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New Game: Bobina

April 29, 2017

bobina-game-end

Bobina is a game for two players, played on a hexhex board. One player plays black stones, the other plays white, and both players may play grey. At the start of the game, I recommend placing a grey stone on each of the 6 corners of the board, or even spreading some grey stones about randomly (and non-adjacently), but it’s a matter of taste and not necessity. Otherwise the board starts empty.

Rules

  1. The players take turns. On your turn you must either place 1-2 grey stones or 1-2 stones of your color onto any empty spaces.
  2. The first player who plays a stone of her own color must place only 1 stone on that turn.
  3. The first player to form a loop of her own color, possibly including grey stones, wins.
  4. If the board fills without a loop of either color forming, the player who was the first to play a stone of her own color loses.

 

Design Background + Discussion

Bobina is the love child of two previous games: Coil (which currently pleases me) and Glorieta (which currently doesn’t).

I know little about the play experience, as I’ve played it against myself exactly once (resulting in the picture above), but its rules are elegant and it’s self-evidently balanced so I thought it worth a share. I suspect it should played small boards at first (hexhex4, maybe)

This is part of a longstanding project to design games with a hex loop win condition (Havannah long ago convinced me it’s a worthy project).

In Bobina, the players are bidding for a tie-breaker by playing neutral stones that both players can use to make loops. But the more neutral stones are on the board, the less likely the game will end in a tie. The value of the tie-breaker falls as the bid rises.

The bidding comes from Coil, and as in that game, it generates brinksmanshipy tension.

The neutral stones come from Glorieta. In Coil, after the bid is over, only one player can win by forming a loop. The other player wins by stopping him, making the game asymmetric after the bid. In Bobina, thanks to the neutral stones, both players can win by forming a loop, as in Glorieta. This makes Bobina more symmetrical than Coil after the bid ends and will ensure a higher proportion of games end with loops.

Why so loopy?

What I like about these games is that loops have many degrees of freedom and come in many sizes. A loop, in addition to being intuitive and easy to visualize (especially on a hex board), can be BOTH a grand strategic objective and a local tactical objective. With the right mechanics, these two kinds of objectives can be balanced.

In Bobina as in the other games, a well-played stone will contribute to several ends. It can:

  1. build toward local, tactical loop threats
  2. build toward big strategic loop threats
  3. defend against the opponent’s local loop threats
  4. defend against the opponent’s big strategic loop threats

 

Playwise, if this game has a problem, it’s that figuring out when to stop placing neutrals and start placing your own stones could be a *very* difficult proposition (more difficult than in Coil and Glorieta), not to mention you might not want to stop placing neutrals until pretty late in the game, at least for rookie players. Hence my recommendation to play on a small board and add some neutrals to start (so “late in the game” comes fast).

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From → Game Designs

2 Comments
  1. Lyn. Chevrier permalink

    Do you think a really smart 11 year old would like the game? Please email me info regarding this great sounding game.

    • nickbentley1000 permalink

      It’s hard to say without knowing about the 11 year-old’s taste in games. Tastes in games vary a lot across people. But certainly he/she could learn it without trouble.

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