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ZÈRTZ

English language edition


List Price: $34.95
Your Price: $27.99
(20% savings!)
(Worth 2,799 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 15 minutes 2

Designer(s): Kris Burm

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Schmidt Spiele

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Product Description

The third installment in the GIPF project, following GIPF and TAMSK, Zèrtz is played with 5 white, 7 gray and 9 black marbles and 37 round tiles. The tiles are used to assemble the board; the marbles are in a pool. Each turn you must place one marble on the board and then remove a free tile. The aim is to capture 3 white, 4 gray, 5 black marbles or 2 marbles of each color. To capture you must jump with a marble over another marble. It sounds easy, but both players play with the same marbles and the board gets smaller with every move. Thus, the players are forced toward a situation where every move is a crucial one... when you create a trap for your opponent at the wrong moment, you may find yourself caught in the trap. This international edition includes English rules.

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game Nominee, 2001
Games Magazine Awards
Best Abstract Strategy Game, 2001
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2000
Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 2000

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Kris Burm

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Schmidt Spiele

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 15 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 767 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #123

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in multiple languages (including English).

Contents:

  • 37 board pieces
  • 24 marbles (6 white, 8 grey, 10 black)
  • rulebook
You might be interested in these related products as well:
GIPF
multi-lingual edition (Temporarily Out of Stock)
List: $34.95 $27.99 (20% savings!)
TAMSK
formerly part of the GIPF series Funagain Games does not stock this edition of this title, usually because it's out of print.

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

Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 4.8 in 18 reviews

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Elegance meets depth of strategy!
February 26, 2009

Zertz is a fantastic game in the Gipf series. There is nothing quite like it, and I've played many an abstract game. The "shrinking game board" mechanism is simply brilliant, guaranteeing that the game has a definitive "end" and will not meander around a stalemate situation like other games.

People complain that it feels too much like a "puzzle" that one needs to solve in order to win. I have to disagree. True, there are four possible ways to win, but just pick one and if doesn't work out, then change the strategy. That's the beauty of Zertz, the game keeps itself interesting FOR you.

The rules are very few and extremely simple to grasp. I won't go into detail about them here, but there's, like, one rule for "playing" a marble and one rule for "capturing" a marble(s). That's it. And yet, so complex and full of possibilities.

Another big plus in my book, which hasn't gotten its due recognition - is its portability. Because the components (which are first-class, I might add) consist of nothing more than rings and marbles, all one has to do is put them in a couple of zip-lock bags and take them anywhere. Zertz is also a "traveling" game. Great!

It's a good coffee table game, and if you take it out, people will invariably ask about it because it looks so unique and interesting that it entices people to inquire about the game.

Everyone I've shown and taught this game to has said how much they enjoy playing it.

I cannot give a big enough recommendation to Zertz, and the whole Gipf Project, for that matter.

 
 
 
 
 
by The Abstract Gamer
Elegance meets depth of strategy!
February 26, 2009

Zertz is a fantastic game in the Gipf series. There is nothing quite like it, and I've played many an abstract game. The "shrinking game board" mechanism is simply brilliant, guaranteeing that the game has a definitive "end" and will not meander around a stalemate situation like other games.

People complain that it feels too much like a "puzzle" that one needs to solve in order to win. I have to disagree. True, there are four possible ways to win, but just pick one and if doesn't work out, then change the strategy. That's the beauty of Zertz, the game keeps it interesting FOR you.

The rules are very few and extremely simple to grasp. I won't go into detail about them here, but there's, like, one rule for "playing" a marble and one rule for "capturing" a marble(s). That's it. And yet, so complex and full of possibilities.

Another big plus in my book, which hasn't gotten its due recognition - is its portability. Because the components (which are first-class, I might add) consist of nothing more than rings and marbles, all one has to do is put them in a couple of zip-lock bags and take them anywhere. Zertz is also a "traveling" game. Great!

It's a good coffee table game, and if you take it out, people will invariably ask about it because it looks so unique and interesting that it entices people to inquire about the game.

Everyone I've shown and taught this game to has said how much they enjoy playing it.

I cannot give a big enough recommendation to Zertz, and the whole Gipf Project, for that matter.

 
 
 
 
 
GIPFtastic
May 21, 2003

I've recently acquired all the GIPF games and like them all, and though in a 'you can only have one on your desert island' case I'd probably take DVONN rather than ZERTZ that should in no way be taken as saying that ZERTZ is a poor relation.

It's related to Draughts/Checkers in a way, in that sacrifices usually have to be made to get ahead and pieces are taken by jumping over to an empty space behind (and possibly carrying on over subsequent pieces), but like Mancala games in the way that the playing pieces don't belong to any either player.

But it has aspects all of its own too. Either player can use the whole board (unlike Mancala) so given piece neutrality it can be quite tricky to launch killer strategies as all the options are open to both players. Like DVONN, the usable board area shrinks during play (by actually removing the rings that make it up) and this provides a useful limiting factor on the game time and also enables distinct strategy options as part of the mechanism. Very neat!

Fianlly, the pieces are of very high quality and an attractive design. Good pieces make a good game even better, and that's the case here. Also the case that the way the 'board' is made up of separate rings means that the game can be decanted into a bag and made very portable.

Unless you don't really like abstracts, or want something that allows more than two players, there really isn't much not to like here.

 
 
 
 
 
a game in which every move counts
December 25, 2002

As some of the previous reviews have indicated, never underestimate the value of the initiative. Against experienced players, a first move on the edge of the board can lead to a game in which the first player finds they have made a grand total of two unforced moves in the whole game! This happened to me early in my play by email experience and put the game into sharp perspective ever since.

I've owned the game just over a year and it has used up an alarming amount of my spare time!

By buying Gipf Expansion Set #2 which adds twelve rings, one can play Zertz on larger boards where it becomes even more challenging. Richard's PBEM server offers the chance to play with a board expanded to 48 rings (Zertz+11 as it is called) and an alternate server, GameByMail, offers many board sizes up to 61 rings (i.e., with two expansion sets).

 
 
 
 
 
A Sublime Classic
February 15, 2002

Chess, Checkers, Mancala, Backgammon, Go, Zertz. This game is a classic, and I expect there will be professional tournaments and ranking for this game as for the others. It is, in a sense, fundamental in its approach to play; a rare and wonderful feature. It is a treat to study and revise your strategy as the situation changes move by move.

 
 
 
 
 
Elegant and Fun
August 21, 2001

I'm not a super-sophisticated gamer, but I think Zertz has qualities that will appeal to all levels of players. Its strategies are subtle and varied, yet it is such a simple game. Anyone can learn it in a few minutes, and I can see myself playing it for many, many years to come. Zertz is my favorite from the [page scan/se=0222/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]GIPF series, so far. I have GIPF, TAMSK, and Zertz and they are all excellent.

 
 
 
 
 
An Action-Packed Strategy Game
August 12, 2001

Zertz is a game which has, and will doubtless continue to delight old time game-aholics, strategy masterminds, and occasional game players alike. The strategy seems simple at first, but as the board shrinks, the game's intensity grows until a winner is chosen. I've had Zertz for half a year now, and have found it extremely entertaining, whether played for the first time or the 300th.

 
 
 
 
 
Strategic, quick, and FUN!
April 19, 2001

This game is great! It is a wonderful abstract strategy game in which you must always be on your toes, even if you have a good game plan. And even though it play very strategic, it is still a quick game. I have been averaging 15-20 min. games.

You may think you have one last move to win the game, but that last move could cause you to lose. This actually happend in my second playing of this game. My opponent saw a move that would force me to jump two marbles and set her up for a winning jump on her turn. What she failed to recognize was that the two marbles I jumped won me the game before she could go. This is the result of there being 4 ways to win the game. And with that in mind, you had better be watching what is going on as you strategize.

Get this game... it's good!

 
 
 
 
 
Quick, Intriguing, Absorbing
December 31, 2000

Abstract strategy games are not my strongpoint. That being said, I find Zertz to be very good, so much so that I find myself wanting to play this over and over again. The other reviews already do a good enough job with the details.

I could try to wax poetic, but really it suffices to say the game is excellent and components first rate. You can't go wrong in getting the game yourself.

 
 
 
 
 
fun to play; fun just to look at
December 12, 2000

First, this game is an aesthetic marvel. The rings, the marbles, the shrinking board--it's just elegant.

It's also fun, and very fast. Calculation is essential, especially as the board shrinks--you have to be able to correctly calculate 5 or even 6 moves in advance, and even more, to make sure that a great sacrifice/capture on your part doesn't set your opponent up for an even better sacrifice/capture.

One side note: I'm really a chess player, and this game has actually improved my chess; in Zertz you can't get anything you want without first sacrificing something to your opponent; but when you offer a sacrifice, your opponent has to take it--a player must make a capture if he can, like in checkers. So the game has some muscle. And this thinking out of various sacrifices, gives-and-takes, has helped me do the same in chess; I now find myself always looking for the most forceful sacrifices with the biggest payoffs. But enough about chess....

Long term strategy is tough in this one--essentialy, there isn't one, since all the pieces are communal. But that's okay, since that just heightens the importance of tactics and calculation. It also means that you aren't stuck staring at the board while your opponent strategically plans out his/her next 20 or so moves. Like I said, it's fast.

My friends and I are hooked on this game, which is interesting, since none of us really liked the other marble game I own (Abalone). This one is fun every time.

I like it. I want to buy the others. Give it a try.

 
 
 
 
 
Elegant and aesthetic
November 26, 2000

First off, let me just say that I am terrible at this game. I usually do just fine with other abstract strategy games, but for some reason this one eludes me. Which makes me really enjoy it and want to play it even more. Seeing the long term benefits or strategies behind certain moves can be very difficult.

My other favorite thing about the game is how it looks. It is really very pleasing aesthetically, with the black/white/gray marbles on the black disks, very similar in appearance to Abalone (but extremely different in play). It was definitely an eye-catcher when I brought it in to play at a local pub.

 
 
 
 
 
by David
Zertz is a quick and satisfying way to get your gaming fix!
November 12, 2000

I like Zertz for three reasons: It's fast, It's simple and it offers a lot of opportunity for strategy. Each game takes about 15 minutes but I've played games as short as 5 minutes and as long as 25. This is nice because, like Lost Cities, it invites you to play even if you only have have a half hour to spend on games. The speed of the game is also good for those who don't like to spend hours playing a game only to lose by the narrowest of margins in the end. Zertz is also very user friendly. The rules take about 2 minutes to read through and you never have to refer back to the booklet again. While the rules are easly learned, the strategy behind zertz has enormous potential. Basicaly your turn consists of EITHER playing a marble (1 of 3 colors) to the board and removing a piece of the board OR jumping a marble currently on the board. You win when you either collect two marbles of every color or 3 white, 4 grey or 5 black marbles. Since placement of the marbles and removal of board segments is arbitrary, there are tons of possible moves and configurations. No two games are alike. In addition, the ability to capture marbles on isolated board segments further adds to the fun! This game is an excellent choice for those who love abstract strategy games but don't have time for something as lengthy as chess.

 
 
 
 
 
The best of abstract strategy.
June 08, 2000

I don't usually like abstract strategy games but Zertz is in a class of its own. Zertz is closest to Quarto in style where both players use the same pieces and try to set up their opponent to give them the win. The shrinking board make it one step more sinister. The speed of game play (15 minutes or so) make this game great for anyone who can't take time out for a long game. I recommend this game to everyone--not just those who like abstract strategy.

 
 
 
 
 
It's quick, it's tactical, it's fun!
May 21, 2000

I finally had the opportunity to play Zrtz, and it's better than I hoped. I do like abstract strategy games, and I do prefer tactical ones... well, Zertz is a perfect example of a high value game for me; the capture of the marbles is compulsory, and the board is shrinking almost every turn: a lot of foresight is needed to plan a move which will not reveal itself as a backfire.

An excellent 2-players game. Five stars is the right rating.

 
 
 
 
 
Thinking two steps ahead
May 18, 2006

Zertz, for me, has the biggest learning curve, not only because of the requirements for victory (four white, five grey, six black, three of each, or last to fill the board) but how play progresses and the complications of an individual's turn (mandatory jump OR place a marble and take a disk). Capturing marbles is the object, but the only way you can jump is if your opponent sets you up for one! This is not a complaint, but it made it harder to snuggle up to the game.

Aesthetically it is as it is one of the more visually attractive of the Gipf series. And the shrinking board makes for all kinds of interesting puzzles and patterns. Here also is the link to Dvonn, with filled isolated "islands" being removed. The board is also adaptable to different numbers of starting rings.

I used the Gipf games as teaching tools for math, and for whatever reason Zertz is the hands down favorite of the series. Once a player grasps the rules is a game of forcing your opponent to do what they do not wish, and thinking two or three steps in advance to capture the marbles you need. Skilled players can keep their opponent guessing as to which victory conditon they are trying for, and even at that opportunity may make you switch strategies.

 
 
 
 
 
Highly recommended abstract game
October 05, 2001

I have been playing this title fairly regularily on Richard's PBEM server. There are some good players there. With their help I've started to develop some skills in this game, and have really come to appreciate just how good a game this is. I'll just make two quick comments.

First, the rules call this a game of sacrifice. That could not be a more accurate statement. Forced captures, staggered victory conditions (i.e. capturing 4 white, OR 5 gray OR 6 black OR 3 of each color), and being able to capture marbles via isolation make this a game of trades. Often you'll give your opponent several marbles while seting up a nice move to capture and/or isolate a couple of white marbles. Of course, your opponent is doing the same. Between evenly matched players, it soon becomes increasingly difficult to give marbles away without granting your opponent victory.

The second point is that every marble placement counts. At first, it may seen that the first 5 or 6 marble placements don't really matter. Well, they do. Play your first two marbles willy-nilly and you'll find your opponent with 2 or 3 white marbles and yourself with a nice collection of black and gray marbles. By the second turn, marble placement is critical. I would venture that if the second marble placement is critical, then the first is as well by default.

You'll know you've been soundly beaten when you lose with 4 gray and 5 black marbles, and all your opponent has is 4 white marbles and a 'W'.

 
 
 
 
 
More than meets the eye.
February 18, 2001

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the rules for Zertz (there are but 2 pages of rules). This is more than checkers on a shrinking gameboard. Two rules make this a challenging abstract strategy game: the compulsory capture of marbles (a la checkers), and the capture of marbles via isolation. By forcing an opponent to capture black and gray marbles turn after turn while skillfully removing tiles, a clever player can isolate 3 white marbles and capture them for the win with no interference from the opponent. A cleverer player will avoid this trap, but must do so before forced into the series of compulsory jumps.

This game requires players to think offensively and defensively, and a passive player who merely reacts to the opponent's moves will lose in short order.

Zertz contunues to challenge us strategically and tactically, and I suspect we still have much too learn and master. It's an excellent 2-player game that I highly recommend.

 
 
 
 
 
A good little game...
January 25, 2001

Zertz is a fine short game with some good strategy and a lot of visual appeal.

I do like this game but see some limitations. For example, the first part of the game completely lacks strategy. To wit, it seems to be a repetition of place a ball take a piece of board in a no brainer fashion until enough of the board is gone to where players are forced to place a ball that can be jumped. At this point it takes some thinking, but even then three or four turns are often predetermined on the basis of one play.

In spite of being somewhat light, it is fun to play and goes by quickly enough to be a good filler.

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