Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Zendo, another way to play

  • FromAndrew Plotkin <erkyrath@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 24 Aug 2007 10:53:18 -0400 (EDT)
On Fri, 24 Aug 2007, Elliott C. Evans wrote:

Has anybody tried playing Zendo this way? Players who figure out the
Master's rule would start building koans that hopefully illustrate
the rule more and more clearly until all players "get it". Obviously,
players should refrain from asking indicative questions ("Master,
would you say all these white-marked koans contain one red piece?")
but helping the other players "get it" would make Zendo a bit less
competitive and more collaborative.

If the players are of different skill levels this might get annoying
for some of them, but for a group of experienced players this might
be a fun variant. Of course, some players might *think* they have it
and be wrong, but trying to eliminate this risk is part of the
challenge for the players.

I like this. I think it simplifies away the guessing stones, because you don't need permission to guess. (Because guessing right doesn't shut the game down. And anyhow, there's no way to guess the rule out loud without leaving the room, which is no fun.)

So no Mondo calls. You go around making koans and calling "Master?" until you think you know the rule. Then you say "I am enlightened!" and build a koan and mark it. You keep doing that on your turn for the rest of the game -- unless of course you turn out *not* to be enlightened, in which case you go back to being a student again.

I see two failure modes there. First, the players might get stuck unable to make any white (or black) koans. So I'd add back in the option to say "Master, please build me a koan with (without) the buddha nature." (Not too often, which is a judgement call, but this whole game style is informal so that'd be okay.)

The other failure is when all the players agree on a rule that's wrong. So when all the players are in agreement, they have to actually offer a guess to the master. If they're wrong, the master builds a counterexample (as usual) and it's back to square one for everybody. (Hopefully everyone will reach enlightenment much faster this time.)


"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
When Bush says "Stay the course," what he means is "I don't know what to
do next." He's been saying this for years now.

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