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After one of the world’s best Go players lost to an AI, he designed his own abstract games

If you can’t beat them, make your own game.

An image of the Great Kingdom board game.
Image credit: Korea

Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best Go players, has designed three new abstract board games.

Go is believed to be the oldest board game still played after being invented in China over 4,500 years ago. A game for two players, Go sees competitors placing stones in their respective colours, white or black, across a grid board. Once a stone is placed it cannot be moved. A player’s stone is captured whenever it is orthogonally surrounded – meaning in every direction besides diagonally – by stones of their opponent’s colour. Whichever player earns the most points from captured stones and controlling the most territory on the board at the end of the game.

An image of the King's Crown board game.
Image credit: Korea Board Games

Sedol was once one of the greatest players of Go in the world - at one point ranking second in international titles in 2016. Later on that same year, Sedol played several games of Go against an AI program called AlphaGo that saw him lose a total of four matches and win just one. In 2019, Sedol retired from playing Go professionally, stating that: “even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated.” (Thanks Yonhap.)

Despite retiring from playing Go professionally, Sedol has not given up on his love of abstract board games. Rather than playing them, Sedol has moved into creating them with his first line of tabletop titles, each one focused around various gameplay mechanics that appear within Go.

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An overview of the best board games from Essen Spiel 2023.

Great Kingdom is a board game in which players want to take control of as much of the board as they can before their opponent does. Taking about 20 minutes to play, the upcoming board game has players placing down castles of their chosen colour on a grid board with the intention of holding those spaces, alongside surrounding their opponent’s pieces.

Nine Knights is also designed for two players and has players taking command of a battalion of knights. Each knight in a player's collection will have a number assigned to them indicating whereabouts on the other side of the board they want to reach. These numbers are known only to their commanding player, with the opponent needing to figure out where each of their competitor’s knights needs to end up and stopping them before they get there. A player’s knights can defect to an opponent’s side, giving them a significant advantage.

An image of Nine Knights.
Image credit: Korea Board Games

The third of Sedol’s abstract games is King’s Crown, a board game that takes elements of deduction, strategy and Bingo and puts them all into one two-player title. Throughout King’s Crown, players draft and place tokens on the grid board with the goal of having a line of either matching numbers in different colours or a run of numbers in the same colour.

All three of these board games are set to be published by Korea Board Games, the publisher behind Coffee Rush – a family board game about fulfilling barista orders as quickly and accurately as possible – and a card game by Magic: The Gathering designer, Richard Garfield, called Shadow Blades.

Great Kingdom, Nine Knights and King’s Crown are all set to be released sometime this autumn.

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Great Kingdom

Tabletop Game

King's Crown

Tabletop Game

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Nine Knights

Tabletop Game

About the Author
Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Senior Staff Writer

After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.

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