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I have never found the fun in tic-tac-toe. Ever. Which meant I certainly wasn’t going to buy a glorified variation of it.  Until I did.  But this isn’t tic-tac-boring-toe.  It’s Gobblet Junior. A game someone put a lot of thought into.  A game with depth.  A game that takes but a minute or two to play.

It goes like this.

Somebody’s yellow.  And somebody’s red.  I’m playing with my daughter who’s decided she’s red and I’m yellow.  I can live with this.

The board has as many spaces as tic-tac-toe.  Because the objective’s the same–to be the first to get three of your men or markers in a row.  Then it’s over.  Only you play again.  And again.

Each of us has six men–two Big guys, two Medium guys, and two Small guys.  Which is where the complexity of the game really is.  As well as any confusion. The big guys can gobble the medium or small guys.  The medium guys can gobble the small guys.  But you’ll see.

It doesn’t matter where you start or which man you start with.  Only that once you pick up a man and place him on a circle, you don’t get to change your mind.

My daughter went first and placed her big guy (she’s red) in the corner.  I played my big yellow guy in the middle.

She went ahead and played her other big guy right beside her other guy.  Which means she’ll win if I, say, fall asleep on my next move. 

I’m tired, but I’m still in this thing, so I place my medium guy in the corner to block her win.  It also puts me in position to win, if she doesn’t notice.

But she does.  And since she can move any of her men at any time, even the ones already on the board, she chooses to move her big guy from the corner to block me. 

 Which means that for my turn I can move any of my men.  I choose to bring another guy on.  And when I place him in the bottom corner, it’s not looking so good for her now.  Uh…at all.

She chooses to block my diagonal win option by placing her medium guy in the corner.

But it isn’t enough.  I win with three on the side.  I could’ve brought in one of my men that I had still on the sideline, but I went ahead instead and slid my big guy in the middle over to complete the line. Just a matter of preference, which does nothing to change the outcome.  Slick, eh?

And that might’ve taken 35 seconds.

So…New Game now.

She goes first in the middle with her big guy.  I go beside her with mine.

She plays her second big guy in the corner.  Forcing me to do something.

I block her with a medium guy.

Her big guy gobbles my medium guy.  Which is totally allowed.  Now the two of us have to remember what’s under there (my yellow guy).  I cannot move that yellow guy now until she moves her big red guy off of him.  And she may or may not do that.  So he’s temporarily stuck.

I play my medium guy in the corner.  Technically, I have more men on the board.  You just can’t see one of them. 

On her next move she gobbles up my other medium guy.  Also allowed. 

So what we don’t see now are my two medium guys beneath both her big red guys.  She’s also in a position to win.

But I block her with my second big yellow guy.  And look, now I could win.

Only I’m not sure why she did what she did.  But she moved her big red guy off of my medium yellow guy and placed him in the corner.  It looks like she could win.  Only it’s not her turn anymore.

Which is about the time that she has no idea why she did what she did either.  But I get it.  I’ve been there.  Only I was playing her dad.

So with little fanfare, I grabbed my smallest piece and placed him in the winning middle square.

And since the only thing long about this game is someone taking pictures of it, there’s plenty of time to wipe your nose all over the pieces. 

Here’s our last Game.

Her red. Me yellow.

She goes for her medium guy in the corner.

I gobble her medium guy with my big guy.  And set myself up for the win.

She temporarily checks out and places her big red guy in the corner.

But it’s easy to do.  To miss the obvious because you’re thinking of your next move.  And so I win again.

Which is when she reminds me of the first few times we played…back when I couldn’t figure out how to win.  Against her then five-year old self. 

But I’ve surpressed those days.

Sort of.  And whip up on her now every chance I can.

Heh heh…if only that were true.

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