Dark Orbit makes being trapped and making horrible choices a blast.
Reiner Knizia, in his recent interview with Michael Barnes and Steve Weeks, said that he seeks to make games that give you only positive choices. His games, he posited, featured only a number of options that you really want to do. He contrasted that with games where you have to choose between bad options, suggesting that they aren't much fun.
Well, Theseus: The Dark Orbit is that type of negative choice game. I think it's a great counterpoint to that interview: Dr. Knizia's statement is about his preference in game design, not a universal rule that positive choice games are always better or more fun. The Theseus engine revolves around a simple Mancala movement system along with card effects that escalate how dangerous individual rooms or pawns are. But the entire game is predicated around locking your opponent down, forcing her into bad choices. Go into this room and get torched by an ambush from a prepared position. Move that pawn and you'll end up in a room with two land mines. Move that third pawn and end up in a space where it can be shot at the next turn by a bunch of aliens who fill up the room. Or, if you're skillful, wriggle out by setting up a situation where your pawns can move to a safe zone and breath a huge sigh of relief.
Theseus makes your own movement the most powerless, stressful part of the game, which is a bold choice. Most games make the player's pawns their avatar, or at least the proactive stage of the player's plan. Instead, the empowerment in the game revolves around your card play taken at the end of the turn. Those cards alter rooms and, ideally, force your opponent's moves into a few dangerous deterministic channels. Your own units don't really get more powerful, beyond a single upgrade. The offensive part of the game is all about setting the perfect trap and giving your opponent only terrible choices. And it is glorious fun.