There are lots of ways to play the game of Islands. So, I will describe the main way we shall play it on our site, first. Then, I will describe some variations.
The Game of Islands is played on a 20 x 20 grid of dots arranged in a standard square pattern. It has, therefore, 400 dots. There are four directions that lines can be placed and oriented onto this grid — vertical, horizontal, and the two diagonal directions. This game when played officially uses a standard chess clock. When a player’s turn is finished, he or she punches their clock to stop their own clock from ticking and starts their opponent’s clock.
The Three Rules
First Rule: On your turn, you may place a line of three or more free connected dots. The line must be straight and in one of the four legal directions: vertical, horizontal, or one of the two diagonal directions. The placed line must not cross a previously placed line by either player. You may elect to pass on placing a line. Free dots on the grid are ones that have not already been claimed by either as part of a line or as an island.
Second Rule: You may claim any islands that are unclaimed on the grid.
You get one point for each island dot claimed. So, for example, if an island is composed of three dots, then that is a three point island.
Third Rule: To end your turn, you must punch your clock to start your opponent’s turn.
The game ends when the board has no unclaimed sites. So, every dot must be on a claimed line or claimed as an island or island group (or island chain). A line will be either red or blue to indicate which player placed that line. An island or island group is circled either red or blue indicating which player claimed it.
Suppose a player is on turn and doesn’t see how to place a line of at least three units long on the grid. One option is to pass on this to look for unclaimed islands. If there are some islands, then claim them. If there’s unclaimed sites (or free dots), then check to see if a line may be placed. The player may pass and punch the clock. If the other player also passes (a double pass always ends the game right there), then the game ends.