This game for two players comes from Ghana. However, stones that were marked for this game in the third century AD have been found near Hadrian's Wall in Northern England.
A game for 1 person to develop stategy and shape and space
awareness. 12 counters are placed on a board. Counters are removed
one at a time. The aim is to be left with only 1 counter.
All you need for this game is a pack of cards. While you play the
game, think about strategies that will increase your chances of
This month's new game was designed to be just about the most accessible game imaginable. I wanted a game which could be explained in a few seconds, and which would take less than five minutes to play. There was a further requirement that it should not require any fancy equipment. Finally, of course, it should be non-trivial to play.
I hope you'll agree Traffic Lights meets all these requirements. It's been used with children as young as six or seven, and yet computer analysis has shown there's no obvious winning strategy. Furthermore, like last month's game Femto, there are a wealth of possible variations to discover and try out.
* place a red counter in an empty square, or
* replace a red counter already on the board with an orange one, or
* replace an orange counter already on the board with a green one.
If you play several games of the basic version you may find that - even though the computer didn't find a winning strategy it also failed to point out that there is a factor that ought to limit its interest after a while.
So you may want to move on to VERSION 2. This game modifies rule (2), so that your 3x3 board has an additional 3x1 strip placed against one edge, and the board now becomes a 4x3 board.
For many people version 2 is just about right, but for real addicts there's more to come. If you like your games to make your head hurt, then try VERSION 3. If you made your board for version 2 in the form I described it, you have a two-piece board (a 3x3 square and a 3x1 oblong. In version 3 players have a new option; instead of placing a counter they may move the strip (and any counters on
it). The strip may be turned through 180 degrees, or slid (and turned if preferred) to line up against another edge of the 3x3 section of the board. All the other rules are unchanged, so you're still trying to complete a line of three pieces all the same colour.
Of course, I expect that people will be happy to knock up a home-made set for themselves, but Traffic Lights is available in a published version produced by Fiendish Games, so if you're stuck for an idea for a birthday present I can send sets for just £3 plus 50p postage costs.