Cameron Browne (c) 2011

Nonads is a simple pattern matching game for 2-4 players.

Tiles: Players share a common set of 34 nonad tiles. Each tile has nine cells in a 3x3 grid, four of which are coloured black. The tiles are shuffled in a deck or hidden in a bag.

Targets: Each player randomly selects a nonad as their target pattern, which they must match to win the game. The target can exist in any rotation, as shown in the following figure.

Play: Each player then randomly selects a nonad which becomes their hand tile. Each turn, the mover must play their hand tile in the playing area, then randomly select another nonad from the deck to replenish their hand.

The first player places their hand tile in the playing area (and replenishes it), then players take turns adding their hand tile adjacent to at least one cell of at least one tile already played (and replenishing it). Tiles cannot overlap and cannot partially touch existing tiles; all tiles must follow an implied square grid when played.

End: The game is won when a player makes their 3x3 target pattern within the set of played tiles, on their move. Empty spaces do not count as a match; all 3x3 cells must be either white or black according to the target pattern. It does not matter what other target patterns are made.

Tiebreaker: If the deck runs out before the game is won, then the mover selects a previously played tile as their hand tile – provided that it can be easily slid out – and plays it elsewhere. It is not allowed to move the tile just played by the last player.

Advanced Version: As per the above rules, except that the mover loses if they make the target pattern of any other player, even if also achieving their own target pattern on the same move. Each losing player is removed from the game (their hand and target tiles go back into the deck). The game is then won either by an outright winner, or if all players except one have been removed.


The following example shows a two-player game in progress, with Player 1 to move (left).

Player 1 wins with move m, which completes their target pattern within the played tiles (highlighted in red). No other move wins, and one other move actually loses under the Advanced rules by completing Player 2's pattern.


Players must let all other players see the target pattern and hand tile at all times.

If players fail to notice a winning pattern as it is made, then the opportunity is lost. Finally noticing a winning pattern made on a previous move does not win the game.

There are 34 unique ways to colour four cells in a 3x3 grid, not counting rotations. The complete set is as follows.

Enumerating all unique combinations of four black cells is equivalent to enumerating all unique combinations of five white cells. Two for the price of one!


Knownads: Players keep their target patterns hidden and score 1 point for each match in the set of played tiles. Play continues until the tiles run out, and is won by the player with the highest score. Players must state when each match occurs in order to score a point for it.

Knownads is a deduction game, as you can deduce the opponents' target patterns with logical thinking.


Nonads tiles and rules by Cameron Browne (c) 2011.

The term "nonads" refers to sets of nine, rather than any condition suffered by eunuchs. Like many objects described as nonads, each tile is really a triad of triads.

Since designing Nonads, my attention has been drawn to the Haar Hoolim Perception Games (1966) which are a suite of games for 2x3 tiles with cells coloured white or black, and Novi (1988) which is a suite of educational games using a full set of 256 3x3 tiles with cells coloured white or black. It's as if I'm not the first person to discover the 3x3 grid! Neither of these game sets describe the equivalent of Nonads.

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