BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

Add Comment

Cir*Kis (or Penrose Tiles: The Game!)

Have you heard of Cir*Kis, or possibly CirKis, or maybe just Cirkis? (Adding an intercap and an asterisk to your product name seems a little crazy to me.) Anyway, I hadn’t seen anything about this game until I spotted it on the internet today.

Image: The plastic board and pieces of Cir*Kis. Each player has a set of 20 coloured tiles, and keeps score with a peg moved on the individual scoring tracks around the edge of the board.

It’s a new ‘family abstract’ from Winning Moves USA/Hasbro (I’m guessing the name you’ll see on the box will depend on your territory). The American Winning Moves site has some details, and it’s listed on Amazon.com. Here’s the blurb:

Cir*Kis is the newest, and best, piece-placing game. You’ll score by completing circles and stars on the eye-catching game board. Plan ahead and you could earn a free turn to place another piece an score big!

Hmmmm… I like the way they use the adjective ‘piece-placing’ as if it’s common parlance. And what other well-known so-called ‘piece-placing’ game could they possibly be taking aim at, mewonders? (Let’s face it, it’s this one.)

Now, as interesting as new games always are, this one wouldn’t be anything like as interesting if it weren’t for the very obvious fact that it uses the famous Penrose tiling, a geometrical curiosity originally discovered in the 1970s by the British mathematician, physicist, author and all-round polymath Roger Penrose. If you’ve never heard of Mr Dr Sir Roger Penrose before, let alone his tiling, then Wikipedia has some information, as does Wolfram MathWorld. The Cir*Kis tiles themselves are fixed combinations of the ‘kite’ and ‘dart’ Penrose tiles, and the board has a raised pattern of ridges which corresponds to a particular tiling of these shapes.

For the keen-minded reader, desperate for more detail, here is the demonstration YouTube video (posted just a couple of days ago) which, provided you can endure its somewhat cheerless nature, does give a good introduction to the game.

The players place tiles in turn, with the aim of completing ‘circles’ and ‘stars’ on the board. Crucially each new tile has to be placed adjacent (edge-to-edge or corner-to-corner) to the previously placed one. The rather Eurogame scoring twist is this: the player completing the feature gets 5 points, but the player whose tiles make up the majority of the completed feature’s area gets 10 points, which is actually kind of interesting given the rule that restricts where each new tile can be placed. The first player to 40 points is the winner. (Note that since points are only scored in units of 5, this is really a game played to 8 points, but no matter.)

The last thing I have to say is that I hope Winning Moves and Hasbro have all their ducks in a row here, since the MathWorld article highlights that Penrose sued Kimberley Clark in 1997 over their use of his tiling pattern on, of all things, quilted toilet paper. There has to be a pun in there someplace, but I can’t think of it.

Post a Comment

Older post / Newer post