Cameron Browne (c) 2009

ESP is a tile placement game of strategy, deduction and extrasensory perception.


Tiles: Each player has two of the symbol sets shown below in their colour, i.e. each player has ten tiles. All tiles are blank on the back.

Figure 1.  Symbol sets in two colours.

Placement: Light places one of their tiles in the playing area either symbol-up or symbol-down, then Dark places one of their tiles adjacent to it either symbol-up or symbol-down. Thereafter, players take turns placing one of their tiles (either symbol-up or symbol-down) to touch at least two existing tiles. No tile can be completely enclosed on all six sides during the placement stage.

Movement: Once all tiles have been placed, players take turns making either flipping or moving one of their tiles. They may:

1. Flip a blank tile over to show its symbol; or
2. Move a symbol tile in a line over any adjacent tile to the first available empty space (as shown below).

Figure 2.  Only possible moves for Light (blank tiles can't move).

Tiles cannot be flipped or moved if surrounded on all six sides or if their removal would isolate other tiles from the main group (even if they are reconnected after the move). For example, the two light stars shown below can't be moved and are temporarily pinned.

Figure 3.  The two light stars cannot be moved.

Aim: The game ends as soon as either player forms a complete set of symbols, of any colour, in a consecutive line of five. The player who owns the most tiles within this set wins the game. For example, the following game is won by Dark (3:2).

Figure 4.  A game won by Dark.

In the event that a move completes more than one consecutive set, then all tiles in all consecutive sets are counted once to determine the winner; if the score is tied then the mover wins. For example, the following game has ended with three consecutive sets made up from ten different tiles. The tally is 5:5 so the game is awarded to the mover, Dark in this case as the dark cross intersects all three sets and is hence the only move that could have ended this game.

Figure 5. A game won by the mover (Dark).

Multiplayer Game: Each additional player brings ten tiles of their colour and plays according to the rules above.

2 players = 20 tiles (2 x two sets of five symbols each),
3 players = 30 tiles (3 x two sets of five symbols each),
4 players = 40 tiles (4 x two sets of five symbols each), etc.

Figure 6. Four colours for four players.

Clarification: If a player completes consecutive sets and the majority count is split between two or more other players (not the mover) then the game is a tie between those other players. This will only happen rarely, if at all.


In choosing whether to place your tiles symbol-up or symbol-down, you should consider the associated benefits and drawbacks. Placing tiles symbol-up reveals valuable information to the opponent but also increases your movement options (only symbol tiles can move) and your voting power (only symbol tiles count in consecutive sets). There is a balance between keeping your opponent in the dark and wasting too many moves flipping tiles over to activate them. For example, Light has only chosen to reveal one symbol while Dark has chosen to reveal six symbols in the placement phase of the game shown in Figure 2.

It's possible to win a game during the placement stage, but this should only happen due to gross negligence!

Think carefully before flipping any tile over. This reveals valuable information to the opponent, and tiles cannot be flipped back.

Players should try to deduce the opponent's hidden symbols from their behaviour and the available information... or better yet, just read their mind. The five symbols - called Zener symbols - have been carefully chosen to maximise ESP abilities as they most closely resemble the naturally occurring shapes of orgones in the cosmos around us. This fact has not been published and is jealously guarded by paranormal researchers, but can be freely read from the mind of any worker in the area.

However, mind reading is a tricky skill and not for everyone; it takes a rare medium to be well done. Players might instead use alternative ESP mechanisms such as "Extremely Sweaty Palms" or "Extra Smelly Pheromones" to gauge their opponent's thoughts.


ESP rules and design by Cameron Browne and copyright (c) Cyberite Ltd 2009.

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