Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Minimalism in an L-Shape

Very, very early in my explorations of boardgames, I came across the L-Game. It was Edward de Bono's first exercise in minimalist game design. I know that he later revisited minimalist game design with 3 Spot but the L-Game was the one that I first discovered. 

To be fair, those are the only two games I have played by de Bono but they also are the only major games I understand he designed. Well, for certain value of major.

The L-Game consists of five pieces, including the board. It is a 4 x 4 board with two gray neutral pieces in each player has one piece, shaped like an L, in their own color.

The game is super simple. You must first move your piece. You may then move one of the neutral pieces. If you can't make a move, you lose.

Perfect play in the L-Game will result in the game never-ending. Usually, a game being solved means either the first or second player can force a win. Never ending is a bit different.

Now, for me, that's not a plus. The L-Game is an example of a game that can reset itself over and over again, instead of developing. Early when I was getting back into board games, part of rediscovering Othello was realizing how the board filling up acted as a timer and meant the board was always changing.

I am still fond of the L-Game. Part of that is nostalgia. Part of it is that every game I've played of it has had someone win, although the game effectively resetting itself is kind of annoying. 

But a lot of my fondness comes from the unique and unusual feel of the game. It may not be the most minimal game I've ever played but between the small size, small number of components and simplicity of the rules, it marries minimalism with a classic feel. 

The small size, fond memories, the unusual feel and the fact that my
dad likes it has kept the L-Game in my collection. It definitely isn't for everyone, not even for abstract lovers. But it can make you scratch your head.

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