US 20040051244 A1
Apparatus and method for interconnecting game pieces for play in a game providing all of the information needed to effectively strategize on the game piece. The method includes connecting the game pieces in formation by matching connection codes on the bases of adjacent game pieces. That connection can also strengthen the abilities of the game pieces by matching variable symbols on the game pieces.
1. A game piece connectable with additional game pieces to form a grouping in a game having rules of play, the game piece comprising:
a first side having a first connection code; and
a second side having a second connection code, wherein the first connection code permits a first connection with one of the additional game pieces on the first side when the adjacent side of the one of the additional game pieces includes a connection code that matches the first connection code, and wherein the first connection modifies the abilities of the grouping according to the rules of play.
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14. A method of playing a game comprising:
providing first and second game pieces, each game piece including a first side having a first connection code and a second side having a second connection code;
connecting the first and second game pieces into a grouping by matching connection codes between adjacent sides of the first and second game pieces:
engaging the grouping in play following a set of rules; and
modifying the abilities of the grouping based on the connection according to the rules of play.
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 The invention relates to games involving the use of game pieces representing characters in the games.
 A degree of realism can be added to games, especially war and fantasy games, through the use of miniature figures to represent characters in the games. Each participant in the game manipulates characters, each represented by a miniature figure and each being endowed with certain characteristics, e.g., attack strength and defense strength, that enter into the resolution of a given event, such as a battle or other interface between characters. As the complexity of each character and each scenario grows, and as the number of characters increases, the complexity of the game increases.
 In some of these games, the configuration and positioning of the figures into armies is an essential part of a strategy for a successful game. Regardless of what constitutes a successful outcome, i.e. whether the goal is to have the most characters left at the end of the game or the protection of a single character, how a player chooses to place the characters in the field of play can affect that player's success. When learning to play these types of interactive games, learning how to effectively organize the characters is often the most difficult part of the game.
 Many of these games require voluminous rules of play manuals. These manuals include massive amounts of rules and statistics for all of the figures in the game. The number of included statistics makes it difficult for a player to find a specific figure's statistics. In addition, a player is limited to figures included in their specific manual. All of these factors make strategizing very difficult. Further, the rules often entail detailed record keeping by the players, which are often recorded on miscellaneous slips of paper that can become misplaced or disorganized.
 Accordingly, the invention described herein provides interconnecting game pieces for a game wherein all of the information needed to effectively strategize is provided on the game piece itself. Record keeping is incorporated onto the game piece bases to obviate the need for complex charts or manuals.
 Two types of information are provided on each game piece, permanent information and variable information, each providing a different level of strategy. The permanent information includes symbols located on the sides of the upper surfaces of the bases. The players must match the symbols to align adjacent figures to form an army. The variable information includes variable symbols that indicate attack characteristics. A player may also increase the abilities of a given game piece by positioning game pieces with similar patterns of variable symbols adjacent to each other, for example, to increase attacking characteristics of the adjacent game pieces.
 Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the following detailed description, claims, and drawings.
FIG. 1 is top view of a game piece base embodying the invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the game piece base illustrated in FIG. 1, including a representational figure.
FIG. 3 is an exploded view of an alternate embodiment of the game piece base illustrated in FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a top view of one possible configuration of a player's game pieces for use with the illustrated invention.
 Before one embodiment of the invention is explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including” and “comprising” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.
 Miniature figures are often used in games, especially war and fantasy games, to represent characters in the games. These characters, for example, can be a Roman legionnaire, a Civil War Union soldier, a magician, or a mythical beast, depending on the game. Games can be played to re-enact historical battles, such as the Spartan defense of Thermopylae against the invading Persian army under King Xerxes, or to create a fantastical battle such as one pitting elves and humans against trolls and orcs. Each participant in the game commands an army of characters, each represented by a miniature figure. Each character is endowed with certain strengths and weaknesses, all of which enter into the resolution of a given battle.
FIG. 1 illustrates a game piece 4 for use in a game that is designed to provide all of the needed information for effectively strategizing during a game. Each game piece 4 includes a base 6. Each base 6 includes a self-contained record-keeping device 8 similar to that described in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/958,201, filed Oct. 5, 2001, the entire contents of which is incorporated by reference herein. In the illustrated embodiment, the base 6 is shown as a square. It is to be understood, however, that the base 6 could be six-sided or any suitable size or shape to facilitate building an army for use in a game.
 The base 6 is designed to align with other game pieces on all sides. As shown in FIG. 1, the base 6 may also include a mechanism for physically connecting one game piece to another. In the illustrated embodiment, the mechanism is a standard male/female connection, illustrated by the male projection 16 and the female receptacle 20. However, it is to be understood that the mechanism could be a magnet or any other mechanism appropriate for physically interlocking the bases 6 together. It is further understood that the game piece base 6 may be used without physically interlocking the bases 6 at all. The bases 6 could alternatively be connected on the playing surface simply by placing one game piece base 6 next to an adjacent game piece base 6 in the desired formation.
 Each game piece base 6 contains two types of information relating to how that game piece performs in a game: permanent information 24 and variable information 28. The permanent information 24, or connection codes, is located on the sides 32 of the upper surface of the game piece base 6. In the illustrated embodiment, the connection codes 24 are blocks of different colors, with each base 6 having a pattern of color blocks on it. It is understood that the connection codes 24 can also be shapes, numbers, or any other symbols appropriate for aligning game piece bases. In order to place one game piece base 6 adjacent another game piece base 6, the connection codes 24 must match between the adjacent sides 32 of the bases 6. This information 24 is used in the first level of strategizing how to align a player's army. Other forms of permanent information can be located on the base disk 56 and used to strategize which game pieces 4 are selected from a given group of game pieces 4.
 In other embodiments, the permanent information 24 may consist of different types of physical connectors at various locations around the bases. By providing different connection types at different locations on the bases 6, only certain figures would fit together in alignment, for example, how a puzzle piece only has one correct fit in a puzzle. In this embodiment, the connection codes would be the different connection types, rather than symbols on the game piece bases.
 The variable information 28 is displayed on the base 6 by the self-contained recordkeeping device 8 through an aperture 36 in the self-contained record-keeping device 8. The variable information 28 represents the current status of the game piece during a game. As shown in FIG. 1, the variable information 28 is a group of different symbols 40 that represent attack characteristics, and numbers 44 that represent both attack 45 and defense 47 characteristics. These symbols 40 and numbers 44 will be described in more detail below. It is understood, however, that the variable information 28 can also be colors, symbols, numbers, letters, any combination of these or any other type of information that is suitable for representing the current status of a game piece in a game.
FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment of the invention wherein the game piece base 6 is coupled with a representational figure 48. In this embodiment, the figure 48 represents a character in the game and the variable information 28 represents characteristics of that character. The figure 48 is coupled with the self-contained record-keeping device 8 such that rotating the figure 48 shows different statistics about that character in the aperture 36, thereby changing the status of that character in the game.
FIG. 3 illustrates another view of the embodiment described in FIG. 2, showing the record-keeping device 8 in more detail. The record-keeping device 8 includes a label 52 that contains the variable information 28 representing the characteristics of the character in the game. The record-keeping device 8 also includes a base disk 56 and a selector disk 60. The record-keeping device 8 is removable from and insertable into the base 6 in such a way that allows the player to align the bases 6 using the connection codes 24 as desired and then reconfigure the record-keeping device 8 so that the figure 48 always begins a game facing forward. The label 52 contains six sets of variable information 28, but could contain any number of sets and remain within the scope of the present invention.
 Although the invention described herein may be used for a wide variety of games, a game called CREEPY FREAKS will be used as an example to illustrate the invention. In CREEPY FREAKS, a player builds an army 64 from his collection of game pieces 4 to protect his king 72 from attack by an opposing army 64. FIG. 4 illustrates one possible configuration of a player's army 64 and will be described in detail below. In this description, the terms game piece and soldier are used interchangeably. A game may be played using game piece bases 6 with or without an attached figure 48.
 In CREEPY FREAKS, each time a soldier 4 takes a point damage during a game, the player clicks the self-contained record-keeping device 8 clockwise to the next set of symbols 40 and numbers 44. Each point of damage taken by a soldier 4 changes the symbols 40 and numbers 44 thereby changing the soldier's characteristics, typically reducing the soldier's effectiveness. Each time a soldier 4 takes a click of healing during the game, the player clicks the self-contained record-keeping device 8 counter-clockwise. When the soldier 4 has taken six clicks of damage, the soldier has turned 180° on the game piece base 6 and is said to run away. The player then removes that soldier 4 from the play area.
 The permanent information 24 is used to align a player's army in formation. In CREEPY FREAKS, the permanent information 24 are color blocks that are located on each side 32 of the base 6. In order to align two soldiers 4 adjacent one another in formation, the color block 24 on the base 6 of the first game piece 4 must match the color block 24 on the adjacent side of the base 6 of the second game piece 4.
 Beginning a Game: CREEPY FREAKS is a two-player game that involves army building, dice rolling and pattern matching. Each player will build an army 64 out of a single king 72 plus any other ten soldiers 4. It should be noted that CREEPY FREAKS can be played with any number of soldiers 4 greater than two plus a king 72. A game can be played on any flat surface, such as a table or the floor. Thus, a player needs soldiers 4, a king 72, and multiple six-sided dice to play the game. The players flip a coin to determine who is the first player.
 Setting Up Each Army: Both players begin by placing their kings 72 on the table. Starting with the first player, each player alternates placing a single soldier 4 until all ten soldiers 4 have been placed or the player cannot place any more soldiers 4. All of the soldiers 4 are of the same value but each have different strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of the game is to protect your king 72 from your opponent's army 64. When a soldier 4 is placed, it must be attached to at least one other soldier 4 or king 72 that is already on the play area. To connect a soldier 4 to an adjacent soldier 4, the player must match color blocks 24 on the first soldier 4 with the color blocks 24 on the adjacent side of the other soldier 4. Each soldier 4 can have up to four other soldiers 4 connected to that soldier's base 6 as long as the color blocks match between adjacent sides of the soldiers 4. Once the bases 6 are connected, the player can remove the record-keeping device 8 from the base 6 and reinsert the recordkeeping device 8 into the base 6 so that the figure 48 is facing forward. If a player cannot place any more soldiers 4, his set-up is over and his opponent continues setting up until he is finished.
FIG. 4 illustrates one possible configuration a player may use to set up his army 64 to defend his king 72. The position of the record-keeping devices 8 shown in FIG. 4 is merely representational of the different amounts of damage that a player's soldiers 4 may have taken during a game. As stated above, when beginning a game, all of a player's soldiers 4 must face forward, in the same direction the king 72 faces.
 Playing the Game: CREEPY FREAKS is played in a series of alternating turns between the two players. Each turn consists of either one attack or one move. The first player gets the first turn. The purpose of the game is to protect your king 72 from attack while at the same time trying to attack the king 72 of your opponent.
 Attacking: A player may only attack with a soldier 4 that is in his front rank 76. The front rank 76 consists of all of the soldiers 4 that are in the row that is furthest forward in the army 64. Soldiers 4 do not have to be connected laterally to each other to be in the front rank 76 at the same time. An attacking soldier 4 can only attack an opposing soldier 4 that is in the other player's front rank 76. When you make an attack, compare the attacking soldier's attack value 45 to the defending soldier's defense value 47. Both values are variable and are shown in the aperture 36 of the self-contained record-keeping device 8. If the attack value 45 is lower than the defense value 47, roll one die for the attack. If the attack value 45 is the same as the defense value 47, roll two dice. If the attack value 45 is higher than the defense value 47, roll three dice. Each die has symbols that match the symbols 40 provided in the variable information 28 on the game pieces 4.
 This is where the second level of strategy comes in. If any attacking soldier's symbol pattern 40 is the same as the symbol pattern 40 of any soldier 4 connected to that attacking soldier 4, the connected soldier 4 is also considered an attacker. Compare the symbols rolled on the dice to the symbols 40 in the attacker's aperture 36 and to the symbols 40 of any connected soldier 4 having a matching symbol pattern 40. Score one click of damage for each symbol 40 matched on each attacker by the roll. A symbol 40 can only be matched once per roll per attacker.
 If the defender is damaged by any amount, do one click of damage to that soldier 4 and any soldier connected directly adjacent to the defender if the connected soldier 4 has a matching symbol pattern 40. Once a soldier 4 has taken six clicks of damage, it runs away and should immediately be removed from play. If, upon removing a soldier 4 that has run away, any of the soldiers 4 that were adjacent to the departed soldier 4 can no longer trace a connection back to the king 72 (i.e. it is no longer connected to any other soldiers 4), that soldier 4 is widowed and must be immediately removed from play as well.
 Moving: If a player decides to use his turn to move a soldier 4, the player must remove the soldier 4 from his army 64 and then reattach it in a location where adjacent color blocks 24 on the bases 6 of the soldiers 4 match. If moving one soldier 4 widows another soldier 4, the widowed soldier must be removed from play immediately. A move can create a new front rank 76 for the army 64. After a soldier 4 is moved or removed, all directly adjacent soldiers 4 must be checked for widowing. The players should continue checking and removing soldiers 4 until all widowed soldiers have been removed.
 When moving a soldier 4, the orientation of the game piece 4 must remain consistent. A player cannot remove the base 6 and realign the device 8. Once the game starts, the base 6 and the device 8 are considered a single piece for determining placement and connections.
 Ending the Game: The game ends when one player's king 72 runs away. The winner is the player whose king 72 remains on the table.
 Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.