Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review -- PUNCT

Over the course of writing these board game reviews I have mentioned the Gipf series of games on more than one occasion.
The series of six abstract strategy games by masterful game designer Kris Burm are among the best of the genre of games in the last half century, and probably among board games generally, although many shy from strategy games.
Of the six, five have been reviewed previously, leaving Punct as the odd game out.
Well this week we rectify the situation by looking at Punct, which was initially released in 2005.
Now you might expect this is where a reviewer might suggest something cliched like leaving the best for last.
Well in this case the opposite is actually the case.
Among the six games in the series, Punct would rate last behind Tazaar, Yinsh, Zertz, Gipf and Dvonn.
Rating last generally isn't a good thing, but considering the overall excellence of the Gipf series, it still leaves Punct as a rather solid offering, albeit the weak sister to five heavyweight offerings.
Punct was the fifth release in the series, offering a connection mechanic with its roots in games such as Hex.
The goal is straight forward, connect two opposite sides of the board, and win.
In this two-player game, which all games in the series are, a player may either enter a new piece into play or move one already on the board.
The pieces are well-made plastic, which are the norm for Gipf games. Each piece has three points and are either straight, v-shaped or triangular. One of the points is marked and called a Punct - or the piece's the centre-point.
Once on the board pieces can move or be rotated, moving around the Punct and moved in straight lines. Piece can land anywhere, where its Punct is on free space or on top of one's own piece. Pieces can be piled.
While not a big fan of connection games in general, Punct at least adds some interesting elements to the game play.
The board is a hexagon; the goal to connect two opposing sides with a chain of pieces, which with a hex board means more options in play.
With more options than most connection games, Punct has appeal, and piece resource management is definitely an aspect to remember, or a player can by hamstrung with limited options on ensuing moves.
The last game of Gipf series you should buy, but it still should be a must-own abstract strategy game.

-- Review appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper February 3, 2011 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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