The Four Color Problem
Quick fact: Did you know that to color a map of the United States so that no two bordering states share the same color, the lowest number of colors you could use is four? Try it out! It's a great puzzle, and a fun way to waste down a box of crayons.
Now that you've gotten a bit of practice with territory-coloring, take a shot at Taro Ito's new game at GameDesign, The Four Color Problem. It's a turn-based strategy game between you and a computer opponent.
A grid of hexagons is created for you, and the hexagons are divided into large chunks (similar to the layout for Dice Wars). Your goal is to color in as much space as you can, while the computer opponent tries to do the same. The catch the size of Maryland is that like the map puzzle, no two adjacent areas can be filled with the same color. Can you dominate the majority of the map with your color?
You play as the black and grey colorer, while the computer plays with green and orange. You alternate turns with your opponent, and alternate between colors (black, green, grey, orange, black, green...). A tally of how many hexagons you've claimed appears at the bottom of the screen. While the immediate instinct is to color in the largest region you can, further play might reveal strategies to help you beat the computer. Each round is won by gaining over half of the hexagons, or if there is a draw (as in, a region can't be filled by either player because all four colors already border it), then the majority takes the cake.
How long can you last against the computer? My record is eight rounds, can you beat it?