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I cannot believe that Parker Brothers would just stop making such a fantastic game! I have an original glass board that my brother gave me in 1983! On New Year's a friend of my husband mentioned that he use to play years ago, but had lost his board. I traced a copy of mine on a piece of paper for him and we had a blast playing when we visited again! I would love to find out how I could make registered trademark official games for people. I know that once someone tries it, they too will become addicted like my husband and I are!
Some friends and I based in England have had no end of trouble trying to locate Pente in the UK with no sucess. After playing only a few games over 7 years ago we became dedicated advocates. However, the owner of the Pente set vanished and we were left without this wonderous game of skill in our lives. Gradually we became degenerate members of society and blended in with other members of the rat race. But now, on this fine sunny day in Bournemouth, I am about to order Pente from an outlet in the USA. Finally, my friends and I can lift ourselves from our mundane existences and relish the thought of once again playing Pente. If playing Pente can inspire a Worldwide search by three individuals longing to improve their lives then it deserves its' 5 stars, oh yes.
This game has been in my family since I was a child. I remember playing with aunts and uncles when I was under ten.
It was much loved, and I have memories of games that lasted up to an hour. I started playing at about age 6, which indicates how easy it is to learn--but I still find it a challenge with the right opponent.
A definite classic and I hope to get it again.
We got this game, as a gift, about a month after it was first marketed. My wife and I fell in love with the strategies of this simple-to-learn game.
The origins of Pente (pronounced PEN-tay) date back more than 4,000 years. The ancient games go-moku and ninuku-renju could certainly be considered first cousins to Pente.
In the mid '70s, Gary Gabrel simplified the rules of ninuki-renju, while retaining the complexity. He combined the five-in-a-row theme of go-moku with the capture rule of GO and came up with a new game he appropriately named 'Pente' which is Greek for 'five.'
For awhile, in the late '70s and early '80s, Pente was very popular. In fact, the game was so popular that, for at least six consecutive years, world championship tournaments were held--which is certainly something not every game can boast of.
Although it can be played with more than two players, as with many other games ([page scan/se=0050/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Scrabble and [page scan/se=0552/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Quoridor are two that come to mind), Pente is best played with only two. The rules are simple and can be learned in under five minutes. Basically, each player alternates turns by placing one stone on the intersections of the 19 by 19 playing board. Note: A special 'tournament rule' helps negate the slight advantage of moving first. With this rule, the first player's second move must be at least three or more intersections away from the center point, where the first player made his first move.
The object of Pente is either to:
A) get five (or more) stones in a row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally with no empty points in between
B) capture five (or more) pairs of your opponent's stones.
Capturing: If a player has two (and only two) stones which are adjacent, those stones are vulnerable to capture. To capture them, the player's opponent must bracket both ends with stones of their own.
As mentioned above, the object of go-moku is simply to get five (and only five) stones in row. There is no capture rule. Fortunately, the capture rule is what helps to give Pente its great depth. Mark Thompson, a math and computer science tutor and avid abstract games fan, believes the right combination of four elements are necessary for an abstract strategy game to have lasting value. These four elements are: depth, clarity, drama, and decisiveness. I believe Pente has an almost perfect blend of all four.
1) It has great depth. It's one of those 'simple to learn' but a 'lifetime to master' type game.
2) It has clarity. In many positions and puzzles, the winning move may be difficult but is not impossible to find. The average player can usually form a judgment about what is the best move in a given position.
3) It has drama. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible for a player in a poor position to recover and still win the game.
4) It is decisive, meaning it is possible for one player to ultimately achieve an advantage from which the other player cannot recover. (A simple example of a game that is not decisive, for everyone but beginners, is tic-tac-toe. You couldn't beat me in tic-tac-toe even if you wanted to.)
Pente may not be as popular today as it was twenty years ago, but that's probably more a fault of marketing and current trends than anything else. Whether popular or not, Pente remains a modern-day classic. It's a wonderful game that has something to please almost any gamer: ease of learning, a quick pace, a combination of both strategy and tactics. If you're a fan of abstract strategy games, a copy of Pente should certainly be considered as an item in your gaming library. Deservedly, it currently resides in GAMES Magazine's Hall of Fame. 4.5 stars.
Brian (Funagain Staff reviewer) put it right: "Like checkers, Pente may be played as a light diversion or with highly competitive strategy. A quintessential 'easy to learn, difficult to master' game, new strategies are learned with each play."
Pente is a classic. It is one of the finest classics I have played. Yet--I gave it only 3 stars!
I asked myself, why I can't give it 5 stars? What's wrong with it? Isn't it a classic? Absolutely. Then why not give it 5 stars? Because it never gets played! Because no one in my strategy gaming group ever picks it to play! Therein is its flaw! I have tried to analyze this conundrum. We all say it's a great game, yet we never play it (at least in my gaming group). Why? I think--it's too abstract. There is no theme, no history, no map, no role-playing. Isn't that what most of us like?
In reality, most strategy gamers enjoy role-playing, even when they don't care for 'role-playing' games! We like to be the 'general,' or the 'master builder,' or the 'railroad tycoon,' or 'god' of a universe. In Bohnanza we are bean farmers; in Torres we build castles; in Tikal we are archaeologist on an expedition; in Euphrat and Tigris we are wielding influence over kingdoms; and in Settlers we are establishing a civilization. Yet, in Pente, we are... trying to get 5 in a row! It just doesn't fire the imagination. Maybe that's it. It doesn't stoke the fire in my stomach. It doesn't make me dream of conquering worlds. It doesn't take me to a distant land! Yes--a great game--for the unimaginative!