Because people are playing more games and assembling more puzzles due to the coronavirus, thrift shopping has become more hit-and-miss. We’ll either find absolutely nothing or luck out and arrive right after someone has cleaned out their closet. If there was ever a Goodwill bed-and-breakfast, we’d be frequent visitors for sure.
This week I spied a game I hadn’t seen before. 3 Stones by Enginuity checked all the boxes I usually look for in an abstract game. Heavy wooden board, quality components and simple rules are all featured in this game from the early 2000’s. It also sported a Mensa Select competition winner sticker, so I had very high hopes for the game!
It turns out 3 Stones is a very neat abstract game that earned its place in my collection. The goal is simple – line up 3-in-a-row of your color to score a point (just like Gekitai!). Here’s the twist – you’re not always playing a piece of your color. I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s set up the game first.
Place the large octagonal wooden board in the center of the play area. Place the stones (30 white, 30 black and 12 clear) into the included drawstring bag. Decide on what color each player will represent (white or black). Finally, place the metal scoring pegs into the zero positions of each scoring track.
On your turn you will draw one stone from the bag at random and play it to the board. The very first stone may be played to any position. Subsequent turns require the player to play only in the same column or row as their opponent just did. Keeping track of this is easy. After each stone is played, a small ring is placed over the stone, marking it for the next player.
It doesn’t matter which color stone you drew. Whatever comes out of the bag is what is played. Clear stones act as a wild for both players. If at any time you cannot place in the same column or row as the previous player because they are all filled, you may place in any position.
Whenever you manage to line up 3-in-a-row of your color, you will score a point and track it with the metal pins. Four-in-a-row counts as two 3-in-a-rows. Each set of three can only be counted once and may be vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Players take turns placing and scoring until the final stone from the bag is played. The person with the highest score wins 3 Stones! If tied, the game is a draw.
Optional rules for timed play, pure skill (don’t use the bag) and handicapping (spot the weak player a couple points) are included. You won’t find new copies of 3 Stones on store shelves. However, if you’d like to add a copy to your collection, keep watch on eBay where they do pop up from time to time. If you find one at thrift – grab it. Even if it is missing a couple stones. They’re very easy to replace at any Hobby Lobby or Michael’s!
Have you ever seen this game at your thrift store?