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Subject: a work of beautiful minds rss

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Lowell Kempf
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Hex is one of the most simple yet most elegant abstract strategy games I have seen. Only around seventy years old and independently created on two different continents by Piet Hein and John Nash, Hex has a surprising number of stories around it and offers incredibly deep play.

Personally, I love abstract strategy games. Mind you, I am terrible at them and almost always lose. However, there is something about a simple rule set that opens into a vast number of choices that is beautiful. For me, it is like seeing a series of lines suddenly form a many faceted gem. While I love chess and go more than I do Hex, Hex is still a work of beauty.

Hex is a two-player game that is played on a grid of hexes. I have normally played on an 11x11 grid, although I have also played on 9x9 and 14x14 boards. Since the spaces are hexes, the boards are always parallelograms. The north and south sides of the board are one color and the east and west sides of the board are another color. Each player has stones or tokens that match one of the two colors.

On your turn, you place one stone of your color on an empty spot of the board. The goal of the game is to bridge the two sides that are your color with a continuous line of your stones.

Since the first move can be a powerful one, there is an additional rule, called the swap rule or the pie rule (as in one person cuts the pie and the other picks their slice), where the second player can take the first player’s move.

That’s it. That’s how simple the rules for Hex are.

However, because of that very simplicity, Hex is a game of many choices and very deep game play. It is a favorite of mathematicians and articles have been written about it that my head spin.

Hex is also an abstract strategy game that can never end in stalemate. John Nash proved that the only way to block your opponent is to win the game. More than that, you cannot fill up the entire board without someone winning.

Hex is a game that you can easily play online and a game that you can easily make yourself. I carry a board printed on legal sized paper in my vest almost constantly, using coins or stones for the pieces. It’s a game that almost anyone can learn and enjoy but it’s also a game that richly rewards learning how to play well, something I hope to someday be able to do.

Hex is a game that will cost you almost nothing to own but reward you greatly. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game and I love it. If you have any interest in abstract strategy games, you owe it to yourself to discover Hex.
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