Do not be misled by cuteness or the obvious similarity to tic tac toe, Gobblet Gobblers is an abstract game worthy of serious strategic contemplation.
No, it’s not chess. It’s not even checkers. But it’s not like any tic tac toe game you’ve ever played, unless you’ve already played the Major FUN Award-winning Gobblet Jr.
Repackaged and revisioned, Gobblet Gobblers plays the same as Gobblet Jr., but introduces a new level of whimsy and fantasy that invites children to view the often serious challenge of abstract reasoning with a light and playful heart.
Players build the board out of four, brightly colored wood pieces. Using these pieces, instead of a solid board, gives the game a friendlier feeling – integrating the game a bit more with its environment (kitchen table, play table, carpet, floor). The pieces all have little felt feather-like things sticking out of their “heads,” adding to the whimsy and offering a practical and compelling way to lift and move the pieces from place to place. There are two different color pieces – blue and orange (oddly, but probably not coincidentally reprising the name of the publisher). Both players get six pieces – two sets of three nesting cylinders.
The game plays like tic tac toe (the object being to get three of your color pieces in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal row), but, unlike the traditional game, in Gobblet Gobblers you can move your pieces once they are placed, and, if your piece is larger than another, you can temporarily “gobble” it by placing your piece on top. Being able to move pieces is departure enough to make Gobblet Gobblers something more than your paper-and-pencil version of tic tac toe. But being able to cover a smaller piece takes the game to a new level of strategic complexity – new enough for it to become a unique invitation to abstract thinking – unique enough to invite serious attention from adults as well as children. And there’s that added component of having to remember what gets covered. And the subsequent, sometimes delightfully agonizing experience of losing the game because of what lies beneath.
Designed by Thierry Denoual, who designed all of the current Gobblet variations, Gobblet Gobbler, with its humorous design (and lower price), is Major FUN, at least – especially for kids who have already mastered the traditional versions of tic tac toe, and even more especially for their parents.