As I’ve mentioned before (click here for his “Duke and Pawn” game, or click here for a more game-theoretical type of game), my son Adam enjoys designing games. Here’s a game he designed, with very simple rules but complex play, on the theme of Rock-Paper-Scissors.
1. The two players are White and Black, and they each have three pieces, a Rock, a Paper, and a Scissors, that they set up on a 6 by 6 board as shown below.
2. White moves first, and then the players alternate.
3. Normally, a player moves a single one of his pieces one square orthogonally (up or down or right or left) on each move. You may not place a second piece on the same square except to capture. (So for example, on the first move, White’s legal moves are to move his Paper up or to the left, or his Scissors up or to the left.)
4. Rocks can capture Scissors, Scissors can capture Papers, and Papers can capture Rocks (of the opposite color in each case) but no other captures are possible. A piece can be moved a second time on the same move if and only if it enables it to make a capture that move (e.g. if a Paper is diagonally below and to the right from an opposing Rock, it could move up and then move left in order to capture the Rock.)
5. The object of the game is to move one of your pieces to the square where the opposing Rock is placed at the beginning of the game. If you do so, you instantly win the game.
6. You may never repeat a position.
7. You must move each turn. If you have no moves, you lose.
The game has no draws. One important and non-obvious point of strategy: if you exchange your Rock for your opponent’s Scissors, you will have an important material advantage, because your Paper can safely rampage without worrying about any of his pieces, while his Rock still has to worry about your Paper, and his Paper still has to worry about your Scissors.
It might appear that the first player has a significant advantage, but our games haven’t worked out that way at all. By the way, we use Chess pieces for the pieces; rooks for rocks, pawns for papers, and bishops for scissors.
I like the irony that ordinary Rock-Paper-Scissors is a game of complete chance and Adam’s version has no chance. Have fun!
(EDIT: This game now has a name; it’s called “Cyclotron.”)