(a summary of play-tester feedback; rules here)
Despite errors I made in presenting the rules, this game seems to have been a success! Several people named it as their favorite thus far.
Let me spell out the errors.
First, in my original rules, I didn’t state that it is legal to cross an existing line along a diagonal. This is crucial to the game; apologies for not highlighting it! Second, in my illustrations, I used two colors (orange and light brown) that were too hard to tell apart.
I updated the rule document to fix those two issues. After that, people noticed two basic problems with the game:
- It seems to have a big first-player advantage.
- However, the second player can guarantee a draw by just mirroring every move that their opponent makes (rotated 180 degrees).
This is indeed a lethal combination. It gives the second player not only the incentive to spoil the game, but the means, too.
Luckily, there’s a fix. Even more luckily, I included it as a suggested variation. But unluckily, I accidentally deleted it when editing the rules!
Here’s the fix:
To open the game, the first player moves once. After that, the second player moves twice. And on all subsequent turns, each player moves twice.
As one play-tester put it:
Break the symmetry and what you have left behind is a gem of a game…. How is it that this game isn’t ancient? You’d think it would have come into existence long ago. It feels like a classic.
Many of you suggested some clever and intriguing variations. Several revolved around the question of where to put your “seed” numbers. For example:
- What if players started with just a single “1” in the corner (which is how Walter Joris originally designed the game)?
- What if players got to place their connected “1, 2, 3” anywhere they want?
- What if you could use a mid-game move to place a new “1” on the board?
All worthy ideas!