- Designer: Kris Burm
- Publisher: Huch! & Friends; Rio Grande
- Players: 2
- Ages: 13 and Up
- Time: 30-60 Minutes
- Times Played: > 5
LYNGK is the seventh (arguably eighth) game in the GIPF Project, an award-winning series of abstract games by Belgian designer Kris Burm.
The GIPF project started in 1997, and the series has been released worldwide by a few publishers in the twenty years since. Though the project went out of print a few years ago, HUCH & Friends began republishing the games with a fresh look last year, starting with GIPF and YINSH. We reviewed both games at the time.
LYNGK is the new game in the series. As you’ll see below, the game is played with six different colors, each representing a game of the GIPF project, making it a “synthesis of the project.” As described in the rulebook, “[w]hile GIPF itself is the epicenter of the project, LYNGK is the umbrella game. It brings together all 6 games through the implementation of elements and mechanics that characterize each game of the series.”
How to play LYNGK…
There are five colors in the game — red, ivory (which looks white), green, blue, and black — and eight pieces of each are placed randomly onto the board. Additionally, three mottled white pieces (which look grey) — these act as a joker/wild — are randomly placed on the board as well.
At the start of the game, all pieces on the board are neutral, meaning they belong to neither of the players. On a player’s turn, he starts by claiming a color, which means only he will be able to move pieces of that color or stacks with that color on top.
Each player will claim two colors (and no more) over the course of the game. There’s an extra pieces of each color, and players use those to denominate the colors they control by putting them on their side of the board.
On a player’s turn, after optionally claiming a color, he must move one piece or stack of pieces. A stack must always be moved as a whole, and the color on top determines whether the stack is neutral or belongs to one of the players. A move must always end on an occupied spaces. Moves can only go in a straight line (except with the LYNGK-rule) and cannot jump over other pieces or stacks.
A neutral piece can only jump onto another neutral piece, and a single neutral piece cannot jump onto a stack. A stack with a neutral piece on top of it may jump onto a stack of at most the same height.
A single piece of a claimed color or a stack with a claimed color on top of it can be moved onto any other piece or stack.
The LYNGK-rule states that “pieces/stacks of one and the same claimed color are connected, but only under the condition that they can be moved towards each other with a regular move. A player can use pieces of that claimed color to make a double move, or even a triple or quadruple move, by using them as links towards other pieces on the board.” Basically, you move your piece/stack towards your color, but rather than putting your piece/stack on top, you can make another move from that LYNGK-point. You can’t use a joker as a LYNGK-point, nor can you use the same LYGNK-point multiple times on the same turn.
When a player completes a stack of five pieces, they remove the stack and put it on their side of the board. If a stack of five is formed with a neutral piece, that stack becomes an obstacle and does not count for either player.
A player must move if possible. The game ends when the last possible move has been played.
The winner is the player with the most stacks of 5 different colored pieces. In case of a tie, the winner is who controls the most stacks of 4 pieces, 3 pieces, etc.
My thoughts on the game…
LYNGK, like all of the games in the GIPF series, is easy to learn but deeply strategic. A typical rules explanation in LYNGK takes less than two or three minutes, yet there are numerous viable strategies to achieve victory, and you likely could spend a lifetime trying to master the game.
I’ve played several times now, and each game has been vastly different than the games before. The game seems kind of chaotic at the start, but within a few turns, strategy emerges, and each player seems to approach the game differently.
There are several key decision points. The first is when to claim a color. (For what it is worth, I think it is better to claim them early.) The second seems to be the degree to which you prioritize getting the jokers. (I always try to get them in stacks I control, because they give flexibility.)
The LYNGK-rule makes the game. The rule broadens movement possibilities, and in that regard, it opens up the board to be a fascinating series of decisions. The LYNGK-rule influences how you set up the board towards end game, and it requires you to keep a closer eye on your opponent than you’d expect, as they have more moves than it seems at first.
This game reminds me of TZAAR more than any other GIPF game, as the movement around the board is similar. But there are elements of the other GIPF games here — such as the stacking and stack control in DVONN — and I see why Kris Burm calls this the “synthesis” of the project.
With the people I’ve played with, gameplay tends to be reasonably fast, and we finish the game in half an hour or so. That said, like with any abstract strategy game, gameplay will ultimately depend on the players: this is the sort of game where you could ponder each move for several minutes. This is middle-of-the-road for the GIPF series in terms of timing: it takes more time than TZAAR or DVONN, but certainly less time than GIPF, YINSH, or PUNCT. I think this is longer than some of the games because the LYNGK-rule makes movement so open-ended.
I love LYNGK, and it has a permanent spot on my game shelf, along with the rest of Project GIPF. Like with many abstracts, I like seeing how simple rules can unfold into complex strategies. This is a great game, and although it isn’t my favorite in the series — TZAAR is — I’d still enthusiastically recommend it.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers . . .
Mitchell Thomashow: LYNGK is another clever, even brilliant Kris Burm game. I had a chance to play the prototype several dozen times. As Chris suggests,the first decision point—when you select your color—is a fascinating and original concept. It adds an intriguing territorial challenge. At first you are free, and then you are obligated. That feature is what makes the game so interesting to play.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Chris Wray, Eric M, Mitchell T
- I like it.
- Not for me…
Ranking the GIPF Games (Most Preferred to Least Preferred)
Chris Wray: TZAAR, DVONN, ZERTZ, YINSH, LYNGK, TAMSK, GIPF, PUNCT
Patrick Brennan: 8’s: ZERTZ, GIPF, TZAAR, YINSH / 7’s: PUNCT, DVONN / 6’s: TAMSK
Mitchell T: TZAAR, YINSH, LYNGK, DVONN, PUNCT, GIPF, ZERTZ, TAMSK