St Thomas of Canterbury, 12 October 2018

There is a game of deduction called Battleships which many people have heard of, but the connotations of war and destruction make me uncomfortable. Today we played a game called Zone X (Invicta, 1975) which has been described as “pacifist Battleships”.

The player taking the role of the Zone Maker chooses a target square on a grid e.g. G9; they draw two straight lines through this target, which creates four zones; each zone is given a colour (blue, red, green and yellow). The Zone Breaker then calls out a square e.g. H4. The Zone Maker says which colour zone H4 is in e.g. green (which means their guess was too high) and the Zone Breaker puts a green peg on their search board. The Zone Breaker tries to find the target using as few pegs as possible. We found the children did need watching quite closely to make sure they were giving out accurate information when naming the colour zone, and they also needed some guidance in understanding that if they already had a green peg in their search board their next guess should be lower down.

The next game was Black Box (Waddingtons, 1977). One player chooses four targets on a 8×8 grid; the other player tries to deduce the positions of the targets by shooting ‘rays’ into the grid and seeing how they bounce around. The actual rules are so fiendishly complicated you need a PhD to understand them. Oh stop, Anna has a PhD. On well, we are not people to be deterred (or more importantly to think we have wasted any money), so we made up our own rules and the children were our guinea pigs. With our rules, the deducer probably relies a bit too much on luck to work out where the targets are, which makes the game less satisfying than using pure strategic thought. Hopefully this won’t be a game which ends up at the back of the cupboard.

We ended with a quick round of Stay Alive, the popular marble dropping game from three weeks ago.  Next week we will play Halma, a replacement game where jumps are allowed and ladders need to be built.

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