23 Jan 2003 Bram   » (Master)

Abstract Games Magazine is having a game design competition with the theme of simultaneous play. I came up with the following a little while ago, but it turns out I missed the submission deadline, so I'm posting it here.

The game is called Straights and Queers (this potentially uncomfortable metaphor is by far the easiest way of understanding the rules, so please bear with me). It's played on the following board -

    __/  \__
 __/  \__/  \__
/  \__/  \__/  \
\__/  \__/  \__/
/  \__/  \__/  \
\__/  \__/  \__/
/  \__/  \__/  \
\__/  \__/  \__/
   \__/  \__/

There are two players, the straights and the queers. Each player has two pieces, one male and one female.

On each turn, both players move any pieces they have on the board and place any pieces which aren't on the board, which happens at the beginning of the game or when a piece is captured. Both players write down what their moves are without seeing the opponent's moves, then reveal what the moves are.

Pieces move to any adjacent hexagon. They cannot move to a hexagon which another piece is currently on, even if that piece belongs to the same side. Pieces can be placed on any empty hexagon, but may not be placed onto a hexagon currently containing a piece, even one belonging to the same side. A player may not move both of their pieces onto the same hexagon. When pieces move, they must move to a different spot, they cannot remain in the same place.

If two pieces wind up on the same spot, then a capture happens. If the two pieces are of the same gender, then the queer captures, otherwise the straight captures. Additionally, in the rare case where a piece winds up in a corner with all three adjacent spots occupied and hence no legal turn on the next move, then it is captured. Captured pieces are returned to the side they belong to be placed on the next move.

The first player to perform ten captures wins.

That's all the rules. I think this game is made interesting by the simultaneous play despite the extraordinarily small board. Perhaps I went too far on board smallness, rendering the game brute forceable. However, there are classic games involving some chance and secret information which have extremely simple positions, such as yachtzee and texas hold'em poker. Texas hold'em turns out to be completely out of brute force range, but yachtzee is emminently brute forceable in the solo case optimizing average score, and on paper looks just barely solveable for the two-player case trying to optimize chances of winning.

I'm curious to see if the entrants into the sumultaneous play competition generally have very limited board positions. I'd also like to know if anyone has actually set about brute forcing yachtzee. If anyone knows of such efforts please tell me.

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