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'Mastermind' the Classic Code-Breaking Game | Addictive 2-Player Fun

Updated on August 17, 2014

Me and my brother are in our 20s and recently uncovered the classic 'Mastermind' game in a cupboard and ended up getting totally hooked!

To play the game, one player chooses a combination of 4 pegs (using any of the 5 colors available) and positions them in any order on the game board. These 4 pegs are then covered up with a shield so that the other player can't see. The 2nd player attempts to work out the combination in as few guesses as possible.

To help the 2nd player to do this, the 1st player must use mini black and white pegs to indicate how many of the pegs their opponent has used in their guesses are the correct colors, and how many are in the correct positions. A white peg is placed in the game board when the correct color peg is used, but is not in the correct position. If both the color and the position are correct, a black peg is used. Logic must be utilized to calculate which of the colored pegs the black and white pegs are referring to.

The concept is simple, but it's addictive trying to choose a combination of colors to outsmart your opponent, and it's also fun to use your brain to try to work out the order of colors. My record for guessing was two lines. Seriously, we played for hours some nights!

How To Make The Game More Challenging

After many hours, the game was getting too easy and we felt we had pretty much covered the different combinations, so to ramp up the difficulty we introduced a few new ideas:

1) The first thing we did was to add another peg choice by introducing a 'gap' option when choosing the 4-peg combination. To do this yourself, just imagine that the gap is just a differently colored peg (a transparent peg if you like), so you treat it as such. This just gives another possible set of combinations.

You could also add other 'colors' by using you imagination. For instance, you could roll up aluminium foil into small balls that fit on to the game board and these can be used as silver colored pegs.

2) The second thing we did was introduce the option of being able to position the colored pegs upside down. This meant that the 4 chosen pegs each had another option to make it a bit more challenging to guess. With regards to the black and white pegs, these were also balanced upside-down when one of the guessed pegs was correct but not the correct way up.

You can see photos of these methods in action below.

I hope these ideas help you increase the challenge and really test your brain!

The following three games are variations on the original gameplay:

Ultimate Mastermind
Ultimate Mastermind

This game provides 5 spaces for your chosen combination so that there are more possibilities and is therefore more difficult to guess.

The game board also has a much more portable design, with a container for the pegs and a carry handle.

 
Mastermind for Kids -- Codebreaking Game Plays on Three Levels
Mastermind for Kids -- Codebreaking Game Plays on Three Levels

This game is a great starter game for young kids to teach them logic and deduction.

The pieces have a very cute jungle theme too.

 
Travel Mastermind
Travel Mastermind

For playing on your travels in cars or on a plane, this game is the classic design but has a hinged cover to keep all of the parts together.

 

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is the version of Mastermind that I own - from the 70s (before I was born!)This photo shows an example of what I described above; adding the option of using gaps or turning a colored peg upside-down.This photo shows a close-up of the black and white pegs; you can see how you would indicate that one of the pegs is right but is not the right way up.I have removed the cover on this photo so that you can see all of the pegs at the same time, to see how my more challenging method would play out.
This is the version of Mastermind that I own - from the 70s (before I was born!)
This is the version of Mastermind that I own - from the 70s (before I was born!)
This photo shows an example of what I described above; adding the option of using gaps or turning a colored peg upside-down.
This photo shows an example of what I described above; adding the option of using gaps or turning a colored peg upside-down.
This photo shows a close-up of the black and white pegs; you can see how you would indicate that one of the pegs is right but is not the right way up.
This photo shows a close-up of the black and white pegs; you can see how you would indicate that one of the pegs is right but is not the right way up.
I have removed the cover on this photo so that you can see all of the pegs at the same time, to see how my more challenging method would play out.
I have removed the cover on this photo so that you can see all of the pegs at the same time, to see how my more challenging method would play out.

This video shows you how to play:

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    • Marla Watson profile image

      Marla 2 years ago

      As a logic game lover, I can't believe I have never heard of this!