Three Sticks challenges players to place sticks on a grid in a way that creates increasingly more elaborate convex geometric shapes. Players have sticks of lengths 3, 4, or 5; red 5-unit sticks may be placed on a diagonal, but the others must follow the lines of the grid. Players have no more than six sticks at once and can only place two on a turn, so in the early turns it is difficult even to form a closed shape, let alone to form pentagons, hexagons, or even higher-degree shapes. However, as more and more sticks are added to the board, it is possible to expand into very large polygons.
Players earn points first from the length of the perimeter of a shape; shapes that enclose a bonus circle on the board gain additional points, and all shapes earn an additional bonus depending on the degree of difficulty.
Each player has “power cards” allowing he/she to gain points or to hinder another player’s score, to steal an extra stick or two, to skip someone else’s turn, or to reverse another player’s move. Choosing when to play the power cards evolves with practice. We found some rules confusing – for example, did the “Reverse” bonus card mean you remove the penalty, or cause the penalty to be reflected back onto the person who imposed it?
Three Sticks lead us to think about strategy and geometry in different ways. It’s mentally challenging, and it is at the very least good practice for students who are learning polygons.
Emily Crawford ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master’s in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.