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Po is a commonly used abbreviation of Provocative operation. Essentially, it is a provocative idea put forth as a starting point for Lateral Thinking. At first glance, a given po might look ridiculous, but that's often intentional.

Po and Icehouse

There are a few rather striking po which may have inspired some of the more popular Icehouse games:

  • Po: a board game that doesn't use a board
  • Po: players don't take turns
  • Po: piece ownership isn't indicated by the color of the pieces

I don't know if these were originally provocations that led to games like Icehouse, Homeworlds, and Martian Chess, but they might well have been.

What's going on here

This page contains a number of po, followed by the lateral thinking that results from them. Anything at all can be put forth as po, no matter how silly or infeasible it seems. The whole point of po is to provoke a line of thinking that otherwise would not occur.

Contribute to this page in either of the following ways:

  1. Post a new po
  2. post a lateral thought leading directly from a po, or from another lateral thought

Nobody can predict where this will go or if any useful ideas will result, but I suspect there will be a few surprises and gems along the way.


Po: a board game that doesn't use a board

Po: players don't take turns

How about if players do take turns, but have pay to get turns, and can pay for multiple turns in a row.

Pay a large for 3 turns in a row, medium for 2, or small for 1.
This is like having more than one action point per turn, and 15 turns total for the game.
Have to balance it so 3 AP isn't too powerful, and 1 isn't too weak:
Need incentive so that you wouldn't always save the 3 AP pieces until the end or spend them all at the beginning.
Bidding mechanic? Bid for turns?
Pay pieces to your opponent - higher bids result in opponents becoming more powerful somehow

Po: piece ownership isn't indicated by the color of the pieces

Nobody owns the pieces. Players own the board instead. -- Jeremiah 20:42, 30 Oct 2005 (GMT)

In Martian Chess, pieces move, but the board stays in place
What about moving the board and having the pieces stay in place
multidimensional board, "fall through" from upper layers
Each player owns a layer? But then would the bottom player always win?
Each player owns a vertical silo instead. Want the pieces to end up in their "quadrant" of the threespace or whatever.
How do we move the board? Gnostica-like where cards can be moved around?
pushing / pulling the board towards / away from you, pieces staying stationary
Equivalent trade - give away something to receive something (trading board spaces with opponents)
Forced trades

Po: incorporate Icehouse pieces with another Looney Labs product

Gnostica-like game with Aquarius cards
Connections become meaningful
Draw power from the card pieces are sitting on - cards with 4 different panels become most valuable.
Each of the 5 goals has a different power
Each of the cards is worth 5-N points, where N is the number of different panels on the card. Single-panel cards are worth 4 points, four-paneled cards only worth 1

Po: use Happy flowers

Add happy flower to icehouse as a deformity in the playing surface. Acts as a wall.

Po: Icehouse pieces are the board

one color for board, other colors for playing
board can use size as differentiating something.
3-player game. One player controls smalls, one mediums, and one larges
Extends to both board pieces and playing pieces
Could make an interesting game with 2 more more stashes. Four stashes gives each player 15 pieces plus 15 for the board.

Po: incorporate cutlery (forks, knives, and spoons) into the game

Po: use only one stash

Po: use exactly two stashes

Po: team game # stashes is n/2, n being number of players