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.
Setup: place one grey stone on each of the 6 corners of the board, and place an additional 4 grey stones on non-adjacent but otherwise random spaces
- The players take turns. On your turn you must either place 1 grey stone or 1 stone of your color onto any empty space.
- The first player to form a loop of her own color, possibly including grey stones, wins.
- 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
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:
- build toward local, tactical loop threats
- build toward big strategic loop threats
- defend against the opponent’s local loop threats
- defend against the opponent’s big strategic loop threats