board games

mr jack

I’ve just played Mr Jack, a board game with a Jack the Ripper theme that’s a mixture of Cluedo and Mastermind. The mechanics are simple – there are only eight character pieces, any one of which could be the murderer, plus a few streetlamps, cordons and manhole covers that can also be moved. One player knows who the murderer is and has to prevent his or her identity becoming known, while the other has to deduce the identity correctly within a limited number of moves. Each character piece, however, has particular abilities, so there are sufficient variations and permutations to make it difficult to work out the best moves.

The reason I mention this game here is that the simple mechanics would make it a good candidate for a computer to play as the computer wouldn’t be distracted by the major changes to the board after each turn, rather like Reversi, though there would be more potential moves per turn. Looking several moves ahead as in chess would be impossible because of the random play of cards, which would limit the depth of the search of options. I’m tempted to try to write a version of the game as practice in coding, so I’ve just dug out from a box my old book Computer Gamesmanship by David Levy, with its useful suggestions about evaluating decision trees. I’m still working on the genetic algorithm sketch in Processing, but this might be my next project.


Friday, August 6th, 2010 coding, games No Comments