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Comes with five board pieces in different shapes which may be combined to make different courses. Players must hit a tiny fluffy ball with one of the two metal miniature golfers (4-5 inches tall), which have a handle in their back with which you may swing the club sideways (like a pendulum). The figures are heavy enough to stay still while you swing, as the ball doesn't need much power to fly.
Goldsieber is an interesting publisher. They produce beautiful big-box board games like Mississippi Queen, Big City, Ido, and Medieval Merchant. They produce little card games like Katzenjammer Blues and Vampire. They had a limited series run of high-production value abstract games in Caprice, Cabale, and Siesta, and of course brought Carabande to the world as the king of the dexterity games. Now, they've published two new interesting dexterity games that meet the high end and big box standard, but both attempt to simulate real sporting events. To a large extent, both succeed well but the games are different and playing them well requires practice.
Tennis Masters and Golf Masters share a common look, designers, and heart. Golf is the more simple game, but playing it successfully is not simple. The game consists of six double-sided fairway sections that can be pieced together in multiple combinations to create dozens of holes. The playing figures are two realistic-looking golfers (both men), who are positioned in a shot-making crouch with an iron. Their bodies swivel at the hips by means of a handle that protrudes from their back. To hit, you place the figure with the club head at the ball, take a back swing, and follow through just like in the real game, sending the little white fuzzy ball down the fairway and towards the hole. Play is just like the real game, and fairways include hazards that either mandate a penalty point or give options based on the ability to position the figure for the next shot. Hitting out of the sand uses a special and clever way to use the figure, by pulling back on the club but then just letting it fall which simulates the erratic play of the sand.
Tennis is more complex, and it uses an ingenious method to simulate the positioning aspect of the real game. The figures here are a male and female, and each is holding a racket that can be snapped back to hit the ball. The ball movement is more difficult to grasp than in Golf Masters, but with a little practice it becomes quite controllable. The court is made of a large board covered with a transparent overlay showing the line markings. The net is made of plastic and divides the two sides. Each player uses a "slider", which is a paddle-looking piece that slides on the board but underneath the overlay so you can see its markings clearly. A handle sticks out so that it can easily be maneuvered under the overlay. The slider shows a "standing area" boundary, and a "running area" just outside this. In addition, a dot in the center shows the location of where your figure must stand to return a shot along with a dotted line to help manage the service return. The complete area of the slider covers only about 75 surface area. The slider effectively measures the area of the court that the player can cover.
During play, if you hit a shot into your opponent's standing area they can move the slider to any position they like, return the ball, then put their figure on the center dot. If you can place the ball in the opponent's running area, they must move the slider so that the ball falls within the standing area and then leave it there until the next return. By doing this effectively, you can force them to leave fairly large areas of the court not covered by the slider, and any ball that falls into this uncovered area cannot be reached and scores a point for the player who placed it.
This works very well and accurately simulates the player movement in a real tennis game. By proper positioning of the ball, you move your opponent to an extreme enough position allowing a winner to be hit. The slider nicely captures this idea and rewards good ball movement.
There are other nice features of Tennis Masters, including the ability to serve an ace by hitting a service line exactly. A clever service return mechanism rewards good serves by forcing the opponent off balance a little but not penalizing the return player because the tennis ball is too close to the net. Like Golf, the components are top quality and in play the game feels real.
Both Golf and Tennis use fuzzy little balls with a lot of fringe material that allows a little bit of roll depending on how they're hit but also a good bit of stickiness. Tennis is a much larger game and comes in an Ido-sized box, while Golf is more bookshelf-sized in its packaging. I consider Tennis to be a better game in that its cleverness appears throughout the match and there is not the constant hole-building of Golf. Like the real games, Tennis is also a truly head to head contest while in Golf you are playing against yourself as well. Golf is probably more approachable, however, and both games should be considered for those who want a skill-based two-player dexterity game. Consider either when you grow out of Elchfest.