It was just a tad more than a decade ago I wrote a review of the game Teeko.
From that review in posted in mid-2011, “a Teeko set is comprised of eight medallion-shaped pieces, four red and four black, and a board with 25 circles arranged in a 5-by-5 matrix."
Yet, for all its simplicity is an amazing little game.
Created by John Scarne way back in 1945, Teeko is a game that in its era was highly popular, to the point Scarne actually published a book about the game and its strategies. Considering that books tend to only surface for the most popular of boardgames; chess, checkers, backgammon and the like, the book’s publication speaks to how well received the game was some six decades ago.
“While that popularity dissipated with the decades, there remains something charming about this game when it is played even today. And, as recently as 2001, Washington Post Magazine ran a story on the game, the book, and its founder.”
Flash forward to 2019 and the game has been reborn this time carrying the name Zenteeko from the publisher of the same name.
“Zenteeko is a sneaky, super simple abstract strategy game for two or more players. The rules are easy – learn to play in under two minutes – but pay attention! The game is played on a 5 x 5 leather-like board and each player has four markers,” explains the publisher.
“The object of the game is to get your four markers in one of four simple groupings: a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, or in a square. Play begins with each player alternately placing a marker on the board. When all four markers are in place, players then take turns sliding their markers in any direction to achieve the objective. No jumping.”
The rules are essentially Teeko, although in correspondence with the publisher some twists are hinted at in the final rule set.
The game as is does provide markers for three players although I fear a kingmaker element will emerge in most three-player contests.
So, why a new name, and launch?
Well, the game is still a lot of fun. My adult son still just tolerates most abstract strategy games. He is of the video game age and his patience for chess and its ilk is limited. He liked Zenteeko in large part because it’s quick, similar to Quarto in that which he also likes.
There is also the ‘duh’ factor. You miss something that allows the opponent to win, you go “Duh!” and want to play again to redeem yourself. It’s the quick play factor again.
The Zenteeko packaging also rocks.
The board is the package. The pieces go into a zippered pouch and then the board rolls up and snaps shut so you can take Zenteeko anywhere. It’s small enough, and light enough, and time-filling fun enough for a few plays at coffee, the lunch room, the cabin, the hotel room, etc. You don’t have to even be in the mood to game, is the sense this one is so easy, and once you start it does hold your attention for at least a few games every sitting.
Nice packaging and roots that go back to a game created about three-quarters of a century ago make this one a winner.
Check it out at www.zenteeko.com
Thanks to fellow Adam Daniels for his help in running through this game for review.