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RINGGZ

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Blue Orange Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 to adult, 20 minutes; $29.95)

 

If you think you’ve been going around in circles, you may not be confused. You may simply have been playing Ringgz, the colorful abstract from Blue Orange Games.

Ringgs is a pretty package, its large, square box filled with lots of wood: a sturdy wooden board, four sets of rings in different colors – 12 each in purple, green, yellow and red – and sizes (three each in small, medium, large and larger) and 12 circular “bases” (three solid circles in each color). There is also a “starting base” showing all four colors.

Players begin with an arsenal of their chosen colored set of rings and matching bases, prepared to stake their claims on the board. The board consists of 25 points in a 5 by 5 grid. It’s these points (called “territories”) and not the spaces between them that are the focus of the game.ringgz1

The multicolored base is placed on any point on the board and the game begins. On a turn, a player has the option of doing one of three things:

1. Place one of his rings or bases on any free territory linked, horizontally or vertically, to another piece of his color

2. Add a ring of his color to a territory he already occupies

3. Place a ring of his color in a territory already occupied by one or more other colors provided it is adjacent to a territory where he already has a color. (Each territory can hold a maximum of four rings of different sizes.)ringgz2

When no player can make a legal move, the game is over and territorial control is determined. The color that has the most pieces on a territory claims it. (If only two are playing, each player places two colors but colors act independently and count for control separately. If three are playing, the fourth color is evenly divided among the players and acts as a neutral force. Neutral pieces cannot claim a territory but they can be quite useful in preventing someone else from claiming it.) If there is an equal number of different colored pieces on a territory, no player may claim it. Unoccupied territories remain unclaimed. The player with the most claimed territories wins the game. (If a tie, the player with the fewest remaining pieces in his arsenal is victorious.)

Circles within circles is the mantra that marks the game. The rings each player has at his disposal come in DIFFERENT sizes, small, medium, large and larger. Only ONE of each size may be placed in a territory. This is where “hand management” comes into play. Run out of a certain size and you can very easily find yourself faced with the unsettling situation of having a territory to be gotten but without a piece to get it! When and where you use your bases can be pivotal too. Because bases are solid pieces, no other player can enter a territory claimed by them. That territory is now, unequivocally, yours. But bases serve a dual purpose. They can also be deadly obstacles to the spread of enemy pieces since they can block an enemy color from spreading by preventing enemy pieces from linking with each other.

Ringgz earns points for presentation: the all wood game is colorful and attractive, something that would be striking on a coffee table and a good conversation starter. The colors used are easily distinguishable, always a big plus in our book. Best of all, however, is that Ringgz is more than good looks. The cliché of “simple to learn, a lifetime to master” is overused but Ringgz IS simple to learn and has enough depth to offer a pleasing and satisfying gaming experience. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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