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Subject: Zen, l'Initie ~ Deranged Review. rss

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Grand Marshall Deranged
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Hello! Welcome to the review. Have a seat! Criticism is welcome - bitching isn't.

Way back in the day, I stumbled across this game in the cellar of a gameshop. The owner explained the game to me, and as should come as no surprise at all, I took the game home and have played it often. It was a favourite among my housemates.

I responded a while ago to the only other thread for this game, where someone asked for more information on the game. I've written quite a long story already on the rules and such.

I'll be giving grades on several aspects of the game, such as discussed here.
For ART, I look at the big picture, and how that picture looks. EASE covers ease of play and learning curve, FLEXIBILITY covers the amount of free will you have and is therefore linked to replayability. FUN might be deceptive, as it's a gut thang, but I'll try and specify in the text, and COMPONENTS should be self-explanatory. I'll not say a lot about rules and specifics - you can find those out for yourself.

The Game Itself: Yin-yang checkers
Move pieces. First to connect all his pieces wins!

-What little illustrations there are are very well done, and the difference in set-up symbols between white and black felt right. Black has traditional kanji of some sort, White has weird angular shapes with dots in them. The pawns look very nice, for pawns. The box looks nice, but not exceptional.

-The game is deceptively easy to teach, learn, and understand. The moving rules are not difficult at all, but the board situation is very fluid and unpredictable.

-While the board situation is very fluid, the options you have for playing are slightly limited - comparable to checkers, as opposed to chess. I'm not claiming one is better or more difficult, but chess does have far more options. Zen, then, has the movement difficulty of Checkers with the board complexity of Chess - your options are very clear, but their consequences might not be.

-As I said, I've played it often in a short timeframe, and if I could find it I'd play it again. The game is challenging in a way that most other abstracts aren't (I've yet to try Go), because everything is so intertwined. Any move has very significant consequences, so that predictions are very difficult and planning ahead in specifics is usually futile.

-Just about the highest score I'd give a game without Bakelite. The board was really thick and quite heavy, the pawns were of high quality, and the box was good as well.

Easy, yet challenging.
That red Zen piece can really make a difference.
You have to connect all your stones, which is a fun change of pace.
It apparently has 2 or 4 players - I've only ever played it with two, though.

It's not easily found.
The rules were in French.

End result:
I'm very sad my copy is unavailable.

The game is really quite engaging. You have to play around your opponent more than against him, although blocking him off is a very viable strategy. A game would last for up to half an hour, an hour tops; exactly the right time to start a new game.

There are many 2p abstracts in my collection, what with loving The Gipfs and their cousin Hive, and the old classics Checkers and Chess. Zen would not make the top of that list, but would probably crack the top 5 if I could be bothered to actually decide on a top 5. I'd certainly play it more often than GIPF (sorry Kris).

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