It all started innocently enough. I’d played Bamboleo a few times before and I was learning to play Zoch Verlag’s earlier offering Bausack. I’d gone from removing strangely shaped wooden blocks from a teetering structure to adding strangely shaped wooden blocks to an increasingly teetering structure. It seemed like a natural fit to combine the two, removing a block from the Bamboleo board and then adding that same block to your Bausack tower. I had no idea how far the concept could go. Soon I was suggesting that almost any game could be combined with Bamboleo. Why not have to remove any and all of the components that you want to use from the Bamboleo platter before getting to use them in another game? Things may have gotten a little out of hand when I started contemplating new rules for Antiquity or Roads & Boats, requiring players to carefully remove a granary or raft factory from the Bamboleo platter before constructing their desired buildings. However, up to a point, I still think combining games with Bamboleo is potentially a good idea. Thus was born Project ZOCH.
The rules are simple. You setup the game by precariously balancing an assortment of pieces from Bamboleo, Bausack, and Hamsterolle on the Bamboleo platter (which is resting on top of a cork ball which in turn is resting on top of a wooden pillar). On your turn you select and remove a piece from the Bamboleo platter. If successful, then you choose whether to add that piece into the Hamsterolle wheel or onto your Bausack tower. If pieces fall out of the Hamsterolle wheel then you must add all of the offending pieces to your Bausack tower. If your Bausack structure collapses then you are eliminated from the round. I’m not quite sure what the ramifications should be if a player causes the Bamboleo platter to collapse, but perhaps you should simply set the platter back up and force the offending player to add a set number of pieces to his or her tower, which may result in that player’s elimination from the round. This of course would require a very large table or preferably multiple smaller tables so that the collapse of the Bamboleo platter does not knock the Bausack towers over or disturb the Hamsterolle wheel.
If Kris Burm can combine GIPF, DVONN, YINSH, PUNCT, ZERTZ, TZAAR, and formerly TAMSK, into Project GIPF, then it seems only natural to combine Bamboleo, Bausack, and Hamsterolle into Project ZOCH. Given what a blast it is to play Bamboleo (assuming you have the patience and steady hands to even setup the game) and given the thrill that players always seem to get from the challenge of remaining calm in the face of Bamboleo’s wobbly and wacky platter of misshapen blocks, it seems like combining this mechanic with other games would be a surefire success. What other games can be combined with Bamboleo in interesting and unusual ways?
(See Boardgame News for an edited version of this article plus additional comments on it)