It’s funny how sometimes your day job influences your game design brain so strongly that it is hard to think of anything else! I am still in the middle of this crystallography conference, and today I saw an amazing lecture involving non-periodic order. This probably doesn’t mean much to most of you, but one example that is easy to understand are Penrose tiles:

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These are tilings that are made up of just two shapes (a kite and a dart), but they make tessellations that have no long range order; that is you can’t move from one point in the tiling and find another point that has exactly the same surroundings (in technical terms, it has no translational symmetry).

In order to not have gaps in the layout, you need to follow certain rules, essentially which limit which corners of the tiles can touch. With these rules, potentially you could make a fun tile game!

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Day 39: Penrose Tile Game

Each player is vying to create the most beautiful tiled floor in all of the kingdom, which will be made out of two sets of tiles (the two types of Penrose tiles, kites and darts). There are two bags of tiles, one with kites and one with darts. At the beginning of each round, each player draws a certain number of tiles out of each bag and places them in front of them (say five tiles of each type). Then players must race to try and place the tiles as quickly into place in their growing tableau on the table in front of them. As soon as one player has finished, they shout out ‘Penrose!’ and then everyone (including the player who finished) has to draw an additional 3 tiles out of each bag. Players then continue adding tiles to their tableau. This process continues until there are no more tiles to draw out of the bags, after which the game ends and players score their respective floors.

Each tile is one of 5 different colours. For stars (5 kite tiles in a circular arrangement) a player scores 1 point for each different colour in the star. Additionally, for each colour, each player compares the largest connected section of tiles of that colour. The player with the largest area scores 10 points, and second scores 5 points. The player with the most points is the winner!

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I think there are a lot of possible different games using the Penrose tiles (many of which I suspect already exist!), and this was just one idea, combining a sort of Bananagrams-speed element. I think it is definitely a game that could appeal to non-gamers, as just the aesthetic of what each player is building could be enjoyable and look really good on the table. What sort of game would you make with these tiles?