|Players achieve satori when they discover the secret rule that explains which koans have the elusive Buddha-nature|
|Trios per color:||5|
|Number of colors:||4|
|- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -|
|marking stones (~20 in each of 3 colors)|
|Setup time:||2 minutes|
|Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987|
Zendo is a game of inductive reasoning in which one person (a non-player known as "the Master") selects a secret rule that determines whether a small group of pieces (a "koan") should be marked with a black stone or a white stone. The players try to discern this rule by building koans and proposing possible rules. The winner is the first player to successfully guess the secret rule.
In Zendo jargon, a koan which receives a white stone is said to have "Buddha-nature", while a black stone marks koans without Buddha-nature.
Zendo was designed by Kory Heath, and first published in Hypothermia #14. Boxed sets were published in 2003 and 2017, though the latter is no longer a Looney Pyramid game. (The only pyramids in the 2017 edition are pip-less mediums.)
Examples of secret rules
Some typical Zendo secret rules, arranged (roughly) from easiest to toughest:
- A koan has the Buddha-nature:
- if it has at least one blue pyramid.
- if it has exactly three pyramids.
- unless a red pyramid touches the table.
- if no medium pyramids point at yellow pyramids.
Keep the rule simple. Avoid compound requisites ("and", "or") and avoid arcane math, like prime or square numbers. The most common mistakes a neophyte master can make is to:
- make a rule too difficult on accident, or
- make a rule too difficult on purpose.
If you think your rule is too easy, then it is just right.
- Zendo was the 2004 Origin Awards winner for Best Abstract Board Game
- Zendo was one of the five 2005 Mensa Select® games.
Zendo is fully implemented (image, text, or numbers) for 3-6 players at SDG.
There was an attempt at online Zendo at LiveJournal.
Speed Zendo is played without turns or Mondos.
Ikkozendo is a turn-based or real time single-stash variation where only two koans exist at a given time: one with the Buddha-nature and one without. The master rebuilds one or both of the two koans to disprove guesses until a student correctly induces the rule.
Dharma duel is a variant for two players, each playing alternating roles as master and as student.
Links to more information about Zendo:
- Official Zendo page
- Wikipedia's Zendo page
- A bunch of Zendo rules and rankings
- An IceSheet for the game
- William Shlaer has created Zendo-san, a windows program that plays a somewhat restricted version of Zendo.
Zendo pages in other languages:
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