I designed *Towers* as a minimal strategy game for two players. It consists of a minimal ruleset, takes only a few minutes to play, but has complex dynamics and requires quite a bit of thinking to play.

All ages can play

You already have the game board and pieces

Check out the body language (of those chairs!)

You need 36 *towers*, stackable game pieces, in two sets of 18. For example, you could use

- Lego or Duplo bricks,
- (MB's) Connect Four pieces,
- poker chips,
- game pieces from other stacking games, like DVONN,
- checkers pieces (not enough in one set ...),
- coins of two colors (not easy to play/count),
- ... you sure have an idea now

Towers is played on a square 6x6 grid, for example use

- paper & pencil,
- part of a chess board,
- ...

To start, the towers are placed in a checkers pattern on the grid and the players decide who begins.

Each of two players controls towers of one color. A tower is controlled by a player if his color is on top.

A turn in the game consists of moving a tower to one of its (max) 4 directly neighboring spots on the grid. The attacking tower is stacked on top of the attacked tower. A move is legal when the attacked tower is at most as high as the attacking tower. A tower may move to an empty neighboring spot.

The yellow player stacks a tower on top of the neighboring tower.

A tower is always moved as a whole. A tower may move to an empty spot.

A tower can only conquer a neighboring tower when this neighbor is smaller or equal in size. A player is allowed to conquer and merge his own towers.

It is illegal to move a tower on top of a bigger tower, independent of who is in control.

The goal of the game is to gain control over as many game pieces as possible.

The game ends when it appears that no more towers can merge in a finite number of rounds.

- If both players end having one tower, the player with the highest tower wins. If the remaining towers are tied, the game ends in a draw.
- If one player can gain control over all towers, he wins.
- A draw may also occur when it appears that no player can win. Players may agree on a draw at all times in the game.

Example of a draw: One player, who controls a tower of 16 pieces, may keep the other player from merging his two smaller towers by endlessly moving in between these two towers.

- Towers can split up and move part of their top pieces to a neighboring position. The player must maintain the order of stacked pieces, the top piece of each tower determines its controller. The number of moved pieces must be equal or more than the target position. This may be helpful to corner small enemy towers with one large tower.
- Randomized setup of the board.
- Setting up the board is a game phase of its own, where players take turn to put their game pieces on the board. (similar to DVONN)
- What happens on differently sized boards? 8x8? 5x5 or 7x7? (in case of uneven pieces, the player with least number of pieces opens the game) Hexagonal?
- Multi-player games? How do the strategies change?
- Competition: The players play consecutive games, alternating who starts the first turn. The winner and loser get as many points as the number of game pieces they control. In the case of a draw, both players get 18 points. When at least one player reaches at least 100 points, the player with the most points wins. If there's a tie, more games follow until one player wins.

Can someone crack a winning strategy?

- Is there a beginner's advantage?
- What is a good opening strategy? From the middle, from the sides, distributed ...?
- How soon do you start taking over your own towers?
- How do you dominate territories? How do you rescue towers from dominated territories? How and when do you collect territories? How do you avoid to move into unwanted corners when collecting territories?
- How do you get in control of the other player's moves? How do you keep control?
- How do you avoid, engage or force "forking" situations where one large tower moves in between two enemies?
- How many large towers do you build and where should they be? In the center?
- Is it possible to dominate the game by moving only one tower to keep a majority of game pieces under control? Or can that strategy be countered by opening gaps around the large tower?
- How do you plan a successful build phase to enter the endgame?
- What is a winning strategy to enter the endgame?
- Can you force a draw when losing?
- How many steps in advance can you predict?
- How do you start building an AI?

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