knightvision boardKnightVision is a connection game featuring placement, movement and capture. Its ancestors are Hex and Cannons & Bullets.

A hex board of base 9 to 14. A sufficient number of white and black men, called 'knights'.

The board is initially empty. Player 1 places one white knight on a cell. Player 2 then decides whether to play with or against White.
The second player's first move is also a free placement. From that point onwards, players on their turn must either:

  • occupy a vacant cell by placement, or ...
  • ... throw an axe.

To occupy a vacant cell, it must be at a knight's move of at least one friendly piece. If the number of friendly pieces that are at a knight's move of the placed piece is three or more, then the player may place a stack of two men. The bottom man of a stack is still a Knight, but the man on top is now the AXE.
If an axe is thrown, it moves rookwise, unobstructed by friendly pieces and it may land on a vacant cell or on the first opponent's piece it encounters. That piece is then captured and removed from play, both knight and axe if applicable, and replaced by the moving axe that becomes a knight in the process. Making a placement or a move is mandatory unless neither is possible. In that case a player must pass.

If a player finds a solid cell to cell connection with his pieces between the two edges of his colour when it is his turn, then he has won. It means that any connection made, must outlive the next turn, a turn in which the opponent can still break it by capture.

Play KnightVision interactively

About KnightVision
KnightVision is a clear case of serendipity or plain luck. It came as the last game of a somewhat unexpected wave that started in October 2020 and ended in January 2021, rendering a mixed bag of collateral damage and two notable games. The other one is Migong, a cooperative effort with Luis Bolaños Mures.
Here's how it went. Mike Zapawa made Tumbleweed, a territory game based on a 'line of sight' protocol. I was surprised by the game's behaviour and started toying around with it in search of something simple and less fundamental than the parent game. That proved easy enough and thus Cannons & Bullets emerged, a straightforward territory game with a strategy based on 'line of sight' placement, fencing off potential territory and maximising the number of 'bullets' that enable its owner to shoot himself to more territory. A decent game but not a game with an abundant amount of drama.
In the wake of it I started thinking about a connection goal instead of a territorial one. The difference is, apart from the obvious, that territory in Cannons & Bullets can be found everywhere, so in the endgame you can shoot in all directions and find additional territory, while in a connection game like Hex the chain or potential chain is thin and provides far less of a shooting target. But one with far deeper consequences because where shooting territory changes the score a little, shooting a connection cell breaks the connection!

That was the crucial thought. Then I felt that a 'line of sight' protocol would be too territorial. In retrospect that may yet turn out to be wrong but for the moment I went with it and thought of an alternative. That's where the knight's move came into view. Line of sight placement can be local or it can span the board. The knight's move on a hex grid is a bit in between and a bit more specific, ideal I figured for a Hex board and the inherent goal of Hex. So placement would be possible on and only on cells that were a knight's move away from at least one friendly piece. Now the luck lies in the arbitrary but very satisfactory sweet spot of requiring a cell to see three friendly pieces to be able to place an axe there. It is taken straight from Cannons & Bullets and it works equally well. But it's consequences are far more dramatic: one axe can turn a won position into a lost one so tactics are far more crucial! And maximising the number of axes won't get you anywhere except in a lost position. Unlike Cannons & Bullets you need them in very specific places.

Strategy is of course basically Hex like, but it is intertwined with wanting options to place effectively, create axes and position pieces so as to maximise their efficacy. To do so 'knight vision' is a basic requirement, the ability to quickly see how crucial cells can be 'opened up' for placement. The app supports that vision by showing the placement option of every cell if the cursor hovers over it.

KnightVision is featured in Stephen Tavener's AiAi

How I invented ... KnightVision

KnightVision © MindSports