This game is about the 5th element: spirit, in its broadest sense! That is, the human mind, the mix of conscious and subconscious, divine sparks of inspiration, the potential to create.
And therefore, also, the sense for meaning, the sense for art, the sense for beauty. And, last but not least, courage! Linking the elements, interpreting what exists, daring to add a personal touch!
That is why PUNCT is a game about connecting opposite sides.
- 1 game board
- 18 white pieces with 3 dots
- 18 black pieces with 3 dots
- 1 white PUNCT-piece
- 1 black PUNCT-piece
- 1 bag
Object of the Game
You must connect two opposite sides of the board. To do so you must occupy a series of adjacent spaces that lead from one side to the other side (see diagram 1).
Diagram 1: you can connect
opposite sides in 3 different directions
Place the board between the players so that its long side (with the lines marked with letters) runs from one player to the other.
Draw lots for your color. White begins. Put your pieces in front of you on the table. At any moment your opponent must be able to see which pieces you have left.
The players each have a set of 18 pieces: 6 straight pieces, 6 angular pieces and 6 triangular pieces. Each piece has 3 dots, one of which is colored.
The colored dot is the principal dot and is called the "PUNCT" of the piece. The other 2 dots are the minor dots.
Additionally, each player has one "PUNCT-piece".
This is a round piece with only one dot. It is not part of a set, but you can use it as a marker to better see how you may move your pieces on the board.
I. Basic Game
Making a Move
On your turn you have two choices: either you add a piece to the game (1), or you move a piece that is already in play.
When moving a piece that is already in play, you have two options again: either you move a piece to another place on the board (2), or you move it on top of other pieces (3).
1:.Adding a Piece
Choose a piece from your set and put it on the board. A piece must be placed on the board in such a way that each dot covers a space. This means that a piece will always occupy 3 spaces.
The player who goes first may not put his first piece in the board's central hexagon. This restriction only holds for the first turn of the first player.
For the rest of the game, both players may put new pieces anywhere on the board, including the central hexagon. (See diagram 1 again: the zone with the white spaces is the central hexagon).
A piece must always be added to the game on the first level-the level of the board. You may not put a new piece on top of pieces that are already in play.
2. Moving a Piece
You may only move pieces of your own color.
To move a piece, you must use its PUNCT (i.e. the colored dot) to see where you can move it. The PUNCT must always be moved in a straight line. You may move it over any number of spaces, over other pieces and in and out of the central hexagon.
Diagram 2a: the arrows indicate in which
directions the piece can be moved.
The PUNCT-piece! The use of this piece (the round marker) can be very helpful to learn how to play PUNCT.
On your turn, take the piece you want to move from the board and put the PUNCT-piece in its place (i.e. put the marker in the space that was occupied by the PUNCT of the piece). The marker is now a fixed point on the board.
This makes it possible to always see where your piece comes from and along which lines it can be moved.
Diagram 2b: take the piece you want to move
and put your marker where its PUNCT was.
Then move the piece in a straight line.
Note: the PUNCT-piece may not be left on the board and it cannot be part of a connection. You must take it back each time you have finished your move.
After moving a piece (i.e. before putting it back on the board) you may rotate it. When rotating a piece, the PUNCT must always remain on its spot! In other words, the two minor dots may be rotated with the PUNCT as the axis.
Diagram 2c: before putting the piece back on the board,
you may rotate it with the PUNCT as its axis.
Moving a piece and rotating it takes one turn, but you are not obliged to do both. You may rotate a piece without moving it (or move it with no rotation), but this still counts as a complete turn.
You may move a piece to the edge of the board, but you must always rotate the piece in such a way that all dots remain in play.
3. Jumping on top of pieces
To jump on top of other pieces, you must first move your piece as described above: move its PUNCT in a straight line to the piece(s) you want to jump onto.
A few additional rules apply:
The PUNCT of the piece must be moved to one of your own pieces (it does not matter if you put it on a PUNCT or on a minor dot).
Diagram 3a: the arrows indicate which pieces you can jump
onto with the marked piece. Note that you cannot move on top
of the pieces at the left because you may not land a PUNCT
on an opponent's piece.
This means that a PUNCT can never land on an opponent's piece, but the minor dots can! After moving a piece-in this case moving its PUNCT onto one of your own piece-you may rotate it. In doing so, you may put its minor dots on any dots you can reach, both on your own pieces and on your opponent's pieces..
Diagram 3b: you may rotate the piece before putting
it on top of the other pieces.
When jumping on top of other pieces, you block the dots you cover (your opponent's dots, but also your own!). It is sufficient to cover one dot of a piece to immobilize it. That piece may not be moved nor rotated as long as one or more of its dots remain covered.
You can only jump with a piece on top of other pieces if there is enough space for its PUNCT and two minor dots on the same level. A piece must always be placed on 3 dots, unless you use it to make a bridge (see 4: Making a bridge).
Levels are not limited. A piece may jump one, two or more levels high, and it may jump from any level to any other level, upwards and downwards. For example, a piece that has been moved on top of other pieces, no matter at which level, may be moved back to the level of the board.
•Pieces on top always have precedence. This means you can cut your opponent's connection by jumping onto his pieces.
Reminder: only a piece that is already on the board may jump on top of other pieces!
4. Making a Bridge
You may use a piece to bridge a gap. The straight and the angular pieces each have 2 clearly defined ends.
If the dots at the ends of such a piece are placed on 2 different pieces, it can be used as a bridge since the dot in the middle does not need to be supported to give the piece a stable position.
Diagram 4: when jumping with a straight or an angular piece
on top of other pieces, it is sufficient that the dots at its
2 ends be placed on other dots to give it a stable horizontal position.
Very rare case: it can happen that you jump with an angular piece on top of another angular piece with a twist of 180°. In this case, you make a bridge by jumping on top of only one piece.
A triangular piece has no clearly defined ends, so such a piece cannot be used as a bridge. It must always be placed on 3 dots.
A piece must always be in a stable horizontal position, so the dots at its 2 ends must be supported by pieces at the same level.
Note: you can only use the middle dot of a piece to make a bridge; you cannot do it with an unsupported dot at one of the ends.
A dot that is covered by another piece's dot is blocked. This is also valid for a dot that is bridged (i.e. the dot right under the middle of the bridge). The piece of which it is part may not be moved, even if it would be possible to pick it up without disturbing the position of other pieces.
Note: if there would be an empty space under a bridge, this space it blocked. It is not allowed to slide a piece under a bridge.
Reminder: to make a bridge, you must jump onto other pieces. This means that you can only do it with a piece that is already on the board. Its PUNCT must always be moved in a straight line and be placed on one of your own pieces!
End of the Game
The game ends when a player succeeds in connecting two opposite sides. The first player to do so wins. Look at the board from above to check whether a connection is completed or not.
Diagram 5: White wins.
- Each dot must be visible from above to be part of the connection.
- Dots are connected if they occupy adjacent spaces, no matter their level.
- A connection can run from any space on one side to any space on the opposite side.
- As far as connections go, there is no difference between a PUNCT and a minor dot. Both are part of pieces of the same color, so both count.
If you put your last piece on the board and neither you nor your opponent has succeeded in completing a connection, the game ends undecided. This is a good moment to start playing the standard version of PUNCT.
Important note: a piece on top of other pieces can hide important information. PUNCT is not a memory game, so you may pick up a piece to have a look at the situation underneath.
But to avoid disputes over location of pieces temporarily lifted, you may not pick up more than one piece at a time.
II. Standard Rules
The complete game! There are only two differences from the basic version.
Adding a Piece
When playing the basic game, the first player may not place his first piece directly in the central hexagon. This restriction now holds for each new piece you bring into play.
A new piece may never be placed directly in the central hexagon, not even partially; it must first be placed in the gaming area that encircles it. Only pieces that are already on the board can be moved into (and out of) the central hexagon!
There are now 2 ways to win PUNCT. The first goal remains the same as in the basic game: connect two opposite sides. The second goal is a kind of tie-breaker.
If neither of the players succeeds in completing a connection, the game ends when somebody places their last piece on the board.
You and your opponent both count how many spaces you control in the central hexagon (i.e. count how many dots of your color you can see from above). The player who controls the most spaces is the winner.
If you and your opponent end up with the same number of spaces, the game is a draw.
When you start playing PUNCT, this second goal will rarely determine the winner. In fact, it will frequently happen that no piece will be moved into the central hexagon in an entire game.
But that does not matter! As you get better at the game, you will learn that you sometimes have to change your strategy drastically and focus on moving your pieces towards the center.