Yesterday, I was talking to Kelly about an idea for a game. Here’s the idea: Invent an original game that can be explained completely and with no prior knowledge INSIDE a limerick. Yes, we are that cool.
I was speculating that you could fit chess in a limerick, but she convinced me it’d be hard due to explaining initial placement. Plus, I realized the movement of a pawn adds a lot, since it moves one space, unless it’s the first turn, or it’s en passante, and also if it gets to the other side you can change to any other piece. Shit. We speculated that checkers, with some cleverness, might be possible.
Today on my walk to the pier (I have a theory that if you can see the ocean, you can write), a more interesting version occured to me. I call it Minimum Optimized Poem Unit for Gaming (MOPUG). A mopug is the smallest possible poetic form which can contain all the rules for a particular game. Minimum is defined as fewest syllables. Poetic form includes traditional western forms of poetry (no free verse and blank verse is frowned upon) and, of course, the haiku.
Remember, the goal is not to make an easy read, but rather to make an explanation that leaves minimal ambiguity.
LET’S DO THIS.
Ro beats sham beats Bo
Beats ro. Reveal your choices
At the same time. Wooh!
Hmm… that was easy. Let’s try checkers.
On a grid that is square, eight by eight
Inner sides share two colors. The fate
Of your checkers
Is double deckers…
No… nevermind, not possible. Confirmed: the limerick is not the mopug of checkers. Someone write Popular Science. I think there’s an article in this
Shit. Let’s see what happens with my sonnet theory…
A checkered grid of eight by eight is needed
And players white and black put pawns in rows
With 8 apiece at 2 and 7, seated
Near their owner. Next, the bishop goes
At columns 3 and 6, just aft a pawn.
At corners rooks, at 2 and 7, knights,
A black and milky spot remain, and on
The one you match, put Queen, then King alites.
To kill a piece, get yours upon its space.
The pawn moves up its column, kills at angles.
At first, 2 spaces goes, then half that pace.
Damn. This didn’t work either. I suspect what’s gonna kill me is the complexity of the pawn and the castling rules. BALLS.
Well, first, this is harder than I thought. I suspect it may be even harder than the “make up a game in a limerick” challenge, in which you can make games that are easily expressible.
It seems like the big trip-up is what you might call “inelegant” rules. Chess is a very elegant game, but there are a few “muddy” things like en passante and castling. These are fine for gameplay, but can’t be expressed in simple mathematical terms. In fact, any time something didn’t obey cute logic (like in Queen placement) it took a little longer. Notice that queen and king placement took almost as much space as pawn, knight, rook, and bishop.
It’s possible boardgames were a poor choice. Card games, for example, require no explanation of spacing. Poker is basically a listing of hand types, which could conceivably fit in a sonnet. Go fish might be another.
So, it seems so far I’ve found only one possible mopug. Wanna see if you can find more?
PS: I hope you like posts at this level of geekery, because it’s ooooonly gonna get worse.