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ZERTZ

EXCERPTS FROM THE FALL 2000 GA REPORT

 

FROM “NIX PIX”:

 

ZERTZ (From Schmidt International/Rio Grande Games; $29.95)

 

The 37 rings that make up the field of play are arranged in a hexagonal pattern with four rings to a side. The marbles begin off this fluid board. Furthermore, each color or marble comes in a different quantity. The white are the fewest (with six pieces), followed by grey (eight pieces) and, finally, black (ten).zertzbox

On his turn, a player places any color marble they wish from those remaining off the field of play and then removes one of the rings from the edge of the “board” thus reducing the playing area of the game. The only way players would not do this is if they have a jump move available at the start of their turn. A jump move is created by a player placing a marble next to another one on what is left of the play area. If you have a jump available at the start of your turn, you must take it. If you have multiple jumps, you can choose which to take but, as long as you can continue to make jumps, you have to keep jumping. A player captures all of the marbles he jumps. If you make a jump move, you do not place a marble or take a board ring. The marbles you capture in a jump are stored in front of you, rather conveniently, upon rings that you have previously removed from the field of play. This leads rather nicely into how one goes about winning Zertz.

In the basic game, the first player to take half the number of one color of marble (three of the white, for example) or take two of each color of marble wins the game. The tournament rules are one half plus one of a single color or three of each color to win.

Zertz is an incredibly smooth piece of design work. Board pieces taken early on become holders for a player’s captured pieces. The method of setting up a jump to force your opponent’s next move is balanced nicely by the fact that you are handing your opponent potential victory. On top of all this, the playing area is constantly shrinking which forces the game to a tight conclusion. … The other thing I noticed… is that I haven’t fallen into any sort of opening move yet. After my first few playings of most abstract games, I will find some optimal set of early moves to maximize my position for the midgame. Any such set of moves for Zertz have eluded me to this point due to the depth of the game’s strategy.

Zertz is a brilliant addition to the GIPF series…. Given the elegance of the design, I am very much looking forward to more from Kris Burm. – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nick Sauer


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