Artwork #2: Rendrop (an Appropriation of Renju)

by | Oct 24, 2017 | Artwork #2: Appropriate

Materials needed:
Go board
Go stones

Win condition:
Just like Renju, the player who first gets 5 or more of their stones in a row wins.

In Rendrop, 2 players and 1 game master are needed preferably. The game master is in charge of making sure both players are following the rules correctly, and deciding where should a stone be placed if it lands in the middle of two intersections.

In the original game, black would always go first automatically. In the appropriated version, however, each player has to take a stone and drop it onto the board from at least 3 inches above. The player who lands their stone closer to the center goes first. If a player fails to land their stone on the board, the other player would automatically go first.

After the game starts, the dropping rule continues to be in effect. Both players have to drop the stone in order to place it on the board at all times. If a stone lands in the middle of two intersections, the game master would decide which intersection is it closest to. If a stone pushes other stones away from their original spots as it lands, the other stones would not be moved back to their previous positions. If a player fails to land the stone on board twice in a row, that player loses their turn and has to wait till the next round.

When I was deciding on which game I should appropriate, the first games that came to my mind were chess and Renju. I ended up picking chess over Renju, simply because chess had already been appropriated for so many times, such as the chess sets made by Man Ray and the previous chess project made in this class using red pigment. Actually, Renju is a game as popular as Go and chess if not more in China, and every school would have a Renju club because it’s easy to learn and hard to get tired of. However, when I wrote about Renju in Games & Society last semester, not even my professor had heard about this game before. This is what motivated me to let more people know about Renju, one of my favorite Chinese board games. Renju is also easy to set up because it doesn’t involve complicated game pieces like some other broad games do, which makes it possible to appropriate it in many different ways.

For the first playtest, I limited myself to only appropriating the rules, so the player would still use the game pieces in the traditional way. I made a game where the players are making large shapes in order to acquire more territory. However, the game ended up being more like an appropriation of Go instead of Renju. It was still an enjoyable game, but the fact that it didn’t fulfill the purpose of this class became clear to me during the playtest. As a result, I decided to appropriate the game by using the pieces in a way that they were not originally designed to be used in, just like Fountain is an urinal that wasn’t originally supposed to be viewed as a piece of artwork.

The original Renju is a very strategy-based game without any elements of chance at all, but I wanted to appropriate the game in a way that changes the dynamics of the game and makes it a twitch game with more luck element involved. The twitch mechanic was also inspired by an anime called No Game No Life, because the characters once play chess appropriated as a real-time fighting game in it and the chess pieces have to try to dodge and strike to take the opponent pieces down. Therefore, instead of putting down each Go stone carefully on a flat board, I tried tossing, flinging and shoving the Go stones onto the Go board and setting up the board at different angles. At the end of experiments, I decided that dropping the stones on a flat surface would work the best. The dynamics of Renju and Rendrop are completely different as well; while players usually spend a long time contemplating and deciding where to go next in Renju, they rarely think too hard in Rendrop and just go wherever their hearts take them. Playing Rendrop might also remind the player of practicing Zen, since the stone would more likely land on where they want it to land if their hands are calm and steady.


Example of a finished game: