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Hexagonal Thing

Julian D. A. Wiseman

Abstract: Hexagonal Thing: a game of tactics and bidding for two players.

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Publication history: invented by the author as a young man, in 1986, slightly modified over the following few years, and published at www.jdawiseman.com/papers/games/hexagonal_thing/hexagonal_thing.html in February 2015. Usual disclaimer and copyright terms apply.


Introduction

This game was invented by the author in 1986, with the intention of capturing some of the features of chess and of monopoly, but with more of the prices being determined by auction. Over the decades the game has been shown in confidence to some smart people who like games, but never previously published.

All rights on game, board, rules and concept are reserved, but non‑commercial use (meaning old‑fashioned playing the game) is allowed and encouraged. For commercial use please contact the creator via www.jdawiseman.com/author.html. Assembly is easy, starting from one of the PDFs (on A3 and A4, or on US paper sizes of 11″×17″ and 8½″×11″). Comment from game aficionados would be welcomed.

Game board of Hexagonal Thing

Assembly of game

The game board, cards and cash are published as two documents: a PDF on A3 and A4; and a PDF on US paper sizes of 11″×17″ and 8½″×11″. From the appropriate file print the game board onto white A3 / 11″×17″. If possible laminate the board. Print the page of movement cards onto white A4 / 8½″×11″. If possible laminate. Guillotine into eighteen separate cards. Print five copies of the £ cash onto white or pale blue A4 / 8½″×11″, and five copies of the $ cash onto pale green A4 / 8½″×11″. Guillotine into separate bank notes.

Also needed, but not in the PDF, are one white and one black counter (use chess pawns or checkers/draughts pieces), and seven identical non‑black non‑white coloured ‘Things’ (e.g., houses from Monopoly, or armies from Risk).

Brief Summary

This is a game of tactics and bidding for two players.

Players move by playing a movement card. Played movement cards are bought from the bank at auction, in £.

‘Things’ are also bought at auction, such an auction being invoked by a player landing on a Buy hexagon. Thing auctions are held in $. Landing on a Sell invokes a reverse auction, also in $: whoever offers the lowest price selling a Thing. For both Buy and Sell auctions it is the player who landed on that hexagon, the player who caused the auction to happen, who chooses from which hexagon the Thing comes, or on which it is placed.

A Change hexagon allows changing between £ and $.

A player may not land on or pass over a hexagon occupied by a Thing or by the opponent’s counter. The ways in which a player may move are thus limited by which movement cards are owned, by the opponent’s position and by the position of the Things. A player who can’t move must pay a Thing to the other player, and if the player doesn’t have a Thing to pay, has lost the game. Also a player can win by owning four Things. So the aim of the game is to own four Things, or to keep the opponent blocked until the opponent has no more Things.

Preparation

Randomly or otherwise, players are assigned to be white and black. The white counter is placed on the ‘up‑most’ hexagon, which is marked with a small white‑centred circle. Similarly, the black counter is placed on the ‘down‑most’ hexagon, which is marked with a small black circle.

A Thing is placed on each of the seven hexagons marked with a faint star. White takes all the South, Down and West movement cards; black takes all the North, Up and East movement cards. And each player starts with $50 and £50, taken from the bank.

Turns

White always plays first.

At the start of a turn the player whose turn it is may optionally invoke a single auction of movement cards. If doing so, the player chooses one or some or all of the movement cards owned by the bank, which are then auctioned, in £, as a single lot.

After the movement card auction (if there is one), the player moves by playing a movement card, which is transferred to the bank. The player’s counter is moved the appropriate number of hexagons in the appropriate direction. (But see ‘Restrictions on moving’, below.)

By playing a movement card, a player will land on one of several types of hexagon.

Just Visiting — Do nothing: the player incurs no benefit or deficit, and proceeds as normal on the next turn.

$20 — The player collects $20 from the bank.

£10 — The player collects £10 from the bank.

Buy — If a player lands on a Buy hexagon an auction is held for a Thing. Thing auctions are always in dollars. After the auction, no matter who won, the player who landed on the Buy chooses which Thing is removed. It becomes the property of the highest bidder, who pays the $ price of the winning bid. The hexagon that the Thing was on becomes free, and so can be landed on or passed over. (See Auctions below.)

Sell — A player can land on a Sell only if the player owns a Thing.

If the player who landed on the Sell is the only player to own a Thing, then that player collects $20 from the bank, and the turn ends.

If both players possess a Thing a reverse auction is held: whoever will sell a Thing most cheaply to the bank receives the $ amount of the winning offer, and relinquishes a Thing. But it is the player who landed on the Sell who chooses on which hexagon the relinquished Thing is placed.

The Thing may be placed on any vacant hexagon, so any except those that then have a Thing or a counter. In particular, the Thing does not have to go on one of the seven hexagons on which the Things started the game.

Change — Immediately after landing on the Change the player may change £ into $, or $ into £, or do nothing. The rate is parity: £1 = $1. But any such change must happen immediately upon landing on the Change hexagon, not at the beginning of the next turn.

Restrictions on moving

A player may not land on or pass over a Thing.

A player may not land on or pass over the opponent’s counter.

A movement card that would take the player’s counter outside the confines of the board may not be played.

A player who does not posses a Thing may not land on a Sell hexagon.

North, Up, and East movement cards

Auctions

In all auctions, bids and offers must be in whole numbers of pounds or dollars. There are no pennies.

There are three types of auction:

A movement card auction

At the start of a player’s turn, but only at the start, the player may auction all, or some, or none of the movement cards owned by the bank. The player chooses the card or cards that are to be auctioned. The cards chosen are auctioned together, as one lot.

The player whose turn it is, must and has the right to make the first bid (though it can be as low as £0). The highest bidder pays the amount bid to the bank, and takes the movement cards.

Movement card auctions are always in £. Obviously a player may not bid more than the £ on hand.

A ‘buy’ auction

If a player lands on Buy then a Thing auction must be held. This type of auction is always in $. The player whose turn it is must and has the right to make the first bid (which may not be negative, though can be $0). Obviously a player may not bid more than the $ on hand.

The highest bidder pays the amount bid to the bank, and takes the Thing. The player who landed on the Buy then chooses a Thing from the board, and it is given to the highest bidder.

A ‘sell’ auction

This is a reverse auction in which a player sells to the bank. The bank buys the Thing from whoever will sell it most cheaply, and hence the auction is conducted downwards, starting with the highest offer and ending with the lowest. The player whose turn it is must and has the right to make the first offer (though it can be very high). The player who wins the auction by offering the lowest amount receives that amount, in dollars, from the bank, and gives up possession of the Thing.

It is theoretically possible for the lowest offer to be negative: obviously a player may not offer a more negative number than the quantity of dollars owned.

The Thing is placed on any vacant hexagon, chosen by the player who landed on the sell space, irrespective of which player won the auction.

Inability to move

A player who does not possess any movement cards, or who possesses only movement cards which conflict with the restrictions on moving, will be unable to move. If a player is unable to move, the player must give a Thing to the opponent.

A player may choose not to move, even if able to, but incurs the same penalty as if unable to move (the transfer of a Thing to the opponent).

After relinquishing the Thing, the player remains on the same space, the turn ending there. The hexagon is not ‘re‑used’: if it is a $20 or a £10 hexagon, the money is not re‑collected; a Buy or Sell does not cause another auction; and a Change does not allow a further change.

Winning and losing

A player who owns four Things has won.

A player who owes a Thing (because of inability to move) but does not have one has lost (the other player therefore having won).

Miscellaneous

A player must allow inspection of all monies, movement cards and Things at all time.

The bank may issue IOUs if it runs out of change or money.

When an identical position, with the same player to play, is reached for the third time, the game is a draw.

Players may agree to a draw.

Strategic advice

Don’t be flippant with a first bid. If you have £20 and the opponent has £10, you can win with an opening bid of £10, and be sure of winning again at the start of your next turn. But if you bid less, then the opponent can bid £10, and you need to bid £11 to win, leaving only £9.

Assume that he has £25, but that she has only £10, and that she is unable to obtain more sterling (i.e., can’t land on £10 or a Change). He should not invoke a movement‑card auction until a specific card is needed: let a single bid of £10 buy many cards, rather than a few. And for the same reason she should auction two cards every time to whittle down his £. And if he lets her win one of the auctions, well, she has gained two movement cards.

The movement cards are the core of the game. To be behind in Things is tolerable; to have no playable cards is serious trouble.

When the opponent lands on a Sell, a reverse auction is held, and a Thing will be placed on a very inconvenient hexagon. Ensure that you have movement cards to escape.

— Julian D. A. Wiseman
London, February 2015


Afterword

Threads on the subject of Hexagonal Thing have been started at BoardGameGeek.com and at ThePortForum.com.


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