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GIPF is a Game
GIPF is a strategic game for two players based on a classic concept: in turns, players introduce one piece into play until achieving four-in-a-row. Players then remove their row and capture any of their opponent's pieces which extend that row. This principle of capturing pieces creates each time again completely changes situations on the board. The purpose is to form successive rows of at least 4 pieces, until the opponent has no piece left to bring into play.
GIPF is a pure and challenging game that combines classic systems with completely new elements. Full of surprises and offering unlimited possibilities, it will appeal to occasional players as well as to fanatic gamers. We dare to hope that whoever starts playing GIPF, will play it for a long time.
GIPF is a Project
GIPF is not only the name of a game, but of a project as well. This project concerns a group of games and extra pieces which will follow step by step.
Each game of the project will be playable either separately, or, by means of the extra pieces, in combination with GIPF. It concerns a system that makes winning or losing GIPF-related games a strategic factor of the game GIPF itself.
The intention behind this project is to create a wide variety of possibilities and a growing number of components, so that players will be able to compose themselves which version of GIPF they would like to play at any given moment.
GIPF is a Story
GIPF takes place before the Big Bang.... There was nothing yet: no time, no space, no matter... absolutely nothing except the potential for what was going to happen. Without this potential, there would have been no Big Bang and nothing, thus, of what we perceive and know at the present time. Players of GIPF represent this potential; the pieces of the winner symbolize the cause of the Big Bang, the beginning of everything--and of the world as it continually comes into existence from that point on.
As you maybe know, enclosed in the TAMSK box are 3 white and 3 black TAMSK-potentials. These are samples. You need a minimum of 3 potentials of each color to get a feeling of how they change a game of GIPF. The GIPF Project Expansion Set #1 contains 12 TAMSK-potentials; 6 potentials per color is the standard number to play with. The kit is meant to give players who like playing with the potentials the possibility to get more potentials without needing to buy a second game of TAMSK. That aside, it is also meant to serve those who want to find out what potentials are all about without needing to purchase TAMSK.
A Simple, Pure and Fun Abstract
The Gipf Series, is a collection of six independent games, all invented by Kris Burm. The games, in the order of their release. are: Gipf, Tamsk, Zertz, Dvonn, Yinsh, and Punct. Note: I read online just the other day, that the Tamsk game will be replaced by a game called "Tzaar". Tamsk will still exist but will no longer be considered part of the Gipf Series. Something tells me I'll be writing about Tzaar, just as soon as I get my hands on a copy.
With the exception of "Tamsk", I own all the games that are part of the Gipf Series. With so many games to choose from, I've finally gotten around to pulling Gipf off the shelf and playing several games.
Every Kris Burm game in the series, seems to have it's own unique little twist, that makes the game interesting. For example, Tamsk uses egg timers as playing pieces and Zertz has a board that gets smaller each turn. In the case of Gipf, playing the tournament version of the game, each player has the choice of the number of Gipf pieces (two single pieces stacked together), they bring into play.
To give anyone a quick and easy sense of what this game is like, just imagine a wheel with spokes running through it. Players, represented by black and white pieces (round discs), take turns pushing a piece into the wheel and onto a spoke, while pushing any other pieces in their way, one spot over. If during the course of pushing a piece into play, a row of four or more of the same colored piece ends up in a row, the person who controls that color, puts those pieces back into their reserve and captures any opponent's pieces that may extend the row. You win automatically when your opponent can't introduce anymore pieces into play, or when you've captured all of your opponent's Gipf Pieces. With all the inter-connected spokes, the wheel becomes a kaleidoscope of black and white pieces, that you try and make sense of. Although there are other rules, covering when more than one four in a row is created and the option of leaving ones own Gipf pieces on the board when putting pieces into reserve, I've already pretty much described the over all feeling of the game.
It's also possible to handicap a player by starting with fewer pieces. One can start with either the Basic game, where Gipf Pieces aren't used, or in the Standard version, where just 3 Gipf Pieces start out in play. It's the Tournament version though that makes the game as good as it is.
With so many possibilities to consider each turn, looking too far ahead becomes difficult, if not impossible. "Gipf" is a game where you are defending your own pieces, while looking for opportunities to capture your opponent's pieces.
People have commented on how plain the board looks compared to the other boards in the series.. That even struck me the first time I opened the box. However after actually playing the game, the gray board actually helps to make the pieces stand out, which is really where your focus needs to be. So in practice, it all works out beautifully.
Perhaps it's not a surprise that Gipf was the first born. A simple board, simple pieces, simple rules and in someway the foundation for what was to follow
"Dvonn", is my personal favorite in the series but most would probably say that "Yinish", is the best of the lot. So it may surprise you to hear that Kris Burm's favorite is "Gipf" and I can understand why. It's probably the most simple and pure game of the lot and yet offers what seems to be an endless variety of situations you'll be forced to deal with during a game. Now that's a balance that few games ever achieve and "Gipf" does it with flying colors.
I have played more games than I can count of Gipf and Zertz (having not yet acquired Dvonn or Tamsk, I can't comment on those two), and they are both of that wonderful breed of strategy game that is easy to learn and difficult to master, which plays quickly and leaves you asking 'One more time?'
The key to winning Gipf seems to come down to one simple principle: WATCH BOTH ENDS OF THE LINE. As lines develop, it is crucial to keep track of what you and your oppenent may be doing at opposite ends of the board, and consider the potential impacts of seemingly unrelated moves.
Players who cannot easily visualize spatial relationships will find this an almost painfully challenging game, as my mother oft pleads.
This is a classic game, and WELL worth adding to any collection.
GIPF is a very good game for several reasons:
1.)It is very easy to understand how to play, you can be playing in about 5 minutes.
2.)GIPF has suprising depth and promises many years of enjoyment.
3.)The game system allows for many variations through the use of 'potentials', though you can play these at your your descretion, the variations are not mandatory or necessary.
4.)The board and playing pieces, while simple and straightforward in design, are very sturdy should last a good long time even with the most extreme game players.
5.)GIPF is absorbing, demanding, simple, complex, subtle, and just plain excellent. Be warned though, it also involves zero luck. The ultimate outcome relies on you as a player.
Others describe the basics of the game so I won't bore you with repetition.
I have all the GIPF series games, and as the game that started it all, GIPF sets a fine precedent.
GIPF is definitely one of the best abstract strategy games out there. The game is deeper than chess (and its variations), Othello, and other classic abstracts. [page scan/se=0599/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Go is deeper, but GIPF takes less time to play and is more accessible to the beginner. The more I play GIPF, the more I like it.
One interesting aspect of the game is the subtle way in which the game develops. In the early game, since you have lots of pieces, you (if an intermediate-level or better player) will try to use your available reserve fully to get as many of your pieces as possible into strong positions on the board (provided that both players are good enough to guard against easy captures). But as the players trade pieces, their lower reserve will become more and more of a concern; ignore that, and your opponent will force you to make very unfavorable retrievals, if not win outright by preventing you from getting pieces back entirely. Pushing your opponent's pieces into a row of 4, thus causing them to be removed (without capturing any of your pieces), is usually a good move in the early game, but in the late game, you'll just be doing your opponent's job for him, and yielding him the initiative (which is very important in this game). In the early game, one extra piece on the board can turn out to be important, because it allows you to launch an attack from an unexpected direction. In the late game, one more piece in your reserve than in your opponent's can be crucial, because it allows you to afford the strategy of trying to push all the pieces into stand-offs, while your opponent must find a way to untie the deadlock.
The standard and tournament rules, with the GIPF pieces which do not have to be removed when in a row of 4, further emphasize the importance of position and initiative. GIPF pieces in strong positions will help you retain the initiative even after a capture, while GIPF pieces in weak positions will be attacked mercilessly--and their loss is costly.
And of course, just like in any 2-player game, if you are in a hopeless position and there is no point to playing on, you can just resign.
GIPF is unquestionably one of the best of the modern games. The rules are very simple and flexible, with 3 variations to choose from. Add the potentials from TAMSK and/or ZERTZ and you have even more possible variation. I have played many games with my 12- and 9-year-old daughters, and GIPF continues to satisfy all of us. Simple and sophisticated--I call it elegant. I agree that the board is a little dull looking, but the game play is anything but dull.
I have not actually tried combining the games in the series, although I have all 3. I have used the potentials, and they really do spice GIPF up. Playing a full-blown, combined game is going to be a pretty large time commitment. I really want to try it some time.
GIPF by itself is a great game. So are its sister games TAMSK and ZERTZ.
GIPF is a deceptively simple game which involves complex strategies and surprise victories that can leave your head spinning and your mouth dry with shock at the sudden shift in balances. I'd rank it up there with Zertz and [page scan/se=0548/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Abalone--if you're into abstract strategy games, those can also be very fun--for strategy, excitement, and simple fun.
If you enjoy abstract strategy games, this is a 'must have'. This is one of those games with simple rules, yet complex strategy, so don't be put off by the seemingly simple tic-tac-toe pieces-in-a-row concept. The game is about position and resource management. Throughout the game both players are both putting pieces on the board, and retrieving them to their stockpiles, creating an interesting ebb and flow and an ever-changing board. Having many pieces on the board usually results in a stronger position, but running out of pieces in your stockpile ends the game (in your opponent's favor), so it's a constant balancing act. In my experience the game has two stages. In the beginning, each player is trying to capture his opponent's pieces to gain a numerical advantage. Once one of the players has enough of an advantage, they'll switch tactics from capture to prevention, trying to keep their opponent from retrieving pieces for their stockpile. Yet, it's not at all uncommon for the player who's 'behind' to win by keeping his stockpile full and preventing the player who's ahead from reclaiming pieces from the board. All-in-all, a very balanced and interesting game with plenty of replay value.
GIPF is a great example of a two-player strategy game and gets better with every play. The board is a grid of intersecting lines, and each turn you enter a piece onto the grid from one of the outside spots. If there are already pieces in the line you're adding to, the line moves ahead (like Abalone.) When you get four of your pieces in a row, you take those four off the board plus any others in the same line. Your pieces get returned to you, any from your opponent are captured, and the game continues until someone runs out of pieces to add.
Resource management is what this game is all about, as you must try to capture your opponent's pieces but still recycle enough of yours to keep going. You don't even have to capture too many pieces to win, as long as you can stop your opponent from getting four in a row to replenish their supply. All in all, an excellent way to spend 30 minutes.
The rules of GIPF promise that soon expansions, called 'potentials,' will be added. This is an interesting concept: you'd pause your GIPF game to play the 'potential' game, and the winner of the potential could then add a special piece to the original game. Obviously this nesting could go on forever, but the concept could turn a single game into a nighttime adventure.
If you like good strategy games, you won't find many better than this one.
The GIPF project has, so far (11/03), spawned 5 games, all 2 player pure skill abstracts, and all very good, and GIPF is where it all started. You don't need GIPF to play any of the other GIPF games, they stand alone rather than being expansions.
In some ways I think GIPF is the weakest of the series. The other games tend to move to definite conclusions in a certain time frame, where GIPF can (but won't necessarily) get into a loop that can repeat itself to some degree if the two players need to balance recycling pieces to stay in the game with doing anything interesting to set up captures. Aside from this my reservations, such as they are, are probably influenced by me simply not being very good at it! (but I still enjoy it).
The components are quite a lot plainer than the later titles in the project, though they're perfectly functional and well made.
What GIPF does that the other project games don't is allow expnasions in the form of special ability pieces called 'potentials', which are available separately with some as samples in the othe project games. These will add complexity to the game which you may or may not like, but they're certainly not needed to make GIPF worthwhile and it succeeds on its own terms as is. You can add different numbers of different types of potentials according to taste, so fine tune the complexity and feel of the game to quite a degree.
To see if you like the basic game, follow the links from www.gipf.com for the GF1 (GIPF for 1) PC program, which allows you to play and see what you think. I like it a lot, and all of its successors too.
Although, I prefer DVONN rather than GIPF, it is fairly a good game.
It has a beauty and simplicity of nice abstract games, easy to learn, hard to master.
It also has a complexity according to your level; Basic, Standard, and Tournament.
And, if you want more further, there are some potentials which bring the game more flexibility.
There are TAMSK potentials, ZERTZ potentials, and DVONN potentials, at the moment.
If you already have TAMSK or ZERTZ, you also have that potentials within their packages.
Gipf is one of those games where the winner is the person who doesn't lose. The rules are simple and easy to pick up, but there seems to be a lot of strategy available. (My wife and I have only played 3 times so we are still figuring it out.) There are only 2 things that keep this game from getting 5 stars in my opinion. The first is that this is one of those games where you know you have lost before the game is over and you just have to keep playing before the inevitable. Second, the board is really BORING. I would have at least liked the picture of the mountains they have on the box on the board so that it would have been attractive.
As a player of Chess and Go, I found GIPF unsatisfying. There is no sense of progress in the course of the game. You can't tell from the state of the board whether it is the tenth move or the thirtieth. Strategy is extremely short-range and repetitous. You just play and play until you run out of chips. If you want a good abstract strategy game, I think Arabana-Ikibiti is a vastly better choice.