BOOKS


Games with Pencil and Paper Thomas Nelson 1973, Dover 1994. The Dover edition has an informative preface with reference to some game theory results obtained after publication.

Games Programming Cambridge University Press 1984 The picture shows covers for some of the translations. It has to be admitted that, being written before the widespread ownership of PCs, this book is very out of date with respect to graphics. However many of the data structures and algorithms are still relevant. Several critics have remarked that it contains a particularly clear explanation of the alpha-beta algorithm.

Black Box Gamebook Strategy Games Ltd. 1977. There was an American version of this little book which presented Black Box puzzles with ray results given at the back in such a way that it was difficult to cheat in any 'accidental' way.



BOARD GAMES


CORPORATION Nestor Games 2010. This is my latest game. It is a race game in which players dynamically make the rules governing movement. Originally this was intended as an abstract game but Nestor have found a very appropriate theme involving promotion of favoured staff to the boardroom of a corporation.

BLACK BOX + Franjos 2007. The original Black Box game (see later) was first marketed in 1977, and is regarded by many as a classic game of logic. Franjos has now released BLACK BOX + which presents the new hexagonal version together with the original game. The hexagonal version offers a richer variety of ray effects, and is more demanding. It is obtainable on-line from www.funagain.com

SIGMA FILE Seven Towns Ltd. 1972. This game of secret bidding for the control of secret agents has been marketed worldwide under various names and by various manufacturers as listed below. It is still marketed by Amigo and their version 'CASABLANCA' made the Auswahlliste for Spiel Des Jahres in 1991.

SIGMA FILE - Seven Towns, H.P. Gibson (UK)
CONSPIRACY - Milton Bradley (USA)
AGENT - Pelikan (Germany)
DOSSIER X - (Netherlands)
CASABLANCA - Amigo (Germany)

THOUGHTWAVE Intellect (UK) 1974. An abstract connection game using 'pathway' pieces. It was also marketed by Parker (USA) under the name ULTRA. The game is available on the web as an AI project at Thoughtwave

ALASKA Ravensburger (Germany) 1979. A game involving the collection by snowtrack vehicle of goods from an island surrounded by sea which progressively freezes in winter, then melts in spring. This game reached the Auswahlliste for Spiel Des Jahres in 1979.

BALLOON RACE Ravensburger (Germany) 1977. A gas/ballast balloon journey to visit fixed points. Wind direction and strength are dependent on altitude. Originally the balloons were discs with depressions for holding gas and ballast counters. Balloons could be stacked at one point and it was easy to see the status of a balloon. Ravensburger produced a magnificent board, but their three-dimensional balloons required the gas and ballast to be held off the board, and although they looked good they made play quite difficult.

BLACK BOX Waddington (UK) 1976. A well known game in which a player shoots 'X rays' into a box to determine the positions of 4 or 5 'atoms' positioned by the opponent. This game has been produced by various manufacturers including Parker (USA), and is currently marketed by Franjos (Germany). It has also been very widely pirated as a computer game with no acknowledgements, and it rankles a bit to see it advertised as "Ting's Black Box", and suchlike. I began to collect sites offering the game but there are so many that I gave up! If you are interested, I suggest doing a search with Google, or a similar search engine.

ENTROPY Skirrid International 1977. A two-player abstract game in which one player acts for the forces of 'chaos' and the other for the forces of 'order'. The latter attempts to create symmetrical sequences of adjacent pieces in the rows and the columns. Every distinct symmetric sequence wins as many points as there are pieces in the sequence. Thus, the sequence RED, BLUE, BLUE, RED scores six points because RED, BLUE, BLUE, RED scores four points, and BLUE, BLUE scores two points. On his turn the chaos player draws (blind draw) a single piece from the bag and places it on a vacant square. He will try to place it where it will impede the production of symmetric sequences when the 'order' player takes his turn. The 'order' player is permitted to slide any one piece over vacant squares along its row or column.

This game was also produced by Skirrid under the name VICE-VERSA, and in the USA under the name VIS-A-VIS (possibly by Selchow and Richter). It is currently produced in Germany by Franjos under the names HYLE and HYLE 7. HYLE uses a 5x5 board and is suitable for children. HYLE 7 is the version used for serious competition and, as its name implies, uses a 7x7 board. The game has been included as one of the events at the annual Mind Sports Olympiad ever since its inception. Some people have suggested that, as pieces are drawn from a bag, chance must play a large part. This is certainly not the case, as confirmed by the fact that the MSO World Championship has been won by the same person (Demis Hassabis) on four occasions.




SPELLMAKER Heritage (USA) 1978. A multi-player game in which wizards cast spells in order to bring a princess to their own castle. Having received no royalty statements or payments I was somewhat concerned. By sheer chance I encountered the chief executive in Dave Rotor's models shop in Victoria. He assured me that my interests would be "safeguarded as hitherto they had not been", and offered me 100 cash not to cause trouble. I refused and insisted on proper royalty statements. I should have taken the cash! Thanks to Stephen Tavener for the picture.

BILLABONG Franjos (Germany) 1994. A multi-player race involving teams of kangaroos. This was sublicensed to Amigo who marketed it under the same name. The game made the Auswahlliste for Spiel Des Jahres in 1994.

On his turn a player selects one of his kangaroos and executes a series of draughts-style jumps but using the 'long jump' principle. That is the kangaroo must land as far beyond its 'pivot' kangaroo (of any colour) as it starts and there may be no other kangaroos on its path. A 'referee' kangaroo is placed on the starting square at the start of the turn, and may itself be used as a pivot. Kangaroos may also walk one square in any direction. They may start the game on any square but must cross the start/finish line twice to complete the course, and then they are put into the billabong to cool off.

Because leading kangaroos are useful pivots, the game is almost always a close contest. The game FROGGO on the Java Games page is an adaptation of BILLABONG for animated amphibians.


HEXAGRAMS Games Centre 1978. This is an abstract tiling puzzle involving a mathematically complete group of pieces. A computer version is included on the Java Games page so will not be described here. 'Interpretation' of the solutions provides much of the fun. See the galleries below the applet.