Including a review of this game is a bit of a tease... sure, I linked to the product on Funagain Games
, and, sure, it's a great game... but it's also slightly out of print.
You see, TAMSK was the second game of Project GIPF
, a series of abstract games designed by Kris Burm. To avoid going into too much detail about what an abstract game is, but since it's been so long since I reviewed the first game of the project, I'll point you to that review here
so you can get some background on the subject. I'll wait here until you read that, unless you're already pretty familiar with what an abstract game is, and then you can just go ahead with this now.
There, back now? I will ammend that prior review by adding that Project GIPF has really got me hooked on abstract games, so, yeah, I'd have to say I'm a fan of them now.
Anyway, TAMSK is now out of Project GIPF, and it's been replaced ~ the game that replaced it, TZAAR
, will be reviewed within a week or so. TAMSK was slated to be produced as a standalone game under a different name*, and I have hopes I'll be able to update this review at some time with a link to that product, because, as I noted it's a great game.
TAMSK is a two player game ~ I played with aequitaslevitas
earlier today. It's fairly complex in construction (for the manufacturer; no assembly is required by the player, other than setting up pieces for gameplay), and there are conjectures about cost and complications of production that have led to its replacement in the project. There is a plastic hexagonal game board, 32 rings, two smaller plastic pieces to store rings for the start of the game, one 15 second sand timers, and six three minute sand timers.
The playing board has tubes of varying heights that hold one of the six timers ~ the pieces players move around the board ~ and one to four rings. To make a move, you turn the timer over and place it in an adjacent tube and you place a ring around the tube. Once the tube is filled to capacity with its allotment of one to four rings, you can not return to that location again ~ if you do, you automatically lose the game.
The object is to get rid of your 16 rings as fast as you can. The first player to get rid of all their rings first, or to get rid of as much of their rings before there are no valid moves left, wins.
Time is a key element in this game. At the start, you have three hourglasses to work with. If you allow one to run out, that piece becomes frozen, and you can no longer use it. You can trap pieces ~ that punk kid o' mine trapped me in our game today. Sealed me off before I realized what I was doing. Of course, he also let sand run out of his timer on his second move or so, so we were both down to two timers each.
Additional time pressure can be brought to the game by the use of the 15 second timer. It is played, optionally, during your opponents turn. If they fail to make their move before the sands run out, they lose their turn.
With all the time pressure, the game is extremely fast to play. The time pressure also prevents long strategic pondering ~ if you don't move fast, you're going to lose a turn or a playing piece. If you're down a piece it's very hard to catch up, as aequitaslevitas
found out. I'm pretty sure those handful or two of turns I had when he was down one piece (before he trapped my third piece) was what turned the game in my favor. Although it was bad enough to see my piece taken out by his, it's worse when you trap yourself all on your own... and if you're trying to keep up with the pace, that's a very likely occurance!
If you can track this game down, I highly recommend it. It works great as a filler, and, despite how the
game producers might have demoted
TAMSK, it can still be used within the Project, as, indeed, any game can be brought in to GIPF
through the use of potentials.**
Just like Pluto still keeps up its dance, no matter what those astronomers might have said about it behind its back...
~ ~ ~
* I say "was
slated to be produced" because it was due out in 2008 and it's not here yet, to my knowledge.
** Three potentials, and rules, are included with at least some, if not all, of the editions of TAMSK. They're not likely to be included with the renamed TAMSK, as it will be out-of-Project, but they are available in the Project GIPF Expansion Set 1
. I expect TZAAR will use the TAMSK potentials, as the TAMSK potentials are identical in appearance to the unpainted TZAAR pieces.