Hextris has lots of dense tactics, but there are specific goals you can aim for which could help you win.
For example, in the endgame, keep at least one piece in hand as long as possible. Pieces in hand usually are much more mobile, and generate more threats.
It is Green's move in this position from a two-player game. Both players need to form just one more connected group of five. Green is to move, and is in desperate trouble. Green has no pieces in hand left, but Purple still has two. Worse, Purple's pieces on the board are already connected. Green cannot outrace Purple to form the last group, and so must play defensively.
Green moves his large pyramid from B2 to C2, with the idea of swapping with the medium pyramid on C3. This might be better than swapping from B2 to C3, which would not separate the Purple piece very far from the rest of the group.
Purple drops a small pyramid on B1. This threatens to swap with C2.
Green C2 "runs away" from B1 by swapping with C3, trying to keep Purple's pieces disconnected.
Purple attacks again with his other small pyramid, from B4 to B3.
Since the only piece that can swap a small is a medium, Green brings the medium on A1 to B2,
but this does not help. Purple drops his final piece on C1. There is no way to stop Purple from winning on his next move.
Let's back up and look at the position before Green got into all this trouble:
Green's mistake was to drop his last piece on D5 in this position. Purple was then able to win with A2-C4.
Instead, Green could move C5-D5. This large pyramid now threatens to move to B3 or D3.
If Purple tries A2-C4 in this variation, Green can respond with D5-D3 as shown. Now if Purple's pyramid on C3 were either large or small, Purple would have a quick win. But here Green threatens to swap D3 with C3, which simultaneously brings Green one move closer to winning and puts Purple one move further away. You could say that Green's D5 pyramid has an unstoppable threat to move into C3.
The best Purple can do is to try to cut Green's A3 piece off from the rest of the group. Green threatens to drop on A2, and the only Purple piece that could go to A2 without being swapped out of the way is a large piece, so Purple retreats the C4 large back to A2. Green continues by swapping D3 with C3 as shown.
After Purple drops a small on B1, Green drops a medium on D5, and then Purple moves B4-B3 we reach the diagrammed position. Has Purple cut the A3 pyramid off?
Not really. Green moves D5-C4, threatening to swap C4 with B3.
Purple swaps B1 with B2, and Green swaps C4 with B3. There is no way to prevent Green from winning next move. Purple can still make swaps, but none of them are effective at separating Green's intended group of five.
Unstoppable threats are important to recognize, and they all depend on the relative sizes of adjacent enemy pyramids. So, in the earlier phases of the game, it would make sense to pay attention to what your opponent is keeping in hand, and respond accordingly. If a player ever runs out of one size piece, that means there is another size piece which the opponent will be able to move around the board without fear of getting swapped out of position.
These images were generated using the software "Zillions of Games," which I wrote a Hextris "rules file" for. This allows me to play the game against the computer. If you have Zillions, I plan to upload the Hextris package to their website in the next few days. Zillions doesn't really play the opening or middlegame very well, but it does work out endgame tactics if you give it enough time to think. The Zillions website is at http://www.zillionsofgames.com/
The best playtesting will undoubtedly come from the people who participate in the Icehouse competition judging and later. I would be very grateful to hear what you think! My email is twixt 'at' cstone 'dot' net. All comments and suggestions are welcome! I would be particularly interested to hear how the three player version works. Thanks for your time!back to Hextris rules page