It's Like Playing Three Connection Games Superimposed on Each Other

Asterisk is an elegant connection game that creates the challenge of juggling several goals at once. Unlike those of most connection games, each piece you play in Asterisk has the potential to benefit your opponent. 

You can download a print-and-play board and pieces here. For a quicker game, you can also try the small board; use six pieces of each type. The rules are below. (To learn how Asterisk is related to Syrtis, click here.)

Equipment

The board is a triangular grid of hexagonal cells. The standard board has sides with 11 cells, but 8, 12, 15, and 20 are also possible board lengths. 

the six types of pieces

the six types of pieces

There are exactly as many pieces as are needed to fill the board. Each piece has a color (light or dark), a shape (circular or hexagonal), and a marking (empty or asterisked). In the standard game there are:

  • 11 dark, hexagonal, empty pieces
  • 11 dark, circular, asterisked pieces
  • 11 light, hexagonal, asterisked pieces
  • 11 dark, circular, empty pieces
  • 11 light, circular, asterisked pieces
  • 11 light, hexagonal, empty pieces

Note that not every combination of aspects is available. What's missing are pieces of a single player's shape, color, and marking. The upshot is that each piece you put on the board may help the other player.

The game also includes two large goal markers. These simply serve to remind each player what his or her goals are. 

Sequence of Play

Each player has three goals; reaching two of them wins the game. The goals are:

  • Connect the three sides of the board with a path of your color.
  • Connect the three sides of the board with a path of your shape.
  • Connect the three sides of the board with a path of your marking.
a game won by light and empty paths

a game won by light and empty paths

Before the game, give each player a goal marker. One player aims to form dark paths, hexagonal paths, and asterisked paths. The other player aims to form light paths, circular paths, and empty paths. Players take turns placing any remaining piece in any unoccupied cell. 

Use a swap rule at the beginning: one player places the first piece and the other may swap goal markers as his or her first turn.

The game ends when one player reaches two (or three) of his or her goals, or one player resigns. Ties are impossible. Defense and offense are equivalent, since blocking the opponent from two of the three goals will form two (or three) winning paths, and vice versa.

 

Asterisk Inverted

In this variant, a turn consists of selecting any remaining piece and handing it to the other player, who must place it in an unoccupied cell. The goals and win conditions are the same as those of the standard version.