Poker hall of famer Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson once christened Texas Hold’em as a game that takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master. However, if you thought poker was hard, check these strategical titans.
The game Go! began life in ancient China, or the Far East, over 5,500 years ago, making it the oldest board game played today. Not only is it the oldest, it’s also one of the most complex games on the market. It’s an abstract strategy board game where two players attempt to occupy the most board “territory”. The game’s vast complexity has resulted in it possessing an incomputable number of possibilities and a great many alternatives to consider for each move.
The game, which can be played online, works as follows. Starting with a completely empty board, both players have an unlimited supply of “stones”, one with the blacks and others playing as the whites. As we have already noted, the game’s objective is to construct territories with your stones by surrounding vacant areas on the board and robbing your opponent by surrounding theirs too. Blacks start first, and gameplay is turn-based where players place one stone on a free space (technically, the intersections of the lines).
Once in place, stones cannot be moved, unless captured, in which case they are taken from the board and held hostage by opponents. Any stones occupying adjacent points make up what is referred to as a string. When the winning player believes himself to have maxed out his captured land and cannot make any further moves, he hands his vanquished rival a symbolic stone before both teams pass on their next move and the game is over. The players then count the free land within their own territory giving a point for each vacancy which they add to their sum total of captured stones, also worth a point apiece, which gives them a total, with the game’s winner being the player with the highest score.
Although debated among the Chess community, the most widely believed theory surrounding the historical origins of Chess is that it dates back to the 6th century and is most likely an Indian game. Others subscribe to the idea that the game is of Chinese origin while there are those that believe the game to be a direct descendant of Chaturanga, a game that plays pretty much the same but with up to four players.
The game itself, one of strategical conquest, is played between two opponents sitting on opposite sides of the board containing 64 alternating black and white colored spaces. Each player begins with 16 pieces which are made up of the following; 1 king, 1 queen, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, 2 knights, and 8 pawns. Through careful forward planning, the game’s aim is to checkmate the opponent’s King piece, meaning that he is unable to move without capture.
White always makes the first move with their pawns, nothing more than foot soldiers, but can, for one time only, move forward two spaces instead of their usual one. These guys begin the game in the second row flanking the backline which lines up as follows; the rooks occupy the corners with the knights next to them. Next, the bishops, before the queen, the most powerful, and the King, the most valuable.
Each of the pieces moves differently. Bishops, for example, move diagonally and only the knights can jump over a rival’s piece. The queen, on the other hand, can do what she wants. When you have your rival in check, collecting pieces of the other color in the process, the game is won.
Hailing from the 17th century, the card game bridge is likely to have been born in Russia and popularised in the Middle East, but is today widely considered to be the hardest card game of them all. To that end, an unsuccessful case was recently put forward for it to be considered a sport, well mind sport.
The game itself is four player, technically in teams of two, who sit individually opposite from one another, over a standard 52 card deck. Every deal is made up of three stages; the auction, play, and the scoring. In the auction stage, players bid in a clockwise rotation describing their hands. This is followed by the play in which the winning bidders from the previous stage attempt to claim the tricks needed to fill their contract as obligated at the auction before finally players reach the scoring stage.
A bid is made up of a number and a suit, the purpose of which is to communicate his hand strength to his partner. In order to fulfill their contract and win the game, a pair must win tricks which consist of four cards, one from each player’s hand, played in clockwise order. Should a pair fall short of their contract a penalty is awarded.
Created by Allan B. Calhamer in 1954, Diplomacy is a strategic board game which was released for consumers in 1959. Played on a map of 1914 wartime Europe as well as parts of the Middle East and North Africa, the game differs from other war-themed games as it’s diceless and one with far more negotiation skills than a simple game of conquest.
In order to achieve success, players, in charge of the then super powers of Austro-Hungary, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Turkey, must form, and then betray, strategical alliances with other players, of which there are between two and seven. The purpose of the game is to win and occupy the majority of the big strategically important cities. All players apart from Great Britain and Russia begin the game with two armies and one naval fleet. As the exceptions, GB starts with two fleets and one army while Russia starts with two of each.
Play is based on two of the annual seasons, spring and autumn, in which players negotiate relaying tactics and strategy with their allies by sharing intelligence and spreading disinformation about enemies. To move, players make orders for each of their units, which can see units move to an adjacent space or support a nearby ally in the event of an attack. Finally, gamers reach the end of year report, where players keep hold of that year’s triumphs which makes up their tally, score and land mass inspired wealth for the year.
Inspired by Go!, Hex was invented by the Danish mathematician Piet Hein in 1942, although it has been re-tweaked by others since then. At the game’s outset, players are allocated a color from Red, White, Blue and Black. Play is then turn-based with players placing their colored stones on a single cell on the playing board, with the aim of making a connected string of stones reaching from one side of the board to the other.
The first player to achieve that goal wins the game. So far, so simple. But then, largely because the first player to move has a distinct advantage, the pie rule is introduced meaning the second player reserves the right to choose to switch positions with his opponent. From there it’s a straight-up tactical battle between the two, which can never end in a tie.