Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Gobblet!" by Blue Orange Games

(originally published in the Missoulian of Missoula, MT on 07/24/05)

In my elementary school, I studied reading, writing, math, and history. I played at recess and ran laps during P.E. Everything I learned was well documented, everything but one.

Games. Lots and lots of games. The back of the class was my home away from home. I learned quickly that when the teacher speaks you have to be quiet. However, you don’t necessarily have to listen. This little loophole encouraged the girls to pass notes and the boys to play games. Quietly.

The very first strategy game I learned in school was Tic-Tac-Toe. All you needed was a pencil and a piece of paper, and if you didn’t have the paper, then the top of the desk did just fine. This game was especially good after tests and during announcements, and it was a godsend during history lessons - if you could get away with it.

Tic-Tac-Toe was gradually replaced with the Dots-and-Boxes game, namely for its longevity. You could literally squander an entire academic school year playing the Dots-and-Boxes game, and for that, I was eternally grateful. There was something extremely gratifying about seeing a grid filled mostly with my initials, and it ranked up there with making the honor roll.

Then came Connect-Four, a game the teachers let us play on special occasions. Connect-Four was for the mental elite. I’ll never forget that one tournament in which I was one victory shy of the Connect-Four championship title. Glory, honor, and dignity were stripped away from me that day. I threw in the towel, like George Foreman after his jungle fight with Muhammed Ali. I was finished.

That is, until I learned Gobblet!

Gobblet! is the creative masterpiece of Blue Orange Games. It is the next step in the evolution of simple kids’ games. It takes literally seconds to learn and is the kind of game that both adults and kids like to play again and again.

Gobblet! is a two-player game with the simple goal of making four-in-a-row. The game board is composed of sixteen squares, four to a side, and each player has twelve pieces with which to win.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

What makes Gobblet! different is the pieces. There are four sizes of pieces which fit into each other like Russian matryoshka dolls. The bigger pieces have the ability to "gobble" any smaller piece on the board, thus interfering with traditional gaming ideas. You’d be surprised by how many layers of pieces can be on the board at one time.

You can also move around pieces already on the board. However, you must make sure you remember what’s under them before doing so. If not, you risk helping out your opponent! This is the heart of Gobblet!, and within it, you will find a wealth of strategy and fun.

Annie and I have played an insane number of games since receiving a copy, and like Foreman’s return, I’ve won all of our matches. I don’t feel bad about it either. I’m making up for lost time. The shame of that Connect-Four defeat all those years ago stunted what would surely have been the greatest gaming sensation the world has ever known.

So comebacks do happen. My Gobblet! record is flawless, and my spirits are high. All I need now is a house full of boys named Smatt and some barbecue commercials.

I hope Annie’s ok with that.

Cost: $29.95
Players: 2
Age: 7 and up
Time to play: 5 to 10 minutes
Rating (1 to 10, 10 being the best): 8
Additional Comments: Great game for younger players. Also a great coffee table game.


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