A game for occupy

November 22, 2011

Players: 4 – 8,000,000,000 *** Time: 5mins *** Age: 16+ *** genre: Abstract

Take a pool of dice or coins equal to at least three times the number of players. Divide them between the players however you like. Some ideas:

  • The Boring Way — divide the coins equally amongst all of the players.
  • What Fun! — give half of the coins to one player, and then divide the rest equally.

All players act simultaneously. In each round, every player can do one of three things:

Do Business [with someone]:

Roll your dice (or flip your coins). You keep evens (heads), give them odds (tails).

Loan/Borrow [with someone]:

Lender: Give X. In two turns, get back X+1.

Borrower: Get X. In two turns, give back X+1.

Do Nothing [by yourself]:

Lose 1.

If you ever have 0 dice/coins, you lose.


A few clarifications:

When you do business, you BOTH flip your coins / roll your dice, and SWAP – my tails go to you, your tails come to me.

The lender sets the maximum amount borrowed. The borrower subsequently determines how much to borrow.

Open Question:

How does it change the game if you can take, say, two actions per turn?


4 Responses to “A game for occupy”

  1. What reality are you trying to model? The one you’ve got above has 3 terrible moves and one good move (that you need more than one die to take) that doesn’t scale with your market power — so with correct play, even the “what fun” method will result in one player (probably the fat cat) being loaned money until they can’t pay it off any more; repeat until you have two players left or everyone decides to be friends. Getting back 2X would probably be more interesting.

    • thehamp Says:

      Hi Joshua!

      I’m not particularly looking to model an existing reality; The point of the game was primarily to provoke conversation – I wrote it in 5 minutes. Yes, I considered a 2x multiplier as well – I would certainly want to test it to find a sweet spot where borrowing is hard-but-possible to pay back.

  2. Hmm. Also, you need limits on “borrower” — otherwise someone can start the game by eliminating the fat cat by excessive borrowing and it ends up being exactly N-1 turns long (where X is the number of players in the game).

    • thehamp Says:


      maybe destruction by excessive borrowing is a legitimate strategy?

      That assessment though – that the fat cat can be destroyed by excessive borrowing – is astute – clearly we should adjust the Loan/Borrow rule to be absolutely clear that the fat cat gets to decide the maximum borrowing amount.

      Also, is it alright if I rename “What Fun!” to be Fat Cat? I think it captures the point of the starting scenario much better.

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