Xutoli Cameron Browne 2008 Xutoli is a tile placement game in which two players strive to join matching patterns.

Rules

Tiles: Two players, White and Blue, share a common pool of 64 Che tiles (duotone Truchet tiles). Each tile has inverted colours on the front and back and may be oriented either left or right.

The four tile rotations: White left, White right, Blue left and Blue right.

Any four tiles placed in a 2x2 square such that edge colours match will form one of twelve possible patterns. A handy mnemonic is that these 2x2 patterns form the letter shapes 'X', 'U', 'T', 'O', 'L', and 'I' in White (upper row) and Blue (lower row).

The twelve unique 2x2 patterns form letter shapes.

Play: White places a tile of their choice on the playing area. Players then take turns placing a tile of their choice squarely adjacent to at least one existing tile, such that all neighbouring edge colours match.

A typical starting sequence.

Aim: A player wins by forming a path of their colour containing two identical and non-overlapping 2x2 patterns in the same orientation.

A game won by White, who has joined two 'X' patterns.

Not a win: the 'X' patterns overlap.

Tiebreaker: If a winning formation is simultaneously made for both players on the same move then the mover loses. The game is tied if the tiles run out before either player makes a winning formation.

Notes

It is generally best for the mover to play each tile with their colour dominant in order to extend their largest path (unless circumstances dictate otherwise).

Some patterns are easier to match than others due to their inherent rotational symmetry. The 'X' and 'O' patterns are easiest to match as they are identical in all four rotations, the 'I' pattern is next easiest to match as it only has two unique rotations, while the 'U', 'T' and 'L' patterns are hardest to match as they each have four unique rotations.

Variants

Any Rotation: Xutoli may be played with the winning condition relaxed so that the winning pair of 2x2 patterns need not be oriented the same way (although they must still not overlap). In this case, the winning formation for White shown above would also contain a winning formation for Blue, as there exists a Blue path containing two non-overlapping 'U' patterns in different orientations (in addition to another White path containing both 'U' patterns). The last mover would lose this game whatever their colour.

Blue also has a matching pair in the "any rotation" version of the game.

The default "same rotation" rule makes the game less confusing to play (pairs of patterns are easier to see when aligned) but harder to win, as once a pattern is formed then any matching pattern must be in the same orientation.

Conversely, the "any rotation" rule makes the game more confusing to play (arbitrarily oriented pairs of patterns can be hard to spot!) but easier to win, as once a pattern is formed there is no rotational constraint on any matching pattern.

[[An extension to the "any rotation" rule called the "prefer same" rule works as follows: if a move creates matching pairs for both players and one pair is aligned while the other pair is not, then the owner of the aligned pair wins the game. This rule will only come into play in rare situations and is probably best ignored so as not to confuse matters.]]

Single Target: Each player may choose (or randomly draw) a target pattern to achieve. The target may be general (e.g. form an 'X') or specific (e.g. form a blue 'X').

As soon as a target pattern is formed, the game is won by its owner. If a move simultaneously forms the target pattern for both players, then the mover loses.

Super Xutoli: The game can be made more difficult by requiring that the target patterns be 3x3 (or even 4x4?) rather than 2x2. Note that many of these larger patterns will not be usable as a same-coloured path will not span all tiles within them; games will last longer, require a larger number of tiles and should be played with the "any rotation" rule to make a win more likely. It gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Progressive: The game may be sped up by allowing two tile placements per turn (after the opening move).

History

The name “Xutoli” is a reverse alphabetical ordering of the letter shapes formed by the 2x2 patterns (pronounced "zu:toli:").

Xutoli can be played on Richard's PBeM server - check out the help file for more details. Many thanks to the server regulars who helped test the game. Please challenge me (camb) to a game any time.

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