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JISHAKU

reviewed by Herb Levy

RSV Productions, Inc., 2 or more players, ages 8 and up, less than 30 minutes; $19.95

  IiN Japanese, jishaku (pronounced jee-shah-koo) means “magnet”. In Jishaku, the new game designed by Steve Velte, magnetism is the force that serves as the basis for a series of games.

Jishaku comes with 18 magnetic stones (and a bag to hold them), an asymmetrical foam base with “pockets” for stone placement (looking more like an alien landscape than any traditional game board) and rules for three games.

The first game is called “I’m Out!”. The 18 magnetic stones are evenly divided and distributed to the players. In turn, each player places one stone in any “pocket” in the base. Sometimes (and it mig ht be more accurate to say “often”), the piece you place will feel the magnetic pull of its surroundings and attract other stones. Attracted stones, including the stone you just placed, go off the board and into your holdings. The first player to successfully place ALL of his or her stones wins.

“Elimination” is the second game and a rough opposite of the first. Players, in turn, place one stone on the board.  Here, you are trying to AVOID attracting stones as each placement scores points for each stone attaching to your placed piece. The first player to score 10 points is eliminated. (If more than two players, the last man standing wins.)

The third game, “Roundup”, is a twist on “Elimination” as accumulating points is a good thing. The board is seeded with 10 stones with remaining stones divided among the players. On a turn, a player places a stone on the board with the hope of attracting (or “rounding up”) as many other stones as possible. Each piece attracted is removed from the board and is worth 1 point. (The capturing piece does NOT count in your score.) If all seeded pieces are captured, the round ends, 10 more stones placed on the board and the second round begins. The first player to total 12 points is the victor.

The use of magnetism is games is nothing new. At least as far back as Tickle Bee (Schaper Toys, 1956), magnets have been used as an integral part to gameplay. The three games offered are fairly basic; there’s really no new ground in game design here. But the presentation of Jishaku makes it worth notice.

The blue foam base is attractive and the magnetic stones a tactile treat, solid and satisfying to the touch. And their magnetic pull is strong, an important consideration in games totally dependent on magnetism. Had the attraction (and repulsion) of force been weak, the games would not work. As it is, the stones literally JUMP across the foam indentations in a flash, sort of like Mexican Jumping Beans on steroids! Albeit a little “gimmicky”, it’s that quality that makes the game appealing, particularly with younger players and older gamers who enjoy a touch of the unexpected in their gaming. The artwork on the box suggests that the stones come marked with colored lines of power. That might have been a nice touch so you could better anticipate the power of placement before setting a stone into a board pocket. But not the case. The stones are all metallic colored and give no clue as to their effects before they leave your hand. This makes the game a purely tactical exercise as the board can radically change with but a single placement.

Jishaku is really a mix of a toy, game and puzzle, showing attributes of a skill & action game (as pieces literally fly around the board) combined with basic game play along with a distinct puzzle component as you contemplate possible effects of each stone placement. All in all, a pleasing dose of personal magnetism truly suitable for all ages.  – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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