Black Holes - Space Game

Black Holes in Space

I invented the Black Holes game some years ago out of fascination with that strangest of cosmic phenomena. Black Holes is a strategy game, not hard to learn, but extremely hard to play well. It should appeal to anyone who enjoys spatial games and puzzles like the Rubik's Cube or strategic games like Chess.

But first, let's talk a little about Black Holes in Space - what they are, what causes them, and why you don't want to get too close! The idea isn't difficult. All objects in the Universe are attracted together by Gravity. When you jump, you quickly come down again, because of the Earth's gravitational field. But if you could take off at 7 miles per second, you'd never come down - you'd escape the Earth forever! There's nothing special about 7 miles per second. If you started on Jupiter, you'd have to go a lot faster to escape, because Jupiter is much heavier than the Earth and the pull of Gravity is much stronger.

Now imagine an object so massive that the escape velocity equals the speed of light. Nothing, not even light itself, could escape. That is the simplest way to describe a Black Hole. We know they exist in Space because, even though they are invisible, we can see their gravitational effect on the movement of neighbouring stars.

Surrounding every Black Hole is an 'event horizon'. Anything (including light) that crosses the event horizon is swallowed up forever by the Black Hole. OK, that's enough Physics. Let's play the Black Holes game,

Black Holes - Space Game

To play the game, you'll need the board, which represents SPACE, 29 white counters for STARS, 12 black counters for BLACK HOLES, and 1 red counter, called the NOVA, just for fun!

Alternatively (and this is the quickest way to get started) you can download my demo version and play against your own computer. But please first read the description below, because the demo version doesn't come with instructions. To make sure you do, the download link is at the bottom of this page...

The Board - SPACE

SPACE at the start of the game
SPACE at the start of the game

Getting Started

At the start of the game, the NOVA is placed in the middle of SPACE and three STARS placed as shown. The 26 remaining STARS form the POOL. Players then take turns to place one STAR from the POOL anywhere in SPACE. The idea is never to let your opponent(s) create a BLACK HOLE, but to force them to let you create them. So, how do you create a BLACK HOLE?

Black Hole Creation - Rule 1

Adding a fifth STAR
Adding a fifth STAR

If you add a fifth STAR to any ZONE in SPACE that already contains 4 STARS, the whole ZONE collapses into a BLACK HOLE and you capture all 5 STARS. The BLACK HOLE is placed at the centre of the ZONE, and for the rest of the game the whole ZONE is out of bounds. (Remember the Event Horizon?)

Black Hole Creation - Rule 2

Adding a fourth STAR - the edges
Adding a fourth STAR - the edges

Because real Space goes on forever, but our SPACE board is finite, we have to have rules for the edges and corners, but it's really the same rule as above.

If you add a fourth STAR to any EDGE ZONE that already contains three stars, a BLACK HOLE is formed as shown, and you capture all four STARS.

Black Hole Creation - Rule 3

Adding a third STAR - the corners
Adding a third STAR - the corners

And in any CORNER ZONE, if you add a third STAR where there are already two, a BLACK HOLE is formed as shown, and you capture all three STARS.

Rules of Play

When the POOL is empty, players re-use the stars they have captured.

The Game is OVER -

  • when no legal play is available (i.e. SPACE is full)
  • or when the NOVA is captured - this immediately stops the game

A Player is OUT -

  • If the POOL is empty and s/he has no captured STARS left when it is his/her turn to play

(Note - when playing with two players, the game is over if one player is out, but with three or more players, the 'in' players continue the game as normal).

The NOVA behaves just like any other STAR when forming BLACK HOLES, but counts as FIVE STARS when it has been captured and the game ends.

The CHOICE RULE - If placing a STAR creates two possible BLACK HOLES, the player chooses which ONE to create.

The FAULT RULE - If a player creates a BLACK HOLE but doesn't see it, the next player may claim the STARS and place the BLACK HOLE. After doing so, the same player takes his/her turn as normal. (of course, this should never happen!)

The WINNER is the player holding most STARS when the game is over. STARS still in SPACE do not count. The NOVA (if captured) counts five.

How many can play?

The game is ideally scaled for 2 or 3 players, though more can play if you like. With 2, the tactics are clear (though difficult) - never give your opponent a BLACK HOLE chance. With 3 or more, the tactics are almost impossible to work out, as thinking more than one move ahead in this game is mind-bending!

If you want to play with 4 or more, I suggest wrapping an outer ring of 30 more hexagons round the board, and increasing the pool from 29 to 41. Don't ask me to explain the maths of that!

Demo Version

I wrote the demo in Quick Basic and compiled it as a DOS executable. It will run on any PC. I've never tried it on a Mac. It doesn't run in a window, but goes full screen. It is guaranteed free of virus and malware. I don't know how to program for a mouse, so you have to use the left-right-up-down keys to navigate the board. When you reach the right place, SPACEBAR completes your move.

The demo plays exactly as per the Rules, except for the 'Choice Rule'. It always gives you the first BLACK HOLE it finds, working clockwise from the centre out. It does not offer you the choice. But hey, it's free, OK? Click and Save to Disk, or Right-Click and Save Link As. Usual stuff.

Black Holes Demo, by Paraglider

The demo is a zipped folder. Open it to access the file, called BLAKHOLE.EXE, and click to run. It's completely safe, and I hope you enjoy it. The zip file also contains a pdf file of instructions. If anyone is interested in improving the program for me, I might consider posting the source code.

The video below shows a complete game, captured as screen grabs of the position before each of the player's moves.

Note: The demo version appears not to work with Windows 7. It worked with all previous versions of Windows. On Windows 7, it will run inside a DOS emulator, such as DosBox, available as a free download.

Video: Black Holes Demo Version

the commercial version, developed by gravity soft games
the commercial version, developed by gravity soft games

Now fully developed!

On the strength of this hub and the computer demo version, I was contacted by a board game developer, Gravity Games, offering to develop and market the game commercially. They have done an excellent job on the graphics and have also added a few features to the game-play to increase its commercial appeal. Using their product, you can choose to play my 'pure' strategic game as described above or the more developed version with extra features. Maybe for Christmas?


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Comments 51 comments

MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 8 years ago from Sydney

It does not look that easy


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

The rules are easy enough, but it is hard to be good at this game! Thanks


MortimerWorth profile image

MortimerWorth 8 years ago from Germany

Reminiscent of GO, but condensed and sharper. Very practical for the American mind. Keep pluggin.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Mortimer. Yes, it needs the same kind of spatial awareness as Go, but I like my hexagonal space layout. Did you try the downloadable demo version?


hi mk 8 years ago

This game rox my sox!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi MK - Thanks! Spread the word :)


angry 8 years ago

This game is VERY hard! I haven't won a single time so far!


angry 8 years ago

This game sux! It's impossible!!!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Keep trying - I never said it was easy. But you have to think ahead. The computer version doesn't play well - it only looks one move ahead - but it doesn't make mistakes within that limitation. With practice, you can beat it!


gmpoint 6 years ago

looks really nice,but i see that it is more maths or something


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

More maths? It's a game of skill. You can win it if your spatial cognition is better than your opponent's. That's fair, isn't it?


.,.,.k,.kj 6 years ago

,;l;


Lola 6 years ago

yo yo yo what the dillio what a gwan


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Guys, I think you should find an easier game...


goldenpath profile image

goldenpath 6 years ago from Shenandoah, Iowa, USA

Coolness! I admire your talent. I look forward to try and master the game. Great hub!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Goldenpath - thanks for the comment. Let me know if you manage to beat the demo version, OK?


daniel 6 years ago

what is the NOVA


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

In this game, the Nova is just like any star, except it is worth 5 points and also stops the game if it is captured.


paniel 6 years ago

oh thank you


daniel 6 years ago

lol i spelled my name wrong


daniel 6 years ago

id love this game if i can print it out


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

What do you want to print, the rules or the board?


daniel 6 years ago

the board but found out where the demo was and it is awesome


daniel 6 years ago

one more comment, [i hope,] mhat do the purple areas mean in the Demo?


daniel 6 years ago

When i asked you about the NOVA, don't you mean supernova?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

The purple areas are the 'event horizon' around the black hole. they are off limits because to go there you'd be swallowed up by the black hole.

I could have called it supernova. Not quite the same thing, but the game wouldn't care!

Have you managed to beat the demo version yet?


Daniel 6 years ago

No not yet. Thx tho!


daniel 6 years ago

but if the purple area is the event horizon, where is the black hole?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Ah well, keep trying!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Blame it on my graphics! The black hole is the middle cell of a group of seven cells, as per the instructions. I should reprogram the game to show the black hole as black, I suppose!


Daniel 6 years ago

Hey, i got an idea! Why dont you call the black hole the purple area the black hole, and the blue area the event horizon?


Daniel 6 years ago

You should also change the background to a brighter color. the black scenery makes it really hard to see.Sorry for this comment if it wastes your time and you'll just have to say it's your graphics.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Sorry, I was writing from memory, without opening the game. The purple IS the black hole and the blue IS the event horizon. I'm not really a programmer. In fact, I was learning programming as I was going along! It is just meant to be a working demo of how to play the board game, after all. But if I can find the time, I could make it prettier. Thanks for the feedback :)


daniel 6 years ago

Your welcome;)

P.S. Your game rox!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Daniel 6 years ago

Where else can I find a game like this?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Daniel - thanks :) Tell your friends to visit? I'm not trying to make money from it, but I'd like it to become popular!


daniel 6 years ago

no problemo


daniel 6 years ago

But, it might end up at stores in the future. thaks for making this wonderful game.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Just downloaded the exe file - will let you know how it goes. Love this kind of thing!

The write up about black holes is also awesome. Thanks Dave

Love and peace

Tony


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hey, thanks Tony - let me know if you manage to beat the computer, ok?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

All of the earlier comments were based on the previous demo version. The new demo version has better colours: The black hole is blue, and the surrounding event horizon is now much clearer.


billrobinson profile image

billrobinson 5 years ago from CA, USA

That interests me. Thanks for posting.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Bill - have you managed to beat the demo version yet?


hanwillingham profile image

hanwillingham 5 years ago

Wow, nice game. I want yo try that. Thanks for the information.


Mike 5 years ago

Hello, I just wanted to say that this game is an awesome idea. It's a real challenge, I lost 8 times before I managed to win, but only one time :(... It's a very hard and fun game. When will we see an upgraded model? I can't wait to take on a bigger board, and with better quality I hope :)....Cheers! Current score: Player 1 - Computer 10


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Mike - I'm not a programmer. I'm kind of hoping someone competent will take this and run with it. I don't need the money, but I'm quite proud of the concept. Why not build yourself a board and play it with your friends?


AD 3 years ago

Hi Paraglider, I'm an independent game designer.

I really like this game idea, I want to run with it with a few modifications to the scoring to make things a bit more complex and space themed and publish the board game under the company label. I'd love to have you involved/acknowledge you.

Contact me at sd.gravitysoft@gmail.com


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Adrian - thanks for the development work you've put into this. I'm very happy with the outcome. Let's hope we manage to sell a few sets now!


AD 3 years ago

No problems, it was a fun little project. I've had to up the price to $35.99 due to the publisher changing a few things but I'll be getting the first prototype pretty soon


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

One thing - do you know offhand if the supplier will ship to UK and elsewhere, or only US?


AD 3 years ago

Anywhere... just costs more, costs me about $20 to get shipped to Oz

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