Tower of Hanoi

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Two players, ages 6 and up, 30 minutes.

Towerofhanoi smaller.png


Five tourists are trapped in a flood during a monsoon in Hanoi, Vietnam. You build a tower up to four stories high so that they can escape by helicopter. The first player to rescue three of the five refugees wins.


18 disposable plastic cups 18 heavy plastic poker chips 2 sheets of 12" x 18" foamboard 5 victory blocks


Place the two sheets of 12" x 18" foamboard flat between players. Stack the chips. Stack the cups and turn the stack upside down, off of the board. Each player takes one cup from the top of the stack. Each player places the cup somewhere on their foamboard half. The shortest player takes the first turn.

How To Play

On each turn, a player gains one chip from the stack of chips, plus one extra chip for the tallest story of their tower. So, on the first turn, a player takes two chips (one plus one for the cup).

A player spends a chip to do any one of the following:

  • A. Take one new cup from the stack (if there is any) and place it on their half of the foamboard or on top of a cup.
  • B. Move one cup and place or slide it on their half of the foamboard or on top of a cup.
  • C. Place the chip inside of or on top of a cup.
  • D. Slide or roll from the far edge as an attempt to knock over opponents' cups. Chip must stay in contact with board. If boards do not line up, then board may be overlapped to ensure the chip will not be stuck.

Otherwise, the player is not allowed to touch their cup.

Any number of chips may be used. Chips may be saved. If there are no more chips or cups in the stacks, then those options are not available.

If a player has a height of four or more cups tall, then the player takes one die. The first player to rescue three of the five refugees wins.

Now, the other player takes their turn.

Any wind, earthquakes or other environmental forces may also knock over towers.


Designed by Group Six (Angelika, Boris, Dean, Ethan, Mark) during hands-on workshop hosted by Joris Dormans at INTETAIN 2009, with the constraints:

  • Theme: Escape,
  • Feedback patterns: Emerging complexity, Engine building.

Last updated: Tue 06/23/2009 04:08 PM


Here is a schematic of the game, it is actually a symetrical architecture, with some changes made to the opponents part to 'automate' the opponent's reaction.(The blue line is there to 'inform the AI').

As was brought up during the discussion over dinner, the structure shows a surprising similarity with the basic structure of base building, defense and offense in a typical real-time-strategy game.