123 Game - All MCU-free

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

This electronic game pits a human player against the ‘machine’. The opponents use a common ‘game token’ and take turns moving along a path by one, two or three steps, and the winner is the first one to reach the goal exactly. Incredibly enough, this simple version of the ‘123’ game can be built without a microcontroller, and it’s almost impossible to beat. The electronics for this is built using only diode logic (Figure 1). The ‘ input inter face’ consists essentially of 30 miniature sockets to which a probe tip can be connected to mark the position of the ‘game token’. To make the game more compact, the sockets are arranged in a grid so the route along the sockets follows a serpentine path (Figure 2). The starting position is at the bottom right, and the goal is in the middle of the playing area. The electronics becomes the ‘active player’ when the button is pressed.

123 Game - All MCU-free
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The player touches the right-hand contact with R4 (only LED D3 lights up), the left-hand contact with R3 (LEDs D1 and D2 light up), or the middle contact with diodes D4 and D5 (all three LEDs light up). The two diodes prevent all three LEDs from lighting up if the player touches the left-hand or right-hand contact. The key to all this lies in the assignment of the 30 sockets to the three types of logic, which means the three types of ideal next move. Working backward from the goal, no further move is possible when the goal is reached. For this reason, the last socket is not connected to anything. At the socket just before the goal, the ‘computer’ naturally wants to be exactly one step in front. Consequently, this socket is connected to R4. At the second socket before the goal, the electronics wants to move by two steps. This socket is thus connected to R3. Obviously, three moves before the finish, a three-step is best as it leads to instant victory. Consequently this socket is connected to D4/D5. The correct response of the ‘computer’ is shown in Figure 2 by the number next to each position. As the two opponents take turns playing, the electronics always tries to arrive at a strategically favourable position (marked by the arrows). If the electronics manages to reach one of these positions, it’s impossible for the human player to win. This means that the human player can only win by starting first and always making the...

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