Questions tagged [game-theory]

Puzzles that involve strategic decision making, usually involving either competitive or cooperative choices between a number of participants.

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56
votes
5answers
4k views

Who shall come to the tea party?

All of your stuffed animals are assembled, anxiously waiting to learn who will be be invited as the Guest of Honor to your next tea party. This is to be an exclusive party, after all, as there is ...
43
votes
4answers
5k views

Rock, Paper, Scissors and Trump

Alicia and Robert are two high-stakes gamblers who are playing a match of rock-paper-scissors. Each winning throw is worth 10 €, paid by the other player. These players have deep pockets, so matches ...
32
votes
6answers
6k views

Will a greedy algorithm solve Tatham's Flood?

I was just investigating some of the puzzles on Simon Tatham's website, and came across Flood, in which we start with an $n\times n$ grid of cells each of which is filled with one of $k$ predetermined ...
32
votes
2answers
2k views

The Nuclear Missile Standoff

Three world powers have just entered a nuclear war! They have been waiting for this day for decades; everyone has their nuclear missiles ready to fire, and only need to choose a target. The Chinese ...
27
votes
5answers
6k views

Shortest game of Monopoly

This video claims that the fastest game of monopoly involves 4 turns and 9 rolls of the dice. I am wondering if this is actually the shortest game or can we do better in theory? What is the ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Angels & Demons (Open question)

This puzzle was given to me by a friend of mine, who in turn heard it from someone else who neglected to provide the answer. The text of the puzzle as it was given to my friend is below: Angels ...
23
votes
3answers
1k views

In the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, how would a change in the payoff matrix affect strategy?

Quick summary of the Prisoner's Dilemma: Two criminals are charged with a crime. Each is given an opportunity by the police to confess. If they both stay silent, they don't have enough evidence to ...
15
votes
5answers
527 views

Frugality 101: How to Replace Your Police Force with Cardboard Cutouts

In the far away land of Frugalia - a land where the conservation of money has been elevated to the status of any of Newton's laws - a conundrum is being had. There has been an upsurge in citizens ...
14
votes
2answers
732 views

Reverse dots and boxes

Alice and Bob are playing a game of reverse dots and boxes. The rules are simple: The players take turns adding one horizontal or vertical line in one free spot on the grid (marked with light ...
14
votes
4answers
581 views

Racetrack designers, assemble!

Note: Turns out the intended answer to this doesn't work after all (see comments to Sconibulus's answer). The rules have been changed slightly after the fact to ensure there can be valid answers (see ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

Tic-tac-toe 1000 in a row

Consider a variant of Tic-Tac-Toe and Gomoku on a board that's infinite in every direction. X wins by getting a line of 1000 X's ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Winning strategy in a calendar game

Consider a two-player game. The players move in turns to pick either a month or a day. The winner is the player who picks the date December 31 ($12/31$). The following rules apply: The game starts ...
12
votes
1answer
674 views

Reverse dots and… cubes? - Snowflake edition

A Reverse dots-and-boxes puzzle inspired by @jafe Albert and Robinson are playing a game of reverse dots and boxes. The players take turns adding one plane in one free spot on the grid (...
11
votes
3answers
390 views

Dollar Auction with Perfect Logicians

The dollar auction is a famous game that shows how seemingly logical choices can end up with very illogical results. Wikipedia says the best strategy is not to play, which is probably true in most ...
11
votes
2answers
588 views

2019 gold coins to share

You and your friend has found in total 2019 gold coins in a treasure hunt. Since your friend found the place to dig up, he deserves a bit more gold than you so you offer a game to share the coins to ...
10
votes
3answers
686 views

A knight chased by three knights

Two players are playing a variant of chess on a 8x8 grid. The first player controls a white knight that starts in the top-left corner. The second player controls three black knights that start in the ...
10
votes
2answers
264 views

Add a divisor! A game

Let $k$ be a positive integer. Amy and Ben are playing a game, with the number $1$ written on the whiteboard initially. Amy and Ben do the following in order, starting with Amy: Suppose the number on ...
10
votes
3answers
242 views

Find a good strategy to survive the multiplayer duel

Alice is involved in a duel with $N$ other opponents. She can choose a gun for herself with any hit probability as she wishes. She also prepares guns for her opponents, whose hit probabilities she can ...
10
votes
1answer
320 views

Birthday girl's casino game

My daughter's birthday is coming up. Here's a fun party game we can play to celebrate. (Bring your wallet!) I have a pair of 6-sided dice, and a standard deck of 52 cards. You place your ...
10
votes
1answer
386 views

Is Oh Tetris Oh! always a draw?

Alice and Bob were playing Oh-Tetris-Oh!, when they decided that every game must be a draw (played intelligently). Can you prove this? (Oh yes, the rules: A $10\times10$ grid, you can pick any ...
10
votes
1answer
319 views

Reverse dots and boxes – Guess the last move

Alice and Bob are playing a game of reverse dots and boxes. The players take turns adding one horizontal or vertical line of size 1 in one free spot on the grid (marked with light gray lines ...
9
votes
1answer
352 views

Paper, pencil and a bunch of bars

An entry for the Fortnightly Topic Challenge #40. Alice and Bob are two rational players who are playing a simple pencil-and-paper game. In the beginning, there are fifteen small vertical bars on ...
9
votes
1answer
291 views

Who Wins At Horsie-Push?

Allan, Brian, and Charlie had a chess set and an afternoon with nothing to do. A chess tournament was suggested but to three towering intellects such as these, regular chess is a frivolous, juvenile ...
9
votes
1answer
715 views

Pirate Puzzle Double Twist

Five pirates, fresh from their first bout of pillaging, return to their island base to celebrate and divide up the treasure. While this was their first time working together, the start of what they ...
8
votes
12answers
3k views

Time to call the bluff [closed]

You are located outside of two rooms which have a door between them. Each room has one or more computers whose total power is unknown, so they cannot be reliably used as proof-of-work to compare times,...
8
votes
3answers
381 views

Four-in-a-line Puzzle

Disclaimer: This is an open-problem, I don't have a complete solution for this puzzle yet. We are playing a $2$-player game: you as a challenger and me as a judge. Initially, there is an empty ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Devious auction game

Saw this on TV today: A man is auctioning a real $20\$$ bill. There are a vast number of bidders. A person may make as many bids as he wants. The starting bid is $5\$$. No $2$ bids must be ...
8
votes
1answer
747 views

Reverse Puzzling 3

This is a continuation of Reverse Puzzling 2 "Okay George, let's try this one. Pretty simple." I gave George the puzzle. He picked up his marker and quickly sketched out the following. &...
8
votes
2answers
739 views

Reverse dots and boxes, swastika edition

Alistair and Roberta are playing a game of reverse dots and boxes. The players take turns adding one horizontal or vertical line in one free spot on the grid (marked with light gray lines in ...
8
votes
5answers
564 views

Two person game, choosing an integer between 1 and 30?

Suppose two players are playing a game. The first player chose an integer, n st. $n \in \left\{ 1,\ldots ,30\right\}$. The second player picks a different one. After that, a random integer x st. $x \...
8
votes
2answers
194 views

A knight chased by four knights

This is a follow up to A knight chased by three knights Two players are playing a variant of chess on a 11x11 grid. The first player controls a white knight that starts in the centre square. The ...
8
votes
1answer
309 views

No point shuffling, just pick your cards

Alice and Bob are playing a card game with the following rules: Alice selects two piles of 3 cards from a standard 52-card deck and places the piles in front of her, face up. Bob can see these ...
8
votes
3answers
342 views

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Anti-Rock

Alice and Bob are both well-known perfect logicians who have the ability to internally randomize and often pass their time by playing rock-paper-scissors. One day, tired of the usual RPS game, Alice ...
8
votes
4answers
437 views

Which gun is Alice's best choice?

Alice, Bob and Charles are involved in a deadly three way duel game. Before the game starts, the referee prepares three guns for the players to choose from. She randomly picks three guns from a very ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Single-pile Nim with Three Players

Three perfectly rational logicians (Alice, Bob and a Quetzalcoatlus) are playing a game. (Charlie couldn't make it, so he asked the Quetzalcoatlus to fill in for him.) The rules are very simple: ...
7
votes
4answers
899 views

Higher or lower?

The game “Higher or Lower” is a simple one in which playing cards are drawn randomly from a deck, and the player has to guess whether each subsequent card will be higher or lower in value than the ...
7
votes
3answers
329 views

The 15 Pebbles Game

This is a game for 2 players - Each player uses a different coloured marker or pencil, there are 15 pebbles in total. Players take turns to colour 1, 2 or 3 pebbles (player chooses how many). When all ...
7
votes
1answer
248 views

Domino Tiling Game

Two players are presented an $n\times n$ grid. They take turns placing a piece on the board until no more moves are possible. The last player able to make a move is the winner. The pieces are $2\times ...
7
votes
4answers
600 views

'Companion Planting' Logic Puzzle - Is there an elegant solution?

Problem: You're a vegetable gardener planning to plant out seedlings in a new garden bed, however your farmer's almanac has outlined a system of rules about what plants can and cannot be placed next ...
7
votes
1answer
268 views

Given an $8×8$ square and a set, which contains the pentominoes and four $1×1$ squares

I have a game. Given an $ 8 × 8 $ square and a set, which contains the pentominoes and four $ 1 × 1 $ squares. Players alternately pick one item from the set. Then players (starting with the player ...
7
votes
1answer
183 views

The sadistic chieftain and the lethal truel game

In an adventure to a remote island, you get caught by the xenophobic locals and are about to be executed. But the tribe chieftain, known for his sadistic taste, suddenly changes his mind. "I'll ...
6
votes
1answer
488 views

Playing blindfolded 2048

Suppose you are playing many 2048 games, all blindfolded. As usual you can press left, right, down, or up to move the tiles. When there are no more moves the game terminates and you are told your ...
6
votes
1answer
423 views

Games and Puzzles

Four teams take part in a week-long tournament in which every team plays every other team twice, and each team plays one game per day. The diagram below on the left shows the final scoreboard, part of ...
6
votes
1answer
312 views

Russian Roulette (Redux!)

You are challenged to a game of Russian roulette with a six-chamber revolver, but you and your opponent are allowed to change the outcome of the game in different ways. Here's how the game will ...
6
votes
2answers
787 views

The Fanatic Fever(twist on the 5 pirates puzzle)

While raiding a tropical island, 6 pirates have an incredibly unlucky day. While they scoured the island in search of treasure, one of them was infected with the Fanatic Fever, a disease which hits ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the optimal strategy for the Dictionary Game?

In the Dictionary Game, players take turns saying English words. The first player starts by choosing any word, which splits the dictionary in two parts. The next player chooses a part and picks a word ...
5
votes
3answers
670 views

Should I kill all of my elves?

I've been playing a simplified variant of The Great Elf Game for a few days now and I'm struggling to identify an optimal strategy. Rules: You start with 12 elves. Each elf is sent to gather a tree ...
5
votes
3answers
347 views

Playing the Square Chess

On an ordinary chess board (8x8) without any pieces on it as a starting position, two players will alternately place a pawn on any square (unoccupied) so that the first player that form a square (...
5
votes
1answer
441 views

Three Cowboys, 11 bullets

While seeing a previous question not very well explained, a variant has emerged. I guess it wasn't intended by the OP but I find the variant even more interesting than the original one. Let me ...
5
votes
2answers
500 views

It's a Vote! Everybody Out!

There is a country ruled by a ruthless Emperor. He has a plan to make people miserable by ridding himself of the most popular members of the population. Every month, each person in the population has ...