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Pen and Paper Game Description

February 2, 2016

I was thinking about something the other day (I can’t remember what) when I remembered a game I “invented” in high school. I also “invented” a sport (on paper) in high school just for the exercise of doing so and invented something that should be viewed as a variant on competitive Frisbee (of which I was ignorant at the time). The idea strikes me as one that wouldn’t be all that original but I haven’t encountered it. The most likely reason would be that it’s a bad game but I figured I would post the game somewhere now that I have the ability to.

The game really needs more than 3 players to work but I suppose someone could play multiple players by themselves to figure out how it works. That’s what I did. The game board is a 10×10 grid (10 squares by 10 squares and the game is played in the boxes) and each player has a different mark. I used colored pencils for the different players but each player having their won letter or symbol would work as well. Players take turns claiming an unclaimed square. The game ends when either all squares have been claimed or the grid is as filled up as possible after having each player take an equal number of turns (eg. when there is 1 square left for 3 players or 4 for 6). However players want to work it. Each space can only be claimed by one player and can never be unclaimed and any player, on their turn, can claim any unclaimed space without other limitations.

Players get points for having concurrent territory (horizontally and vertically, not diagonally). The connections between spaces are scored, not the spaces themselves. Players get 2 points for each vertical connection and 2 points for each horizontal connection. In addition if a player has claimed all 10 vertical spaces in a single column, they get 10 bonus points (in addition to the 18 they would normally get) (for each time this happens), and if a player has claimed all 10 horizontal spaces in a single row, they get 40 bonus points (in addition to the 27 they would normally get) (for each time this happens). Player(s) with the highest points win. It would aid in scoring if players draw lines between their adjoining spaces when they play them. I remember now, I would place a dot for an isolated space and draw lines out from there. Players should feel free to adjust the grid size and point totals and it isn’t recommended to have the same number of players as a dimension on a grid (8 or 10 players on a 10×8 grid) as there may not be a lot of novel gameplay.

I came up with this game when I was learning about Carnegie and Rockefeller and the talk of horizontal and vertical monopolization in American history class. The idea is that each row represents a step in the process of bringing a thing to market and each column represents a physical location. The idea is that a firm will be better off the larger share of a particular step in the production it controls (with a large bonus for a monopoly) and for doing more of the production steps itself (with a small bonus of doing all the steps) in proximity to each other. But this was just the motivation. On its own the game is an abstract pencil and paper game that doesn’t need any dressing.

I enjoyed playing it against myself for several weeks in high school. I remember discovering strategies some of which surprised me. Is it better to claim an isolated space so I have lots of room to expand or do I block an opponent’s expansion which necessarily blocks my own expansion? Should I claim a space that doesn’t net me any points but prevents a monopoly? Why should I be the one player to make this sacrifice? I don’t know how deep or superficial the game play would get once smart players get used to the mechanics but, I’m not doing anything else with the idea, I figured I would share it and see if other people find some value in it.

As far as copyright, I formally maintain copyright to the extent I can. I would be surprised if no one else has come up with an equivalent idea and ideas themselves can’t be copyrighted. That said I have no problems with anybody copying, altering, claiming, or anything else with this game except that if you make money of this idea presented here because I presented it here, I ask for some of that money.

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