Monday, February 5, 2024

Fun with randomly generated boards

 I play a lot of short, itty bitty games and, to be honest, a lot of them are guilty pleasures whose chief virtue is brevity. The nine-card game Down, for instance, is a game I only play while waiting in the car.

13 Sheep, a tiny roll-and-write that only uses one die and can end in seven turns, is not a game whose chief virtue is fidgeting.  I will cheerfully argue it is worth playing for its game qualities as well as its brevity.

And a lot of that comes from the fact that the number of fences you are able to draw is a lot smaller than the field of sheep and bushes you are drawing them in. For a game that has so many limits, it has a good-sized decision tree.

Anyway, the reason I felt like writing about 13 Sheep some more is randomly generated sheets.

When I first started playing 13 Sheep, the official website (  had a feature would randomly generate boards for you in three different sizes. Then, the generator went away. I assumed it was because 13 Sheep has been published.

Which didn’t make me cry too hard since it generated the boards as PDFs, which meant that I had saved the ones I had had it make. I got a hundred plays out of the official two boards before I felt the need to look into the random boards. So I knew I had enough to keep me occupied for a while.

And then I saw the generator had been returned to the site. So, of course I generated more sheets and saved them lol

The randomly generated (okay, procedurally generated if you want to be precise since there are clearly parameters in place) boards don’t have as much value as the original boards because they can be unbalanced. If three or four sheep are clumped in relatively close proximity, that part of the board is going to be what you focus on.

Still, all these bonus boards add a lot to a game I already was enjoying.

I’ve also taken to printing a low-ink 18 board sheet to put, unlaminated, in my bag for lunch gaming. I normally don’t go for disposable game sheets but this way I don’t have to count on having a dry erase marker.

13 Sheep has been a game that’s entertained me for years. I’ve used it in holiday cards and as a gift. I’ve used it in the class room. Honestly, it’s one of the best minimalist games I’ve found.

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