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Gipf for One

Gipf for One is an excellent PC version of GIPF, a fascinating abstract board game invented by Kris Burm in 1997. Like the board game, the objective of Gipf for One is to be the last player to add a piece to the board. The game at first glance looks like a cross between Othello and Hex, but it is actually a unique game that presents different challenges from both.

The GIPF board consists of a hexagon formed from 5 dots per side. The dots are connected with lines so that 37 intersections, or spots, are created. Each corner dot has only one line extending into the grid, and the middle dots on each side have two lines into the grid. Pieces move along these lines.

To start the game, both players must place a few "gipfs," i.e. two pieces stacked on top of each other, on the board. Lose these gipfs, and you lose the game. In this turn-based gameplay, each turn goes as follows: a player places a piece on one of the 24 outside dots and slide it along a path to an adjacent spot. The last player to do so wins the game. If a spot is occupied, the new piece slides the existing one and any others immediately following in the same line forward by one space. However, pieces cannot be forced off the board or onto any other dots, only onto empty spots. It should be clear now that the dots are used only as entry-points for pieces, not as part of the playing surface itself.

The heart of GIPF lies in capturing pieces and managing resources. If a line of four like-colored pieces is created, then those pieces are immediately removed, along with any other pieces in the same continuous line. In this way, each player can capture the other player's pieces and at the same time recover their own pieces from the board in order to re-stock their own supply of pieces. Because each player's reserve shrinks until they repossess pieces through this process, the winner is the player who forces the other to run out of pieces in his reserve: by capturing to shrink the total pieces available, and by positioning of pieces to make it impossible for the opponent to create a line of four of his own color to repossess.

Needless to say, success in GIPF requires both shrewd planning and effective resource management- getting pieces back while stopping your opponent from doing the same. Six sides of entry with various length lines of pieces which are moved forward as a single unit allow attack and defense from every angle. The addition of three gipfs (which can be "dissolved" into two standard pieces) adds an even more challenging layer to the game. Because you lose the game when you lose all three gipfs, you may concentrate too much on the protection of them at the expense of your total resources.

Gipf for One is an excellent PC rendition of this intriguing board game, with an intuitive interface and a very tough computer opponent (although you can play against another human player as well, if you want). Like all excellent abstract strategy games like chess, Gipf for One offers virtually unlimited possibilities that guarantee no two games will ever be the same.

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Gipf for One screenshot
Gipf for One screenshot

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