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Subject: The Limelight On: YINSH - Ring Out! rss

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Type of Game: Abstract
Number of Players: 2
Length of Game: 15 - 30 mins (Significantly less for 'Blitz' games)
Complexity: Elegant

The Overview:
YINSH is the highest ranked member (currently #62) of the Project GIPF series of 2 player abstract games; and in raw ratings it has a very respectable 7.68, the second highest score (behind TZAAR). The game is based around jumping rings across a triangular grid and placing/flipping Othello style discs from black to white.

The Winning Conditions:
The first player to remove three of their five rings from the board wins, removing a ring is achieved by having '5-in-a-row' of the discs in a single colour. Make 5-in-a-row three times and the game is yours!

The Component Quality:



YINSH's components are designed with simplicity in mind. The game fits inside a thin box which is best kept on the shelf horizontally, the components, board and component tray fill the box to the lid - always a great thing to have as it reduces sliding around of the board and components when stored/transported. The cardboard is a little flimsy, but not in any serious manner.



The board is a square, four folded board with subtle snow field design for a background, space for each player's removed rings, and the playing grid, which is a series of triangular spaces.

It's beautiful in its simplicity.



The pieces are bakelite and come in two types - player rings (Black and White) and double-sided discs that are coloured white on one side and black on the other. Bakelite is a pleasant material to the touch and this makes playing YINSH a tactile pleasure. (Am I the only person over five who has an urge to put bakelite pieces in my mouth?)

The Rules:


White at the start of a move

The rulebook is a black and white affair written in six languages; with the actual rules to the game themselves taking up just four pages including diagrams. They are clear, concise and very easy to follow, referencing specific rules is also a doddle but you shouldn't need to do it - yes, it's that easy to pick up how to play YINSH!

To start with, both players take it in turns to place their five Rings on intersections (the points where the grid lines cross) on the board, each Ring must be on a different intersection (Rings do not like to share) but apart from that players are free to position as they like.

Once all ten rings are down they start moving. When a Ring is moved it 'deposits' a disc in it's colour behind it (like some demented litter bug or determined graffiti tagger) and then 'leaps' across the board ('Whee!' noise optional). A Ring can move as far as it likes straight along a line of the board, stopping either wherever the player wishes, when it 'hits' another ring or when it passes over discs. If it passes over discs then it must be placed in the first empty space after these discs and then every disc it leapt over is flipped so its opposite side is showing. That's right; your Rings will even flip matching colour discs to the opposing colour if they jump over them.

If five in a row of the same colour is made by this move (no matter which player caused it) then that colour's player removes the five in a row and then removes one of their Rings (their choice which ring).

This play continues until one player has removed three of their Rings, at this point they are declared the winner and may take a victory lap around the table to celebrate!


Here white has won.

There is also a 'blitz' mode where the first player to line up 5 in a row wins.

The Good Parts:
YINSH is an incredible abstract with strategy that deepens the more you play it, the rules are fast and easy to learn, but the game itself takes time to master. It's a familiar game to learn; and as it has elements that echo Othello, Draughts and Connect 4 it's an accessible game for most people.

The size of the board, the variation in starting positions and the variation in the directions you can move is what makes the strategy deep, it is rare that any two games will be alike and player style can dramatically influence the way the game unfolds. These elements give the game a longevity that makes it a great purchase.

One of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of the game is the inbuilt 'catch up' mechanism the game's winning condition creates. As a player removes their Rings they move closer to winning, but they also lose the very playing pieces they need to win, this reduces their opportunities on the board and limits their tactical play. As a consequence their opponent has a greater opportunity to remove their own pieces. It's a rare game where one player removes all three of their rings without their opponent removing at least one.

The game's second great element is the ability to 'trap' and 'force moves' by your opponent, and you will have immense fun threatening to '5-in-a-row', your opponent unless they block you. It's also enjoyable to trap opposing Rings for a while, either physically with other Rings or by hedging a Ring into a place where jumping over discs would be an unsound move. This is without even getting to the immense satisfaction the game brings when you trick your opponent into making an error or surprise them by creating '5-in-a-row' out of "nowhere".

The alternative game style, the 'blitz' mode is a tense and exciting tactical variation as well, it plays like a tactical sniper match where the first player to make a mistake or walk into a trap is out in the blink of an eye. It's arguably even deeper than the normal game; it's certainly a lot faster - which makes it a superb warm up game for two players waiting for the rest of their gaming buddies to turn up.



The Weak Parts:
The game is not the most beautiful of games, the bakelite pieces are speckled - something that may not appeal to all; and the border choice for the discs (blue) is also something that is ascetically a little weak. The board itself is functional and elegant, but it isn't exactly a thing of beauty, likewise with the box inlay and art.

However that's pretty much it, the only complaints you could have about YINSH (outside of just not enjoying abstract games) are about its appearance and its availability (it can be a little hard to get the Project GIPF series of games at times).

The Summary:
YINSH is a powerhouse of an abstract, easy to learn, a joy to watch and a game that punches well above its weight. It's a must have for any abstract fan or lover of two player games and it should be in the collection of anyone else who calls themselves a gamer.

People just like you.

For Further Limelight Reviews check out [geeklist=115369]this Geeklist[/geeklist].
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Left Hand Reviews
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
fun game. used to play online a lot.
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Testy Testerson
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
Great review! I personally -LOVE- the aesthetics of the Project GIPF games. I have only played Tzaar so far (har har), but it has that pleasing Go type minimalism that I enjoy.
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Andy Andersen
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
Great review. We have all of the GIPF series and this is probably our favorite
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David Witzany
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
Styfen wrote:
(Am I the only person over five who has an urge to put bakelite pieces in my mouth?)

Not at all. Bakelite is one of those great tactile sensations, and sounds great when you bite it, too. Right up there with stone.

More than you wanted to know?

Great review, by the by. I love YINSH and ZÈRTZ; I suspect I'd like the rest of the Project Gipf games, too.
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David Mitchell
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
Terrible game. My 12 year old daughter kept beating me. I guess I wasn't paying attention to what was going on because I am such a better game player then her.

Stupid game!
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fen
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
coldbarca wrote:
Great review! Although I think the game looks stunning (the best of the series), including the blue speckles.

I actually quite like the way the game looks (and feels - nom nom nom), I have heard the occasional complaint about it's appearance though and that was just about the only criticism I could find about the game.
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Dvonn Yinsh
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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
Let me join the chorus...I love the art and esthetics of the entire Gipf series, including the Yinsh's blue speckled components and the understated board. Lurve it.

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Re: The Limelight On: YINSH
dlminsac wrote:
Terrible game. My 12 year old daughter kept beating me. I guess I wasn't paying attention to what was going on because I am such a better game player then her.

Stupid game!


Lay off the Stout!

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Matt Miller
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My son, 16 years old, and I just played it the other night for the first time. He is an extremely good abstract thinker and this game, to be honest, intimidated me from the looks of it. The play was simple and quick and I did lose 3-1 but it wasn't a total blowout. I'm actually looking forward to playing him again this weekend.
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By the way, this entire series of games gets looks from coffee-shop goers, and more than a passing interest. You could certainly plop down at a table and set the board up and get some stranger involved. Kinda like "Casual YINSH"...

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