When you first acquire a Zanoba game, you have a choice: to paint or not to paint your pieces. You can play with the pieces the way they come in the box or you can add a little paint to the top of the pieces to help you remember what colors the pieces move on.

Actually, some new players say the hardest thing to remember when they are learning to play Zanoba is which colors the pieces move on.

I reassure them that, after they've played about four games, it will be permanently etched into their memory. I then say sternly, "Repeat after me 10 times: The Sto moves along RED, the Klay moves along YELLOW and the Mahta moves along RED or BLUE lines.

They then display an apologetic look, "Oh, but it would be so much easier if the pieces had a little bit of red or blue or yellow paint on them."

I confess: "Okay, I can see you're not a dyed-in-the-wool purist like me. The official rules do allow you to paint your pieces. You can use paint or nail polish. You will need a steady hand." They look relieved.

So here's how you can paint your pieces, if you wish. Just the tops, please. The rules don't specify any particular shade of red, yellow or blue. Compare with the unpainted pieces to the right.

By the way, newbies say the second hardest thing for them to remember is how many moves the pieces can make. Here's a hint: the two biggest pieces, the Sto and the Klay, can make 1, 2 or 3 moves. The smallest piece, the Mahta, can only make 1 or 2 moves, but when it makes 2 moves both moves have to be on the same color. Well, that wasn't so hard, was it?

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