Cir*Kis

Cir*Kis is as much of a puzzle as it is a strategy game as it is an exploration of the geometry of the decagon (like an octagon, only with 10 sides). One of the interesting properties of a decagon is that it can surround a five-pointed star with satisfyingly geometric aplomb.

Each of up to 4 players gets a collection of 9 different shapes of the same color. These shapes vary in size from the easy-to-find-but-difficult-to-position “big slice” to the easy-to-lose “sliver” which can only be placed in clearly demarcated spaces on the edges of the board. The board is covered with a raised pattern of circles (actually decagons) and stars and irregular shapes connecting them. The pieces fit into and over the design on the board. It requires a certain amount of dexterity and a significant amount of perceptual discrimination to figure out what fits where. The strategy, of course, is in understanding why.

After the first move (the rules suggest that the youngest player goes first), the next player has to place their piece so that it is adjacent to the last played. As soon as a player is able to complete a shape (a circle or star), she scores. If her color is in the majority, she scores 10 points. If not, only 5.

You can also get a free turn, which means that you can take the lead, which can be of significant strategic import if you are significantly strategic. The opportunities are rather rare, which make them of even more strategic interest – you must either place one of your pieces in a space surrounded by other pieces, or complete the center star or be the first to place a sliver piece.

Visually, Cir*Kis is as compelling as any other tessellation. The conceptual challenge of separating figure from ground adds significantly the strategic challenge of playing the game.

For 2-4 players, aged 8 and up, Cir*Kis offers a unique challenge to the eye and mind. It might remind you of Blokus or Pentominoes, but there really is no other game quite like it – lovely to look at, visually challenging, strategically deep enough to be played again and again, Major FUN.

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