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Store:  Family Games, 2-Player Games
Edition:  TAMSK
Series:  Project GIPF
Genre:  Abstract Strategy
Format:  Board Games


formerly part of the GIPF series

Funagain Games does not stock this edition of this title [], usually because it's out of print.

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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 15 minutes 2

Designer(s): Kris Burm

Publisher(s): Rio Grande Games, Schmidt Spiele

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Product Description

TAMSK is a game for 2 players, which is played under permanent time pressure. Both players start the game with 3 hourglasses and 32 rings. The hourglasses are the playing pieces; the aim is to get rid of as many rings as possible. Each turn you must move one of your hourglasses and turn it over; next you may play a ring in the newly covered space. The more spaces you visit, the more rings you will be able to play. But watch your hourglasses closely; each one that runs out of time is lost!

TAMSK introduces time as a substantial strategic element. If you are prepared to think fast and to play quickly without losing your cool, then you have the right attitude. Enjoy the pressure!

A clarifying note from designer Kris Burm about the GIPF Project expansion Set #1 and the TAMSK potentials included with the TAMSK game:

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.

2007 Update: Kris Burm released PÜNCT at Spiel 05, apparently finishing Project GIPF, his series of six abstract games that rank head and shoulders over almost all others -- but as it turns out, there's been a change of plans. TAMSK is being removed from the GIPF series and will be replaced by TZAAR. TAMSK will be republished as a separate, stand-alone game.

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Product Information


  • 1 gameboard
  • 3 red hourglasses
  • 3 black hourglasses
  • 1 15-second timer
  • 64 rings
  • 2 ringholders
TAMSK has the following expansions available:

GIPF Project: Expansion Set 1 GIPF / TAMSK game system integrator Out of Stock

You might be interested in these related products as well:

GIPF multi-lingual edition Out of Stock

GIPF multi-lingual edition Out of Stock

ZÈRTZ English language edition Out of Stock

ZÈRTZ English language edition Out of Stock

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 7 reviews

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Hurrah! Strategy with a time limit!
October 28, 2003

When I read through the rules the first time, I knew I had to play a round against my husband! He is one of those gamers that takes a long time to think through all of his moves. Of course, this IS the best way to play a strategy game (and probably why he wins most of the time) but I'm just not that patient.

This game gave us the best of both worlds. He gets a pure strategy game and I get a game that moves along quickly!

This one will come out of the game cabinet often!

Time flies when you're having fun...
April 14, 2003

General concensus seems to be that TAMSK is the least of the first 4 GIPF games, and though I'd agree with that in respect of strategic depth it doesn't tell the whole story.

There's nothing else quite like it that I've seen, and playing a different game with Chess clocks doesn't apply time pressure in quite the same way as TAMSK, because the hourglasses will give a variable amount of time depending where the sand had got to were when they moved (and thus turned over). A glass with plenty of time left suddenly becomes one with hardly any, but an opponent's moves may make such a thing necessary... And it's also the case that each piece has its own time, so you have to keep your moves relatively well distributed over your pieces, or the static ones will stay that way whether you like it or not.

Shorn of the time element (and this is what the basic version is) the game isn't that interesting, but there again Poker without the gambling element isn't very interesting as a card game either, and that doesn't make it a bad thing. I'd personally not bother with the first two versions presented in the rules: it's far more fun (and more interesting too) with all the timers running, and use of the 15 second move timer as an option on any turn also seems quite natural and not really worth leaving out as suggested for an intermediate game with a 'gentleman's agreement' to keep moves coming at a fair rate. The facility of the 15 second move timer *optionally* deployed by the opponent actually adds another level to the game, as it might be in your interest for the other player to take a bit longer...

A primary positive aspect to the temporal nature of the game is it keeps it moving at a fair speed (the other GIPF games can involve staring at the board for quite a while deciding on a best move; do that in TAMSK and you'll just lose your go) so it's easy to fit it into a small slice of time, and it also helps make it the most outright *fun* of the first 4 games, even if it is shallower than its cousins in many respects.

It's a shame it costs more than the other GIPF games, but the elaborate components make this quite understandable with the moulded plastic board as well as hourglasses being integral to the play rather than chrome for the sake of over-production. I'd actually prefer to pay a little more in return for better matched hourglasses (they're not all equal, but not to the extent of really affecting the game too much in my set) and nicer rings (the textured surfaces of DVONN and ZERTZ pieces show the sort of thing which would make the game nicer physicaly).

Not necessarily something that would appeal to everybody, but for an enjoyable and fast game of skill that is unencumbered by analysis paralysis I recommend it. In fact, if you have players who routinely drag their moves out for hours at a time in most games leaving everyone else twiddling their thumbs, you could use TAMSK to exact some sweet revenge! ;-)

'Time' to dissapear from GIPF!
November 13, 2002

Okay, so the subject header was a little rough. Let me prefice that my favorite 2 player abstract strategy game is GO. Period. Here's some more background, I own DVONN and love it. It's not GO, but neither is it supposed to be. I have played GIPF, and will concede that I need more times to play it to 'get it', and I want ZERTZ for the holidays b/c, although I didn't like it initially AS MUCH as DVONN, I still find it a wonderful mechanism, and a very neat game. TAMSK just doesn't fit the picture.

The game is NOT tense, and to buy 2 minute timers to replace the 3 minutes might sound logical, but at the same time, with a game around $36.00, why should you have to pay more, to make the game more enjoyable? Tamsk just misses the mark. A recap would be:


Neat theme

Quick play

Unusual mechanism of play



strategic element

lack of long term interest

Better games out there for the money.

Not fun

Bottom Line:

Save yourself time AND money, and pick up any of the other 3 GIPF games (preferably DVONN or ZERTZ first), and actually ENJOY a game you're playing. Of course if anyone is interested in playing GO.... ;)

P.S. I give the game TWO stars b/c I'd play again (I've played about 3 times already), in the hopes I've missed something HORRIBLY wrong, and will find A reason to drop at most $15 at a close-out sale or something, just so I have it wiht the other 3 GIPF games.

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