on May 21, 2014
I own all the GIPF Project games (except the excommunicated TAMSK), but ZÈRTZ is the first game I played in the series and it seems to stand a little taller than the rest of the excellent games. ZÈRTZ combines several interesting elements to create a brain burning game: an ever-shrinking board, difficult sacrifices, forced captures, and multiple winning conditions. Each of these elements ratchets up the pressure every turn until finally one player wins in an explosion of captures.
Strictly speaking ZÈRTZ is not played on a board, but several rings laid out in a hexagon. One of the things I like about the GIPF games is that most of them have the sleek, artistic look of some Apple products, but thankfully sans technofascism. Almost every turn players will remove one of the outer rings from play. The “board” is small enough as it is and it keeps getting smaller as more and more pieces are added. It is difficult to describe the danger and pressure one feels with several marbles on the board and half the board is missing. The turns leading to the endgame make me claustrophobic.
The sacrifices players have to make in order to win can be downright brutal. It is impossible to win the game without sacrificing pieces to the other player. Each capture a player makes brings him closer to victory, but not necessarily as close to victory as his opponent. It is possible to recover from a string of lesser captures, and one of the strengths of ZÈRTZ is that even if you lose it feels as though you still accomplished something because you at least have a bunch of captured marbles on your side of the table.
There are three different colors of marbles that players can place on the board and their importance all depends on the circumstances of the game. ZÈRTZ is similar to Chinese Checkers except players do not own any marbles until they capture them. All of the marbles are in a collective pool near the board and each turn a player does not have to capture a marble on the board, he selects one from the pool and places it on the board. Initially, certain marbles are more valuable than others, but as captures are made the values change. The winning conditions are as follows: capture 3 white marbles, capture 4 grey marbles, capture 5 black marbles, or capture 2 of each. The ability to choose which marbles are in play adds a lot of strategy to the game because you can force your opponent to capture less valuable marbles and place him in a dangerous position.
on October 11, 2012
Zertz is one of those 2-player games that is simple (and I mean simple) to learn, but very strategic and engaging. I've had it on the shelf for months, finally pulled it down, and we haven't stopped playing.
It is played on a hex-shaped checker board. Players jump and capture pieces, but you are both playing with the same pieces. In the meantime, the board shrinks as you remove spots. You can win by having 3 of each of the three colors, or 4, 5 or 6 of one particular color, which means that your strategy can change during play in response to conditions and opportunities. This is a classic. I just can't say enough about it.
on February 2, 2009
I have played games that the playable area on the board gets smaller as the game progresses, but in this game the board literally get's smaller. When I first unpacked the game, I thought the board was missing, until I realized that the pieced were the board. I haven't played any game like it, so it's really hard to compare it.
I really like all the games that I have played so far in the Gipf project. The rules are very well thought out and balanced. I gave this project 4 stars, because I gave my favorite gipf project game, Dvonn 5 stars.
All the games are made of excellent quality and the pieces have a really nice heavy feel. One story I would like to share is that my game was missing 4 marbles. I decided to email the game publisher before going through the trouble of packing it up and returning it to Amazon. I emailed them on a Sunday afternoon, they responded with an apology on Monday morning, mailed out the replacement marbles that same day, and I received them in the mail one week later. That was it; no questions asked...nice and simple. It's good to see that customer service is not lost on everyone. Thanks to Donco and Smart publishing for your help.
So if you would like to support the little guys and also get to play some great games, I definitely recommend the games in this project. [...]
on June 9, 2014
Ok first - don't say I need a new girlfriend. She loves to do a lot of intellectual activities with me. To my surprise, this was not one of them. The gameplay was a little too abstract for her to enjoy, although I loved it. I tried playing around with what moves are possible, and she actually beat me the first time. The board is quite exciting; the longer the game goes on, the more interesting the gameplay becomes. The next time we played, I captured three times in a row at the beginning...which apparently was too many times, because then she didn't want to play anymore. And it put her in the most rotten of moods. She accused me of thinking she is dumb, and I apparently did a poor job of controverting her assertion, because afterwards the incident of me trying to get her to play a game like this was something to look back upon as an example of my condescending demeanor. What should I have said? I cannot help being so brilliant that I can do little to hide my intellectual prowess. I suppose I can find a way to play online against other ridiculously brilliant people, but what fun is that? The feeling of the stones, the smooth black plastic game pieces perfectly crafted to fit the round stones - the wonderful tactile ripples of the game box...and let's not forget the awe-inspiring background so that one imagines a sea of stones, hopping, from one land mass to another, the land masses quickly fading, until there is nothing there.
It's a game for the ages.
But not for my girlfriend