Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review -- QYSHINSU


If you ever want a game to impress you just by the way it looks coming out of the box Qyshinsu is for you.And, the really good news it keeps impressing as you delve into the rules, and actually start playing the game too.Qyshinsu has the 'look' of an old game, with a sort of 'Japanese flavour'. You soon get the feel that this game has to be from the era of great games like Go. Surprise though, this game is actually brand new. The brainchild of game developer, and publisher, R.A. Frederickson, Qyshinsu was released only last year. Kudos to Frederickson for being able to develop a game which has such a beautifully ancient feel to it.Now let's get back to the look of the game as it comes out of the package. The board is a simple designed circle, made of wood, and marked out in a pie pattern, The wood is beautifully stained a dark brown, which enhances the idea of an older game.The game pieces are wooden as well, almost always a plus for a game since wood adds character. The pieces here are smoothly created, and are marked nicely to differentiate the pieces. A nice velveteen bag is provided to hold the pieces, which is a classy touch.Then there is the rulebook, which can only be described as lavish. Again the design has a sort of 'old parchment' the whole idea of the game. However, the real joy of this rule set is that they are basically explained through a story. The rule set is written as though you are reading the diary of a young novice Qyshinsu player who has sought out a master of the game to learn.The 'master's voice' has a very 'Zen-like, near spiritual' approach to telling of the rules of the game. Again here one gets the idea the game could be as old and revered as Go, although it isn't quite in that league since Go may be the greatest game ever created.The game play comes down to controlling the board so as to prevent your opponent from carrying out a move on their turn thereby winning the game.Each player, it is a two-player game, has 12 pieces, two each of pieces numbered one to five, and two more which are termed 'old stones'.The first player places a piece, as an example, a three stone. The opponent must then place a stone exactly three spaces away from initial stone. In subsequent moves players may either place, or remove one of their stones in accordance with the previous move. So if a player lays a four stone, the opponent may place, or remove a stone exactly four spaces away. To add to the consideration, while each player has two of each piece, only two pieces of any stone may be on the board at a given time. So if each player has a three-stone in play, they cannot place a third one on the board.The 'old stone' has a slightly different mechanic which adds a level of strategy in terms of board manipulation.The game goes back-and-forth until someone cannot make the required move.It is interesting how a game tends to evolve, with the board soon becoming quite crowded, then ebbing back to fewer pieces, as players begin pulling pieces.One who has an aptitude for quick math might have an edge here, since you are constantly thinking about what move will mean an opponent can't respond, and that comes down to doing some mental calculations. The rules suggest pausing to think through moves, and that is clearly a wise suggestion.The game looks amazing, has the best rulebook out there is terms of its unique flavour, and the game has a simple elegance.This is a game that has everything going for it, and it should long be enjoyed once added to a collection.

Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Feb. 18, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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