A board game in which each player tries to move a set of marbles arranged in holes from one point of a six-pointed star to the opposite point by means of single moves or jumps.
The aim of the game is simply to enter all of one's ten marbles into the opposite "Home base" (star point) on the opposite side of the board before any other player in the game finishes entering his/her pieces likewise.
In the "hop across," most popular variation, each player puts his or her own colored marbles on one of the six points or corners of the star and attempts to relocate them all to the opposite corner. Players take turns moving one marble, either by moving it one single adjacent step or moving a chain of one or any other number of available hops or 'jumps,' as they are often called. A step consists of moving a marble to an adjacent unoccupied space in any of the six available directions. It is not mandatory to advance the marble by as many hops as is possible in the chain. In some instances a player may choose to stop the move part way through the chain to impede the opponent's progress or to align their marbles for planned future moves.
Essentially, the basic strategy is to find the longest hopping path that leads closest to, or immediately into, the "home" base (star point) on the opposite side of the board instead of moving step by step, as it obviously requires fewer moves to finish when using multiple jumps in one single move. However, since one or more players can make use of whatever hopping 'ladders' an opponent creates, more advanced strategy requires a player hindering opposing players in addition to helping himself or herself find jumps across the board. Of equal importance are the players' strategies for emptying and filling their origin and destination triangles.
Jumping over two marbles in a single hop is not allowed. Therefore, it is sometimes strategically important to keep one's marbles bunched in order to prevent a long opposing hop. An alternate variant allows hops over any symmetrical arrangement, including pairs of pieces, pieces separated by spaces, etc.
In the "capture" variation all sixty game pieces are put in the hexagonal field in the center of the game board. The one hole in the center of the board is left unoccupied so that the game board starts out with a symmetrical hexagonal pattern. The players take turns hopping any game pieces over other game pieces on the board; the hopped over pieces are captured (retired from the game, as in the traditional American incarnation of Checkers) and collected in the player's bin.
At the end of the game, the player with the most captured pieces is the winner. The board is tightly packed at the start of the game; as more pieces are captured, the board frees up and multiple captures can often take place in one move. In this game, two or more players can participate. There is no upper limit to the number of players in this game, but if there are more than six players, not everyone will get a fair turn.
The fast-paced version of this game allows the game pieces to catapult over multiple empty spots (just as described in hop-across above). The original version only allows small hops like in checkers.
Get as far as possible
One of the most basic strategies of the game is, of course, to get as far as possible. However, during play, it is not always the best move to go to the very end of a jump; sometimes you have to block your opponent. Although they may not like this, it is a real advantage to block them. Of course if you imagine a computer player, they will do this automatically if they think one extra move ahead!
Keep moves near a center line
If you split up your pieces at the wrong moment you'll find that you will be left with a lonesome piece that will take you a lot of wasted moves to get to the end. Also, there are always more pieces in the center line than near the edges. So keeping your pieces near the center line is an important advantage as you can always move your pieces.
Get into the goal area
If you have your pieces inside the goal area, it is also easier to feed following pieces in. The two outer edges seem to be more of an advantage. Often you may shuffle the pieces inside the goal to get more in, but don't overdo it; you have to get the external pieces in the shortest number of moves.
The piece furthest away from goal
This is a major help in play. You should always check your last piece because it can quite rapidly become stranded and you will lose the game. Basically, before making a move always check if you can get the last piece up