UPDATE: Since I wrote this post (and recorded for the podcast) an update for Rings has appeared which claims to fix the in-app purchase bug and also streamlines some other parts of the app.
I’m not a “gamer” by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to while away some time playing logic games – usually ones that don’t have a focus on speed or timing.
I recently came across the game Rings, by Kamil Kucma. The premise is very simple. You have a three by three grid of points onto which you place coloured rings. There are three sizes of ring and each spot can accommodate one of each size. So if a spot already has a large and a small ring, you can still place a medium ring there.
The game starts with a blank grid and offers up three random ring “combos.” Each “combo” contains one or two rings of varying colours and sizes and you get to place these anywhere on the grid where they fit. Your goal is to make lines of a single colour, in that three dots in a row — horizontal, vertical, or diagonal — contain at least one ring of that colour. The other option is to get all three sizes of ring in the same colour on a single point. When a match is made, all the matching rings disappear, making way for further moves. It may sound a bit complex as I describe it, but as soon as you start the game you are guided through the basic mechanics and they are very easy to grasp.
There are bonus points to be had for completing more than one line with a single placement, and making multiple matches in a row sets up a multiplier on any subsequent, consecutive matches, so some strategy will definitely help your score. One thing I learned totally by accident is that while a multiplier is usually zeroed as soon as you make a non-matching move, you can keep the multiplier alive if you make multiple moves very quickly. Again, this rewards some strategic thinking.
The game always begins with just four colours — red, green, blue, and orange – but as play progresses, new colours are introduced – purple, pink, turquoise, and yellow. As colours are added, strategic play becomes more important as it gets harder to allow for all possibilities.
While the rings provided in each turn are random, if there are limited spaces on the board, there will always be playable rings. They just may not get you any points.
My typical games last around 5 minutes, although they’re starting to get longer as I learn new strategies to maximise my score. For a long time, I kept getting scores in the mid 200s, until I broke through to 376 by employing a new strategy. Now I often score over 300 but have only managed to squeak my record up to 379. I need to think further on my strategy.
In addition to this “Classic” gameplay mode, there are also a few other modes. Double Diamond mode adds four more points to the grid, making it a diamond shape, and the rings are limited to only the two smaller sizes. Lines can now be up to five points long, but you can still make three-point matches. Time trial mode is played on the regular, 9-point grid, but against the clock. The clock is represented by a shimmering line that descends down the screen. If it reaches the bottom, the game is over, but each match knocks it back a little higher. Finally, One Ring mode is the same as Classic, but only a single ring combo is offered per turn, making the strategy harder, but you can throw away up to 5 combos without playing them.
Strategy aside, Rings is a pleasant game to just poke away at in moments of spare time because it’s easy to see the legal moves and make them. If you want to do well, it will engage your brain to work out the best placements to go with the probabilities of the right colours and sizes showing up.
The default colour scheme of the game is dark with bright colours, but there is a bright mode with a white background and darker colours, plus a colour blindness palette is offered as an option.
Rings is free in the App Store and is ad-supported. There is an in-app purchase to remove the ads, but I cannot get this to work and the developer has noted in the App Store description that it has problems that are being worked on. That said, the last update was 11 months ago. Still, the ads are not intrusive and the game works flawlessly.