The GIPF Project is an award-winning series of six abstract strategy games by designer Kris Burm. The series is named after the first game, GIPF, and the idea behind the project is that the reward for winning each of the other games in the series is to allow the winner to introduce new pieces with special powers, called potentials, into a concurrent game of GIPF. However, any of the games may also be played individually in the normal way, and they have attained most popularity in this form. The potentials are available in 3 separate sets, the first containing TAMSK potentials, the second ZÈRTZ and DVONN potentials (along with pieces to expand ZÈRTZ standalone games), and the third and final set containing YINSH and PÜNCT potentials, plus extra GIPF pieces. The publication of the third expansion set at the Essen Spiel 2006 event completed the project, and marked the partnership of Burm with Belgian game company SMART, who now publishes all the GIPF games. In 2007, Burm released the new game TZAAR to replace TAMSK as the second game in the GIPF Project.
All the games take place on some form of hexagonal board, and usually the playing surface or a player's power diminishes as the game draws to an inevitable conclusion. The idea of introducing additional games that can be used to affect the outcome of the main game came from Burm's childhood, when he and his brother would "race" cars around a rug. For each turn, they would play another game, and the winner of that game would get to roll six dice to determine his car's movement, while the loser would roll just five.
As of 2010[update], the most popular game in the series, according to the Internet Top 100 Games List, is DVONN, although the average rating from players on Boardgamegeek place TZAAR and YINSH at the top of the Abstract Games Rank, and DVONN, ZERTZ and GIPF end up on the 4th, 7th and 15th place, respectively. ZÈRTZ, DVONN, and YINSH have all won the Mensa Select award.
List of games
Most of the games in the series can be played free online or against freely available computer opponents.
- GIPF is a game of pushing.
- TAMSK is a game of time. - With the release of TZAAR in 2007, this game was taken out of the project/series.
- ZÈRTZ is a game of sacrifice.
- DVONN is a game of towers.
- YINSH is a game of flipping.
- PÜNCT is a game of connection.
- TZAAR is a game of capture and stacking. (replacing TAMSK)
The games are based on elements: Tamsk (time), Zèrtz (water), Dvonn (fire), Yinsh (air), Tzaar (earth), Pünct (the interconnectivity of the brain) and in Gipf all these elements come together.
The original games were published by Don & Co. "Don" is a nickname of Burm used by his friends. The "Co" element came from friends who helped in publishing the game.
Origin of the names of the games
Kris Burm is a fanatic climber. The idea of Gipf came to him while climbing a mountain in Germany. It comes from the German "Gipfel", the top of a mountain. During the climb the word "Gipf" became something more than just the top of the mountain. Burm said that "give me a gipf" could mean "can I have a light for a cigarette". In the progress of making the game, Burm got aware that this game concept would become the highlight of his game designs. So it became a personal "top of the mountain".
Another thing that fascinates Burm is names of cities like Brno. He wanted to do something similar with the games. Out of this came the rule, that all additional games in the Gipf-series would have names with one vowel and 4 consonants, that should not be related to any language. The struggle in publishing the last game was that tough, that it was suggested to Burm "to put a point behind it". The German for point is Punkt. Due to the rule that the games should not be related to any language, this was transformed to Pünct.
Tzaar broke with all original elements of the Gipf-series. Burm made the game on request of SMART who did not like Tamsk. Burm therefore removed the element of time from the series, he used two vowels in the name of the game and it was related to a language, as a signal about his feelings at that moment with regard to the cooperation with his publisher at that moment. Nevertheless, he always stated that he was pleased with Tzaar.
- Thomashow, Mitchell. "GIPF Review". The Games Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- Blessing, Ron (2005-06-01). "Review of GIPF". RPGnet. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
- "Internet Top 100 Games List". Aaron D. Fuegi. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- "Abstract Games Rank, Boardgamegeek". Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- "Mind Games Past Winners (select year)". American Mensa, Ltd. Retrieved 2008-08-24.