Mastermind! (again)


There’s No One More Mindful Than Me Here, You Could Even Say I’m The Mastermind!

Okay, I know that’s a bad line, but we actually already wrote a post about this game which you can read hereso I didn’t have much creativity flowing through me. So, if we’ve already reviewed this game, why are we reviewing it again, I hear you ask. Well it’s simple really, the first Mastermind post that we wrote was actually about Mastermind Junior which is the simple-for-kids version of the game. Hence my second Mastermind post.

However, as this is a follow-on post it’s going to be quite short, as the fundamental way of playing the game is exactly the same.

Playing The Game And The Differences Between The Two Versions:

Adult Mastermind is exactly the same as Mastermind Junior in that one player makes a pattern or code using the colours and hides it from their opponent. The opponent then uses the remaining colours to try and crack the code. The first player indicates whether or not their guess is correct using the (in this game) black and white pegs. A white peg means a colour is right but in the wrong place, and a black peg means a colour is right and in the right place. This the where the difference between the two games comes in; in Mastermind Junior the first player indicates which colour is right by the placement of the pegs, but in regular Mastermind the second player doesn’t know which of the colours they’ve chosen is correct, only that one of them is.

So here you can see how correct colours/placements are indicated in Mastermind Junior:

IMAG2557
The white animals indicate correct colour and placement.

And here how they’re indicated in regular Mastermind:

dsc_0146
I apologise for the weird angle of the photo, WordPress refuses to let make the photo vertical so that it looks less strange. But here black pegs indicate correct colour and place, and white correct colour but wrong place. You can see that there’s no way to tell which of your colours is correct with this layout.

There’s a slight difference. The first difference between the games is that in the adult version you play with one extra colour in the code, making it that little bit harder to crack. In addition to that your opponent doesn’t indicate to you which of your colours is correct, so you have more guessing to do.

Winning The Game:

Traditionally this game is played in rounds; the players decide before starting how many rounds are going to be played (always and even number) with the roles of code-maker and code-breaker alternating every round. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of this. Points are scored by the code-maker. S/he gets one point for each guess the code-breaker makes, and is given an extra point if the code-breaker doesn’t manage to accurately guess the entire code in their last move. Points are kept track of across the rounds and added up at the end.

Strategy:

In the Junior version of the game, not much strategy is required, as the code is only three pegs rather than four. In the adult version my preferred strategy is the one seen in the photo above. I like to start with four of one colour and see if any of them are right. This does seem pointless to some people but it’s a very quick and useful way of knowing, is this colour in the pattern. From that first one you simply continue in a similar pattern with other colours until you have the code. Though this strategy doesn’t crack the code in the optimal 5 moves most of the time I will say that I’ve never lost a game playing that way.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. The modern game, played with pegs, closely resembles a pen and paper game called Bulls and Cows that may be over a century old.
  2. The rights to the game have been held by Invicta Plastics since 1971, initially they manufactured it themselves, but have since licensed it to Hasbro, Pressman Toys and Orda Industries for production across the world.
  3. The 1973 edition of the game features a well-dressed white man sitting in the foreground with an attractive Asian woman standing behind him. Bill Woodward and Cecilia Fung reunited in 2003 after 30 years to pose for another publicity photo.
  4. In a standard set of the game, allowing a four-peg code, with six colour options, there are 1,296 different possible code patterns (including, and allowing for duplicates).
  5. In 1977 Donald Knuth showed that the code-breaker can solve in a maximum of five moves, using this algorithm.
  6. There have been computer versions of the game produced, as well as multiple different editions released.
  7. The difficulty level of the game is altered simply by changing the number of pegs allowed for the code, or the way in which the code-maker indicates a correct or incorrect guess.

Conclusion:

To conclude, I have to reaffirm how much I like this game. In both the child and adult forms. I think it’s a great game for kids because it’s quick, it’s easy to understand, and it promotes logic, problem-solving thinking. I think it’s a must-have if you have kids, or if you like quick games.

P.S. I know I borrowed the History section (and the winning section) from the previous Mastermind post, by they were still applicable, so please don’t be grumpy!

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