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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hexagon of Worms

Hexagon of Worms
This is a very easy-to-play game. You have a field of hexagons, kind of like a honeycomb, and a selection of symbols. Each cell contains one symbol. Given a starting cell, you select a symbol and all adjacent cells containing that symbol are cleared. The clearing goes as far as adjacent cells contain that symbol. Only when no more of the cells adjacent to the cleared field contain the specified symbol does the clearing stop. The object is clear the entire field within the allotted number of moves.

The first few times I played this game I tried to judge which would be the best symbol to use for the next clearing operation. As you go along the number of symbols increases. The game starts with three, and I got to the point where there were eight. Eventually, I think because I was tired, and because with the large number of symbols, progress was very slow, I gave up on trying to pick the best symbol and just started playing them in rotation. What was surprising is that this technique seemed to work as well as making a choice.

I went back and played the game a few more times using this rotation scheme. Sometimes it failed after only a few levels, but once it got as far as I had ever gotten using my original technique.

I am sure there is a mathematical explanation for this, but I am satisfied with my empirical results.

Update February 2017 replaced missing image.

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