formerly part of the GIPF series
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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!
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.
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!
The GIPF series is brilliant! Any large set of games like this is bound to have a weak link. The sad part is that in a series as fine as GIPF, the weak link will never get the glory it deserves in its own right. TAMSK will, unfortunately, always stand in the shadow of GIPF, ZERTZ, and DVONN. That is really unfair. I always thought Jerry Dogget was a really first-rate baseball announcer, but when you sit next to Vin Scully for 30-some years, you will always come out second best. It just ain't fair!
TAMSK is, in its own way, just as superb a game as GIPF. It is simple and made of nothing but stategy--no chance involved. However, it does have the neat twist of being time-critical. I have found that one approach is to use time to your advantage by keeping your opponent busy with a few of his timers, forcing him to ignore one or two that are then likely to be lost by running out of sand. Sometimes, I deliberately ponder a move at a casual pace, while my opponent is screaming to hurry up! She has allowed one of her timers to sit still too long and I can force it out by dawdling--most aggravating! I think the Monopolist in me, who enjoys the bankruptcy of others, finds this very entertaining.
I think Derek Leif's suggestion (below) to accelerate the panic might be worth trying. Chris Farrell (below) isn't exactly right about winning--it is actually the person with the fewest unplayed rings who wins. Of course, that is almost always the last player able to move, as Chris says. Both of these reviewers only gave TAMSK 4 stars, even though they both appear to like it very much. I heartily disagree with these ratings. TAMSK is an excellent game, saddled with an unavoidably high price, so I give it 5 stars in the sincere hope that it will NOT fade into oblivion. I do not regret spending the money.
I highly recommend TAMSK!
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! ;-)
This game is one that rewards quick thinking. You can't really state what the best strategy is for it because it changes as the game goes on.
The strategy that wins is the one that you find under severe time pressure. The addition of the 15 second timer is just the thing to prevent your opponent from sitting and pondering his move while your timers run out. Now he must move within 15 seconds or give up his turn. It's like playing lightning chess on every move.
An excellent game that fits nicely into the GIPF System.
It gets 4 stars on my rating because a game has to be an all time classic to get 5 stars and TAMSK is a very good game but not an all time classic.
I'm a school librarian, and lately I've been stocking the place with some of the new board games that have come out over the past few years. The kids love 'em! They especially like ZERTZ, another game in the [page scan/se=0222/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]GIPF Project series of games.
The kids like TAMSK, but not as much as some of the other games. Below, I'll explain why, and suggest a way to improve the game.
TAMSK is a fast, fun game, but the time element doesn't really kick in the way it should. The hourglasses that they give you are 3-minute versions, and this often gives you so much time to ponder your moves that 'time pressure' rarely becomes a factor.
If, on the other hand, you invest a couple of extra dollars and buy some shorter hourglass timers (2 minutes instead of three, for example) from a toy shop, the game becomes way more intense.
Whatever the case may be, this is yet another fine game in the GIPF series, and it's a keeper.
This is a very interesting abstract game which uses sand hourglasses for pieces. Each player has 3 hourglasses to move around on a hexagonal playing field, trying to isolate the opponent's pieces. Each time you move a piece, you have to flip it over. If the time should ever run out on a timer, it is lost. Last player able to move wins.
The thing that is so fascinating about this game is that time is not so much a restriction as an added element to the game - you have to watch all of your timers to be sure none run out, and flipping a timer too early is just as much of a problem as flipping it late (because after flipping it, it will have very little time available). So you have to monitor the state of all the timers at the same time as you are trying to move your pieces so as to best isolate your opponent.
It's also a very impressive-looking game. Definitely worth the effort. It can also be linked with its predecessor GIPF to provide a very interesting combined game.
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:
Unusual mechanism of play
lack of long term interest
Better games out there for the money.
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.
It's about time you tried this unique game. Three three-minute sand timers in your color begin on the hexagonal board of 39 cylinders. Each player has 32 rings. Turns consist of flipping a timer and moving it to an adjacent vacant cylinder; you then drop a ring onto that cylinder. You must start all timers by moving them on your first three turns. A neutral 15-second timer may be used to persuade a tardy opponent to hurry, or lose a turn!
Timers that run out are permanently immobile. A player who is unable to move passes. Cylinders, depending on their proximity to the board's center, hold from one to four rings. Play ends when both players are immobile. Win by having the fewest unused rings or, in the case of a tie, the last active timer. A sure cure for poky players.