ZÈRTZ: Abstract Strategy – Rules, How to Play & Winning Strats


As an enthusiast of board and card games, I have come across a wide variety of games, each with its unique charm and appeal. One such game that has captivated my interest is ZÈRTZ. ZÈRTZ is a fascinating abstract strategy game that is part of the GIPF project, a series of games designed by Kris Burm. The game is known for its unique gameplay mechanics and its ability to challenge players’ strategic thinking skills. In this article, I will delve into the world of ZÈRTZ, exploring its history, rules, and strategies, and providing a comprehensive guide for beginners and seasoned players alike.

ProTip Key ZÈRTZ Strategy

Always keep an eye on your opponent’s moves and plan your strategy accordingly. This will help you anticipate their moves and stay one step ahead.

Rules for playing ZÈRTZ

The rules of ZÈRTZ are relatively straightforward, making it easy for beginners to pick up. However, the game’s simplicity belies its depth, and mastering ZÈRTZ requires strategic thinking and careful planning.

  1. The game is played on a board consisting of 37 round spaces.
  2. Each player starts with a set of 15 marbles: 5 white, 5 grey, and 5 black.
  3. Players take turns placing a marble of any color on the board and then removing an unoccupied space from the board.
  4. The goal of the game is to capture a certain number of marbles of each color: 4 white, 4 grey, or 3 black.
  5. A player captures a marble by jumping over it with another marble, similar to checkers.

While these are the official rules, players can introduce ‘house rules’ to add variety to the game. For example, players can agree to play on a larger or smaller board, or change the number of marbles required to win.

How do you play ZÈRTZ


At the start of the game, the board is empty. Players decide who goes first, and then take turns placing their marbles on the board.


On each turn, a player must place a marble on the board and then remove an unoccupied space. If a player can make a capture, they must do so. Captures are made by jumping a marble over an adjacent marble to an empty space beyond. Multiple captures can be made in a single turn if possible.

End of the Game

The game ends when a player captures the required number of marbles of each color, or when a player cannot make a legal move. The player who meets the winning conditions first is declared the winner.

How to Win at ZÈRTZ

Winning at ZÈRTZ requires a combination of strategic planning, tactical decision-making, and adaptability. Here are some strategies that can help you improve your game:

  1. Control the Center: The center of the board is a crucial area in ZÈRTZ. Controlling the center gives you more options for movement and capture, and makes it harder for your opponent to escape.
  2. Plan Ahead: Always think a few moves ahead. Try to anticipate your opponent’s moves and plan your strategy accordingly.
  3. Be Flexible: While it’s important to have a plan, it’s equally important to be able to adapt to the changing situation on the board. If your initial strategy isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change your approach.

Best Strategies for playing ZÈRTZ game

While the strategies mentioned above can help you improve your game, mastering ZÈRTZ requires a deeper understanding of the game’s mechanics and strategies. Here are some advanced strategies that can help you take your game to the next level:

  1. Force Captures: One of the key mechanics in ZÈRTZ is that if a player can make a capture, they must do so. You can use this rule to your advantage by forcing your opponent into making captures that benefit you.
  2. Manage Your Marbles: The marbles you have in your reserve can greatly affect your options. Try to keep a balanced mix of colors in your reserve, and be mindful of the marbles you place on the board.
  3. Use the Board to Your Advantage: As the game progresses, the board will shrink as players remove spaces. You can use this to your advantage by trapping your opponent’s marbles and limiting their options.

Scenarios for ZÈRTZ

In ZÈRTZ, the state of the board can change rapidly, and players can find themselves in a variety of scenarios. Here are some common scenarios and how to handle them:

  1. You’re Behind: If you’re behind in captures, don’t panic. Focus on controlling the center of the board and forcing your opponent into unfavorable captures.
  2. You’re Ahead: If you’re ahead, don’t get complacent. Keep applying pressure and try to limit your opponent’s options.
  3. The Board is Shrinking: As the board shrinks, movement becomes more limited. Try to trap your opponent’s marbles and force them into unfavorable captures.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing ZÈRTZ game

  1. What happens if I run out of marbles? If you run out of marbles, you must pass your turn. However, this rarely happens in practice, as the game usually ends before a player runs out of marbles.
  2. Can I choose which marble to capture? Yes, if you have multiple capture options, you can choose which marble to capture.
  3. Can I move a marble without capturing? No, marbles can only move by jumping over another marble and capturing it.
  4. Can I skip a capture? No, if you can make a capture, you must do so.
  5. What happens if the board is full? If the board is full and no more marbles can be placed, the player with the most captures wins.

For more information about ZÈRTZ, including the official rules and strategies, visit the official GIPF project website: here.