At a glance, this game may look a little unusual: Those who are attracted to its mathematical beauty, please also see About The Board of the Ring World. The game is actually very easy-to-play despite of its rather complicated look. What you need to do is to select one of the smallest rings (Level1 Rings) on the board and rotate one of the upper Level Rings. The one who acquired the largest Ring wins the game. Auto mode is also available: You can click AUTO button and watch. Please see below for more information about the game...


Please note that the Flash game program is still under development: Be sure to clear your browser's cache in order to play the most up-dated version!

The most updated version is: "Version 1.2 (2011/01/21)"

The Ring World (L3)
The Ring World (L3)
In VARIANTS below, a variant game with a smaller board, The Ring World (L3) is available.
You can learn the game quicker with this version. The smaller version can also be of good help to learn the end game or local combat simulation.

Getting Started

The Ring World 終局後の形勢評価
  1. Click a Level1 Ring amongst the ones with green cores.
  2. Click one of upper Level Rings with green cores to rotate it.
  3. Press "Submit" to set the turn.
  4. Press "Cancel" to reset your selection.(No cancel can be made after rotations.)
    • In most of the games "undo" is not allowed, but this game is very generous about it.
  5. Press "Graph" to see the evaluation history of the status (see the right photo). Press the "Graph" button again to close the graph.
  • In the upper right, you can see the number of Red and Blue Rings of each Level.
  • In the bottom right, you can see the game record chart. It shows how the Level3, Level2, and Level1 Rings were selected and rotated in each move. Figures from 0 to 7 indicate the Ring selected in the move: "0" indicates the ones in the 3 o'clock direction, then 1 to 7 goes likewise clockwise.
  • Press "Resign" to quit the current game.
  • When the biggest Ring in the center was taken by either player, the game is over.
  • Press "Restart" to restart the game.
  • When the game is resigned or finished, you can enjoy the review mode.

In the review mode,

  • Press "Init" to see the beginning of the game record.
  • Press "Prev" to see the previous move, and "Next" to see the next.
  • Press "Auto" to see the "auto(art?) mode," played with random moves.
    • "Auto mode" can be canceled by pressing "Auto" again.

Constraints (For the time being at least...)

  • No "game record review" function is available yet.
  • No initialization function is available: Reload the page to restart the game.
  • No AI is available yet: Enjoy the game by yourself for two [wink]
    • No network play is available either: Share a mouse with your friend!
    • Because of the broad search space, the arrival of AI version may be way ahead [worried]
  • Messages in the game are interim.


The Ring World
Award Game Competition

The Ring World was invented by Masahiro Nakajima, the Curator of 'The Museum of Abstract Strategy Games', in 2009. Unlike his other original games, FlipFlop and RinneTensei, which are rather small games with 10-20 minutes of playing time, The Ring World is a full-scale strategy game with 30 minutes - several hours of playing time.

This game's uniqueness lies in the fractal shape of its board, and its moves of automaton.

The Award-for-Excellence-winning game at the 7th Game Competition of the Game Amusement Society

The Ring World won the Award-for-Excellence at the 7th Game Competition of the Game Amusement Society. We are very honored to receive the prize.

At the competition, the game's mathematical beauty and originality were highly evaluated: We were very surprised and grateful that the unique motifs and the depth of the game was well-understood and supported.

Special Thanks

We would like to thank Prof. H. Tominaga, our editorial supervisor, who spent much time with the author on mathematical discussions.


While other abstract strategy games are normally played with physical board and pieces, The Ring World was created to be played only on the computer*1.

This project is a branch project of Abstract Strategy Games Online Project: The author developed the software at a very early stage of the game design in order to check the rules and to evaluate the game play. Whereas he made full use of Zillions of Games when he invented FlipFlop and RinneTensei, The Ring World was developed only with ActionScript. This game is not included in Abstract Strategy Games Online because the size of the board is a lot larger than the ones of other games, and the AI development for The Ring World will be proceeded totally independently.

What to be achieved in the game design

Designing The Ring World as a computer-based-game, the author wanted to achieve the following points, which are hardly realized in non-computer-based abstract strategy games:

  1. A beautiful fractal shape and a structure of the game board
  2. Transitions of the game realized cellular automaton, represented by Conway's Game of Life
  3. Simple moves largely affect consecutive phases
  4. Simple rules
  5. Fun to watch, beautiful on the eye
  6. Dynamic and unpredictable development
  7. Various phase evaluations can be given through different observing points

フラクタルへ1 フラクタルへ2 フラクタルへ3 フラクタルへ4 フラクタルへ5 フラクタルへ6

The shape and the structure of the board came into author's mind first, then the name of the game was decided shortly after: The name The Ring World was inspired by Larry Niven's Ringworld (a Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning science fiction). After that, Masahiro Nakjima had spent some time trying out several different rules on the new game. He first used a paper-made board which was One-level-smaller version to check the rules, but soon found that it was not possible to evaluate with the paper board how fun the game can be. Immediately, he started to develop a computer version of the game. Thanks to that, the game has been completed with a larger board with one more level, which gave the game further depth and unpredictable and dynamic development consequently.


The Ring World 初期配置     The Ring World Levelの解説

A fractal shaped board which is composed of eight circles (=Rings) recursively as in the above. No Rings are placed initially.

There are 4 different Levels of Rings at the board: From the smallest (Level1) to the largest (Level4). The standard game is called The Ring World (L4), as it has a Level4-structure.

The numbers of the Rings for 4 Levels are as below:

Level# of Rings

The red player goes first.


1. Place a Level1 Ring2. Select a Level2 Ring3. After Rotation

Players take two actions in each turn as below:

  1. Place Rings on the board
    • Players place a Level1 Ring on one of any unoccupied spaces on any Level2 Rings.
    • Players need to place one Level1 Ring as long as there are spaces available. When no space is available for Level1 Rings, this first action is skipped.
  2. Rotate Rings
    • Players rotate one of the Rings Level 2 or 3, 1/4π clockwise, on which his/her Ring(s) are placed.
    • Players can rotate Level2 Rings of which their own Level1 Rings are on, and Level3 Rings of which their own Level2 Rings are on.
1. Level3 Ring start to rotate2. Finished rotation

No pass is allowed when legitimate moves are available.

Note that the Level1 Rings that are ”placed”and the Level2 or Level3 Rings that are ”rotated”do not have to be located next to each other or the former do not have to be on the latter. Those two Rings can be spotted totally independently.

Conquest of Territories

1. By placing a Level1 blue Ring on the high-lighted space,
a new blue Level1 Ring appears on the checked space
2. Blue conquers the checked Level2 Ring
  1. A Level2 Ring is conquered by the color that takes more than 5 among 8 (=majority) Level1 Rings that are composing it.
  2. Level3 and Level4 Rings as well are conquered in the same conquest manner.

Creation and Annihilation with automaton

Rings are created and annihilated when the following conditions are met:

creation of Ring Level1creation of Ring Level2Annihilation of Rings
Creation of Level1 RingCreation of Level 2 RingAnnihilation of Rings
  1. When there is a blank space in between two or in the middle of three same Level Rings of the same color, a new Ring of the same color in the same Level is created where the blank space is.
    It should be noted that all the Rings have two or three adjacent Rings of the same Level, except for the biggest Level Ring.
  2. Adjacent Rings of the same Level, which do not have "katsuro" are annihilated in the same manner as in go. Not like in go, however, Rings can be placed in "ko" and where there is no "katsuro."

After the placement of a Ring in each turn, the automaton generations from lower to upper Levels are evaluated by the following orders.

  1. Creation of Rings
  2. Annihilation of Rings
  3. Evaluation of occupation of 1 Level upper Rings


The player who conquers the Level4 Ring (the Ring in the middle) wins.

The clockwise rotation of the rings symbolizes that the time never goes backwards. Also, with this rule that the rotation never goes backwards, sen-nichi-te (repetition of moves) tend not to occur in this game.


The Ring World (L3)

A smaller version of the game with exactly the same rules The Ring World Mini(the game title when released) was also created by the author. The smaller version is good to learn the game's rules and to pick up the essence of the game quickly. This smaller version can also be called The Ring World (L3) as it has a Level3-structure.

The rules and the functions of the software is the same as the standard version.

You may feel the game development of The Ring World (L3) is a little different from the one of The Ring World (L4). While winning in The Ring World (L4) requires good strategies for broad areas, The Ring World (L3) is good for mastering local battles.

The first move may have the upper hand in The Ring World (L3).

The current version is: "Version 1.2 (2011/1/21)" If a different version # is shown below the title of the game, please clear your browser's cache, as you are probably looking at an old version.


The game play feels very similar to go and TwixT when conquering the same Level, and the same kind of strategies are needed as in UpperHand, when expanding his/her domain to the higher Levels.

The Ring numbers of each Level shown on the upper right should be a good reference for positional judgment for beginners. In order to win the Level 4 Ring finally, majority of Level3 Rings should be conquered, and for that, majority of Level2 Rings need to be taken. However, the numbers of Level 1 and Level 2 Rings do not necessarily show the right position. Pretty often, you can win the game, although you lost completely with the numbers of Level 1 and 2 Rings.

However, in most cases, acquiring as many Rings as possible certainly brings the game forward favorably. You cannot rotate Rings in which you do not have your own lower Level Rings. You need to try to create as many a Rings possible to expand your domain.

Rings are created not only in the players' own turns: They are also created in the opponents' turns, and sometimes two turns later. It may seem complicated, but you should take into consideration how automaton works. With any Rings in any Levels, there are only 2 or 3 Rings adjacent maximum. (In Level3, there is no Rings which has 3 adjacent Rings.) automaton in The Ring World works independently in each Level: automaton in one Level does not affect other Levels.

Level1 Rings are created by being placed in each turn, but Level2 and Level3 Rings are either newly created or taken from opponents as a result of players' moves and automaton. When Rings are annihilated by loosing their "katsuro", the upper Level Rings that the annihilated Rings were on remain unaffected, unless they themselves are taken over by the opponent.

Two different things; Creating new Level2 Rings and covering a widespread area on the board should be well-balanced in the opening game. It is fatal if you leave a blank area when reaching a final phase, as you need to conquer 5 Level3 Rings out of 8 in order to win the game in the end. The placement of Level1 Rings is extremely important, although it tends to be neglected as the game proceeds and the occupation and the reoccupation of the higher Level Rings start.

There are not many Rings which are annihilated when number of placed Rings is still low, but as the number grows, it becomes more and more difficult to secure "katsuro"s for higher Level Rings. Consequently, as the game develops into its closing stage, creation and annihilation of Rings occur repeatedly.


In the opening, the development is slow. As the board is getting crowded with Rings, you will see a dynamic display on the whole board that is created by a single move.

You may need some time to figure out how the game proceeds, as there are NO similar games in the world &smile. Please just hang on to it! ;   You will see The Ring World is NOT that difficult a game as it looks once you are familiarized with the game's context.

You will probably be fascinated and find it amusing when you understand the context.

It seems those who are good at go tend to capture the sense quickly.

Observations about fractal figures

board design 1
board design 2

The shape of the board of this game is fractal, that is composed of similar figures. Please see more details in Observations about the Board of The Ring World for the characteristics of fractal.

Copyright © Masahiro Nakajima 2009, www.nakajim.net 2009, All rights reserved.



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*1 The author Masahiro Nakajima was inspired by the idea of digitizing board games such as table talk RPGs to seek for further pleasures, and by advanced chess, wherein each player uses computer chess program to help him explore the possible results of candidate moves.

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Last-modified: 2016-11-12 (土) 18:51:07 (282d)