YORKTON - It was just about a year ago that this space was devoted to a game many abstract strategy fans think of as a classic – that game being Hex.
Regular readers will be aware that this writer has a soft spot for abstract strategy games. I like the challenge of competition without the influence of an unlucky dice roll, or draw of a card.
I also tend to appreciate vintage games a lot. If a board game is still being played decades after its creation, especially in an era dominated by video games it has to have something going for it, which brings us to the game of Hex.
Hex was invented by the Danish mathematician and poet Piet Hein, who introduced the game in 1942 at the Niels Bohr Institute, according to www.boardgamegeek.com “The same year Hex appeared in the Danish newspaper Politiken under the name Polygon. Hein introduced the game to the readers on December 26, 1942 and during the following four months gave them a problem each day to begin with - eventually two days a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The solution would always appear in the following column.”
Interesting the game “was independently invented by mathematician John Nash in 1947 at Princeton University.”
In 1952, Parker Brothers marketed a version. They called their version Hex, and the name stuck. As a side note the ‘collector’ in me would love to happen upon the Parker Brothers version at a yard sale one day.
Since that had not happened I had printed a board with the plan to mount it on a nice wooden board found ages ago at a yard sale.
Blaming it squarely on the COVID-19 pandemic which drastically curbed game play, the project has sat on a shelf still awaiting an afternoon of gluing and finishing – someday it may actually get done although apparently a side effect of the pandemic is chronic procrastination.
As it turns out fashioning a board is no longer the only way to physically play Hex.
Brybelly has recently produced a version of the game they are marketing under the title Hexus, which is the reason to revisit Hex this week.
If you are going to produce a board for a vintage game it should be a nice offering, and this one is certainly that.
The board and pieces are both wood, which is a huge plus in term of giving the offering an ‘older’ feel.
The board is edged in a nice blue and contrasting orange which really jumps out without being garish.
The pieces are the hexagons with the colours matching the board. The pieces also match in size with the hexes on the board, so it looks very nice as the game is played, although you need to be a bit ‘careful’ in placement as the pieces do end up touching as chains are made.
As a refresher Hex is traditionally played on an 11×11 rhombus board, although 13×13 and 19×19 boards are also popular.
The Brybelly board in 11X11 and includes letters and numbers to allow for movement notations – a nice touch too.
“Each player is assigned a pair of opposite sides of the board which they must try to connect by taking turns placing a stone of their colour onto any empty space,” explains Wikipedia. “Once placed, the stones are unable to be moved or removed. A player wins when they successfully connect their sides together through a chain of adjacent stones.”
Draws are impossible in Hex due to the topology of the game board.
Since the first player to move in Hex has a distinct advantage, the pie rule is generally implemented for fairness. This rule allows the second player to choose whether to switch positions with the first player after the first player makes the first move.
Because the rules are so simple, they are on one page in the new set.
While the new board is a beauty and allows for live play, there are also a number of resources for Hex on the internet, including several real-time servers, a search will find.
The new board for Hex from Brybelly certainly makes this a game to once again take a close look at. I know the look alone excites me as a gamer.