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Game Review: Jishaku, Game of Irregular Magnetic Force

When you’re taking high school physics and all objects are portrayed as dots or perfect spheres, then on paper at least it’s not too hard to predict the interplay of forces. But off the page, objects and the fields in which they interact are not regularly shaped, so while rough predictions are possible there’s always the chance that an object will behave in an unexpected way. The new magnetic board game Jishaku takes advantage of immutable physics and irregular shapes to make for play that depends on a cocktail of rationality mixed with the occasional hunch.

Five Jishaku Magnets and a Banana

The game pieces in Jishaku are magnets. As you can see above they are oddly shaped so that while they’re roughly the same size, some are smaller than others, some more close to square and others more stretched out rectangularish things.

The Irregular Surface of a Jishaku Board and a Rubber Dimetrodon

The board in Jishakku isn’t a board at all. It’s a surface with dimples and peaks and divots that are mostly the same but occasionally a bit higher or lower than others. At the edges of the board are half-holes of varying size. On this board players place their magnets. Depending upon the variant of the game played, one’s goal is either to collect or get rid of magnets by either getting magnets on this surface to jump toward or stay away from each other. The immutable laws of magnetism have to be negotiated with art. Should a larger or smaller magnet be placed, and should it be done coming straight from above or a bit more from the right?

The result is a lot of fun, especially when kids just learning about magnetism are thrown into the mix. The box says the game is for ages 8 and up, but I’d kick that age limit down at least three years. It’s made in the USA, so you don’t have to worry about the possibility of some underaged Chinese factory worker walking around town with iron filings in her lungs, either.

P.S. If you take a close look at these photos, you can probably reproduce the game for yourself…

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