Title:
Competitive strategy gaming apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A strategy game to be played in competition by multiple players. The game includes a map, partitioned into a grid of hexagonal cells, and accompanying game elements to be placed and interacted with on the grid. The game includes means of play designed to maximise the player's utilisation of strategic decision making skills to achieve tactical and logistical superiority.



Inventors:
Guttwein, Tyson Allen (Newton, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/598594
Publication Date:
05/15/2008
Filing Date:
11/13/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/242
International Classes:
A63F3/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Tyson, Guttwein (122 Wolf's Corner Road, Newton, NJ, 07860, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A competitive strategy gaming apparatus comprising: (a) a playing surface of predetermined area overlaid by a grid comprising a plurality of cells that may contain indicia representative of predetermined function; (b) a plurality of asset elements that are representative of objects that may be placed within said cells and thereupon interacted with by the users, and may contain indicia representative of predetermined function, value, and propriety; (c) a plurality of strength elements that may be combined with said asset elements and thereof represent increased longevity of use of said asset elements; (d) a plurality of resource elements representative of resources that may be accumulated and expended by the users.

2. The said competitive strategy gaming apparatus of claim 1 wherein said cells have six sides.

3. A means of using said competitive strategy gaming apparatus of claim 1 wherein conflict resolution is determined solely by the skill of the users, thereby negating the necessity of randomly generated results.

4. A means of using said competitive strategy gaming apparatus of claim 1 wherein said asset elements may function cooperatively, thereby dynamically increasing strategic importance of their position on said surface.

5. A means of using said competitive strategy gaming apparatus of claim 1 wherein said resource elements may be accumulated and expended by the users towards the purpose of introducing additional said asset elements on said surface or increasing the strength of said asset elements, both subsequent to the art's initiation of use, thereby combining the strategic elements of conflict resolution and resource management.

6. A means of using said competitive strategy gaming apparatus of claim 1 wherein said strength elements function as a buffer against conflict resolution failures of said asset elements, thereby increasing the longevity of use of said asset elements.

7. A means of using said competitive strategy gaming apparatus of claim 1 wherein users, upon each interval of use, are required to choose from a plurality of mutually exclusive options that directly affect the function of said asset elements, thereby increasing the strategic importance of decision making by providing a substantial opportunity-cost versus benefit conundrum.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention described and entailed within pertains to a method of playing a strategy game whereby players interact with game pieces on a map towards the purpose of conflicting with their opponents' game pieces until such time as a plurality of objectives has been met.

2. Description of the Prior Art

One novel feature of this invention as a method of playing a strategy game is its failure to utilise a random result generator, such as a playing die, deck of cards, spinner, or electronic device, for the purpose of resolving conflict or determining the movement of game pieces. Instead, game mechanics rely on individual players' skill and predetermined, intrinsic values respectively. This can be found in many puzzle and mind games such as the antique and ubiquitous “Chess” but also in war games such as U.S. Pat. No. 1,160,348 to Watkins, U.S. Pat. No. 2,313,303 to Szatrow, and U.S. Pat. No. 3,998,463 to Zumchak. These patents; however, lack other novel aspects of this invention such as the accumulation and expenditure of resources for the purpose of placing additional game pieces on the map subsequent to the game's start.

Another novel feature of this invention as a method of playing a strategy game is the allowance for adjacent game pieces to support one another during conflict resolution. Examples of this can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 1,160,348 to Watkins as well as the game “Diplomacy”, published by the Avalon Hill game company. Limitations of the Watkins patent with regard to this invention have already been introduced. The Avalon Hill games both entail means of playing significantly different from that pertaining to his invention, specifically but not exclusively simultaneity of play among players whereas the preferred embodiment of this invention requires players to take their turns in sequential intervals.

Another novel feature of this invention as a method of playing a strategy game is the utilisation of a map partitioned into a grid of hexagonal cells on which game pieces may be placed and moved. There are many examples of these maps found in the means of playing games, war games in particular. U.S. Pat. No. 1,160,348 to Watkins, U.S. Pat. No. 3,823,943 to Chamecki, U.S. Pat. No. 4,093,236 to Hoffa, U.S. Pat. No. 4,783,079 to Phelan, U.S. Pat. No. 5,118,115 to Codinha, and the game “Jutland” published by the Avalon Hill game company, each detail the use of such a map. All but the Watkins and Phelan patents rely on random number generators and only the Codinha patent allows for the accumulation and expenditure of resources.

Another novel feature of this invention as a method of playing a strategy game is the combination of conflict resolution as found in war games with aspects of resource management as found in property trading games, such as the popular “Monopoly” (U.S. Pat. No. 2,026,082). U.S. Pat. No. 4,373,731 to Whiteman, U.S. Pat. No. 5,118,115 to Codinha, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,687,969 to Logan each have rules allowing for the accumulation and expenditure of resources. Each of these patents, however, lack other novel features of this invention such as the reluctance to use a random number generator and the ability for game pieces to mutually support one another.

Another novel feature of this invention as a method of playing a strategy game is the delayed effect of attrition during conflict resolution, i.e. game pieces must be “hit” several times before they are permanently removed from the map. This is a common mechanic employed in role-playing classed games such as “Dungeons & Dragons” published by Wizards of the Coast, as well as numerous war games specifically intended for use on computers. U.S. Pat. No. 5,687,969 to Logan and the game “Jutland” are two examples, of this mechanic employed in a “table-top” or “board” game. Limitations of these examples with regard to this invention have already been introduced.

Another novel feature of this invention as a method of playing a strategy game is the granting of players a plurality of mutually exclusive options in regards to how they may conduct their turn. This aspect bears resemblance to the game “Puerto Rico” published by Rio Grande Games but does not include this game's player-exclusivity of option rule. U.S. Pat. No. 3,998,463 to Zumchak and U.S. Pat. No. 5,687,969 to Logan both grant the player a plurality of mutually-exclusive options in regards to each of the specific game pieces but not to the player's turn as a whole.

No prior art, to the knowledge of the inventor, encompasses more than three of the aforementioned novel aspects specific to this invention. Therefore it is claimed that this invention is unique in character and provides for a particular niche in strategy gaming that has been neglected by other, categorically similar art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the primary objective for this invention to provide users with a means of entertainment. As a game, the means of play is intended to be fun and enjoyable.

It is the secondary objective for this invention to provide users with intellectual stimulus. This pertains primarily with regards to strategy and to the application of logistics, with the outcome of play dependant entirely on individual players' skill and a strong emphasis of this being on the positioning of game pieces on the map board.

This objective is primarily achieved by the invention's failure to utilise a random result generator, such as a playing die or deck of cards, often found in other art of similar type. Because no random elements are present to affect the outcome of play, this outcome becomes dependant entirely on the respective skills of the players involved.

Additionally features implemented towards this end include rules allowing for individual game pieces to act in conjunction with adjacent game pieces, adding an additional dimension to their positioning on the playing surface. Also, the use of a map partitioned into a grid of hexagonal cells, which is geometrically more realistic than the common square-celled, or “checkerboard”, grid and particularly useful when combined with the aforementioned mutual support rules. Also of note is the combination of conflict resolution rules with resource management rules, requiring the player to simultaneously consider two levels of thought for effective play. Also, rules that present the players with the economic concept of “opportunity-cost”, forcing them to make decisions that will simultaneously enable and restrict their means of play.

It is the tertiary objective for this invention to be relatively simple and elegant in design and construction while remaining true to the aforementioned objectives. This is intended to allow the invention to appeal to an optimal demographic of game-playing consumers through both intellectual and financial accessibility.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a birds-eye perspective view of an example playing surface including a grid of cells (1) and prospective indicia (2,3,4).

FIG. 2 is an isometric perspective view of an example asset element (5) being conjoined to two strength elements (6).

FIG. 3 is an isometric perspective view of a conjoined group of asset and strength elements (5,6) positioned on a section of the playing surface.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

1. Game Apparatus

The apparatus of the game consists of a playing surface (FIGS. 1, 3) and a plurality of game elements (FIGS. 2, 3). The playing surface, or “board”, which structurally should be nineteen inches square and flat to conform to standard apparatus of this type, will consist of a grid of cells (1), hexagonal in shape. The individual hexagons should measure nine-tenths of an inch from each parallel face. Overall the grid should be roughly hexagonal in shape and consist of a width of about twenty cells. Sporadically placed throughout the grid, inhabiting individual cells, are indicia representative of unique function. These indicia are of three different varieties herein called: “Base System” (2), “Extra System” (3), and “Wormhole” (4). Base System and Extra System cells, referred to collectively as “Systems”, will typically have corresponding identifying text printed near them on the board.

Game elements should be slightly smaller than the cells of the board with a breadth of approximately seven-eighths of an inch, and such may consist of interlocking chips (as per the example in FIGS. 2, 3), miniatures, or any appropriate item at the discretion of the manufacturer. There are three types of game elements: asset elements (5), strength elements (6) and resource elements (6). The strength and resource elements in this embodiment are combined into a single, dual-functioning game piece called a “Token”. Tokens should be neutral of any player affiliation and designed so as to be easily conjoined to asset elements. About sixty-five Tokens shall be included with the game.

Asset elements consist of six types of game “pieces” herein called “Capitol”, “Starport”, “Colony”, “Cruiser”, “Frigate”, and “Transport”. Asset elements shall be adorned with unique indicia representative of the piece's type and player affiliation. Each player will receive a set of pieces to a total of four Cruisers, five Frigates, three Transports, one Capitol, two Starports, and ten Colonies.

2. Initial Setup

At the game's start, each player receives a set of game pieces and eight Tokens. Each player then in turn arbitrarily places his Capitol on a System cell, provided that that System is no fewer than six cells distant from any other Capitol. They may then place one Cruiser, Frigate, and Transport on different cells adjacent to their Capitol. When placed on the board, one Token is placed beneath the Frigate, Transport, and Capitol while the Cruiser has three Tokens placed beneath it. Any remaining Tokens are placed in a location referred to as the “Bank”.

3. The Turn

Players take their turns in intervals sequentially to one another. There are no rules governing by what criteria players are to take their respective turns but for that once an order is established, it is to be adhered to for the remainder of play. A very common method is to pick one player by agreement or chance to initiate play and for turns to continue from player to player clockwise by virtue of their position in relation to the board.

At the start of a turn, the active player, that is the player whose turn it is, must choose one of three Phases that will determine what actions are made available to them over the course of the turn. The three Phases are called the Income Phase, the Build Phase, and the Command Phase. Each piece on the board belonging to the player may then be the initiator of a single action during the course of the turn with the specific actions available, if any, depending on the type of game piece and the chosen Phase.

A. Income Phase Actions

Produce Income: Applicable to each Capitol and Colony piece. Grants the player two Tokens from the Bank.

In the event the player's aggregate income for the turn exceeds the number of Tokens in the Bank, a circumstance referred to as Breaking the Bank occurs. Upon Breaking the Bank, the active player receives what Tokens as the Bank has available. Then all players must contribute half of their Tokens on hand, rounded down, to the Bank.

B. Build Phase Actions

Construct Ship: Applicable to each Capitol and Starport piece. The player may place a new Cruiser, Frigate, or Transport piece on any empty cell adjacent to the action-initiating piece. This action requires the expenditure of Tokens from the player's hand to the Bank. Cruisers cost 6 Tokens while Frigates and Transports cost 4. New pieces start at “full strength”, which is to say they are placed with the maximum allowance of Tokens beneath them, provided by the Bank. Cruisers are granted 3 Tokens while Frigates and Transports are granted 1.

Repair Ship: Applicable to each Capitol and Starport piece. The player may withdraw Tokens from their hand and place them beneath a Cruiser, Frigate, or Transport piece located in a cell adjacent to the action-initiating piece. A piece may not have more Tokens transferred to it so as to exceed its full strength allowance of 3 in the case of a Cruiser and 1 in the case of a Frigate or Transport.

Colonise System: Applicable to each Transport piece. The player may place a new Capitol, Colony, or Starport piece on any empty System cell adjacent to the action-initiating piece. This action draws upon the strength of the initiating Transport, transferring one Token from underneath it and rendering this to the Bank. If the Transport has no Tokens beneath it, the Transport is instead removed from the board. Furthermore, this action requires the expenditure of Token from the player's hand to the Bank. Capitols cost 12 Tokens while Colonies and Starports cost 4. New Capitols and Colonies start at full strength and are placed with 1 Token beneath them, provided by the Bank. A Capitol may only be placed if the player does not already have a Capitol piece in existence on the board.

Repair System: Applicable to each Transport piece. The player may withdraw a Token from their hand and place it beneath a Capitol or Starport piece adjacent to the action-initiating piece. The Capitol or Starport may not have more Tokens transferred to it so as to exceed its full strength allowance of 1.

C. Command Phase Actions

At the start of the Command Phase, each Cruiser, Frigate, and Transport has the free opportunity to move on the board. This movement does not count as an action. Pieces may move a distance of empty cells not exceeding their maximum “movement point” allowance of 2, 4, and 3 for Cruiser, Frigate, and Transport pieces respectively. If a piece has started on a Wormhole cell then the player may automatically move it to any empty Wormhole cell on the board, at the expense of 1 movement point and 1 Token from beneath the piece, which is rendered to the Bank. Pieces without any Tokens may not move via Wormhole. If a piece should move from one cell adjacent to an opponent's piece to another cell adjacent to that same piece, the opponent's piece may make a free Attack action against the active player's piece, subject to the normal rules and restrictions of the Attack action.

Most Command Phase actions require the comparison of “combat value” between the action-initiating piece and a target piece. The combat value of the action-initiating piece is calculated by taking the that piece's base combat value, 2 in the case of the Cruiser and Capitol pieces and 1 in all other cases, and incrementing it by 1 per each piece engaging in the Support action, subject to the rules of the Support action. The target piece's combat value is calculated by taking that piece's base combat value, 2 in the case of the Cruiser and Capitol pieces and 1 in all other cases, and incremented by 1 per piece adjacent to the target piece that belongs to the defending player.

Attack: Applicable to each Cruiser, Frigate, Capitol, and Starport piece. Removes a Token from beneath an opponent's Cruiser, Frigate, or Transport piece, adjacent to the action-initiating piece, and returns it to the Bank. If the attacked piece has no Tokens beneath it, it is removed from the board. The Attack action is only successful if the combat value of the action-initiating piece is equal to or exceeds that of the target piece.

Invade: Applicable to each Transport piece. Removes a Token from beneath an opponent's Capitol, Starport, or Colony piece, adjacent to the action-initiating piece, and renders it to the Bank. If the targeted piece has no Tokens beneath it then it is removed from the board and may be replaced with a Capitol, Starport, or Colony piece belonging to the active player. If the active player chooses to place a piece of a different type than that which was removed, they must first expend a plurality of Tokens from their hand to the Bank. The placement of a Capitol piece incurs a cost of 12 Tokens while the placement of a Colony or Starport piece incurs a cost of 4 Tokens. The Invade action is only successful if the combat value of the action-initiating piece is equal or greater than that of the target piece. If the action-initiating piece has no Tokens beneath it, it is removed from the board. Otherwise, 1 Token is withdrawn from beneath the action-initiating piece and rendered to the Bank.

Board: Applicable to each Transport piece. Removes an opponent's Cruiser, Frigate, or Transport piece, adjacent to the action-initiating piece, and replaces it with an identical piece belonging to the active player. The Board action is only successful if the target piece has no Tokens beneath it and the combat value of the action-initiating piece is equal or greater to that of the target piece. If the action-initiating piece has no Tokens beneath it, it is removed from the board. Otherwise, 1 Token is withdrawn from beneath the action-initiating piece and rendered to the Bank.

Support: Applicable to all pieces. The Support action is made in conjunction with another piece initiating the Attack, Invade, or Board action. Pieces engaging in the aforementioned actions have their combat value incremented by 1. In order to engage in a Support action, the action-initiating piece must be adjacent to the target piece of the aforementioned actions. Pieces may engage in only one Support action per turn, regardless if it should meet the criteria to support multiple actions initiated by other pieces.

D. Blockades

If during the Income or Build Phases a System cell has adjacent to it a Frigate piece belonging to an opponent then that System is determined to be under a Blockade. Any Capitol, Starport, or Colony piece in a Blockaded System loses its opportunity to initiate actions, nor may it be the target of actions initiated by Transports. Each Frigate may only Blockade one System per turn; if a Frigate is a position where by it may Blockade two Systems, the possessor of that Frigate must declare at the turn's start which System is to be Blockaded. Blockades remain in effect until the offending Frigate is no longer adjacent to the afflicted System or until the Blockade is “lifted” or nullified by the presence of a Frigate, adjacent to the Blockaded System, belonging to the active player.

4. Objective

The players' objective is to have on the board a predetermined number of Starport, and Colony pieces under their possession, as well as their Capitol piece, at the start of their turn. The aggregate number of such pieces is dependant on the number of players participating in the instance of the game. In a game consisting of two players, thirteen or more such pieces are required to satisfy victory conditions; in a game of three players, ten or more such pieces are required; in a game of four players, eight or more such pieces are required.

5. Additional Rules

This invention is a base method of playing a strategy game and may include a range of additional rules labelled as “advanced”, “optional”, or “house” so long as the design and scope of the invention, as described above, remain adhered to. Examples of such rules, in this case for the purposes of providing a game of shorter duration in time, are listed as follows.

  • A. Only Base Systems apply to the play of the game. Extra Systems are ignored and count as empty cells. Victory conditions are reduced to nine, eight, and seven Capitol, Starport, or Colony pieces, for a game consisting of two, three, and four players respectively.
  • B. After Capitol pieces have been placed on the board, players sequentially may place a Starport or Colony pieces on any empty System cell until such time as all such cells are occupied.
  • C. Prior to the initiation of play, Tokens in the Bank are evenly distributed between the players. Remaining Tokens are returned to the Bank.