A to Z 2015 : YINSH

I've only played this next entry once, the same night I played both Ubongo and Venture. After hearing how it was played, I briefly recall a friend talking about it before, so I was excited to try it. It's a great Gateway/Filler game.

And while it may be easy to play, it's hard to master...

YINSH is an abstract 2 player game, different from all the other games I've featured so far throughout the A to Z Challenge. It's simple to set up, easy to teach, but involves a lot of strategy. It's compared to Checkers (or Chinese Checkers?) and Othello, that latter I've never played. In complexity I compare it to Chess in that you are wanting to plan ahead. YINSH may not be as intricate, in the sense that it doesn't have a variety of pieces that move/function in different ways, but it's still got depth.

The game consists of a grid-patterned board, a bunch of double sided markers (white and black), and 10 rings (5 white/5 Black). That's it!

Players decide who goes first and by default that player is White (though,  I'd imagine it doesn't matter). Beginning with the starting player, each participant takes turns placing their rings on the board. Anywhere the grid pattern intersects is considered a playable area to place a ring (even along the borders/walls). Once both players have all of their rings placed the game is considered set up and play beings.

On a player's turn, they pick up a marker and decide which of their rings they want to move. When chosen, the player places the marker (their color face-up) in the ring, and the ring is moved following some guidelines. The marker is left behind. The ring can only move in a straight line and must end on a vacant space/intersection. It may move over one or more vacant spaces. A ring may jump over multiple uninterrupted markers on the board (even after passing over vacant spots), but in doing so, must stop at the next available vacant space. Rings can never pass/jump over other rings.

If a player didn't jump any markers their turn ends and is passed to the other player.

If a player jumped one or more markers, however, each of those markers (excluding the marker placed in the ring before moving it, as it hasn't been jumped) is flipped, regardless of who originally placed it and what color is face-up. So each White marker becomes Black and vice versa.

NOTE: Markers are permanently placed until a player scores a row with them. They can be flipped, but never moved.

The goal of YINSH is to eventually form three rows of 5 markers of your color. When a player forms a row, those markers are removed from the board, and the player controlling the matching colored rings picks any one of their rings and stations it on the side of the board where marked. The ring is used to indicate your score, but it also makes it more challenging to form rows since you will have less rings to move on the board.

NOTE: It's very possible to accidentally create a row of 5 for your opponent. If this happens they reap the benefit (or hindrance?) of removing those markers and scoring a ring. If a player happens to cause both players to form a row, the active player gets to remove and score first, followed by their opponent. If more than 5 markers exist in a newly formed row, the player scoring chooses which 5 to remove as long as they are consecutive.
 I ended up scoring my third and final ring in the top row! My opponent ran into some bad luck and wasn't able to score any.

I ended up scoring my third and final ring in the top row! My opponent ran into some bad luck and wasn't able to score any.

The game ends as soon as a player scores 3 of their rings! Like mentioned above, if a player happens to create a row for both himself/herself and their opponent, and it happens to be the third row created for both, the active player wins, because their ring is scored first!

In the event that the players run out of markers, the game ends and the person who scored the most rings wins! If the players are tied then the result is a draw!

Full Review Forthcoming

Have you ever played YINSH? If so, did you like it? If familiar with the Project GIPF, have you played any of the other games in the series? If new to YINSH, does it look like a game you'd enjoy?