Explocus was invented by dutch game designer Martin Medema while Ed van Zon translated the game to the hexboard.

explocusHybrids usually make bad games, like Lasca mixing checkers with the 'column capture' mechanism. Occasionally though something new and original emerges, like João Pedro Neto's Gonnect, using the rules of Go for a different objective, or indeed Martin Medema's 'Explocus'.
As it happens, I was present at its first presentation at the games club Fanatic at the University of Twente, and I'd never seen a game with such capricious tactics and such dramatic turns of the proverbial tables.
As it turned out, I'd even played a minor role in it. At the time I had a subscription to an english magazine called 'The Gamer' and I had even ordered all back issues. In one of them a game called 'explosion' was described.
Martin had put the mechanism it was based on - towers of men 'exploding' the moment their height reached or surpassed the number of neighboring squares - to a far better use by employing the 'Focus' rules of movement.
A very lucky merger resulting in a most unusual game. Here's the hexagonal translation.

Play Hexplocus interactively or against an AI

  • The diagram shows the board with the pieces in the initial position. Players move, and must move, in turn. White begins.
  • A piece may be a single man or a column of like color of two to five men high. 'Mixed' columns are not possible in Hexplocus.
  • On his turn a player must move one of his pieces, which may be a single man, or a whole column, or part of a column, that is the top man or the top two men.
    The move must be in one of the six main directions, and exactly as far as the moving piece is high, that is: 1 cell if a single man moves, 2 cells for a column of two, 3 cells for a column of three, 4 cells for a column of four and 5 cells for a column of five.
    The target cell may be vacant or occupied by either player. If occupied by an opponent, the man or column present there will immediately change color.
  • Definition:
    The 'capacity' of a cell equals the number of adjacent cells it has, that is: 6 in the center, 4 on the sides and 3 in the corners.
  • If a piece landing on its target cell causes this cell to reach or surpass its capacity, the column concerned 'explodes', that is: its men are distributed, one on every adjacent cell, while any remaining men stay on the target cell. Any opponent's pieces thus covered, again immediately change color.
  • Chain reactions:
    If men exploding onto adjacent cells in turn cause these cells to reach or surpass their capacity, the columns concerned explode likewise, which may lead to an extended chain reaction that eventually comes to an end. If a player is faced with more than one exploding cell, he is free to choose the order in which to execute the explosions.

  • The object is, not surprisingly, to eliminate all the opponent's pieces.

Note: There's an Explocus program with simple evaluation function that with the current clockspeed outplays humans almost invariably. Ed has implemeted it on the Zillions game machine, as well as its hexagonal version Zillions Hexplocus.

Both games are now also implemented on the Axiom Game Engine and can be downloaded from our Axiom page.

Hexplocus © Martin Medema & Ed van Zon
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