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This review was originally posted on my blog (http://www.luisescobarblog.com/?p=593), which the designer of this game happens to read.
I while back I wrote about a board game called Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype, designed and published by Paul Nowak of Eternal Revolutions (http://www.luisescobarblog.com/?p=526). Well, in February for my birthday, I received the game as a gift from Paul. You have no idea how excited I was. I read the rules as soon as I was able and I thought the game sounded really great. The first person to actually play with the game though, was my daughter. The moment she saw the game she was asking me if she could play it. I let her have it and she sat at her little table and played with the pieces, staking them and knocking them down. That’s not how you play the game but she’s a little kid and she just liked the pieces. A week or two later, I managed to get a game of it played with my brother. Then a week later I played a game with my brother and his wife. A week or two after that, I played with my wife. So what do I think of the game? I LIKE IT A LOT. So now I’m going to review it for you.
What is it?
Uncle Chestnut’s Table Gype is a 2 - 4 player abstract game that can best be described as a cross between Chinese Checkers and Chess but unlike either of those games it has a small element of chance.
Who’s Uncle Chestnut?
Uncle Chestnut it the nickname G.K. Chesterton’s nephew gave him. Table Gype is therefore a Chesterton themed game. The cloth board the game is played on, has Chesterton quotes on each side, relating to games. The icons on the playing pieces are actually taken from themes related to Chesterton’s writings. I’m a fan of G.K. Chesterton so I like the overall “theme” of the game.
How does it play?
The object of the game is like Chinese Checker, to get your pieces to the home base opposite from yours. The board is a cloth game board with an 8×8 grid on it and home bases extending out one extra row on each side.
All players are given their 8 playing pieces. The pieces are dice with a different icons on each face. The icons on each dice are: The Flame, The Book, The Tree, The Swords, The Hat, and The Ear. The icons dictate the way each piece moves when that icon is facing up. For example: The Flame moves like a King in Chess, one space in any direction, while The Book moves one space vertically or horizontally. The Ears means you can’t move at all (ears are bad).
Each player starts the game with the following faces showing on their dice: 2 Swords, 2 Trees, 2 Books, and 2 Flames and they can be placed in any order on your starting Home Base. On a player’s turn, they could do ONE of two actions, either move a piece or roll a piece. If a piece you move can jump over another piece, either you own or your opponents, you can jump over it, like in Chinese Checker. You can even link the jumps (like in Chinese Checkers) as long as the piece can legally move in that direction. The trick is that, every piece that is jumped over is NOT captured but must, instead, be re-rolled. Depending on the roll, the piece may change it’s movement or it can even become unable to move (this happens if an Ear is rolled).
Once one of the players gets all his pieces to the Home Row opposite the one he started from, they win. That’s it. Very simple game.
Why I like it.
Okay, so I like Chess. I think it’s a it’s a great game. Also one of my favorite games is Chase which also uses dice as pieces (I reviewed this game in another article a while back). I enjoy games where the pieces are versatile too. Here’s the thing though, both Chess and Chase are “brain burners”, that is to say, that they hurt my head when I play them because there is just so much thinking ahead that must be done when you play them. Table Gype is not like that. It’s got very Chess like elements in how you think and move you’re pieces but because of the random factor of your pieces being able to potentially change movement if they’re jumped over, you really can’t plan too far ahead. It forces you to think on the fly as the game progresses. In other words, where Chess and Chase are more strategic, Table Gype is much more tactical. What this does when you play is, it lightens the game so that it’s not so “serious” and makes it very fun and lighthearted.
I played this game with my brother and he really enjoyed it. He’s not much of a Chess player. In fact I’m not sure he likes Chess but we had a great time playing Table Gype. It was a close game and my brother won. I also got a chance to play the game with him and his wife and discovered that having another player on the board was actually just as fun. It was a bit more chaotic but in a good way. You never felt that you had no control just that you needed to be far more tactical. I managed to pull off a win by one move. When I played the game against my wife, she enjoyed it so much, she asked to play it again. So we did. So far the game has been a hit in my family.
The first time I played with my wife, she was doing some things with her pieces that got me thinking. The second time around, I decided to test my theory. What I did was try to set up my pieces in such a way that I could create a “road” of pieces for my other pieces to jump so I could develop my pieces faster. I did much better in that game than I did the first. I realized that the game had a lot of potential for opening set ups and opening moves.
I will say this about the game though, it’s possible that luck may play a big role in the game. If two equally matched opponents where to play the game, it’s possible that the one with the better luck would be the winner. That said, the game is so quick to play that you can always play any number of games to balance out the luck. In the three player game I played against my brother and my Sister-in-law, my brother played a much better game than us but I managed to pull of some lucky rolls that turned my pieces into Hats (they move like Knights in Chess). This allowed me to be able to move my pieces to my Home Row fast. I managed to pull off the win just barely. Still, I had to really puzzle out HOW to move the pieces in the most efficient way I could in order to get the pieces in the right spots before my brother won. As I wrote above, I won that game by one move.
An experienced player will almost always win a less experienced player, but there is a possibility that a less experienced player may get lucky and win a game. That actually makes it fun.
If you don’t like the luck, the game rules comes with a “no luck” variant as well other changes to the rules you might enjoy playing with. In the end, I must say, this is a game worth having. It can be deep but it’s accessible to everyone. Especially since it has that familiarity of Chinese Checkers and Chess. It’s an odd combo but it’s two great taste that taste great together. I highly recommend it.
You have paid retail for the last time.
The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. - GKC
Thanks for posting this here! I was going to suggest you do so...
You should upload the cartoons to BGG for Gype under "Creative." Then you can get more thumbs and for your work.
- Last edited Mon May 31, 2010 1:22 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon May 31, 2010 1:20 pm