The thing about GIPF that really had me fascinated was that it is has a “meta-game” built in. When I mention the GIPF project, that really has multiple meanings. GIPF is the flagship in a series of six games. That series is one meaning of the phrase. The series consists of GIPF, TAMSK, ZERTZ, DVONN, YINSH, and PUNCT. Another meaning is how these games can be combined into a meta-game. The base of this meta-game is GIPF.
Rules and Game Play:
I’m going to assume you know the rules to GIPF in this review. If you do not, you can read my review of the game GIPF. The GIPF project adds potentials and sub-games.
Potentials are additional pieces with the “potential” of a particular move. After you finish putting your GIPF pieces onto the board, you may then start to introduce pieces loaded with potentials. So now you have the basic single piece; you have a GIPF piece, which is two basic pieces stacked on top of each other; and you have pieces loaded with the potentials you choose. You must first play any GIPF pieces you want, then any loaded pieces, then single pieces. Once you introduce a single piece, you may not introduce any other type of piece. A loaded piece is similar to a GIPF piece in that you need not remove it when it is in a line-of-four. The one exception to this is that you cannot leave a line-of-four on the board. So if you make a line of four with only GIPF and loaded pieces, you have to remove at least one of them to break up the line. If a loaded piece is ever removed from the board, the potential is lost.
The condition for a player losing the game remain the same, but I find it more intuitive to think of them in a slightly different way. You lose the game if you ever have no GIPF pieces on the board OR if you cannot make a move. Since this game adds moves other than introducing new pieces from your reserve, you will not lose just because your reserve is empty.
Now, I’ll go over the various potentials:
- TAMSK Potential: When a piece loaded with your TAMSK potential gets pushed into the center point, you get another move. You take the potential off the piece and introduce it as a new single piece. This is all one turn, so after the first move of this special turn, you do not remove pieces that form a line of four. This is only done at the end of the turn. Notice that this extra move does not require you to play a piece from your reserve. When the potential is captured, regardless of by whom, it is removed from the game.
- ZERTZ Potential: The ZERTZ potential allows you to jump instead of placing a piece from your reserve. Unlike the TAMSK potential, this can be done on any turn. You simply make the jump and discard the potential. This jump can be over any number of pieces in a straight line, but it may not jump over an empty point. That is, it must land in the very next empty point and it must jump over at least one piece. As a side-note, this does not capture the pieces jumped.
- DVONN Potential: The DVONN potential is interesting in that it allows you to jump it onto an opposing basic piece or an opposing piece loaded with a DVONN potential. It cannot jump onto a GIPF piece or any other potential. To use it, you simply move it from your loaded piece to an opposing piece that is adjacent to it. This essentially converts that piece to your color. When that piece would get removed from the board, the underlying piece stays. This has potential to cause some very interesting positions.
- YINSH and PUNCT: I do not know what the Yinsh and Punct potentials do yet because as of this writing, they haven’t been announced.
Now if that wasn’t enough, there is yet another way you can play the potentials- you can combine the various games. To do this, you are playing GIPF with potentials, as stated above, but when you try to use a potential, your opponent can challenge its use. When a potential is challenged, you set aside the GIPF game and play the game that the potential is named for. For example, if you try to use a DVONN potential, your opponent can challenge its use and you play a game of DVONN. If you don’t lose the game, you get to use the potential. If you lose the game, you don’t get to use the potential and you lose the potential. There are a few things you do have to agree on before you start playing. First, how many challenges can you make. I tentatively recommend allowing three of six potentials to be challenged. I want to play this more, but it tends to scare my regular of my opponents.
The potentials are slightly modified GIPF pieces. The TAMSK potential has an extra ridge inside the outer ring making it look a little like a target. The DVONN potential is a piece with a hole in the center. The ZERTZ potential has some notches in the ridge.
The potentials are extra pieces that don’t come with GIPF, which you get in the following ways:
- TAMSK Potentials: You can get 3 white and 3 black from the TAMSK game or you can get 6 of each color in GIPF Project Expansion Set #1.
- ZERTZ & DVONN: You get 6 DVONN potentials in each color and 6 ZERTZ potentials in each color in the GIPF Project Expansion Set #2.
I played in one game with DVONN and TAMSK potentials and the TAMSK potentials were huge, but sometimes led to confusion. We were constantly trying to remove pieces between the two moves of the turn. (I say constantly, but I think we only used three of the six TAMSK potentials between us.) The DVONN potentials really didn’t get used much, but they influenced the game tremendously. It almost felt like a completely different game than GIPF with the flavor of GIPF. It almost felt like GIPF with a slight flavor of something else. It’s hard to explain. So far, my opponent and I have played with identical potentials available to us.
I’m going to skip out on giving an actual rating to this until I play it more. The potentials add significant complexity to the game and I’m not sure I have a good feel for it yet. And playing a sub-game to earn the right to use a potential is yet another layer.
Until you are very familiar with the base game, I would recommend not playing with potentials. Also, I suggest that you introduce only one type of potential at a time. Start with one type, then go from there. The other thing to consider is how many potentials you will be allowed to start with. The recommendation from the publisher is 6 per player. I’ll bow to their experience in this.
If you like GIPF and want to try adding a little more complexity to the game, add the potentials. I don’t think that using the potentials makes it a BETTER game, but it certainly does change it up, which is interesting in its own right.