by Fred Davis
Everyone is familiar with Tic-Tac-Toe (called "Naughts and Crosses" in Britain). Some of you may be familiar with 3-D TTT. The advanced version consists of four levels of four rows each, requiring a player to place four marks in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally in any direction. This is available commercially in a game called "Score Four", in which beads are physically placed on stacking posts. (In Score Four, you have to start with the bottom tier, whereas when worked on paper, you can start anywhere. But it's a big favorite at Mensa picnics and similar outings in our area.)
Dip-Tac-Toe is a combination of Diplomacy and 3-D TTT rules, in a game for four players.
1. There are four players; Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow. Each player has eight units. At the start of the game, each player has one unit on the board, and seven units in his reserve pile.
2. The board. Draw four sets of 16 squares each horizontally across a page. Label the left set, which is the Top of the board, with Roman numeral "I". Label the second level II, the third level III, and the bottom level IV. Across the top of Level I, label the squares "A,B,C,D". Label Level II's squares "E,F,G,H": Level III "J,K,L,M" and Level IV "N,P,Q,R". At the left of the Level I squares, write from top to bottom "1,2,3,4". Use these same four numbers for Levels II, III and IV, and every square will have its own designator. There are no supply centers.
3. Starting Positions. Blue starts with a piece on one corner of Level I, the top. Red then places a piece on the next corner, moving clockwise, on the second level. Green follows suit on the third level, and Yellow places his piece on the last corner, on the bottom level (level IV).
4. Each player may move only one unit each turn. All four players move simultaneously. The choice of moves are:
a: To place a piece from the reserve pile anywhere on the board.
b: To move a piece already on the board on space in any direction.
c: To support the placement or move of a piece of another player. Support can only be given to a unit already on the board.
5. Movements (including placement moves) and supports will follow the rules of Diplomacy, with the following clarifications:
a: Simultaneous attempts at placement of two or more pieces in the same space will result in all pieces being returned to their reserve piles, unless one piece was being supported into placement and the other was not, in which case the supported piece succeeds in its moves.
b: All dislodged units are returned to the reserve pile, rather than retreating or being annihilated.
6. Writing orders. There are 64 spaces. Follow Diplomacy rules, showing the piece's current location first, and then the square it's moving to. Examples:
"I.A.1 - I.B.1" (A simple horizontal move)
"I.A.1 - II.F.2" (A down and diagonal move)
"Reserve - II.F.3" (Placement of a piece)
"IV.P.4 (supports) RED placement reserve - IV.N.4" (support order).
7. Once all 8 pieces are placed on the board, further moves can only be to move or support, until or unless a piece is dislodged to the reserve. A piece cannot voluntarily move to the reserve pile.
8. Victory is achieved by lining up four units in a row in any direction, horizontally, vertically or diagonally, as in 3-D TTT and "Score Four". After all orders are adjudicated, a player who has succeeded in lining up four units should state "Victory!", "Four!" or some such, as the line-up will frequently be unnoticed. In a postal game, the player should advise the GM with his orders when his move, if successful, will give him a victory. If two players simultaneously line up four units, the game is a draw.
9. If a player fails to note that he has four units in a row, the GM will not announce this, and the game will continue. Other players may then try to break up the combination before the first player notices. No one can win until they proclaim their own victory.