Asterisk & Obelisk: Gaulish Sprouts

By Chris Villeneuve @ Acorn Games

I just recently came to Sprouts but I have been a game designer and publisher for years. I studied Sprouts and Brussels Sprouts and then asked myself if I could come up with my own variant. I make games that people can play and win at and hopefully learn something from so I decided to come up with a variant that can be won by either player no matter if you start with 2N or 3N or 4N etc. and I THINK I have one.

My hobby is collecting ANYTHING to do with the popular French comic strip “Asterix & Obelix” the two Gaulish warriors who have been giving Julius Caesar fits for many decades And who are possibly the most popular cartoon characters in the world behind “THE Mouse”

Since you can’t start out by drawing cartoon characters for every game, I have decided to use the common typesetting symbols which sound like them and just happen to be the symbols used to denote the first and second footnotes; the asterisk and the obelisk. The “star” and the “dagger”.

You start the game with N number of asterisks or 5-pointed stars. I usually draw an upside-down “Y” with a crossbar going through at the juncture of the three lines. So instead of a dot or a plus Sign, you start out with each N having 5 possible points to start with. As in “Brussels Sprouts” the players take a turn drawing a line or curve to connect two open arms. After they have drawn the line no connect the limbs they then draw an “obelisk” at some point on this new line. The obelisk will only “grow” out of either one or the other side of the line just like the Egyptian monuments that they’re named after.

This will make for some interesting play because the player will decide whether they will change the rate at which limbs are used up depending on whether they place an obelisk where it is available to be used fruitfully to make another connection or if it becomes sterile by being oriented inwards so it cannot be used to make any more connections.

Now here is where I’d like to hear from all you math folk out there. I just design games that I think People can play and win at. I spent a couple of days with a piece of paper and three different colored Pens to see if both players can win if they play wisely no matter the number of asterisks that they start The game with.

I’ll grant you that the same objective would most probably be achieved if you played it with crosses and obelisks but then I wouldn’t have been able to work the names of my two favorite cartoon characters into the name as a play on words. - Captain Acorn “Sowing the Seeds of Fun!”

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