Game Profile

The Power of Two
Created by Arthur Blumberg

This game has several unique features, influenced by the Kadon philosophy of aesthetically pleasing board design, non-violent competition, and elegant mathematical characteristics.

The goal of the game is to be the first player to bring all of one's pieces onto the board. Each player has 16 wood playing pieces which are blank on the bottom and have a felt pad on top. Four of them are placed, felt side up, on the board as shown at the beginning of the game. The other 12 await entry.

The strongly symmetric network of angled lines on the board, laser-engraved on wood, creates 64 intersections, or "nodes." The players by turns move their pieces any distance along an unobstructed line to an unoccupied node.

When the moving piece comes to rest on a node adjacent to a node occupied by either player, the second phase of the turn is enacted: the joined pair beget a new piece. The moving player places a piece, felt side up, from off the board onto an intersection that is directly connected to both "parent" pieces. In effect, the new one enters as the third vertex of a triangle formed by the three. If that third vertex is not open, the move may not be taken.

If the moving piece stops on a node adjacent to more than one piece, all partnerships formed beget new ones, provided that all required vertices are available. It is not uncommon for a player to be able to bring in even 3 pieces with one move.

After all the merited offspring have been entered, the third phase of a turn is enacted: —all of the parent pieces of the moving player's color age by a half-life. The affected pieces are turned over, felt side down and blank side up. If an affected piece was already blank side up, it gives up its second half-life and retires from the board, to be reborn later. The other player's pieces remain unscathed.

Here is a game where one player does not gain from damaging the other. A valuable strategy, in fact, is to use as much as possible the opponent's pieces as partners, to minimize the number of half-lives one has to spend.

To win, a player must "go out" exactly. If a player is entitled to bring in two pieces, there must be two pieces available to bring in.

A very rarely seen win position arises when one player is not able to make a complete move (moving plus placing), because of excessive overpopulation. Some foresight can prevent such an outcome. It need not even be inflicted deliberately by the other player. The board has sufficient pathways to make purposeful entrapment unlikely.

This game is loaded with symbolism and relationships, and it makes for a fascinating lab example of integrated systems. The absence of fear of assault by the opponent also makes possible an especially cerebral, logical strategy. And a typical round of The Power of Two can be played in only about 15 minutes.

For those with a more aggressive taste, Arthur Blumberg has created a second game for the Power of Two board: David and Goliath. Each player has one persona, one piece upon the board that can move and throw rocks. They begin, felt side up, on diagonally opposite corners of the board.

David, the fleetfooted and quick, can run any distance along any unobstructed line. Where he stops, he lobs a rock along any line; but being slender and less powerful than Goliath, he can at most throw to a distance of two intersections away.

Goliath, on the other hand, being clumsy and lumbering, can travel to at most two intersections away, but with his superior brute force can throw a rock any distance along an unobstructed line.

These rocks are the players' remaining 15 pieces that are placed blank side up wherever the "rock" lands. They remain as permanent obstructions through which neither movement nor throws can pass. Each player's goal is to wall up the opponent in a smaller space than one's own has remaining. The game ends when one player is walled up or has clearly less liberty (fewer spaces to move around in) than the other player.

The intricate board design lends itself readily to improvisation and invention of further games and puzzles.

Kate Jones

The Power of Two is a trademark of Kadon Enterprises, Inc.

The Life of Games
No. 1 (October 1999)
©1999 Kadon Enterprises, Inc.