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Gobblet board game for two players


An ingenious twist on a 4×4 tic-tac-toe or naughts and crosses style game. The twist comes in the form of the pieces themselves – they nest, rather like Russian Dolls. This means that you can place a larger ‘Gobblet’ over a smaller on of either colour. As the game progresses, and you both try and get four of your pieces in a row, you must remember what pieces are under which other pieces. Guess wrong, and you might hand the game to your opponent. Strategy and memory therefore combine to produce a tidy little game with much replay value.

Game Designer: John W. Mollett, Lewis Waterman.

Game Publisher: John Adams.

Date Published: 1883.

Playing Time: 30 mins.

Category: Strategy/Abstract/Under 30 mins.

The aim of the Gobblet game is to get four of your pieces in a line, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, like tic-tac-toe or noughts and crosses but played on a 4×4 board. The thing that makes Gobblet, well, Gobblet is the fact that you have three sizes of pieces, and each will fit neatly inside the next biggest one. This means that with the biggest Gobblet you can cover the two smaller sizes, the middle one can cover the smallest, and the smallest is always vulnerable.

During play, you either play a new piece or move one of the pieces already on the board.

The Gobblet instructionsYou cannot cover an opponent’s piece if you are placing a new piece unless they already have a row of three. This introduces a whole new level of strategy to the simple four in a row theme. Not only do you have to remember what piece is covering what (and if there are two or only one other pieces under there), but you can also plan ahead by placing your bigger Gobblets where you know they will come in handy later in the game.

Pieces must be picked up in order to be moved – there is no sliding, as only the top piece should be moved.

If you touch a piece, you must play it, and if you touch a piece that you cannot play, you lose that game. These little bits of game etiquette are essential since a game can easily be ruined by a careless hand – these rules teach you to really think about how you play and to be careful when you make your moves.

Although it doesn’t happen every time, it is possible for you both to play all of your pieces before the game is over. In this case, an almost new game emerges, where you simply rearrange the pieces already on the board in an attempt to win.

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