Bin'Fa, A Lesson in the Rules of War

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Rules for the UPGRADE

           The six triangular pieces are vortex markers. The six tetrahedrons (three-sided pyramids) are terrain markers.

          The Weather
The addition of the six-color die brings in the weather as a factor. It is rolled at the start of a player’s turn. The topmost color indicates the part of the battle sector that is off limits to all army movement for the duration of that player’s turn. The player then chooses either to move on the battle sector (aware that one sixth is inaccessible), pays in a supply and moves, or the player uses the turn to try to obtain more supplies.

No More Free Lunch

Bin-Fa has many analogs to actual war: the cavalry charge, airborne troops (the vortex), the supply train, friendly fire, terrain, the general, and most recently, the weather. The parallels break down however when it comes to the actual cost of waging war. For those involved in the real thing, the financial burden is a serious consideration. For those engaged in virtual warfare (Bin-Fa), not so much.

       This became a factor during the annual Bin-Fa tournament, held at a recent Geekway convention. The winner would walk away with $500. Play reached the third round and two players opposed to each other were each reduced to four army units, technically allowing them both to remain in the game but making a knockout blow from either player a near impossibility. The two players acquired supplies but with no intention of using them. Each player hoped that the other would give up.

To Bin-Fa inventor Ken Hodkinson, who was supervising the tournament, it revealed a serious flaw. Bin’Fa games were supposed to end in a bang, not a whimper. How to prevent these stalemate tactics in the future?

Suppose, Ken conjectured, supplies were not given free but had to be bought and paid for out of the loser’s pocket at a price agreed to beforehand.

It works like this. Before play begins, participants agree on the cost per unit of supplies. Then, as play proceeds, a record is kept of the supplies acquired by each player, excluding any stolen supplies (which are not recorded).  At the game’s conclusion, the numbers are added up (calculator provided) and the loser agrees to pay the winner a sum equal to the number of supplies the loser acquired multiplied by whatever the agreed cost is. No credit is given for any unused supplies.

          How Low Can You Go?

          If you follow the suggestion above and keep a record of supplies received, you might be led to wonder how your total compares with that of other players. Say you won a two-player, one-army game and it took you a total of 46 supplies. You can go to our Scoreboard Page and see what the current record is for a two-person, one-army game. If your score is lower, you can have your game certified by your opponent and register it. Once validated, you go to the top in your category.

Eight Categories
2 players, one army each
2 players, two armies each
2 players, three armies each
3 players, one army each
3 players, two armies each
4 players, one army each
5 players, one army each
6 players, one army each


The Use of a Lone Army Unit:

 The rules state that 2 up to 12 army units may occupy a space. The reason for this is that if a single army unit is on its own, it may be “taken” by an army of another color, like in checkers, thereby increasing another army’s unit numbers.  However, there are instances when a player may want to do this, and we feel that this is an option that should be added into game play- which also adds an element of risk! 

The new rule? A single army unit occupying a space can be subsumed by another color, thereby adding a single unit to another color’s army - a way to transfer army units from one army to another. 

Suppose a player controls two armies; Green has taken severe losses and is reduced to four units, Purple still has twelve units and would like to slip some to Purple. Not allowed under the current rules. 

But with this new rule, suppose instead of any number from 2 to 12 occupying a triangle, the range is 1 to 12.  Now suppose that a single unit on a triangle can be occupied by units of any color. Now a transfer of forces is possible  - but between Green exposing single units and Purple jumping on a single Green unit on Purple’s next turn, enemy units might intervene and take the Green units. (Which in the photo below, you will see happened; Red swooped in and took control of two single Green units left exposed when a double had been rolled in the midst of this play.)

This new rule can apply to players wanting to add forces to another army in a game with players controlling 2 or 3 armies each, or in the case of allies. 


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