As I may have mentioned before, the GIPF range of games is truly amazing. All 5 games are 2-player games requiring that the players think, but also allows an amazing amount of fun to be had.
Kris Burm is the genius behind all of the games – and if you ever have the good fortune to meet him, you will see for yourself the level of energy and commitment it takes to pull this kind of games series off. He doesn’t just look a bit like Einstein, he also thinks a bit like him 🙂
The latest example of this was at the World Championship of GIPF and DVONN that took place at the Games Spectacular fair in Eindhoven, Holland recently. I was lucky that I was able to go, and had a wonderful 2 days playing first GIPF and then DVONN for lots of hours. The 7 consecutive games of GIPF were particularly taxing (and enjoyable). Playing the same number of DVONN games takes only about half the time and doesn’t stretch the mind to the same extent, so on the 2nd day of the fair I managed to browse a bit and pick up a few games as well – including of course a copy of the new second edition GIPF, which comes in a nice box that fits with the rest of the series.
Through a combination of luck and skill (I won’t tell you the exact ratio applied), I astonishingly managed to come 2nd in both tournaments, in both cases losing to players that obviously are much better than me. Much of the rest of the field was at the same level, and while I was luckier than most, the main thing was being able to participate and enjoy the company – including players I had previously only met at Little Golem, playing online DVONN.
Throughout the day thing, Kris is present and while he is silent during the games, watching with great interest, he also offers interesting suggestions when appropriate (i.e. not during a tournament game) and gladly spends time discussing all aspects of his games. As you might guess, Kris is rightly very proud of his creations, and will “under no circumstances consider compromising the quality or purity of the games just because of commercial considerations.”
The end result is an astonishingly good, seemingly simple yet surprisingly complex and deep set of games that are unlikely to ever sell the millions of copies they deserve: I have yet to introduce one or more of the games to someone that did not like them. Which is a pity, whichever way you think of it. Still, if Kris had to produce and sell a “themed” version of GIPF and turn the pieces into knights, or boats, or sheep, or whatever in order to sell lots of it, then… I guess I could live with that, if Kris could get a little more out of his efforts as a result.
In conclusion, if you don’t already own at least one of the Project GIPF games, buy them today. All of them would be best – they are all great – but if you want to start slowly, I would recommend starting with DVONN, then YINSH and GIPF, and finally ZERTZ. Unfortunately, TAMSK is out of print, although you may be able to find a copy on eBay. Your kids will love the games, you will love them, and while your partner may not necessarily love them, he or she will probably like them well enough – they look pretty, too 🙂