The beauty of Hex

Hex is a very simple game. The board is simple, there are only two kind of stones. The rules can be learned in less than a minute. Yet, the game is very rich in its way of thinking. In comparison, the games of Go and Chess are complicated. Go looks simple, but the rules are remarkedly complex. In Chess the rules are rather hard to recollect, because each piece has its own way of moving. Hex looks simple and it is.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Hex is that the game can never be a draw. A winning connection of one player prevents the winning connection of the other player. This makes sure the game is challenging, even for experienced players.

Hex is a very strategic game. Actually, it’s the most strategic game I know.

The limitations of Hex

If Hex is so beautiful, why isn’t it played more often? Why isn’t it as famous as Chess, Checkers or Go? The reason for this may be that Hex is too much of a strategic game. The way of thinking is always top-down. In other words, you always use the same heuristic principle.

In Hex, local moves do not influence the game as a whole. After a while we get bored playing Hex, because we are never suprised by the way the game develops. Stones are put on the board one by one and the game slowly unfoldes, but the course of the game is never changed dramatically.

Overcoming the limitations of Hex

For some time, I have been thinking about a variation on Hex, in which tactics play a more important role and which shows more drama and excitement, without losing the strengths of the game. Neither the goal nor the hexagon board is changed. Also preserved is the fact that the number of stones is constantly growing, so that the game is forced to end and will never be a draw. What I did want to change is that stones should be allowed to move during the game.

The new game is called Flecks. In this game, stones are put on the board but the stones may be moved as well. More specifically, in each turn a player may (1) add a stone to an empty field, which is adjacent to a stone of his own and (2) move a row of his stones as far as the length of the row. Flecks turns out to be a lot more exciting than Hex. The course of the game can be dramatically altered by certain moves. Both strategic planning and smart tactical thinking are needed.

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