US20150251083A1 - Game of energy policy and strategy - Google Patents

Game of energy policy and strategy Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150251083A1
US20150251083A1 US14/200,609 US201414200609A US2015251083A1 US 20150251083 A1 US20150251083 A1 US 20150251083A1 US 201414200609 A US201414200609 A US 201414200609A US 2015251083 A1 US2015251083 A1 US 2015251083A1
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industry
game
game board
currency
peg
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Abandoned
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US14/200,609
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Nathan Wright
David Wright
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Nathan Wright
David Wright
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Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/04Geographical or like games ; Educational games
    • A63F3/0457Geographical or like games ; Educational games concerning science or technology, e.g. geology, chemistry, statistics, computer flow charts, radio, telephone
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00003Types of board games
    • A63F3/00063Board games concerning economics or finance, e.g. trading
    • A63F3/00072Board games concerning economics or finance, e.g. trading played along an endless track, e.g. monopoly
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00003Types of board games
    • A63F3/00138Board games concerning voting, political or legal subjects; Patent games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/00176Boards having particular shapes, e.g. hexagonal, triangular, circular, irregular
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/00261Details of game boards, e.g. rotatable, slidable or replaceable parts, modular game boards, vertical game boards
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00895Accessories for board games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F1/00Card games
    • A63F1/06Card games appurtenances
    • A63F1/10Card holders
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00003Types of board games
    • A63F3/00063Board games concerning economics or finance, e.g. trading
    • A63F2003/00066Board games concerning economics or finance, e.g. trading with play money
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/00176Boards having particular shapes, e.g. hexagonal, triangular, circular, irregular
    • A63F2003/00208Circular game board
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/0023Foldable, rollable, collapsible or segmented boards
    • A63F2003/00239Foldable, rollable, collapsible or segmented boards with two hinges or folds
    • A63F2003/00242Foldable, rollable, collapsible or segmented boards with two hinges or folds perpendicular
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/0023Foldable, rollable, collapsible or segmented boards
    • A63F2003/00246Foldable, rollable, collapsible or segmented boards with three or more hinges or folds
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/00261Details of game boards, e.g. rotatable, slidable or replaceable parts, modular game boards, vertical game boards
    • A63F2003/00394Details of game boards, e.g. rotatable, slidable or replaceable parts, modular game boards, vertical game boards with a surface relief
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/00261Details of game boards, e.g. rotatable, slidable or replaceable parts, modular game boards, vertical game boards
    • A63F2003/00457Details of game board internal structure or materials thereof
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00895Accessories for board games
    • A63F2003/00943Box or container for board games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/00173Characteristics of game boards, alone or in relation to supporting structures or playing piece
    • A63F3/0023Foldable, rollable, collapsible or segmented boards

Abstract

The present invention provides a strategy game for producing energy from diverse energy sources in different terrains, which may be a board game or a hardware and/or software application implemented by a computer or electronic device. The board game may include a game board subdivided into territory sections and having a closed loop path of spaces with a plurality of attached industry regions. One or more card holders may be attached to the game board for holding playing cards. A peg board(s), pegs and/or a peg case may be provided for keeping track of industries, and/or currency may be provided, which may be in a currency tray. Among other possible components, the board game may include industry pieces that may be stored on a tray. Methods of making board game components and pieces and/or methods for playing the game, such as via computer hardware and/or software, are further provided.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to a game, such as a board game, computer game, etc., for creating and implementing a competitive energy strategy.
  • 2. Related Art
  • Energy production and use are major concerns for humanity in the coming decades and centuries. With a continually increasing world population and industrialization, depleting natural resources and a growing demand for energy consumption, finding sustainable and responsible solutions that produce enough energy output to meet the energy needs and demands of people worldwide will be a major challenge for the future. Indeed, finding solutions to this energy crisis is a paramount concern not only for policy leaders but also for the general public. There has already been much debate about these issues, and people have wide ranging views about what is the best energy policy and combination of energy sources to utilize. In addition to environmental concerns, issues relating to the economic strength of a nation or region and reducing their dependency on foreign energy sources have been actively debated. However, another important issue is the ability to produce a sufficient amount of energy to meet the growing energy demands of people around the world while also taking into account other considerations related to economics, conservation and environmental protection.
  • Given the importance of these issues and the common lack of understanding about the relative costs and production levels of various forms of energy production, there is a need to better inform the public about these issues and challenges and to develop a greater sense among people about the practical importance of utilizing a diversity of energy sources to meet the ever-growing demands for energy around the world. Not everyone is inclined to engage in their own investigative study to gain a better understanding of these complex and technical issues. What is needed in the art is a fun and interactive way for people to develop a greater sense of these issues as they relate to implementing a sufficiently productive and solvent energy policy.
  • SUMMARY
  • According to a first broad aspect of the present invention, a game apparatus is provided comprising: a game board having a generally planar shape and a top playing surface, wherein a closed loop path comprising a plurality of serially arranged spaces is marked on the top playing surface of the game board, wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into two or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, the two or more territory sections being separated by one or more territory borders, wherein the closed loop path on the top playing surface of the game board passes through each of the two or more territory sections, wherein the closed loop path separates a main inner area between a center of the game board and the closed loop path from a main outer area between the closed loop path and the outer side edge of the game board, and wherein one or more industry region locations for receiving one or more industry regions are present on the top playing surface of the game board, each industry region location being recessed below the surrounding top playing surface of the game board.
  • According to a second broad aspect of the present invention, a game apparatus is provided comprising: a game board having a generally planar shape and a top playing surface; and one or more industry regions, the one or more industry regions being attached to the game board at one or more industry region locations, wherein a closed loop path comprising a plurality of serially arranged spaces is marked on the top playing surface of the game board, wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into two or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, the two or more territory sections being separated by one or more territory borders, wherein the closed loop path on the top playing surface of the game board passes through each of the two or more territory sections, and wherein the closed loop path separates a main inner area between a center of the game board and the closed loop path from a main outer area between the closed loop path and the outer side edge of the game board.
  • According to a third broad aspect of the present invention, a currency tray is provided comprising: two or more currency slots arranged in series, the two or more currency slots comprising a first currency slot and a second currency slot, wherein each currency slot comprises a supporting wall and a separating wall, wherein the supporting wall of the first currency slot is upwardly inclined from a lower intersection with the separating wall of the first currency slot to an upper intersection of the supporting wall with the second currency slot, the first currency slot being adjacent to the second currency slot.
  • According to a fourth broad aspect of the present invention, a peg board is provided having a planar shape and organized by markings on a top surface of the peg board into a plurality of columns and a plurality of rows, the intersections of the plurality of columns and the plurality of rows defining a plurality of cells, wherein each cell includes a plurality of peg holes for receiving one or more pegs. Each column of the peg board may correspond to a particular territory section, and each row corresponds to a particular energy type. The number of peg holes in each cell may be within a range from about 5 to about 10 peg holes. Each row of the pegboard may also be identified by markings in a side panel of the peg board, the markings being aligned with each of the rows, and/or each column may be identified by markings at the top of the respective column.
  • According to a fifth broad aspect of the present invention, one or more pegs are provided each having an elongated shape with a first outer portion and a first longitudinal end and a second outer portion and a second longitudinal end, the first and second longitudinal ends being on opposite ends of the peg, wherein the first outer portion and the second outer portion are oppositely oriented. A middle portion of the peg may have a larger cross-sectional size than the first and second outer portions, the middle portion being between the first and second outer portions of the peg. The first outer portion may have a first color or other visible marking, and the second outer portion may have a second color or other visible marking, the first and second color or visible markings being visibly distinguishable.
  • According to a sixth broad aspect of the present invention, a peg case is provided comprising: a plurality of bins, each of the bins having a bottom wall, a back wall, a first lateral side wall, a second lateral side wall and a front wall, wherein the bins are serially arranged with one or more lateral side walls separating neighboring bins, wherein a top opening is formed between the upper lips of the back wall, front wall and lateral side walls. The number of serially arranged bins of the peg case may be within a range from three to six bins. However, the bins of the peg case may also not be serially arranged. The front wall of each of the bins may be an upwardly inclined front wall, and/or all of the lateral side walls of the bins may be approximately the same size and shape. The peg case may further comprise a lid having a main planar portion and one or more downwardly extending flanges at or near one or more ends of the main planar portion. The lid may further comprise one or more downward extensions at or near one or more ends of the main planar portion, and each downward extension may have an inwardly extending ledge to define a track, the track being between the inwardly extending ledge and the main planar portion of the lid. The peg case may further comprise one or more projections, and each projection may be at or near the upper lip of a front or back wall of a bin. The lid may also engage the peg case by sliding each of the one or more projections into one of the tracks of the lid. One or more guide tabs may also be present for stabilizing and guiding the engagement of the lid with the peg case.
  • According to a seventh broad aspect of the present invention, one or more industry pieces are provided each comprising: a main body portion; and one or more protrusions, the one or more protrusions extending downward from the bottom of the main body portion. Each industry piece may further comprise a handle portion, the handle portion having planar dimensions and extending vertically above the top of the main body portion.
  • According to an eighth broad aspect of the present invention, a board game is provided comprising: a game board having a generally planar shape and a top playing surface, the game board further having one or more industry regions, the one or more industry regions being attached to the game board at one or more industry region locations, wherein a closed loop path comprising a plurality of serially arranged spaces is marked on the top playing surface of the game board, wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into two or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, the two or more territory sections being separated by one or more territory borders, wherein the closed loop path on the top playing surface of the game board passes through each of the two or more territory sections, and wherein the closed loop path separates a main inner area between a center of the game board and the closed loop path from a main outer area between the closed loop path and the outer side edge of the game board; and two or more player pieces. The board may further have one or more card holders attached to the game board at one or more card holder locations for holding one or more stacks or decks of playing cards. The board game may further have other components for playing the game as described herein, such as a currency tray, currency bills, industry storage tray, a plurality of industry pieces for different types of energy industries, one or more peg boards, a peg case, a plurality of pegs, and/or two or more stacks of playing cards, along with other possible game components, such as player resource cards, dice, instructions, etc. The board game may further include a game storage box for organizing and storing the various components of the board game, the storage having outer side walls and a plurality of compartments separated by partitions, along with possibly spacer(s) and/or elevating piece(s) to securely hold the various components in place during storage and transport. In some cases, the use of currency and/or the peg board(s) and pegs may be replaced with one or more electronic devices to keep track of the industry types, locations, etc., and/or the amount of currency held, by each player. Such an electronic device(s) may be a player's own cell phone, etc., running a hardware and/or software application, program, etc., for keeping track of their currency and/or industries.
  • According to a ninth broad aspect of the present invention, methods are provided for playing the board game as described herein, which may be implemented by a computer, electronic device, etc., such as via hardware and/or software instructions.
  • According to a tenth broad aspect of the present invention, methods are provided for making or manufacturing one or more of the various components, pieces, etc., of the present board game invention described herein.
  • These and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art after reading the following description and claims along with the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and constitute part of this specification, illustrate exemplary embodiments of the invention, and, together with the detailed description herein, serve to explain features of the present invention.
  • FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a game board embodiment of the present invention having a plurality of recessed areas for receiving industry regions and card holders;
  • FIG. 1B is a perspective view of a simplified schematic drawing of a game board embodiment of the present invention showing a plurality of creases and a break for folding of the game board including locations indicated for the card holders;
  • FIG. 1C is a perspective view of the game board in FIG. 1A folded along two of the creases into a semi-circular folded shape;
  • FIG. 1D is a perspective view of the game board in FIGS. 1A and 1B folded again along another crease into a quarter-folded shape;
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B are perspective views from opposing sides of a card holder embodiment of the present invention that may be attached to a game board for receiving a stack or deck of playing cards;
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B are perspective views from opposing sides of another card holder embodiment of the present invention that may be attached to a game board for receiving a stack or deck of playing cards and having slots for receiving a card under the stack or deck;
  • FIGS. 4A, 4B and 4C are perspective views of a variety of industry region pieces according to embodiments of the present invention, which may be attached to a game board;
  • FIGS. 5A, 5B and 5C are perspective views of a variety of industry region pieces according to embodiments of the present invention, which may be attached to a game board;
  • FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C and 6D are perspective views of a variety of industry region pieces according to embodiments of the present invention, which may be attached to a game board;
  • FIGS. 7A, 7B, 7C and 7D are perspective views of a variety of industry region pieces according to embodiments of the present invention, which may be attached to a game board;
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a game board embodiment of the present invention having a plurality of industry regions and card holders attached to the game board;
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an industry piece for a biofuel industry according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an industry piece for a fossil fuel industry according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an industry piece for a hydroelectric industry according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 12A and 12B are perspective views of an industry piece for a nuclear industry from opposing angles according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an industry piece for a solar industry according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an industry piece for a wind industry according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15A is a perspective view of an industry storage tray according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 15B and 15C are perspective views of two portions of an industry storage tray according to an embodiment of the present invention that may be assembled together;
  • FIG. 15D is a perspective view of an industry tray handle according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15E is a perspective view of an industry storage tray having an industry tray handle attached thereto according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 16A is a perspective view of a peg board according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 16B, 16C and 16D are perspective views of peg board portions according to an embodiment of the present invention that may be assembled together;
  • FIG. 17A is a perspective view of a peg for use with a peg board according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 17B is a perspective view of a peg cap for use with a peg according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 17C is a perspective view of a peg with a peg cap shown placed thereon according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 17D and 17E show a cross-sectional view of a pegboard with a peg inserted therein in two oppositely flipped states;
  • FIG. 18A is a perspective view of a peg case having a plurality of bins according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 18B is a perspective view of the peg case in FIG. 18A having a lid attached to the peg case to enclose the bins according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 18C, 18D, 18E and 18F are perspective views of the individual bins of a peg case according to embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIG. 18G is a perspective view of a lid for a peg case according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 19A is a perspective view of a currency tray according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 19B and 19C are perspective views of two portions of a currency tray that may be assembled together according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 20A, 20B, 20C, and 20D are resource cards according to embodiments of the present invention for different territory sections of a game board;
  • FIG. 21A shows a back side of a playing card of a stack or deck of “Energy” cards according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 21B-21M show the front sides of various playing cards of the stack or deck of “Energy” cards according to embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIG. 22A shows a back side of a playing card of a stack or deck of “Investment” cards according to an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 22B and 22C show the front sides of two different playing cards of the stack or deck of “Investment” cards according to embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 23A-23F show various denominations of currency according to embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIG. 24 provides a variety of examples of player pieces representing different energy industries for use with a board game of the present invention;
  • FIG. 25 shows a pair of dice for use with a board game of the present invention;
  • FIG. 26 shows written instructions in the form of a document for use with a board game of the present invention;
  • FIG. 27A shows a top view of a game box according to an embodiment of the present invention for storage of board game components, game board, pieces, etc.
  • FIGS. 27B and 27C provide a top view of the game box in FIG. 27A with additional board game components, game board, pieces, etc., placed therein.
  • FIG. 27D provides a perspective view of a game box having a box top, cover or lid placed thereon according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • According to aspects and embodiments of the present invention, a strategy game is provided including an apparatus and/or method for playing the game, which may be embodied as a board game or as software or the like for playing the game on a computer or electronic device. Aspects of the present invention are designed to simulate, and/or correspond to, many of the realities facing modern day energy producers around the world in creating and maintaining a successful and profitable energy strategy and policy. Indeed, the game simulates these real world issues and challenges by providing a game context and/or board, as well as a manner of play, which corresponds to real world issues facing the energy producing industry, such as geographical limitations, relative costs and production limits and other regulatory and environmental issues, facing the energy producing industry today. The present invention is intended not only as an entertaining and challenging game for its players, but also as an instructional aid to promote awareness of issues and challenges facing the industry in the creation and maintenance of an effective and profitable energy policy and business strategy that balances the need to maintain compliance with regulations and other responsibilities and requirements. Thus, aspects of the present invention are intended to serve as a passive learning tool to inform the players of the game about these issues relating to energy production while also providing a fun and entertaining game for its players.
  • According to broad aspects of the present invention, a game board is provided that is designed to provide a context for simulating the issues, such as cost considerations, relative energy production levels, geographical limitations, business risk, regulatory requirements, etc., encountered with different types of energy production from various sources, such as fossil fuels, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, etc., in different regions of the world. Aspects of the present invention are intended to correspond to these issues over a very large geographical area, such as worldwide, including all main types of land territories or “terrains,” including flatlands, shoreline, mountains and tundra, which individually pose different and unique issues to the production of energy from these various sources. As a result, the relative costs and amount of energy production vary for the different types of energy production in these different geographical territories or terrains.
  • Accordingly, the present game seeks to take these variations into account by having variable costs and energy production levels for each form of energy production in each of the different earthly terrains. Since the procedural and physical context of the present game, including the layout of the game board itself, is designed to correspond to the relative amounts of each of these different types of territories or terrains as well as the realities of different forms of energy production in these territories or terrains, a player of the game may view themselves as either a global company executive or a policy leader attempting to implement an effective energy strategy or policy.
  • According to a broad aspect of the present invention, a board game is provided comprising a game board and various other accessories, etc., the game board having markings and other features that are arranged in a particular manner for play of the game. The game board itself may have a generally planar shape with a top side or surface, a bottom side or surface and a side edge. The top and bottom sides or surfaces of the game board itself (without any additional accessories, pieces or structures attached) may generally be flat, although some texture or uneven surface may be present due to various markings, attachment areas, etc. The game board itself may be one or more layers comprising one or more of a variety of different materials, such as cardboard, chipboard, particle board, plastic sheet(s), paper, fabric, cloth, laminate, etc. Adhesive(s), etc., may also be used to attach the layers of a game board together. As an example, a game board may have (from top to bottom) a thin paper layer, a thick paper layer, one or more cardboard or chipboard layer(s), a thick paper layer, and a thin paper layer. A lining may also be placed around the outer side edges of the game board. The game board may potentially have a variety of different planar shapes (i.e., the overall shape of the board in its planar dimensions), but may preferably have a planar shape that is symmetrical in at least one dimension, and more preferably symmetrical in two dimensions, to facilitate folding and storage of the game board. For example, the game board may have a square or circular (round) planar shape but may most preferably have a circular planar shape. The top side or surface of the game board will generally have, display, present, etc., the markings, indicia and other structures that provide or represent different aspects and features of the game, such as for defining the interaction(s) of the game board with various other pieces and accessories of the game, such as player pieces, industry pieces, card decks, etc., by or for its players. These features on the top side or surface of the game board help define the context and rules for playing the game.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, the top side or surface of the game board may have markings that indicate borders between multiple sections or portions of the game board, which correspond to different territories or terrains. These borders may divide, separate, distinguish, etc., two or more territory sections on the board, three or more territory sections on the board, or four or more or more territory sections on the board. Most preferably, these border markings may divide, etc., four territory or terrain sections on the board, such as a flatlands section, a shoreline section, a mountainous section, and a tundra section (although different names may be used to identify and distinguish these major types of territories or terrains). These four terrain or territory sections in the latter example may correspond to four of the major types of terrains that pose different opportunities and/or challenges for the energy industry depending on the type of energy source. According to these embodiments, the four terrains or territories may be marked or depicted as four equal sections or quadrants on the top side or surface of the game board and separated by marked borders, or alternatively as four sections including two or more sections of unequal size. In any case, the terrain or territory sections may be separated by linear or non-linear borders.
  • According to the present invention, the terms “mark,” “marked,” “marking,” etc., shall refer to any manner of visibly presenting, depicting, displaying, etc., a feature, such as a border(s), letter(s), abbreviation(s), word(s), logo(s), structure(s), identifying information, etc., on (or in) a surface of an article of the game, such as a game board, playing card, card holder, peg case, peg board, industry, industry region, storage tray, credits tray, etc., which may include applying paint(s) to the surface, printing ink(s) on the surface, layering of material(s) on the surface, placing a sticker(s) on the surface, attaching structure(s) to the surface, etc., or any combination thereof. A visible feature may be visibly marked on a top side or surface of a game article even though it is not the uppermost “layer” on top of that portion of the article where the feature is marked. For example, a transparent coating or the like may be applied on top of the marking for that feature.
  • The game board of the present invention may also generally have a continuous and closed loop path or route marked on its top side or surface comprising a series of sequential and discrete spaces arranged in a particular order along the path for the players to travel along during play of the game. The series of spaces of the closed loop path provide a series of incremental steps for travel or movement by the individual player pieces in turn during play of the game. During a particular player's turn of play, the player piece for that player may move or travel along the closed loop path in a randomly generated number of steps or increments corresponding to the number of sequential spaces along the path advanced by that player during their turn of play. The closed loop path will generally traverse (i.e., pass through) each of the territories or terrains on the game board. Most typically, the length of the portion of the path (and the number of spaces) per territory section will be approximately the same. However, there may alternatively be an unequal number of spaces per territory section of the game board. The overall shape of the closed loop path may also preferably be symmetrical, such as to accommodate an equal length (and number of spaces) per territory section. Indeed, the shape of the closed loop path may be square, circular, a rounded square, etc., with perhaps a rounded square being most common. However, as described below, the overall shape of the path as well as the number of spaces and path length per territory section may vary. For example, the path may be irregular, winding, and/or non-symmetrical, and/or the planar areas of the territory sections may not be equal to each other.
  • The appearance of the closed loop path and individual spaces along the path may vary but will at least include some kind of marked border(s) and/or edge(s) around them to demarcate the boundaries of the individual spaces and/or to distinguish them from other space(s) and/or the rest of the board. According to some embodiments, the individual spaces may be connected or disconnected, and/or the individual spaces may have the same size, shape, design, etc., or may be variable in their size, shape, design, etc. However, the series of spaces of the closed loop may most commonly have a common side border and a series of separating borders between them, such that the series of spaces traversing a territory section of the board may have an approximately rectangular or “curved rectangular” shape. The separating borders between neighboring spaces of the path with this type of arrangement may be parallel with each other, individually radial from the center of the game board, etc. In general, the size, shape, style and appearance of the spaces along the closed loop path may vary significantly as long as functionally the closed loop path is a single series of sequential spaces that traverse through each of the industry sections.
  • The number of spaces along the path may vary somewhat in total as well as per territory section. For example, the path may have a number of spaces per territory section that is in a range of four (4) to ten (10) spaces or more, or alternatively in a range of six (6) to ten (10) spaces. A smaller number of spaces per territory section of the game board may be more acceptable or tolerated if only one die is rolled (i.e., instead of two dice). However, eight (8) spaces per territory section may be most preferred when two six-sided dice are used to determine a player's move. Generally speaking, there will need to be a minimum number of spaces for sufficient randomization and variation in the occurrence rates of various game events, but there may also need to be a reasonable limit on how many spaces can fit on the board without making the spaces too small or crowded. Moreover, while an equal number of path spaces per territory section may be preferred, the closed loop path may instead have different numbers of spaces in each of the different territory sections.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, the number and order of spaces along the closed loop path may be chosen to control the probability of a player landing on the different spaces during play of the game. The order of path spaces for incremental movement of the player pieces may also be chosen or biased to affect the probability of certain events happening consecutively (i.e., on consecutive turns), such as to avoid or reduce the probability of the same event occurring twice or more times in a row for the same player. In other words, the order of spaces along the player path may be biased or selected to force a greater randomization of events and/or avoid the over occurrence of events that can affect the outcome and course of the game and create too much of an imbalance that might lead to a lopsided advantage(s) and/or disadvantage(s) for player(s) too early in the game. For example, as explained further below, certain spaces are the destination for various “move” cards that may be drawn by a player of the game, which also happen to be permitting spaces for the development of a new industry. Thus, since these spaces are more likely to be occupied during play of the game (and considering that a seven is the most likely roll with two six-sided dice), a second permitting space may generally not be placed seven spaces away from that destination “move” space.
  • In addition, rather than being completely avoided, a separation of seven spaces along the path may also be made less frequent or likely (i.e., relative to a random arrangement) for other combinations of two or more spaces, such as two permitting spaces in general, to reduce the likelihood of their consecutive occurrence for a single player during play of the game. Even rolls of six and eight (with two six-sided dice) that are relatively more common may be taken into account as well in designing the order of spaces along the path. As another example, a roll of one is impossible with a pair of dice. Thus, placing two spaces immediately next to each other (i.e., immediately contiguous) will result in their consecutive occurrence being avoided for any given player. However, while the spacing between some spaces may be biased or selected to counteract possible probability imbalances with the game, the order of spaces along the closed loop path may otherwise be random or unbiased and/or include variations or unequal numbers of spaces per territory section.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, the closed loop path traversing each of the territory sections on the game board includes different types of spaces on which a player can land and occupy during and between their turn(s) of play. These include (1) card drawing spaces, (2) permitting spaces, and possibly (3) a start space. As explained further below, the card drawing spaces may refer to one of two separate decks or stacks of cards (for drawing of a card from that deck/stack by a player of the game who lands on a respective card drawing space). A first set or group of these card drawing spaces may correspond to one of these decks/stacks of cards (a first deck/stack), which may be referred to as an “Energy” deck, that may require the player to take a certain action or simply to read a particular factual statement written on the card that pertains to the energy industry. The fact reading cards may be considered neutral in their effect of the game except that they function as either a protection or an “opportunity cost” for the player (i.e., by not otherwise receiving a penalty or benefit). The action cards of the first deck/stack may include: a first subset of cards that direct the player to “move” to another space on the game board, such as a specific permitting space, and a second subset of cards that direct the player(s) to “do” (or refrain from doing) something, such as pay or receive a sum of currency, restrict or encourage an industry, etc. A second set or group of these card drawing spaces may correspond to the other deck/stack of cards. The other (second) deck/stack of cards, which may be referred to as the “Investment” deck, may provide a benefit or penalty to the player if the player decides to draw a card from the second or Investment deck.
  • Thus, a first set or group of card drawing spaces along the path may direct the player to draw a card from the first deck/stack of cards (e.g., the Energy deck), whereas a second set or group of card drawing spaces may direct the player to draw a card from the second deck/stack of cards (e.g., the Investment deck). The first and second sets/groups of card drawing spaces may be labeled, indicated, represented, etc., by different markings. For example, reference to the “Energy” deck may be labeled with an emblem or logo, such as a particular style and background for the letter “E”, whereas reference to the “Investment” deck may be labeled with a stylized emblem or logo against a background, such as a stylized “energy credit” logo. However, the exact name, logo, design, etc., used to designate each of the stacks/decks of cards may vary of course, and the name, logo, design, etc., used or displayed in the corresponding set or group of card drawing spaces to direct the player landing on the card drawing space to draw a card from the corresponding stack/deck of cards.
  • The relative numbers of the different types of spaces present as well as their order along the closed loop path are important factors in determining the relative probability of different events occurring during play of the game. As can be seen in the example embodiment of a game board in FIGS. 1A and 8, there are a relatively high number of card-drawing spaces that refer to the first stack/deck of cards (i.e., the “Energy” deck). Since landing on one of the first group of card-drawing spaces (i.e., “Energy” or “E” spaces) require the player to draw a card from the “Energy” deck, these spaces represent a forced possibility or probability of risk or reward each time a player lands on one of them. Furthermore, since there are a relatively large amount of these “Energy” spaces relative to the other type(s) of spaces along the path, the forced risk and possibility of reward associated with, and imposed by, these cards will have a significant impact on the course of the game over time. Moreover, the probability of risk and loss may vary depending on the types of industries owned by the player(s). Indeed, each of the “Energy” cards may affect different industry types differently, and some of the “Energy” cards may affect player(s) other than the player drawing the card during their turn.
  • The total number of spaces along the closed loop path may vary, but may be within a range from about 25 spaces to about 50 spaces. On the game board shown in FIGS. 1A and 8, for example, there is a total of thirty-six (36) spaces, and eighteen (18) of the total number of thirty-six spaces are “Energy” or “E” spaces. In contrast, there are only three (3) investment spaces in this example embodiment (marked with the “E-c” or “energy credit” logo) and only fourteen (14) permitting spaces. Accordingly, players of the game will have to commonly and frequently face any challenges posed by drawing cards from the “Energy” deck. According to embodiments of the present invention, the number of “Energy” card-drawing spaces may be within a range from about 25% to about 75% of the total number of spaces along the closed loop path, whereas the number of Investment card-drawing spaces may be within a range from about 5% to about 25%, and/or the number of permitting spaces may be within a range from about 25% to about 75%. In addition, the relative probabilities of a player being beneficially or adversely affected may depend on the relative numbers of each type of industry owned by that player. Some industry type(s) may be more frequently affected by having a relatively greater number of “Energy” cards in the “Energy” deck that affect that industry type(s), and some type(s) of industries may have a relatively greater or lesser number of beneficial or detrimental “Energy” cards that affect that industry type. For example, industries that face more public scrutiny, such as fossil fuels and nuclear energy, may have a relatively greater number of negative, adverse or detrimental “Energy” cards, whereas industries that are more politically popular, such as solar and wind, may have a relatively greater number of positive, favorable or beneficial “Energy” cards. On the other hand, industries that tend to be politically less popular and more subjected to fines, etc., may also be more profitable (i.e., provide more income during the game) and/or greater energy producers (i.e., contribute more to reaching the winning energy production threshold).
  • Thus, the combined effect of frequent imposition of “Energy” deck card draws may provide balance to the game and discourage players from disproportionally pursuing the more productive industries. Indeed, an energy strategy that is too aggressive in terms of income or energy production may result in a player running out of money and unable to stay in the game. On the other hand, if a player does not have an energy strategy that is aggressive enough, other player(s) may get ahead of them in reaching toward the threshold level of energy production needed to win the game.
  • The number of contiguously sequential spaces traveled by a player piece during the respective player's turn will generally depend on a randomly generated number, such as one of a series of positive integers within a predetermined range, generated by a random number generator. The random number generator may be any known device or article(s) for randomly generating a positive integer within a predetermined range but would most commonly be one or more die, such as a single die or a pair of dice, each of the die most commonly being a six-sided die (and a pair of dice being a pair of six-sided dice). Accordingly, a player may roll the die/dice to determine the integer value corresponding to the number of contiguous spaces that they must move or advance their player piece along the closed loop path during their turn of play, such as an integer value in a range from 1 to 6, or an integer value in a range from 1 to 12. Preferably, however, two six-sided dice may be used to generate an integer value in a range from 1 to 12.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, each of the territory sections may also be occupied by one or more, or a plurality of, industry regions, such as two or more industry regions, or three or more industry regions, or more particularly three or four industry regions per territory section. The industry regions for a territory section correspond to the total geographical space available in that terrain or territory for developing energy producing industries. The number, shape and size of these industry regions are intended to correspond to common land features and characteristics of these geographical regions. For example, the flatlands and tundra territories may have fewer but larger industry regions to represent and correspond to the vast open tracks of land that are more typically available in these parts of the world, whereas the mountains and shoreline territories may have a greater number of smaller industry regions to represent the tighter tracts of available land for the development of industry. The flatlands and tundra territories may also have industry regions that are more rectangular shaped, whereas the mountains and shoreline territories may have more convoluted shapes to represent imposing land features in these terrains, such as mountains and water inlets, bays, etc., respectively.
  • As introduced above, the closed loop path further includes industry building or “permitting” spaces in addition to the card drawing spaces discussed above. The permitting spaces may again be indicated or marked by an emblem, logo, etc., much like the card drawing spaces. For example, a logo resembling a stack of papers may be used to indicate the paperwork required to obtain a permit to build or establish a new industry. When a player lands on a permitting space, that player is allowed to build, place, add, etc., a new industry (at an established cost or price) to the industry region (within that territory section) that corresponds to that specific permitting space. The industry may be any of a variety of energy industry types. The connection or link between the industry region and its corresponding permitting space may also be shown or displayed by a variety of indicia or markings, such as by a line connecting the industry region to its corresponding permitting space.
  • Typically, only one industry region will correspond to each permitting space, although there could conceivably be two or more permitting spaces that correspond to the same industry region, or there could be two or more industry regions that correspond to the same permitting space. As explained further below, the industry regions may be objects or pieces that are attached to the game board and have a grid pattern of indentations or holes for receiving a lower portion of an industry piece to hold it in place, with the cross-sectional size of the lower portion of the industry piece representing or corresponding to its relative geographic footprint in the real world among the various energy industry types (i.e., relative to other energy industry types). However, such a “footprint” for a given energy industry may represent not only the energy-producing plant itself, but also include the space needed for ancillary activities, such as energy source extraction or mining, energy distribution, etc., that directly support the primary energy producing plant or industry.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, the closed loop path may be positioned at an intermediate distance between the center and the outer periphery or edge of a game board. For example, the center of the closed loop path may be located at approximately half the distance between the center and an outer edge of a game board, although this of course may vary. For example, for each portion of the closed loop path, this distance between the center of the board and the center of that portion of the closed loop path may be within a range from about 30% to less than about 100% of the total distance from the center to the outer edge of a board, or alternatively at a distance that is within a range from about 40% to about 80% of such total distance from the center to the outer edge of a board, or within a range from about 40% to about 60% of such total distance, such as about 50%. According to some embodiments, the positioning of different portions of the closed loop path may vary in terms of its distance from the center and/or an outer edge of the game board. However, this positioning may more commonly be constant in terms of these distances (from the center or outer edge of the game board) or in a regular pattern of increasing and decreasing distances along the path. For example, a square path may have corners that are closer to the outer edge of a circular game board than portions of the path between those corners. Thus, the closed loop path may define a boundary between a main inner area, space or portion and a main outer area, space or portion of the game board. According to embodiments of the present invention, the industry regions of the different territory sections may be located in either or both of the main inner area and/or the main outer area of the game board. However, the industry regions may preferably be located mostly or entirely in the main outer area of the game board.
  • Furthermore, a pair of card holders may also be attached to the game board for holding the first and second decks/stacks of cards, such as an “Energy” deck and an “Investment” deck, from which a card may be drawn by players of the game when they land on the respective card drawing spaces along the closed loop path of the game board. For the players of the game that may be positioned or situated around the periphery of the game board (e.g., positioned or situated around most or all sides of the game board) to have more or less equal accessibility to the card stacks/decks (i.e., to avoid overreaching by one or more of the player(s)), the card holders may preferably be located toward the center of the game board, which may generally be in the main inner area or portion of the game board inside the closed loop path. It may also be preferable for the name and/or logo for the game to appear near the center of the game board.
  • Therefore, the industry regions may preferably be placed, positioned, attached, etc., on or to the main outer area of the game board to create room or space for the card holders and/or the name or logo of the game to be placed, positioned, attached, shown, displayed, etc., near the center of the game board within the main inner area. Furthermore, for each of the territory sections, the main outer area will generally be larger and more elongated in shape than the main inner area for that territory section of the game board. Thus, the main outer area for that territory section may generally be better able to accommodate the industry regions. Since each of these industry regions corresponds to one of the territories or terrains, they must all fit into only one of the territory sections. In fact, the industry regions for a particular territory section may have to fit into only the main outer area or portion of that territory section of the game board. Furthermore, the card holders and name/logo for the game do not need to be confined to a particular territory section (since they transcend the territories of the game) and may thus span or overlap more than one territory section. As a result, these items may be more easily accommodated within the main inner area of the game board. Furthermore, by having an absence of structures, such as industry regions, etc., throughout much or most of the main inner area of the game board, a generally uninterrupted, two-dimensional flat space may be provided on the top of the main inner area of the game board for rolling a die (or pair of dice).
  • FIG. 1A provides a game board 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention having a top side or surface 101, a bottom side or surface 103 (not visible but included for reference) and an outer side or edge or periphery 102. The top side or surface 101 of the game board 100 is marked in an organized fashion including four territory sections or quadrants including a mountainous or mountains section 107, a tundra section 109, a flatlands section 111 and a shoreline section 113 separated by marked borders. A closed loop path 104 is displayed or marked on the top side 101 of the game board 100 at an intermediate distance between the center and the outer edge 102 of the game board 100. The closed loop path 104 separates the game board into a main inner area or portion (i.e., the area between the center of the game board 100 and the path 104) and a main outer area or portion (i.e., the area generally between the path 104 and the outer edge 102 of the game board 100). These main areas of the game board may be further subdivided according to the territory sections. For example, the main outer area of the game board 100 includes a main outer mountains area 107 b, a main outer tundra area 109 b, a main outer flatlands area 111 b, and a main outer shoreline area 113 b. Likewise, the main inner area of the board game 100 includes a main inner mountains area 107 a, a main inner tundra area 109 a, a main inner flatlands area 111 a, and a main inner shoreline area 113 a.
  • The path 104 is shown in FIG. 1A having a symmetrically rounded square shape and including a continuous series of spaces that define the closed loop path 104. These spaces include card drawing spaces 105, 106, permitting spaces 108″, 110″, 112″, 114″ and a start space 120. According to the embodiment in FIG. 1A, the path 104 has the start space 120 and three investment card drawing spaces 105 a-c are shown in the corners of the rounded square path 104 straddling two neighboring territory sections, and between these corner spaces are a plurality of card drawing or permitting spaces for each of the territory sections 107, 109, 111, 113 of the game board 100. According to this game board embodiment 100, there are an equal number of spaces (i.e., eight) between the corner spaces in each of the territory sections of the game board.
  • The card drawing spaces shown in FIG. 1A may be subdivided into a first group of card drawing spaces 106, which may be referred to as “Energy” spaces and marked with a stylized “E”—see, e.g., 106 a-d, and a second group of card drawing spaces 105, which may be referred to as “Investment” spaces and marked with an “energy credit” logo—see, e.g., 105 a, 105 b, 105 c. The permitting spaces 108″, 110″, 112″, 114″ are also shown being represented by a logo that appears as a stack of papers. However, some of these permitting spaces (see, e.g., 108 c″, 110 c″, 112 a″, 114 a″) have an additional logo or emblem (along with the permitting logo) that corresponds to the particular territory section. As explained further below, these specialized permitting spaces may serve as destination spaces for some of the “move” cards in addition to being a permitting space. For example, the logo or emblem appearing in the destination space may be the same as, or similar to, the logo or emblem presented on a corresponding “move” card drawn from one of the stacks/decks of cards. However, if there is only one such destination space for permitting per territory section, then the logos or emblems for these destination spaces among the territory section(s) of the game board may be the same or similar. Of course, the particular logos and indicia used to label and identify the particular spaces are design choices that may be varied without changing the functional arrangement of game board features, which are organized and arranged for play of the game.
  • As discussed above, the relative numbers of spaces of each type as well as the order of spaces along the path are important factors that determine the frequency with which certain events occur and how often a player may land on a particular type of space along the board path. Thus, the total and relative number(s) and order of spaces (including their spacing from each other) may be controlled, biased, selected, etc., to optimize the course and length of the game and the probability balance for events to occur sequentially and in general among players of the game. For example, as shown in FIG. 1A, game board 100 has eighteen (18) Energy deck card drawing spaces marked with an “E”, fourteen (14) permitting spaces marked with a permitting “paper stack” logo, three (3) Investment deck card drawing spaces marked with the “energy credit” logo, and one (1) start space. Thus, there are 50% more card drawing spaces (21) along the path than permitting spaces (14) with slightly more than 60% of the total number of spaces being non-permitting spaces. Thus, on a given roll during a player's turn of play, a player is more likely to have their player piece land on a non-permitting space than a permitting space.
  • Continuing with FIG. 1A, each of the permitting spaces 108 a-d″, 110 a-c″, 112 a-c″, 114 a-d″ along the path 104 are further shown being linked to a respective industry region locations 108 a-d, 110 a-c, 112 a-c, 114 a-d within the respective territory sections 107, 109, 111, 113 of the game board 100 by a respective line 108 a-d′, 110 a-c′, 112 a-c′, 114 a-d′ to indicate which industry region locations 108 a-d, 110 a-c, 112 a-c, 114 a-d corresponds to each of the permitting spaces 108 a-d″, 110 a-c″, 112 a-c″, 114 a-d″. As shown, the mountainous section 107 has four industry region locations 108 a-d linked to respective permitting spaces by line indications (see, e.g., region locations 108 c, 108 d linked to respective permitting spaces 108 c″, 108 d″ by connecting lines 108 c′, 108 d′), the tundra section 109 is shown having three industry region locations 110 a-c linked to respective permitting spaces by line indications (see, e.g., region locations 110 b, 110 c linked to respective permitting spaces 110 b″, 110 c″ by connecting lines 110 b′, 110 d′), the flatlands section 111 is shown having three industry region locations 112 a-c linked to respective permitting spaces by line indications (see, e.g., region locations 112 a, 112 b, 112 c linked to respective permitting spaces 112 a″, 112 b″, 112 c″ by connecting lines 112 a′, 112 b′, 112 c′), and the shoreline section 113 is shown having four industry region locations 114 a-d linked to respective permitting spaces by line indications (see, e.g., region location 114 a linked to respective permitting space 114 a″ by connecting line 114 a′). These industry region locations in each of the territory sections 107, 109, 111, 113 are shown as having different sizes and shapes.
  • Although FIG. 1A shows the placement of the various industry region locations 108′, 110′, 112′, 114′ on the game board 100, these industry region locations 108′, 110′, 112′, 114′ are shown without the actual industry region pieces placed on, attached to, inserted into, etc., these portions of the game board 100 (see, e.g., FIGS. 4-8). Instead, these industry region locations 108′, 110′, 112′, 114′ of the game board 100 in FIG. 1A are shown as being shaded to represent where the respective industry region pieces would be placed on, attached to, inserted into, etc., the game board 100. These shaded areas of the board 100 may actually represent portions of the game board 100 having a top portion or layer(s) extracted, removed, etc., to create a slightly recessed area to receive a respective industry region piece at, on, into, etc., the respective industry region location 108′, 110′, 112′, 114′. As explained further below, such an industry region piece may be further secured, attached, etc., to the game board 100 by lateral insertion of various side projection(s) (present on the side(s) near the bottom of the industry region piece) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board (not shown). Similarly to the industry region locations, a pair of card holder locations 115, 117 are further shown in FIG. 1A as being shaded to represent where two card holder pieces may be placed on, attached to, inserted into, etc., the game board 100. As described further below, one of these card holders may be used to hold or contain a first stack/deck of cards, while the other card holder may be used to hold or contain a second stack/deck of cards. However, FIG. 1A shows these card holder locations 115, 117 without the actual card holders attached, etc. Much like the industry regions discussed above, each of these card holders may be attached, etc., to the game board 100 by their placement into a cutout area (i.e., card holder location 115 or 117) having a top portion and/or layer(s) excised, removed, etc., possibly with lateral insertion of side projection(s) (present on the side(s) near the bottom of the car holder) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board (not shown; see, e.g., FIGS. 2-3 and 8).
  • It is further worth noting the placements of the two card holder locations 115, 117 on the top side or surface 101 of the game board 100 in FIG. 1A. With this game board embodiment 100, the two card holder locations 115, 117 are shown as having mirrored positions on either side of an imaginary midline running through the center of the game board 100. Thus, as elaborated further below in connection with FIGS. 1B-1D, this relative positioning may enable the card holders attached, etc., to these locations to become engaged with each other when the game board is folded inwardly along a fold line(s) between them, such as by insertion of one of the two card holders into the other, which may provide for more compact folding of the game board for purposes of its storage. Such an engagement between the two card holders may also help to create a more solid and secure folding of the game board for its facilitated handling. Such an engagement may also provide reduced wear-and-tear of the game board during repeated rounds of folding/unfolding the game board and storage by reinforcing its folded arrangement (e.g., by resisting bending movements in the folded state and possibly by providing weight bearing to supportively hold the two opposing (folded) halves of the game board at a relatively fixed distance). As a result of the supportive engagement between the two card holders, the game board may remain relatively more stationary in the folded state. However, unlike FIGS. 1A and 1B, the card holder locations may alternatively be located at non-mirrored positions within the main inner area of the game board 100. However, if two card holders attached, etc., to the game board are not aligned for engagement during folding, then they may be located at exclusively non-mirrored positions or portions of the main inner area of the game board such that they do not physically interfere with the folding of the game board.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, a particular manner of folding the game board, such as for its more compact storage, is provided. The game board may be described as having two imaginary center lines (i.e., a first center line and a second center line) that are approximately perpendicular to each other.=These two imaginary center lines may intersect at the planar center of the game board (i.e., at least if the game board shape is symmetrical). A first crease and a first break may be positioned collinearly along the first one of these center lines, the first crease and first break being collinear along different portions of the same center line (i.e., the first center line), the first center line spanning from a first position on the side edge of the game board to a second position on the side edge on the opposite side of the game board. A pair of creases including a second crease and a third crease that are approximately parallel to each other are also provided that straddle the second center line at a symmetrically small distance from the second center line. In other words, the second and third creases are on opposite sides of the imaginary second center line by a relatively small distance with each of the second and third creases being approximately parallel to the second center line. Unlike the first crease that shares the full length of the first center line with the first break, each of the second and third creases span an entire planar dimension of the game board (i.e., approximately the full length of the second center line) from a respective point at or near a third position on the side edge of the game board to a respective point at or near a fourth position on the side edge of the game board on the opposite side of the game board from the third position.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, the term “crease” in reference to a game board shall mean a linear portion of the game board that is relatively easy to bend in comparison to the remainder of the board that is not creased or broken. The crease may have a bilateral or one-sided symmetry depending on how it is formed. For example, the crease may be formed or provided by a linear absence of one or more layer(s) of the game board, such as one or more of the harder layer(s) of the game board. The term “break” in reference to a game board shall mean a complete break or separation between two closely associated and juxtaposed edges of the game board with little or no gap or spacing between those two closely associated and juxtaposed edges. A break may be formed, for example, by cutting the game board or by not joining two adjacent pieces of the game board by one or more of the other game board layer(s). In the latter case, a crease may be formed by joining two adjacent (hard) layer pieces (e.g., chipboard, etc.) by one or more of the other (soft) layer(s) of the game board, whereas a break may be formed by not joining or linking two adjacent hard layer pieties with any of the other layer(s) of the game board.
  • For purposes of the present invention, the term “approximately” in reference to a particular state or value shall mean that exact state or value or only a slight deviation therefrom. With regard to lines or planes, the phrases “approximately perpendicular” or “approximately parallel” shall mean exactly or perfectly perpendicular or parallel or within a few degrees or less (i.e., less than or equal to about 3°) of being perfectly perpendicular or parallel to tolerate any slight deviations. Similarly, two lines or distances are considered to be approximately the same if they are exactly the same or only deviate from each other by less than 5% of their total length to include small deviations.
  • Although a variety of planar shapes are possible for the game board, typically symmetrical shapes that are mostly or exactly symmetrical along at least one planar axis, such as along two planar axes, of the game board, may be used such that the edges of the game board are more neatly arranged and/or closely aligned when the game board is folded. Most preferably, the planar shape of the game board will be mostly or exactly symmetrical along two perpendicular axes within the plane of the board. With a game board having a planar shape that is symmetrical along two perpendicular axes, the planar shape of the game board may be a circle, a square, a rectangle, an equilateral polygon, an oval, etc.
  • With the example embodiment in FIG. 1B, a game board 200 is shown having a top side or surface 201, a bottom side or surface 203 (not visible in FIG. 1B) and a side edge(s) 202. Many of the possible features of the game board 200 are removed or not shown to isolate the presentation of features of the game board 200 that relate to its folding. A first crease 240 a is shown along a first center line that spans from a first position 236 on the side edge 202 of the game board 200 to an intersecting point 235 at or near where the first crease 240 a meets the second crease 240 b, the second crease 240 b being approximately perpendicular to the first crease 240 a and the first center line. Although the intersecting point 235 may be located at the second crease 240 b, the intersecting point 235 may instead be located slightly closer to the first position 236 than the second crease 240 b. By locating the intersecting point 235 slightly closer to the first position 236, the wear and stress on portions of the game board immediately surrounding the intersecting point 235 may be lessened by providing greater freedom of movement during folding/unfolding of the game board, which may help to avoid ripping or tearing of the game board at or near intersecting point 235). A break 230 is also shown along the first center line spanning from a second position 237 on the side edge 202 of the game board 200 to the intersecting point 235 at or near the second crease 240 b. The second crease 240 b is shown as having two continuous and collinear parts (when unfolded) including a first part 240 b′ (between a first point on the side edge 202 at or near a third position 238 on the side edge 202 of the board 200 and the point 235) and a second part 240 b″ (between a second point on the side edge 202 at or near a fourth position 239 of the side edge 202 of the board 200 and the point 235).
  • A third crease 240 c is also shown in FIG. 1B as having two collinear parts 240 c′, 240 c″ (when unfolded) separated by the break 230, the second crease 240 b and the third crease 240 c being approximately parallel to each other. The third crease 240 c is shown spanning from a third point on the side edge 202 at or near the third position 238 on the side edge 202 to a fourth point on the side edge 202 at or near the fourth position 239 on the side edge 202 of the game board 200. For purposes of the second and third creases 240 b, 240 c, the third and fourth positions 238, 239 on the side edge 202 of the game board 200 are on opposite sides of the game board 200. The second crease 240 b and the third crease 240 c are also shown being spaced apart by a relatively short distance, the second crease 240 b and third crease 240 c symmetrically straddling a second center line, the second center line being approximately perpendicular to the first center line. In other words, the respective spacings between the second crease 240 b and the second center line and the third crease 240 c and the second center line are shown as being approximately the same.
  • As defined by the various creases and the break described above, the game board 200 may be divided into multiple parts or portions including a first portion 200 a, a second portion 200 b, a third portion 200 c, a fourth portion 200 d, a fifth portion 200 e, and a sixth portion 200 f. The first portion 200 a of the game board 200 is between the first part 240 c′ of the third crease 240 c and the first break 230, the second portion 200 b of the game board 200 is between the second part 240 c″ of the third crease 240 c and the first break 230, the third portion 200 c of the game board 200 is between the first crease 240 a and the second part 240 b″ of the second crease 240 b, and the fourth portion 200 d of the game board 200 is between the first crease 240 a and the first part 240 b′ of the second crease 240 b. In addition, two folding portions including a first folding portion 200 e and a second folding portion 200 f of the game board 200 are also shown between the first parts 240 b′, 240 c′ and the second parts 240 b″, 240 c″, respectively, of the second and third creases 240 b, 240 c.
  • As mentioned above, two card holders may be attached, etc., to locations on the top of a game board such that they are aligned for direct engagement with one another when the game board is being folded along a crease or folding axis line(s) between them. By their engagement with each other, a more compact and/or supported folding of the game board may be achieved. For the two card holders to be aligned for engagement with each other, their positions and orientations should be mirrored relative to a folding axis midway or symmetrically between them. Typically, such an aligned engagement will involve one of the two card holders being smaller than the other, such that the smaller holder becomes inserted into the larger holder. Alternatively, the two card holders may have offsetting or alternating structures to allow them to engage one another without one being wholly inserted into the other (even if they are about the same size). In FIG. 1B, for example, two rectangles 215, 217 are shown to indicate two possible card holder locations (i.e., for the attachment, etc., of two card holders to the board 200) that are symmetrical to each other and have a mirrored orientation relative to the second center line of the board 200, the second center line being midway or halfway between the second and third creases 240 b, 240 c that are each bent to bring the two card holder locations 215, 217 together.
  • With the various creases and the break of the game board 200 in FIG. 1B in mind, FIGS. 1C and 1D show how the board 200 may be folded sequentially along two folding axes that are approximately perpendicular to each other. In a first folding step (shown completed in FIG. 1C), the top 201 of the game board 200 is folded inwardly along second and third creases 240 b, 240 c oriented symmetrically on both sides of the first folding axis, such that the tops 201 of the third and fourth portions 200 c, 200 d of the board 200 are folded over and toward the tops 201 of the first and second portions 200 a, 200 b of the board 200. During this folding step, card holders attached to the game board 200 at mirrored locations 215, 217 would engage one another due to their folded alignment (e.g., one of the card holders may become inserted into the other). By having a double crease for this first folding step (i.e., second and third creases 240 b, 240 c), a pocket or volume of space may be present between the opposing first/second portions 200 a, 200 b and the third/fourth portions 200 c, 200 d when the game board 200 is folded, which may help to accommodate, and provide clearance for, the various three-dimensional accessories, pieces, structures, etc., that are attached, etc., to the game board 200 during this folding step. Due to the first and second folding portions 200 e, 200 f of the board 200 being approximately or roughly perpendicular to the first/second portions 200 a, 200 b and the third/fourth portions 200 c, 200 d when folded, the generally constant widths of the first and second folding portions 200 e, 200 f create the pocket of space formed between the first/second portions 200 a, 200 b and the third/fourth portions 200 c, 200 d of the board 200.
  • In a second folding step (shown completed in FIG. 1D), the bottoms 203 of the third and fourth portions 200 c, 200 d of the game board 200 are folded inwardly along the first crease 240 a, such that the first and second positions 238, 239 on the side edge 202 of the game board 200 are brought close together. Due to the break 230 extending past the second center line and reaching point 235 at or just beyond the second crease 240 b, the game board 200 is able to be folded along the first crease 240 a (i.e., with the first crease 240 a acting like a hinge for the second folding step). Since no bulky or three-dimensional objects, pieces, etc., are attached to the bottom side 203 of the board 200, a double crease is not needed along the second folding axis to straddle the first center line (i.e., in place of the single first crease 240 a). As a result, the bottom sides 203 of the third and fourth portions 200 c, 200 d of the game board 200 will become closely juxtaposed and/or in contact with each other. However, even if a pocket is not needed to accommodate three-dimensional objects, etc., following the second folding step, a double crease could optionally be present in place of the single first crease 240 a.
  • As indicated by the placement of the card holder locations 215, 217, the folding configuration shown in FIG. 1B may be applied to the embodiment 100 in FIG. 1A by having the double hinged second and third creases (analogous to 240 b, 240 c) traversing and bisecting the shoreline and tundra territory sections 109, 113 and located in between the two card holder locations 115, 117 in FIG. 1A, and the first crease and break (analogous to 240 a, 230) being along a first folding axis and center line traversing and bisecting the flatlands and mountains territory sections 107, 111. The amount of separation or spacing between the second and third creases 240 b, 240 c of the board 200 in FIG. 1B may be adjusted or designed depending on the thickness and amount of space, tolerance, etc., needed to accommodate the various three-dimensional accessories, pieces, structures, etc., that are attached, etc., to the top 201 of the game board 200 when the board 200 is folded along the first folding axis.
  • Due to the double crease used in connection with the first folding step, the “half-folded” game board 200 in FIG. 1C will also have a footprint that is less than 50% of the fully unfolded size of the game board 200, and the “quarter-folded” game board 200 in FIG. 1D will have a footprint that is less than 25% of the fully unfolded size of the game board 200. However, the height of the game board will also increase significantly with each folding step due to the vertical spacing formed between the first/second portions 200 a, 200 b and the third/fourth portions 200 c, 200 d of the game board 200 by folding along the double hinged creases 240 b, 240 c during the first folding step. The height of the game board is further doubled by the folding of the bottoms 203 of the third/fourth portions 200 c, 200 d toward each other during the second folding step. If two opposing items, etc., attached to the top 201 of the board 200 become stacked on top of each other by folding of the board 200 during the first folding step, then the spacing between the double hinged second and third creases 240 b, 240 c may need to be greater than or equal to the combined heights of those items, etc., above the top 201 of the game board 200. However, if the two opposing items, etc., attached to the top 201 of the board 200 are able to engage one another by insertion of one of the two items, etc., into the other, or by the two items, etc., having offsetting or complementary structures that fit one another, then such spacing between the folded portions of the game board 200 may be less than the combined heights of the two items, etc.
  • As introduced and discussed above, one of the structures, accessories, objects, etc., may be placed on, attached to, etc., a game board. According to many aspects and embodiments of the present invention, one or more card holders may be provided that may be attached, etc., to a game board (for example as indicated by card holder locations 115, 117 in FIG. 1A and 215, 217 in FIG. 1B). The card holders may vary somewhat in their size and shape but may generally comprise a base and a plurality of side(s) and/or side portion(s), which may also be referred to as wall(s) and/or wall portion(s), extending vertically from portions of the base. The base is generally a main bottom portion of the card holder on which a respective deck or stack of cards is placed (i.e., on the top side or surface of the base) during play of the game. The plurality of vertically extending side(s) and/or side portion(s) generally function to hold the cards in place and keep them inside the holder and above the base of the holder. The overall dimension(s) and shape(s) of each of the card holder(s) may vary, and each of the card holder(s) may be described as having an inner size and shape of an inner card holding area (i.e., between the side(s) and/or side portion(s) of the holder where the stack/deck of cards are placed) and an outer size and shape of the holder and base (i.e., as defined by the dimensions and shape of the outer periphery of the base of the holder). The inner card holding area of a holder may have a size and shape that matches or corresponds to (e.g., slightly larger than) the size and shape of the stack/deck of cards intended to be placed inside the holder, and the outer dimensions of the card holder and base will generally be larger than the inner card holding area. However, the outer size and shape of the holder and base may vary and/or have a different shape than the inner card holding area since the card holding function of the holder may not be directly dependent on the size and shape of the outer size and shape of the holder and base.
  • At least a portion of the bottom side or surface of the base of a card holder may contact and/or rest on a surface of the game board, such as a recessed area of the game board having a top portion(s) and/or layer(s) of the board absent or removed. Such a recessed area may allow a top surface of the base of the card holder to be even and flush with the top playing surface of the game board outside of the recessed area. The card holder may be attached to the game board by any suitable method, such as gluing, etc. According to some embodiments, the card holder may have one or more side projection(s) extending out from one or more of its sides (at or near the bottom side of the card holder and base) for attachment, etc., of the card holder to the game board. For example, one or more of these side projections may be laterally inserted into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board, which may also be reinforced by gluing, etc. By having a recessed area for receiving a card holder, a slight side edge(s) of the recessed area may be exposed by the absence or removal of one or more of the top layer(s) of the game board to provide access for the one or more side projection(s) to become inserted into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board (e.g., inserted into a slit that may be present between layers of the game board). According to other embodiments, one or more small recessed area(s) or hole(s) may be present on the top of a game board that are each smaller than the size of the holder. Such small recessed area(s) or hole(s) may be used to only receive one or more side projection(s) of a card holder and/or provide access for the insertion of the one or more side projection(s) into and/or between one or more layer(s) of the game board.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, a game board may have two card holder locations for the attachment of two separate card holders. A first card holder may be used to hold a first stack/deck of cards, and a second card holder may be used to hold a second stack/deck of cards. As discussed above, the first and second stack/deck of cards may have different types of cards between them that also correspond to different card drawing spaces on the board, such that a player whose player piece lands on one of those spaces draws a card from the respective stack/deck of cards. According to embodiments of the present board game, the first stack/deck of cards (e.g., an “Energy” deck) may include various action-requiring or fact-reading cards, and the second stack/deck of cards (e.g., an “Investment” deck) may include various investment cards. The action cards of the first stack/deck of cards may require a player to do (or refrain from doing) something, such as move to another space on the board, or provide for the occurrence of events that may be beneficial or harmful for the player drawing the card, such as a fine or reward, whereas an investment card of the second stack/deck of cards may create a gain or loss for the player taking an investment risk by optionally drawing the card.
  • Depending on how a stack or deck of cards are used or handled during play of the game, its respective card holder, which may be attached, etc., to the game board, may be designed or engineered accordingly to facilitate or enhance how the players of the game interact with that stack or deck of cards. For example, a player may need to pick up and reshuffle one of the decks of cards after each instance in which a player draws a card from that deck, or a player that draws a card from the deck may need to discard it preferably to the bottom of the deck so that it is not redrawn too soon. To facilitate the grabbing and lifting of a stack or deck of cards out of the holder, such as to reshuffle the deck, the base may have an elevated portion (e.g., an elevated center portion) that is flanked on one or more side(s) by a downwardly inclined portion(s) such that a small gap or spacing is formed between the bottom of the stack/deck of cards and the inclined portion(s) of the base to facilitate and leverage the lifting of the card stack/deck out of the holder by the finger(s) and/or thumb of a player of the game. One or more side opening(s) may also be present in or between the side wall(s) and/or side wall portion(s) to provide access to the stack/deck of cards by the finger(s) and/or thumb of the player.
  • If the players of a game are required or wish to discard into or underneath a stack or deck of cards inside a card holder without having to lift the stack/deck of cards, one or more slot(s) may be present in the vertically extending side wall(s) of the holder to provide a path for the card to be inserted into or underneath the stack/deck of cards. The stack/deck of cards may be resting on an elevated portion of the base, such as an elevated center portion, with inclined portion(s) on one or more side(s) of the elevated portion. A gap or spacing present between the stack/deck of cards and the side inclined portion(s) of the base that is also juxtaposed and continuous with the slot(s) in the respective side wall(s) of the holder may provide a path for the insertion of a card into or underneath the stack/deck of cards without having to manually lift the stack/deck of cards from the holder. Thus, the elevated (center) portion and side inclined portion(s) may serve another purpose of providing an inclined surface for access and guided insertion of the card into the narrowing gap/spacing underneath the bottom of the stack/deck of cards. However, these card holder embodiments may also have one or more side opening(s) to provide access to the stack/deck of cards inside the holder, such as for manually lifting the stack/deck of cards out of the holder, which may be facilitated by the same gap or spacing present underneath one or more of the side(s) of the stack/deck due to the presence of the elevated (center) portion and side inclined portion(s) of the base.
  • An embodiment of a card holder that may be used with a board game of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. The card holder 300 is shown having a base 301 including an elevated center portion 307 and two inclined portions 309 a, 309 b on the sides of the elevated center portion 307. The card holder 300 is further shown having a plurality of side walls 303, 305 extending vertically from at or near the periphery of the base 301 to hold a stack/deck of cards inside the card holder 300. In this example embodiment, the both the outer shape of the holder 300 and base 301 as well as the shape of the inner card holding area between the vertically extending side walls 303, 305 are shown as being rectangular. The side walls 303, 305 are shown as a set of corner pairs of side walls (i.e., 303 a, 305 a; 303 b, 305 b; etc.) that are joined, connected and/or continuous along a respective common edge in addition to being attached, connected and/or continuous with the base 301. The corner pairs of side walls 303, 305 are also shown as being separated from each other by respective side openings 320 a-d (each above one of the first and second long (lateral) side edges 311 a, 311 b or one of the first and second short (lateral) side edges 313 a, 313 b). Thus, a player may access the stack or deck of cards inside the card holder 300 via one or more of the side opening(s) 320 a-d, such as to draw a top card(s) from the stack/deck or to lift the entire stack or deck of cards out of the holder 300. In the latter example, inclined portions 309 a, 309 b may create a small spacing or gap between the bottom of a side portion of the stack/deck of cards in the holder 300 and the top of the respective inclined portion 309 a, 309 b of the base 301 to provide access and leverage for a player to lift up the stack/deck of cards. Outward chamfers 303′, 305′ are further shown on the tops of the each of the side walls 303, 305 of the holder 300.
  • Side projections 315, 317 are further shown near the bottom side of the base 301 of the holder 300 in FIG. 2, which may be used for attachment, etc., to a game board, such as by lateral insertion of these side projection(s) 315, 317 into and/or between the layer(s) of a game board (e.g., into a slit between layers of the game board). For example, a recessed portion of the game board (see, e.g., card holder location 115 or 117 in FIG. 1) may be present or created where the card holder would be attached by having a top portion(s) and/or layer(s) of the game board absent or removed (e.g., cut out) for receiving the card holder 300. Such a recessed area may have its top surface lower than, sunk below, stepped down from, etc., the top surface of the surrounding areas of the game board to provide a slight edge(s) of the recessed area for receiving the side projection(s) 315, 317, and the recessed area may be approximately the same size and shape as (e.g., slightly larger than) the outer size and shape of the base 301 of the holder 300, such that the base 301 may fill, and fit neatly into, the recessed area. As mentioned above, one or more smaller recessed area(s) or hole(s) that are each smaller than the size of the base 301 of the holder 300 may instead be present for receiving the side projection(s) 315, 317 (or other portion(s) of the holder 300) and/or providing access for insertion of the side projection(s) 315, 317 into the game board.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, a card holder may have at least two oppositely oriented side projections on opposite sides or edges of the holder for a more secure engagement, attachment, etc., to a game board. For purposes of the present invention, two projections are oppositely oriented if they are oriented and extend, project, etc., outwardly from the holder (or another game board attachment described herein) in opposite directions (i.e., at approximately 180° relative to each other). With a card holder having a base with linear sides or edges, the two opposite sides or edges of the base (having the oppositely oriented side projections projecting outwardly from them) may be parallel to each other (even if the other sides or edges of the card holder are non-linear). For example, the two side projection(s) 315, 317 are shown in FIG. 2 as being oppositely oriented and projecting out from opposite side edges or ends 311 a, 311 b of the base 301 of the holder 300. However, a card holder may instead have multiple side projection(s) projecting outwardly in different directions from the base that are not opposite from each other (e.g., radially or at angle(s) less than 180°), especially with a card holder having a non-rectangularly shaped base. For example, three or more side projections may extend outwardly in a radial fashion. However, two or more oppositely oriented side projections may be preferred for purposes of installation and attachment of the card holder to a game board.
  • According to the embodiment in FIG. 2, the wedge-shaped projection 315 may be first inserted laterally into one side of the recessed area of the game board (i.e., into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board). Once the wedge-shaped projection 315 of the holder 300 is inserted sufficiently into the game board, the holder 300 may then be moved in the reverse direction to laterally insert the block projection 317 on the opposite side of the holder into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board on the opposite side of the recessed area. Thus, projections 315, 317 may provide one-time installation and attachment of the card holder to the game board. The tight fit between the laterally inserted side projections 315, 317 of the holder 300 inside the game board, which may be reinforced by an adhesive, etc., may keep the card holder 300 securely attached to the game board during use and repeated folding and inversion of the game board. Although a wedge-shaped projection 315 and block projection 317 are shown in FIG. 2, each of these projection(s) on each side of the holder may actually comprise one or more projection(s) having different size and shapes.
  • Each of the side projection(s) 315, 317 in FIG. 2 may also have their top surface below the top surface of the neighboring portion of the base, such that a top surface of the game board may become even and flush with the neighboring top surface of the base when the holder is attached to a game board by lateral insertion of the side projection(s) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board. For example, the block-shaped side projection 317 is shown in FIG. 2 extending laterally from a first side edge 311 a of the base 301, and the wedge-shaped side projection 315 is shown extending laterally from a second side edge 311 b of the base 301. The top surfaces of these side projection(s) 315, 317 are further shown being lower than, sunk below, stepped down from, etc., the top surface of the neighboring portions (e.g., inclined portions 309 a, 309 b, respectively) of the base 301, which may be due to the projections 315, 317 being located closer to the bottom than the top of the base 301. Thus, the top surface of one or more top layer(s) of a game board, to which the card holder 300 is attached by lateral insertion of the side projection(s) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board, may be made even and flush with the top surface of the neighboring inclined portions 309 a, 309 b, respectively, of the base 301, which may provide a more even and consistent surface to the game board to improve its aesthetics and/or function.
  • Another embodiment of a card holder 400 is shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B that has many similarities to the card holder 300 in FIG. 2 with a main exception that the card holder 400 in FIG. 3 additionally has slots 430 a-d to provide a path for the insertion of a card(s) into and/or underneath a stack/deck of cards present inside the holder 400 (without needing to lift the stack/deck of cards). The holder 400 is shown having a base 401 with a plurality of vertically extending side walls 403 and side wall portions 405 for partially enclosing and holding a stack/deck of cards within the inner card holding space between them. Again, in this example embodiment, the outer shape of the holder 400 and base 401 as well as the shape of the inner card holding area (between the vertically extending side walls 403 and side wall portions 405) are shown as being rectangular. Side openings 420 a-d are again provided (each above one of the first and second long (lateral) side edges 411 a, 411 b or one of the first and second short (lateral) side edges 413 a, 413 b) for access to the stack/deck by a player's thumb and/or finger(s).
  • The vertically extending side walls 403 of the holder 400 may be suspended above the slots 430 by continuous attachment, etc., to a neighboring side wall portion 405, and vertically extending side wall portions 405 along the same lateral side or edge of the holder 400 may be linked by a respective side connecting wall portion 425. The side connecting wall portions 425 may be located above a respective first and second (short) lateral side edge or end 413 a, 413 b of the holder 400. For example, side wall portions 405 a, 405 b on the same side of the inner card holding space, such as at or near the same lateral side edge or end of the holder 400, may be continuously attached, etc., to each other by a side connecting wall portion 425 a between those side wall portions 405 a, 405 b. Side connecting wall portions 425 may assist in guiding the insertion of a card into or underneath the stack/deck of cards.
  • As discussed above, a gap or spacing may be present between the stack/deck of cards and the inclined portions 409 a, 409 b of the base 401 (due to an elevated center portion 407), which are each also juxtaposed and continuous with respective slots 430 a/430 c or 430 b/430 d present on the same side of the inner card holding space of the holder 400. Thus, a path for the insertion of a card into or underneath a stack/deck of cards present inside the holder 400 would be first through the respective slots 430 (and a continuously associated side opening 420) and secondly along the top surface of the respective inclined portion 409 a, 409 b of the base 401 to join the remainder of the stack/deck of cards. For example, a card may be inserted through slots 430 b, 430 d and side opening 420 d and then along and above the inclined portion 409 b of the base 401 toward where the stack/deck of cards are in contact with the elevated center portion 407 of the base 401 of the holder 400. Alternatively, a card(s) may be inserted through slots 430 a, 430 c and side opening 420 b and then along and above the inclined portion 409 a of the base 401 toward where the stack/deck of cards are in contact with the elevated center portion 407 of the base 401 of the holder 400. In either case, the side connecting wall portions 425 a, 425 b (in place of the side openings 420 a, 420 c extending all the way down to the base 401) may also function to guide the insertion of the card(s) through the slots 430 b, 430 d and side opening 420 d, or through the slots 430 a, 430 c and side opening 420 b, as the case may be. Eventually, further insertion or advance of the card(s) may be stopped due to its contact with an opposing side(s) 403 a, 403 c or 403 b, 403 d of the holder 400.
  • Much like the embodiment in FIG. 2, side projections 415, 417 are further shown near the bottom sides of the base 401 of the holder 400 in FIG. 3, which may be used for attachment, etc., to a game board, such as by lateral insertion of these side projection(s) 415, 417 into and/or between the layer(s) of a game board (e.g., into a slit between layers of the game board). For example, a recessed portion of the game board (see, e.g., card holder location 115 or 117 in FIG. 1) may be present or created where the card holder would be attached that has a top portion(s) and/or layer(s) of the game board absent or removed (e.g., cut out) to create the recessed area for receiving the card holder 400. Such a recessed area would be sunk below the top surface of the surrounding areas of the game board to provide a slight lip on the side(s) or periphery of the recessed area where the top layer(s) of the game board are exposed for receiving the side projection(s) 415, 417. The recessed area may be approximately the same size and shape as (e.g., slightly larger than) the outer size and shape of the base 401 of the holder 400, such that the base 401 of the holder 400 may fill, and fit neatly into, the recessed area. As mentioned above, one or more smaller recessed area(s) or hole(s) that are each smaller than the size of the base 401 of the holder 400 may instead be present for receiving the side projection(s) 415, 417 (or other portion(s) of the holder 400) and/or providing access for insertion of the side projection(s) 415, 417 into the game board.
  • Similar to the card holder 300 in FIG. 2, the two side projection(s) 415, 417 of the holder embodiment 400 in FIG. 3 are also shown as being oppositely oriented (i.e., oriented outwardly in opposite directions from the holder) and projecting out from opposite side edges or ends 411 a, 411 b of the base 401 of the holder 400 for more secure engagement, attachment, etc., with a game board. According to these embodiments, the wedge-shaped projection 415 may be first inserted laterally into one side of a recessed area of the game board (i.e., into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board). Once the wedge-shaped projection 415 of the holder 400 is inserted sufficiently into the game board, the holder 400 may then be moved in the reverse direction to laterally insert the block projection 417 on the opposite of the holder into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board on the opposite side of the recessed area. Thus, projections 415, 417 may provide one-time installation and attachment of the card holder to the game board. The tight fit between the laterally inserted side projections 415, 417 of the holder 400 inside the game board, which may be reinforced by an adhesive, etc., may keep the card holder 400 securely attached to the game board during use and repeated folding and inversion of the game board. Although a wedge-shaped projection 415 and block projection 417 are shown in FIG. 3, each of these projection(s) on each side of the holder may actually comprise one or more projection(s) having different size and shapes.
  • Each of the side projection(s) 415, 417 in FIG. 3 may also have their top surface below the top surface of the neighboring portion of the base, such that a top surface of the game board may become even and flush with the neighboring top surface of the base when the holder is attached to a game board by lateral insertion of the side projection(s) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board. For example, the block-shaped side projection 417 is shown in FIG. 3 extending laterally from a first (long) side edge 411 a of the base 401, and the wedge-shaped side projection 415 is shown extending laterally from a second (long) side edge 411 b of the base 401. The top surfaces of these side projection(s) 415, 417 are further shown being lower than, sunk below, stepped down from, etc., the top surface of the neighboring portions (e.g., the inclined portions 409 a, 409 b, respectively) of the base 401, which may be due to the projections 415, 417 being located closer to the bottom than the top of the base 401. Thus, the top surface of one or more top layer(s) of a game board, to which the card holder 400 is attached by lateral insertion of the side projection(s) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board, may be made even and flush with the top surface of the neighboring inclined portions 409 a, 409 b, respectively, of the base 401, which may provide a more even and consistent surface to the game board to improve its aesthetics and/or function.
  • The specific embodiments provided in FIGS. 2 and 3 are examples intended to convey possible features of a card holder(s) that may be attached to a game board to hold the stack(s) or deck(s) of playing cards for the game. However, the actual shape and structure of a card holder may vary without departing from concepts of the present invention for a novel board game, but a card holder may generally include at least a base having a plurality of spaced-apart side wall(s) and/or side wall portion(s) to contain and hold the card stack/deck placed in the holder. Indeed, a card holder may have different combinations of features shown and described for other card holder embodiments. For additional description regarding possible structural features and dimensions of a card holder that may be attached to a game board of the present invention, see U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/200,507, the entire contents and disclosure of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • According to some embodiments, the card holder 300 in FIG. 2 may be used for a stack or deck having fewer cards that may also be preferably reshuffled after each time a card is drawn from that stack/deck. Thus, the card holder 300 has (i) shorter side walls and (ii) no slots for card insertion. However the card holder 300 does have the elevated (center) portion 307 and side openings 320 for drawing a card and for repeated lifting and handling of the entire stack/deck of cards for reshuffling. For example, the card holder 300 in FIG. 2 may be used for an “Investment” deck having a relatively fewer number of cards that may provide a penalty or reward to a player(s). Such a stack/deck of cards may preferably be reshuffled after each time a card is drawn from it. Accordingly, a stack or deck that is reshuffled more frequently may have a fewer number of cards since a higher card number is not needed to create random and unknown card draws by players over the course of the game. This is especially important if the player may choose whether to take a card from the stack/deck since drawing of the card may represent a risk of receiving a penalty. By randomizing the stack/deck of cards more frequently (e.g., after each time a card is drawn), the relative probability of risk and reward (e.g. 60% chance of reward versus 40% chance of penalty) may be maintained constant during the game without player bias due to knowledge of prior card draws from the stack/deck.
  • According to some embodiments, the card holder 400 in FIG. 3 may be used for a stack or deck having a relatively greater number of cards that may be preferably left inside the holder 400 (i.e., not repeatedly shuffled). Thus, the card holder 400 is shown having (i) higher side walls and/or side wall portion(s) for the taller stack/deck of cards and (ii) slots 430 (continuous with a respective side opening 420) for insertion of a card(s) into or underneath the stack/deck of cards (i.e., in coordination with a respective side inclined portion(s) 409 of the base 401) without a user/player needing to manually lift the stack/deck of cards. The elevated (center) portion 407 and side openings 420 may also facilitate drawing of a card from the stack/deck of cards in the holder 400 and for occasional lifting and removal of the entire stack/deck of cards from the holder 400, such as for storage of the board game. For example, the card holder 400 in FIG. 3 may be used for an “Energy” deck having a relatively greater number of cards that each prescribe an action for a player to follow. The slots 430 thus provide a way to return the drawn card to the stack/deck of cards without needing to manually lift up the stack/deck. Inward chamfers 403′, 405′ may also be provided at the tops of the side walls 403 and side wall portions 405 that may serve a function with outward chamfers 303′, 305′ of the other holder 300.
  • As discussed above, if two card holders are used and attached, etc., to the game board at locations allowing for their alignment during folding of the game board, one card holder may be optionally smaller than the other card holder to allow the smaller card holder to become inserted into the larger card holder when they are opposingly folded together. As a result, the game board may be more compactly folded, such as for storage. For example, a first card holder attached to the board, such as embodiment 300 in FIG. 2 for an Investment deck, may be smaller than a second card holder, such as embodiment 400 in FIG. 3 for an Energy deck (i.e., the outer spacing between the vertically extending side walls of the first card holder may be less than the inner spacing between the vertically extending side walls and side wall portions of the second card holder, such that the sides of the first card holder may fit within and between the side walls and side wall portions of the second card holder). If one card holder for one stack/deck of cards is larger than another card holder for a different stack/deck of cards, then the cards themselves may also be differently sized. The presence of the oppositely oriented chamfers on opposing top surfaces of (i) the side walls of the first holder and (ii) the side walls and side wall portions of the second holder may help to guide their alignment and inserted engagement together during folding of the game board. Even if the two card holders (attached to the game board) are not perfectly aligned with each other during folding of the game board, the oppositely facing chamfers may help to “catch” and guide their more perfect alignment and engagement.
  • As introduced above, aspects and embodiments of the present invention may further include a plurality of industry regions for each of the territory sections of a game board, each of the territory regions being designed to receive one or more industries as selected by a player during play of the game. One or more industry regions may be present in each of the territory sections of a game board. When two or more industry regions are present within the same territory section, those industry regions may be differently marked or colored to distinguish among them (see below). Each of the industry regions has a top side and a bottom side and has a generally planar shape. Each industry region generally has outer side walls and a plurality of receiving holes arranged in an ordered two-dimensional pattern or array, such as in a grid or the like, which are each open on the top side of the industry region and separated from each other by one or more intersecting partition(s), which may include intersecting column and row partitions. Each of these receiving holes may be closed on the bottom side of the industry region (e.g., due to a continuous bottom wall(s) of the industry region covering at least the planar area where the receiving holes are located), although one or more (or all) of the receiving holes of an industry region could also conceivably be open on their bottoms (i.e., the receiving hole(s) may span all the way through the industry region). Each industry region also has a plurality of outer side walls around the periphery of the industry region that are attached, connected, continuous with, etc., the ends of the one or more intersecting column partition(s) and/or row partition(s) to partly enclose the outer receiving holes of the industry region. It is also possible for an industry region to have an inner wall(s) surrounding an inner gap, spacing, etc. (e.g., a voided area), that interrupts the internal ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes.
  • For purposes of the present invention, the phrase “ordered two-dimensional pattern” in reference to the pattern of receiving holes of an industry region shall mean that the receiving holes are within a two-dimensional plane and spaced apart in series at regular intervals along at least one axis or dimension of the plane (i.e., the spacing between adjacent receiving holes is always about the same along a single axis within the two-dimensional plane apart from any gap or interruption in the pattern of receiving holes due to the shape and/or structure of the industry region). In other words, the regular spacing between the series of receiving holes along one axis or dimension of the ordered two-dimensional pattern may be affected or interrupted by the overall shape and/or any structures of the industry region (i.e., one or more column/row positions of the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes may be absent). To put it another way, a regularly ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes may have one or more column/row positions absent or removed. Typically, the ordered two-dimensional pattern will be a rectangular grid-like pattern with receiving holes arranged in side-by-side columns and rows (i.e., with the columns and rows being perpendicular to each other). However, other types of regular patterns are also possible, such as a diamond pattern, an alternating checkerboard-like pattern, etc. Indeed, the partitions separating the receiving holes in an ordered two-dimensional pattern may be at non-perpendicular angles relative to each other.
  • The partitions of an industry region separating the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes for receiving one or more industries (see below) may generally be divided into a first group of partitions and a second group of partitions. The first group of partitions may be parallel with each other and/or not intersect, and the second group of partitions may also be parallel with each other and/or not intersect. However, partitions of the first and second groups of partitions may generally intersect each other at one or more angle(s) (e.g., at only one angle if the two intersecting groups of partitions are parallel with themselves). Because these partitions separate the receiving holes into an ordered two-dimensional pattern, the receiving holes may be arranged into a series of columns and rows, and the groups of partitions may thus be referred to as groups of row partitions and column partitions in these cases. Each “row” and “column” may comprise one or more receiving hole(s). For example, the receiving holes may be arranged in a rectangular grid-like pattern by a first group of (row) partitions and a second group of (column) partitions that are perpendicular to each other.
  • As further illuminated by the discussion of the figure embodiments below, each of the industry regions for a territory section of the game board may vary substantially in terms of its outer size and shape within the plane of the industry region, which may depend on the presence or absence of additional minor structural variations. Thus, the pattern of the receiving holes (and the size and shape of the planar area occupied by the pattern of receiving holes) may depend on the overall or outer size and shape of the industry region and whether any additional minor structural variation(s), such as a voided area, etc., are present that may disturb the pattern of receiving holes. Each industry region may have three or more outer side walls, or more typically four or more outer side walls. The outer side walls may be arranged in many different orientations relative to each other, such as linear and perpendicular or diagonal or curved, to create industry regions having a wide variety of different sizes, configurations and shapes.
  • Similar to the card holders described above, each of the industry regions may have a plurality of side projection(s) for attachment of the industry region to a game board, such as by lateral insertion of their side projection(s) into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board, which may be reinforced by an adhesive, etc. An industry region may have at least two oppositely oriented side projections for attachment to a game board. By having at least two oppositely oriented side projections, an industry region piece may be more securely attached to the game board. As with the card holders, each side projection may vary in terms of its size and/or shape, and a plurality of side projections may be used in place of a single side projection on the same side wall of the industry region piece.
  • The industry regions for a territory section of the game board may be attached at industry region locations within that territory section of the game board that correspond to, and are associated with, the respective permitting spaces. These industry region locations for a territory section may also be recessed areas of the game board having a top layer(s) of the game board absent or removed, the recessed area matching or corresponding to the size and shape of the industry region piece to be placed into, and attached to, that industry region location. Thus, the recessed area(s) may have its top surface lower than, sunk below, stepped down from, etc., the top surface of the surrounding areas of the game board, which may also provide a shallow lip around the periphery of the recessed area due to the top layer(s) of the game board being slightly exposed for receiving the side projection(s). For example, corresponding industry region pieces may be attached to the recessed industry region locations 108, 110, 112, 114 of the game board embodiment 100 described above in connection with FIG. 1A. The recessed area may be approximately the same size and shape as (e.g., slightly larger than) the outer size and shape of the respective industry region, such that the industry region may fill, and fit neatly into, the recessed area. As mentioned above, however, one or more smaller recessed area(s) or hole(s) that are each smaller than the size of the respective industry region may instead be present for receiving a portion(s) of an industry region and/or providing access for insertion of their side projection(s) into the game board.
  • The industry region pieces (or simply “industry region”) shown in FIG. 4-7 are examples of industry regions that may be placed in one or more of the territory sections of a game board. One or more of the example industry regions presented in each of these figures may be present in different industry regions or together in only one territory section. For purposes of FIGS. 4-7, each of the receiving holes of an industry region arranged in an ordered two-dimensional pattern may be identified first by a reference number (e.g., “517” for industry region 510 in FIG. 4A) followed by its column (i.e., alphabetically “a”, “b”, “c”, etc.) and row (i.e., numerically “1”, “2”, “3”, etc.). For example, with regard to the industry region 510 in FIG. 4A, a receiving hole at column b, row 5 would be labeled as “517 b 5”.
  • This ordered numbering and lettering of the columns and rows (as well as the column partitions 513 a-e and row partitions 515 a-e) will start from an “origin” of the grid-like pattern. Accordingly, a receiving hole at an outermost corner of the industry region may be designated as the “origin” (perhaps arbitrarily) for purposes of starting the numbering and lettering onward from “1” and “a”, respectively. The receiving hole at an outermost corner of an industry region may be defined as a receiving hole at the “origin” of an imaginary rectangular grid that encompasses all of the receiving holes of the industry region in the grid-like pattern. However, such an imaginary “origin” may be arbitrary if there is more than one candidate “outermost corner”, and this designation is only used for purposes of consistency to identify the individual receiving holes in relative terms that are shown in the figures.
  • The industry region examples 510, 530, 550 shown in FIG. 4A-C may be present in more than one industry region or together in only one territory section. In fact, these specific industry regions 510, 530, 550 in FIG. 4A-C correspond to the shapes of the industry region locations 112 a-c of the flatlands section 111 of the game board 100 in FIG. 1A.
  • The industry region 510 in FIG. 4A is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 511 a-e, a plurality of column partitions 513 a-e and a plurality of row partitions 515 a-e, the column and row partitions 513, 515 separating a plurality of receiving holes 517 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. The plurality of receiving holes 517 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 512 of the industry region 510. The outer side walls 511 a-d are shown at approximately perpendicular angles, but outer side wall 511 e is shown oriented diagonally with a concave curvature. Outer side wall 511 e may represent the edge of a river or other body of water found in a flatlands or other type of terrain. Two oppositely oriented side projections 519, 521 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the outer side walls 511 a, 511 c, respectively, on opposite sides of the industry region 510 for attachment of the industry region 510 to a game board.
  • Since the plurality of receiving holes 517 are arranged in a grid-like pattern, each receiving hole 517 in FIG. 4A may be identified in terms of its column and row alphanumeric identifier as described above. For example, receiving hole 517 a 1 of the industry region 510 in FIG. 4A may be defined (albeit arbitrarily) as being at the “origin” of the grid-like pattern of the receiving holes 517. Receiving hole 517 a 1 is shown being bounded by outer side walls 511 a, 511 b, first column partition 513 a and first row partition 515 a. To further demonstrate this method of identification in light of FIG. 4A, receiving holes 517 a 2, 517 a 3, 517 a 4, 517 b 1, 517 e 4 and 517 c 6 are also shown labeled in the figure. As mentioned above, each of these receiving holes 517 is bounded by four of the outer side wall(s) 511 a-e, column partition(s) 513 a-e and/or row partition(s) 515 a-e.
  • FIG. 4B presents another example of an industry region 530 having outer side walls 531 a-h and a plurality of receiving holes 537 separated by column partitions 533 a-h and row partitions 535 a-j. Inwardly oriented outer side walls 531 c, 531 d, 531 f, 531 g create notches in the outer planar shape of the industry region 530. The large and nearly rectangular size of this industry region 530 may represent the vastly open tracts of land that may be available in the flatlands or other type of similar terrain. The right angles between neighboring outer side walls may also represent the typical grid-like property lines that exist in these geographical regions. A receiving hole 537 a 1 is shown at an outermost corner and “origin” of the grid-like pattern of receiving holes 537. Some examples of specific receiving holes are further shown labeled as 537 a 8, 537 b 9, 537 k 1, 537 k 8 and 537 j 9 in the figure. Two oppositely oriented side projections 539, 541 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the outer walls 531 a, 531 e, respectively, on opposite sides of the industry region 530 for its attachment to a game board. Like with the other embodiments shown in these figures, only the tops of the plurality of receiving holes 537 of the industry region 530 are open to the environment due to the presence of the partitions 533, 535 and/or outer side wall(s) 531 and a bottom wall 532.
  • FIG. 4C presents yet another example of an industry region 550 having outer side walls 551 a-j and a plurality of receiving holes 557 separated by column partitions 553 a-e and row partitions 555 a-e. Inwardly oriented outer side walls 551 d-i create a series of diagonal notches in the outer planar shape of the industry region 550. This series of notches created by side walls 551 d-i may represent the edge of a city or town as opposed to a water feature. A receiving hole 557 a 1 is shown at an outermost corner and “origin” of the grid-like pattern of receiving holes 557. Some examples of specific receiving holes are further shown labeled as 557 a 6, 557 c 6, 557 d 5, 557 e 4, and 557 f 3 in the figure. Two oppositely oriented side projections 559, 561 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the outer walls 551 a, 551 c, respectively, on opposite sides of the industry region 550 for attachment to a game board. Like with the other embodiments shown in these figures, only the tops of the plurality of receiving holes 557 of the industry region 550 are open to the environment due to the presence of the partitions 553, 555 and/or outer side wall(s) 551 and a bottom wall 552.
  • The industry region examples 610, 630, 650 shown in FIG. 5A-C may be present in more than one industry region or together in only one territory section. In fact, these specific industry regions 610, 630, 650 in FIGS. 5A-C correspond to the shapes of the industry region locations 110 a-c of the tundra section 109 of the game board 100 in FIG. 1A.
  • For example, the industry region 610 in FIG. 5A is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 611 a-h, a plurality of column partitions 613 a-h and a plurality of row partitions 615 a-k, the column and row partitions 613, 615 separating a plurality of receiving holes 617 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. The plurality of receiving holes 617 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 612 of the industry region 610. The outer side walls 611 a-h are shown at approximately perpendicular angles, but outer side wall 611 i is shown at a diagonally curved orientation. Inwardly oriented side walls 611 d-g create a series of larger notches in the outer planar shape of the industry region 610. These lager notches created by side walls 611 d-g may represent the edge of a city or maintain range, whereas the curved side wall 611 i may represent a land feature such as a mountain or body of water. Indeed, industry regions in the tundra territory section may have features in common with the flatlands and mountainous territories, since the tundra may have both mountainous and flatland areas. Four oppositely oriented side projections including wedge projection 619 and a group of three oppositely oriented projections 621 a-c are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls 611 b, 611 d, 611 f and 611 h, the wedge projection 619 and group of three projections 621 a-c projecting outwardly on opposite sides of the industry region 610.
  • Since the plurality of receiving holes 617 are arranged in a grid-like pattern, each receiving hole 617 in FIG. 5A may be identified in terms of its column and row alphanumeric identifier as described above. For example, receiving hole 617 a 1 of the industry region 610 in FIG. 5A may be defined (albeit arbitrarily) as being at the “origin” of the grid-like pattern of the receiving holes 617. Receiving hole 617 a 1 is shown being bounded by outer side walls 611 a, 611 b, first column partition 613 a and first row partition 615 a. Receiving holes 61719, 617 i 6, 61711 and 61713 are also shown labeled in the figure. As mentioned above, each of these receiving holes 617 is bounded by four of the outer side wall(s) 611 a-h, column partition(s) 613 a-h and/or row partition(s) 615 a-k.
  • FIG. 5B presents another example of an industry region 630 having outer side walls 631 a-i and a plurality of receiving holes 637 separated by column partitions 633 a-f and row partitions 635 a-h. A receiving hole 637 a 1 is shown at an outermost corner and “origin” of the grid-like pattern of receiving holes 637. Many of the outer side walls 631 a and 631 c-i are shown at approximately perpendicular angles, but outer side wall 631 b is shown at a diagonally curved orientation. The outer blocked portions of the side walls 631 a and 631 c-i may again be the result of being bordered by a city or town, and the outer curved side wall 611 b may be the result of a natural land feature. Furthermore, an inlet feature 638 is further shown in the side of the industry region 630 between the outer side walls 631 b,c that interrupts the contiguous pattern of receiving holes 637, which may represent the edge of a mountain or body of water. Some examples of specific receiving holes are further shown labeled as 637 d 7, 537 f 7 and 637 i 2 in the figure. Oppositely oriented side projections are further shown in FIG. 5C including a first set of side projections 639 a, 639 b and a second set of side projections 641 a-c, the first and sets of side projections projecting laterally outward in opposite directions from at or near the bottoms of the outer walls 631 b, 631 c and 631 e, 631 g, 631 i, respectively, on opposite sides of the industry region 630. Like with the other embodiments shown in these figures, only the tops of the plurality of receiving holes 637 of the industry region 630 are open to the environment due to the presence of the partitions 633, 635 and/or outer side wall(s) 631 and a bottom wall 632.
  • FIG. 5C presents yet another example of an industry region 650 having outer side walls 651 and a plurality of receiving holes 657 separated by column partitions 653 and row partitions 635. The smaller size and shape of this industry region 650 may be similar to those in the mountainous territory section due to parts of these terrains being surrounded more closely by mountains and/or a body of water. In addition, a voided area 658 is present in the center of the industry region 650 to represent the presence of a lake. A receiving hole 657 a 1 is shown at an outermost corner and “origin” of the grid-like pattern of receiving holes 657. Additional examples of specific receiving holes are further shown labeled as 657 f 3 and 657 d 6 in the figure. Two oppositely oriented side projections 659, 661 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the outer walls 651 on opposite sides of the industry region 650 for attachment to a game board. Like with the other embodiments shown in these figures, only the tops of the plurality of receiving holes 657 of the industry region 650 are open to the environment due to being enclosed by the partitions 653, 655 and/or outer side wall(s) 651 and a bottom wall 652. A voided area 658 is also shown near the center of the industry region 650 that interrupts the pattern of receiving holes 657.
  • The remaining industry regions 710-870 shown in FIGS. 6-7 are described more summarily in light of the more detailed description above. The industry region examples 710, 730, 750 and 770 shown in FIGS. 6A-D may again be present in more than one industry region or together in only one territory section. In fact, these specific industry regions 710, 730, 750 and 770 in FIG. 6A-D correspond to the shapes of the industry region locations 108 a-d of the mountains section 107 of the game board 100 in FIG. 1A.
  • The industry region 710 in FIG. 6A is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 711, a plurality of column partitions 713 and a plurality of row partitions 715, the column and row partitions 713, 715 separating a plurality of receiving holes 717 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. The industry region 710 is smaller in size with notched and curved sides to represent the smaller areas available for development in these terrains. For example, industry region 710 may represent a small valley bounded by mountains and/or a small town or other land feature. The plurality of receiving holes 717 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 712 of the industry region 710. Four oppositely oriented side projections including a first set of side projections 719 a, 719 b and a second group of side projections 721 a, 721 b are further shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 710.
  • The industry region 730 in FIG. 6B is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 731, a plurality of column partitions 733 and a plurality of row partitions 735, the column and row partitions 733, 735 separating a plurality of receiving holes 737 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. This industry region 730 may represent parts of a mountainous territory that have been mined by mountain top removal methods to create larger and more open flat areas that are available for development and desirable due to being less susceptible to flooding than nearby valleys. The plurality of receiving holes 737 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 732 of the industry region 730. Four oppositely oriented side projections including a side projection 739 and a group of side projections 741 a, 741 b, 741 c are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 730 (i.e., side projection 739 is oriented in an opposite direction than the group of side projections 741 a, 741 b, 741 c).
  • The industry region 750 in FIG. 6C is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 751, a plurality of column partitions 753 and a plurality of row partitions 755, the column and row partitions 753, 755 separating a plurality of receiving holes 757 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. Again as with the industry region 710 above, this industry region 750 is smaller in size with notched and curved sides to represent the smaller areas available for development in these terrains. The plurality of receiving holes 757 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 752 of the industry region 750. Two oppositely oriented side projections 759, 761 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 750.
  • The industry region 770 in FIG. 6D is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 771, a plurality of column partitions 773 and a plurality of row partitions 775, the column and row partitions 773, 775 separating a plurality of receiving holes 777 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. Similar to industry region 730 above, this industry region 770 may represent a smaller area that has been mined by mountain top removal methods and available for development. The plurality of receiving holes 777 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 772 of the industry region 770. Three oppositely oriented side projections including a set of side projections 779 a, 779 b and an oppositely oriented side projection 781 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 770.
  • Industry region examples 810, 830, 850 and 870 shown in FIGS. 7A-D may be present in more than one industry region or together in only one territory section. In fact, these specific industry regions 810, 830, 850 and 870 in FIG. 7A-D correspond to the shapes of the industry region locations 114 a-d of the shoreline section 113 of the game board 100 in FIG. 1A.
  • The industry region 810 in FIG. 7A is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 811, a plurality of column partitions 813 and a plurality of row partitions 815, the column and row partitions 813, 815 separating a plurality of receiving holes 817 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. The convoluted outer side walls create a curved outer border to represent land features that are typical in shoreline areas, which may further include more abrupt land features, such as a bay or inlet 818. The plurality of receiving holes 817 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 812 of the industry region 810. Three oppositely oriented side projections including a first set of side projections 819 a, 819 b and another side projection 821 are further shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 810.
  • The industry region 830 in FIG. 7B is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 831, a plurality of column partitions 833 and a plurality of row partitions 835, the column and row partitions 833, 835 separating a plurality of receiving holes 837 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. The outer shape of the industry region 830 may represent a shoreline tract of land with possible cliffs bordering an ocean. The plurality of receiving holes 837 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 832 of the industry region 830. Two oppositely oriented side projections 839, 841 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 830.
  • The industry region 850 in FIG. 7C is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 851, a plurality of column partitions 853 and a plurality of row partitions 855, the column and row partitions 853, 855 separating a plurality of receiving holes 857 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. This industry region 850 may represent a shoreline terrain in addition to offshore platforms over a stable ocean or sea floor that may be available for energy development. The plurality of receiving holes 857 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 852 of the industry region 850. Two oppositely oriented side projections 859, 861 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 850.
  • Finally, the industry region 870 in FIG. 7D is shown having a plurality of outer side walls 871, a plurality of column partitions 873 and a plurality of row partitions 875, the column and row partitions 873, 875 separating a plurality of receiving holes 877 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern. This industry region 870 may represent a shoreline area that is also bounded by a swamp or river. The plurality of receiving holes 877 are also partially enclosed by a bottom wall 872 of the industry region 870. Two oppositely oriented side projections 879, 881 are shown projecting laterally outward from at or near the bottoms of the respective outer side walls on opposite sides of the industry region 870.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, game boards having a functional arrangement of markings and attachments for use of the game board in playing a game are provided having a closed loop path and two or more territory sections marked on the top of the game board, the game board may further have at least one card holder and/or a plurality of industry regions attached to the top of the game board. As described above, the at least one card holder may preferably be attached to a main inner area of the game board inside the closed loop path for movement of the player pieces, and markings or other indicia are further provided to link the industry regions to particular permitting spaces along the path.
  • As described herein, the industry regions may generally have an ordered two-dimensional pattern(s) of receiving holes with openings at least on top of them for receiving individual industry pieces having a pattern of bottom protrusions that match a subset of contiguous receiving holes of the industry region, the engagement between the bottom protrusions of the industry piece and the receiving holes of the industry region providing a stable placement and positioning of the industry piece on the industry region during play of the game. Although less preferred, however, each of the attached industry regions could instead be a dish, tray or the like that does not have a plurality of receiving holes, and the amount of “space” available on that industry region could be based on the overall size of the base, a separate counting system for the industry pieces, etc., which may correspond, for example, to the total number of receiving holes and/or industry protrusions that might otherwise be available/used for that industry region.
  • According to an embodiment of the present invention, a game board 100′ is shown in FIG. 8 that is comparable to the game board 100 in FIG. 1A, but with particular industry regions and card holders attached to respective locations on the game board. For example, each of these respective locations on the game board may be recessed areas designed to receive the corresponding industry region or card holder. For example, card holders 300, 400 are attached to locations 117, 115 of the game board 100′, respectively. As stated above, the locations 115, 117 may be recessed areas having a same or similar size and shape as the outer size and shape of the respective card holders 300, 400 for a close fit of the card holders 300, 400 in these recessed areas. Note that the side projections of all of the industry regions and the card holders are not visible in FIG. 8. This is because they are inserted into and/or between the layer(s) of the game board 100′ for purposes of securely attaching the industry regions and card holders to the game board 100′. A plurality of linear creases and a break may also be present in the game board 100′ as described above (see, e.g., FIG. 1B) for purposes of folding the board 100′, such creases and/or break may be oriented and positioned to bisect one or more of the territory section(s). Generally speaking, the locations of any creases and/or break of a game board for folding of the game board will generally avoid the locations where any industry regions and/or card holder(s) are attached to the game board since they would interfere with bending along the crease/break.
  • According to the embodiment of a game board 100′ in FIG. 8, each of the territory sections 107, 109, 111, 113 are separated by a closed loop path 104 into a main inner portion 107 a, 109 a, 111 a, 113 a and a main outer portion 107 b, 109 b, 111 b, 113 b, respectively. The combination of the main inner portions 107 a, 109 a, 111 a, 113 a of the territory sections may be referred to jointly as a main inner area or portion of the game board 100′, and likewise the main outer portions 107 b, 109 b, 111 b, 113 b of the territory sections may be referred to jointly as a main outer area or portion of the game board 100′.
  • As shown, the card holders 300, 400 may preferably be attached to the game board 100′ within the main inner area to minimize overreaching by one or more of the players of the game. By placing the card holder(s) 300, 400 closer to the center of the game board 100′, the reaching distance from any position around the periphery and/or sides of the game board (i.e., for the players to access the stack/deck of cards inside the card holder(s) 300, 400) is kept relatively constant. Because the cards held in the card holders 300, 400 relate to the game in general (i.e., not limited to a specific territory section unlike the industry regions), their positioning may span more than one territory section. Thus, the card holders may be more easily accommodated within the main inner area of the game board because they do not need to be confined to a particular section. For example, card holder 300 is shown attached to the board 100′ at a location straddling the mountains and tundra sections 107, 109 of the board 100′, and card holder 400 is shown attached to the board 100′ at another location straddling the tundra and flatlands sections 109, 111 of the board 100′.
  • Moreover, the card holders may be placed at mirrored positions relative to a crease(s) located between them to allow more compact folding of a game board due to their aligned engagement during folding. As shown in FIG. 8, for example, card holders 300, 400 are positioned at mirrored locations (i.e., in corresponding orientations at equal distances) relative to crease(s) or fold line(s) located midway or symmetrically between them (see, e.g., FIG. 1B). As a result, one of the card holders (e.g., smaller holder 300) may become invertedly aligned and inserted into the other card holder (e.g., larger holder 400).
  • However, each of the industry regions corresponds to only one of the territory sections and therefore is attached to a location on the game board 100′ that is wholly within its respective territory section. For example, industry regions 710, 730, 750, 770 are shown attached to respective locations 108 a-d in the main outer area 107 b of the mountains section 107, each of these locations 108 a-d possibly representing recessed areas of similar size and shape to the outer size and shape of the respective industry region piece. Industry regions 610, 630, 650 are shown attached to respective locations 110 a-c in the main outer area 109 b of the tundra section 109, each of these locations 110 a-c possibly representing recessed areas of similar size and shape to the outer size and shape of the respective industry region piece. Industry regions 510, 530, 550 are shown attached to respective locations 112 a-c in the main outer area 111 b of the flatlands section 111, each of these locations 112 a-c possibly representing recessed areas of similar size and shape to the outer size and shape of the respective industry region piece. Finally, industry regions 810, 830, 850, 870 are shown attached to respective locations 114 a-d of the shoreline section 113, each of these locations 114 a-d possibly representing recessed areas of similar size and shape to the outer size and shape of the respective industry region piece.
  • Unlike the placement of the respective industry regions in only the main outer areas 107 b, 109 b, 111 b of the mountains, tundra and flatlands territory sections 107, 109, 111 in FIG. 8, two of the industry regions 810, 870 in the shoreline territory section 113 are shown attached to the locations 114 b, 114 d that are within the main inner area 113 a of the shoreline section 113. Although not shown, it is also possible for one or more industry regions of the other territory section(s) to be placed within its main inner area(s) or portion(s) and/or for industry region(s) placed within the main inner area of a territory section to instead be positioned within its main outer area. For example, one or both of the industry regions 810, 870 of the shoreline section 113 placed in the main inner area 113 a may instead be placed in the main outer area 113 b of that territory section 113. Generally, due to the main inner areas of the territory sections being smaller than the main outer areas of these sections and the presence of the card holder(s) and/or the display of the name or logo of the board inside the main inner area of the game board, the industry regions may more commonly be placed in the main outer areas of the respective territory sections. This is especially true for the larger industry regions, such as 530 and 610 in FIG. 8 for example.
  • According to other aspects and embodiments of the present invention introduced above, a plurality of industry pieces (or simply “industries”) of different types are provided corresponding to the different major types of energy sources and production, such as fossil fuels, nuclear, biofuels, hydroelectric, solar and wind. These designations may actually correspond to multiple types of related energy sources and forms of energy production. For example, fossil fuels include coal, natural gas, oil and other derivative technologies, and solar includes solar panels, thermal towers and other solar technologies. Each of the industry pieces may be placed in (or on) any of the industry regions of the different territory sections of the board. However, as explained further below, the relative cost and productivity levels of these industries in the different territory sections of the board may vary, which affects the relative incentives of purchasing those industries in the different territory sections.
  • Each of the industry pieces has one or more protrusion(s) that extend or project downward from the bottom of a main portion of the industry piece. The main portion of the industry piece may have a variety of different shapes but must generally stay within a column of space that is about the same as, or slightly larger than, the intended footprint area on an industry region to be occupied by the industry piece, such that the size and shape of the main portion of the industry piece does not interfere with the placement of adjacent industry piece(s) within an industry region and/or storage tray.
  • A narrower handle portion may also be present that extends or projects upward from the top of the main portion of the industry piece. The handle portion may allow the industry piece to be grabbed by the finger(s) and/or thumb of a player when the industry piece is crowded next to one or more other industry pieces. The narrower handle portion may have a variety of different sizes and shapes but may preferably be flat (i.e., have a vertically planar shape and/or dimensions) to maximize the amount of free space around it while providing flat surface areas for grasping by a player's opposing finger(s) and/or thumb. The handle portion may be especially useful when access to the side(s) of the main portion of an industry piece is/are blocked or hindered by the close spacing and juxtaposition of the side(s) of the main portions of one or more adjacent industry pieces, which is increased when the main portions of the industry pieces are block-shaped with vertical sides such that any gap(s) or spacing(s) between the main portions of the adjacent industry pieces is minimal and too small for a player's finger(s) and/or thumb.
  • In addition to the above general features, one or more of the side(s) of the individual industry pieces may also be marked or have a structure(s) to show and quickly communicate or indicate to the player(s) what type of industry it represents, such as fossil fuels, nuclear, biofuels, hydroelectric, solar or wind, which may include any kind of printing, painting, hole(s), indentation(s), sticker(s), etc., to present or display letter(s), word(s), abbreviation(s), symbol(s), logo(s), etc., that correspond to the type of industry. Such identifying structure(s) or marking(s) may be presented or displayed on one or more side(s) of the main portion of the industry piece and/or on one or more side(s) of the handle portion of the industry piece. By avoiding or reducing any likely confusion about the identity of an industry piece, play of the game may be facilitated, and unnecessary delays that might otherwise occur and add up over the course of the game may be avoided.
  • As explained further below, the one or more protrusion(s) are configured to be inserted into one or more corresponding receiving holes(s) of an industry region, such that the industry piece is held more securely in place on the industry region. Another purpose of the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes in an industry region is to provide a defined and finite amount of two-dimensional space within an industry region, which is bounded by the outer side walls of the industry region, for placement of the industry pieces within the industry region. Such a finite amount of two-dimensional space within an industry region limits the number of industries that may be placed within that industry region (the maximum number of industries depending on the types and combinations of industries present within the industry region). Indeed, the size and shape of the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes is intended to simulate, or correspond to, real-life land availability and terrain features in a given territory, and additional structural features of the industry region may be present that correspond to more particular land features, such as the edges or borders of a mountain, a city/town or a body of water, that disturb the pattern and eliminate one or more receiving holes. As a result, the outcome of the game may be affected or determined in part by the limited number of industries that may be placed within an industry region. For example, a player may be denied an opportunity to add a new industry to an industry region later in the game if the region is already full.
  • Relatedly, the size and/or shape of the footprint of each individual industry piece (i.e., the cross-sectional area of the bottom of the main portion of the industry piece that rests on an industry region and/or the number of protrusions on the bottom of the industry piece) may represent the relative amount of geographical space needed for that particular type of industry. Accordingly, the relative sizes of the “footprints” of the different industry types may be expressed as a ratio. For example, regardless of their sizes, the relative footprint size ratios of the industry pieces and/or their relative number of bottom protrusions may be 8:5:4:4:2:1 for fossil fuel, nuclear, biofuel, hydroelectric, solar, and wind, respectively. Indeed, these ratios may be fixed at any given time to reflect the relative factual realities for these industries, although the ratios may change over time to reflect technological or other real world changes with these industries that might alter their relative footprint sizes and ratios. In addition to the size of the footprint area, the shape of the footprint area may also vary for a given size to correspond to how compact or extended the geographical footprint of these industries may be in the real world. For example, a biofuel industry piece may have a linear arrangement of four contiguous bottom protrusions, whereas the four bottom protrusions of a hydroelectric industry piece may be more compact in the shape of a square.
  • As described above, each of the industry regions has a plurality of receiving holes arranged in an ordered two-dimensional pattern, which may be arranged in one or more linear row(s) and column(s) (i.e., a grid-like pattern). These linear row(s) and column(s) may intersect each other at an angle, which may be a perpendicular or non-perpendicular angle. The pattern of intersecting linear column(s) and row(s) may be described as a rectangular grid if the column(s) and row(s) intersect each other at approximately perpendicular or right angles. For two or more downward protrusions of an industry piece to fit into the corresponding receiving holes of an industry region, the spacings between the two or more protrusions must be about the same as the spacings between the two or more corresponding receiving holes, such that the protrusions of the industry piece may become aligned with the receiving holes. Indeed, adjacent receiving holes within a column or row of an industry region may generally be equally spaced-apart.
  • These approximately equal spacing(s) may be defined in terms of a center-to-center distance between neighboring protrusions or receiving holes to accommodate for variations in the profile shape(s) of the protrusion(s) and/or receiving hole(s). In other words, the respective centers of the two or more downward protrusions on the bottom of an industry piece must be in the same “ordered two-dimensional pattern” (i.e., within a cross-sectional plane through those projections) as the centers of the corresponding receiving holes of the industry region (although over a much smaller area). However, although the spacing between the downward protrusions may correspond to the spacing of the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes of the industry regions, an industry piece may have downward protrusions ordered in only one dimension. Thus, three or more downward protrusions of an industry may also be described as being equally spaced-apart. Furthermore, the cross-sectional size and/or shape of each of the protrusion(s) must also be about the same as the cross-sectional size and/or shape of the corresponding receiving hole of the industry region, such that each of the protrusion(s) may become inserted into its corresponding receiving hole, although the protrusion(s) may have a smaller cross-sectional size and/or shape.
  • Although the cross-sectional shapes of the protrusions and corresponding receiving holes may generally or preferably match or correspond (i.e., the cross-sectional size and shape of the receiving holes may be about same or slightly larger than the size and shape of the corresponding protrusions), the common cross-sectional shape of the protrusion(s) of an industry and the corresponding receiving hole(s) of an industry region may vary. For example, the cross-sectional shape of the protrusion(s) of an industry piece may be circular, square, diamond, polygonal, star-shaped, etc., or even conceivably irregular shapes. However, the shapes of the protrusions and receiving holes may more preferably be square (or a rounded square). In addition, the depth of the receiving holes of an industry region may be slightly or somewhat greater than the downwardly extending length of the corresponding protrusions of an industry piece, such that a bottom surface of a main portion of the industry piece rests on the top surface of the industry region surrounding the respective receiving holes. The combination of (i) the closely fitting protrusions of an industry being inserted into the corresponding receiving holes of an industry region and (ii) the resting of the bottom surface of main portion of the industry on a top surface of the industry region increases the stabile positioning of the industry on the industry region.
  • Such stabilized positioning of the industry pieces may withstand mild inadvertent bumping or lateral movement of the industry region and game board that might otherwise cause a free-standing industry piece to fall over and/or out of its proper position. However, the close fit between the protrusion(s) and receiving hole(s) may not be a tight fit. A slight gap or spacing between a protrusion and its corresponding receiving hole may be present to facilitate the insertion and removal of the industry piece without requiring an excessive or sudden amount of force that might be difficult to control without disturbing, and/or encountering interference from, the surrounding industry pieces. Such a gap or spacing may be within a range from about 1/128 inch to about 1/16 inch, such as about 1/64 inch, between the opposing sides or faces of an industry protrusion and a corresponding receiving hole. Depending on how centered the protrusion is inside a receiving hole, the gap or spacing between each pair of opposing sides or faces of the protrusion and receiving hole may be more or less within this range (i.e., if an outer side face of a protrusion is closer to its opposing inner side face of a receiving hole, then the outer side face on the opposite side of the protrusion would be further away from its opposing inner side face of the receiving hole). The slight gap or spacing between the protrusion(s) of an industry and the corresponding receiving hole(s) of an industry region may allow a limited amount sideways rotation in multiple directions (e.g., along the column and row axes of the receiving holes and protrusions) to help separate and free the industry piece from, and/or insert or place the industry piece on, the industry region without interference with any of its neighbors.
  • This limited freedom of rotation may be further enhanced by having a curvature or chamfer present along the bottom edges of the protrusions and/or at the top edges of the receiving holes. In addition to facilitating the insertion and/or removal of an industry piece from an industry region (especially when crowded by other industry pieces on the same industry region), such a small amount of tolerable rotation may also help avoid having the whole industry region and/or game board being pulled or moved accidentally when a player attempts to remove an industry piece from the industry region. Such a small amount of tolerable rotation may also facilitate the alignment and insertion of the protrusion(s) with the receiving hole(s) of an industry region and/or allow other nearby industry pieces to momentarily move out of the way if contacted or bumped by a player's finger or thumb, which may facilitate access to an industry piece and/or possibly prevent scraping or injury to the player's finger or thumb.
  • While the aligned spacings and distances between the centers of the protrusions of an industry and the receiving holes of an industry region in the ordered two-dimensional pattern must be about the same, their common spacing may vary to provide or create a desired spacing or gap between the opposing sides of neighboring industry pieces that occupy adjacent receiving holes of an industry region (or industry storage tray—see below). By having a small gap or spacing between neighboring industry pieces on an industry region or storage tray (e.g., in a range from about 1/16 inch to about ⅛ inch), their handling and positioning may be more easily manipulated (e.g., while being placed on and/or removed from an industry region). Such a small gap or spacing may also avoid having other adjacent industry pieces (i) being pulled out when an industry piece is removed and/or (ii) interfering with the placement and insertion of the industry onto the industry region. To further improve handling (without overly sacrificing their stabilized positioning), there may be a slight cross-sectional spacing between each protrusion and its corresponding receiving hole and/or the bottom edges of the protrusion(s) may be rounded or chamfered, such that some rotational freedom of movement of the industry piece is permitted while it is being inserted or removed from the industry region. The limited rotational movement may also allow for other industry pieces to momentarily move out of the way without losing their placement.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, a few sample industry pieces or industries are provided in FIGS. 9-14. For example, FIG. 9 provides an embodiment of a biofuel industry piece 910 having an upper portion 911 and a lower portion 913, the upper portion 911 including a main portion 912 and a handle portion 915, the main portion 912 having a top side 912 a, a bottom side 912 b, a first lateral side 912 c, a second lateral side 912 d, a front side 912 e, and a back side 912 f. The main portion 912 of the biofuel industry piece 910 is shown having an elongated rectangular cross-sectional shape. The bottom portion 913 of the industry piece 910 is shown having four linearly arranged and equally spaced-apart bottom protrusions 914 a-d (i.e., in a 1×4 arrangement) extending downward from the bottom side 912 b of the main portion 912 of the biofuel industry piece 910.
  • The handle portion 915 is shown extending upwardly from the top side 912 a of the main portion 912 of the biofuel industry piece 910, the handle portion 915 shown having a flat, planar shape and set back away from the front, back and lateral sides 912 c-f of the main portion 912 to provide space for grabbing the handle portion 915 by a player's finger(s) and/or thumb. The industry piece 910 is further shown having structural features (e.g., holes in the form of the word “Biofuel” and “B”) that identify the type of industry represented by the industry piece 910. However, these structural markings on the industry piece 910 may vary in their type and style, and other structural features, such as the hollowed interior and appearance of windows, etc., may be absent or different. Moreover, the exact size and shape of the main portion 912 and handle portion 915 may vary, and the cross-sectional size and shape of the main portion 912 of the industry 910 may vary from top-to-bottom while maintaining the same bottom footprint.
  • According to another example embodiment, a fossil fuel industry piece 930 is shown in FIG. 10 having an upper portion 931 and a lower portion 933, the upper portion 931 including a main portion 932 and a handle portion 935, the main portion 932 having a top side 932 a, a bottom side 932 b, a first lateral side 932 c, a second lateral side 932 d, a front side 932 e, and a back side 932 f. The main portion 932 of the fossil fuel industry piece 930 is shown having a rectangular cross-sectional shape. The bottom portion 933 of the industry piece 930 is shown having eight equally spaced-apart bottom protrusions 934 a-h in a 2×4 arrangement (only 934 a-e visible) extending downward from the bottom side 932 b of the main portion 932 of the industry piece 930. The handle portion 935 is shown extending upwardly from the top side 932 a of the main portion 932 of the industry piece 930, the handle portion 935 shown having a flat, planar shape and set back away from the front, back and lateral sides 932 c-f of the main portion 932 to provide space for grabbing the handle portion 935 by a player's finger(s) and/or thumb. The industry piece 930 is further shown having structural features (e.g., holes in the form of the words “Fossil Fuel” and “FF”) that identify the type of industry represented by the industry piece 930. However, these structural markings depicting the type of industry may vary in their type and style, and other structural features, such as the hollowed interior and appearance of windows, etc., may be absent or different. Moreover, the exact size and shape of the main portion 932 and handle portion 935 may vary, and the cross-sectional size and shape of the main portion 932 of the industry 930 may vary from top-to-bottom while maintaining the same bottom footprint.
  • According to another example embodiment, a hydroelectric industry piece 950 is shown in FIG. 11 having an upper portion 951 and a lower portion 953, the upper portion 951 including a main portion 952 and a handle portion 955, the main portion 952 having a top side 952 a, a bottom side 952 b as well as first and second lateral sides and front and back sides. The main portion 952 of the fossil fuel industry piece 950 is shown having a square cross-sectional shape. The bottom portion 953 of the industry piece 950 is shown having four equally spaced-apart bottom protrusions 954 a-d in a 2×2 arrangement extending downward from the bottom side 952 b of the main portion 952 of the industry piece 950.
  • The handle portion 955 is shown extending upwardly from the top side 952 a of the main portion 952 of the industry piece 950, the handle portion 955 shown having a flat, planar shape and set back away from the front, back and lateral sides of the main portion 952 to provide space for grabbing the handle portion 955 by a player's finger(s) and/or thumb. The industry piece 950 is further shown having structural features (e.g., holes in the form of the words “Hydro” and “H”) that identify the type of industry represented by the industry piece 950. However, these structural markings depicting the type of industry may vary in their type and style, and other structural features, such as the hollowed interior and appearance of windows, etc., may be absent or different. Moreover, the exact size and shape of the main portion 952 and handle portion 955 may vary, and the cross-sectional size and shape of the main portion 952 of the industry 950 may vary from top-to-bottom while maintaining the same bottom footprint.
  • According to another example embodiment, a nuclear industry piece 960 is shown in FIGS. 12A (front perspective) and 12B (back perspective) having an upper portion 961 and a lower portion 963, the upper portion 961 including a main portion 962 (including a main rear portion 967) and a handle portion 965, the main portion 962, 967 having a top side 962 a, 967 a; a bottom side 962 b, 967 b; first and second lateral sides 962 c, 962 d; a front side 962 e; and a back side 962 f. The main portion 962 of the nuclear industry piece 960 is shown as being L-shaped in cross-section. The bottom portion 963 of the industry piece 960 is shown having five equally spaced-apart bottom protrusions 964 a-e in a [1×4(+1)] or L-shaped arrangement extending downward from the bottom side 962 b, 967 b of the main portion 962, 967 of the industry piece 960. The additional bottom protrusion 964 e is shown positioned adjacently to the side of the bottom protrusion 964 d, but the additional main rear portion 967 and its bottom protrusion 964 e may instead be located adjacently to the side of one of the other protrusions 964 a-c (not shown). Moreover, although not shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B, the additional main rear portion 967 and its bottom protrusion 964 e may instead be located adjacently to the bottom protrusion 964 d on the opposite side of the main portion 962 (i.e., in a “backwards-L” cross-sectional shape) (not shown) or adjacently to the side of one of the other protrusions 964 a-c on the opposite side of the main portion 962 (not shown).
  • The handle portion 965 is shown extending upwardly from the top side 962 a of the main portion 962 of the industry piece 960, the handle portion 965 shown having a flat, planar shape and set back away from the front, back and lateral sides of the main portion 962 to provide space for grabbing the handle portion 965 by a player's finger(s) and/or thumb. The industry piece 960 is further shown having structural features (e.g., holes in the form of the words “Nuclear” and “N”) that identify the type of industry represented by the industry piece 960. However, these structural markings depicting the type of industry may vary in their type and style, and other structural features, such as the hollowed interior and appearance of windows, etc., may be absent or different. Moreover, the exact size and shape of the main portion 962 and handle portion 965 may vary, and the cross-sectional size and shape of the main portion 962 of the industry 960 may vary from top-to-bottom while maintaining the same bottom footprint.
  • According to another example embodiment, a solar industry piece 980 is shown in FIG. 13 having an upper portion 981 and a lower portion 983, the upper portion 981 including a main portion 982 and a handle portion 985, the main portion 982 having a top side 982 a, a bottom side 982 b as well as first and second lateral sides and front and back sides. The main portion 982 of the solar industry piece 980 is shown having a rectangular cross-sectional shape. The bottom portion 983 of the industry piece 980 is shown having two equally spaced-apart bottom protrusions 984 a-b in a 1×2 arrangement extending downward from the bottom side 982 b of the main portion 982 of the industry piece 980.
  • The handle portion 985 is shown extending upwardly from the top side 982 a of the main portion 982 of the industry piece 980, the handle portion 985 shown having a flat, planar shape and set back away from the front, back and lateral sides of the main portion 982 to provide space for grabbing the handle portion 985 by a player's finger(s) and/or thumb. The industry piece 980 is further shown having structural features (e.g., holes in the form of the words “Solar” and “S”) that identify the type of industry represented by the industry piece 980. However, these structural markings depicting the type of industry may vary in their type and style, and other structural features, such as the hollowed interior and appearance of windows, etc., may be absent or different. Moreover, the exact size and shape of the main portion 982 and handle portion 985 may vary, and the cross-sectional size and shape of the main portion 982 of the industry 980 may vary from top-to-bottom while maintaining the same bottom footprint.
  • According to yet another example embodiment, a wind industry piece 990 is shown in FIG. 14 having an upper portion 991 and a lower portion 993, the upper portion 991 including a main portion 992 and a handle portion 995, the main portion 992 having a top side 992 a, a bottom side 992 b as well as first and second lateral sides and front and back sides. The main portion 992 of the wind industry piece 990 is shown having a square cross-sectional shape. The bottom portion 993 of the industry piece 990 is shown having one bottom protrusion 994 extending downward from the bottom side 992 b of the main portion 992 of the industry piece 990. The handle portion 995 is shown extending upwardly from the top side 992 a of the main portion 992 of the industry piece 990, the handle portion 995 shown having a planar shape and set back away from the front, back and lateral sides of the main portion 992 to provide space for grabbing the handle portion 995 by a player's finger(s) and/or thumb. However, the planar shape of the handle portion 995 is made into the shape of a windmill (instead of being a solid and flat shape like the others). This design variation for the handle portion 995 of the wind industry piece 990 may be partially due to the smaller area of the top side 992 a of the wind industry piece 990, but this design for the handle portion 995 of the wind industry piece 990 further shows how the design(s) of any or all of the handle portions of the other industry pieces may also be varied (e.g., into symbols, etc.). Indeed, the handle portions of each of the other industry pieces do not necessarily need to be solid (i.e., they may be shaped into symbols, have holes, etc.) especially if they span a sufficient planar area for grabbing by one's finger(s) and/or thumb. However, regardless of the exact appearance or shape of the handle portion of an industry piece, it may preferably remain flat, planar, and/or set back from the sides of any adjacent industry pieces, such that the handle portion may be more easily accessed by a player.
  • It is also worth noting that the handle portion 995 of the wind industry 990 is oriented diagonally on top side 992 a of the main portion 992 of the wind industry piece 990 partly because there is more distance diagonally on the small top side 992 a of the wind industry piece 990 but also to avoid issues with grabbing the handle portion 995 of a wind industry piece 990 depending on the relative orientation of an adjacent wind industry piece(s). If the handle portions were not diagonally oriented, then the handle portions of two adjacent wind industry pieces would interfere with a player grabbing them if the handle portions of the two or more adjacent wind industry pieces were oriented perpendicular relative to each other. For similar reasons, the handle portions on top of the other industry pieces do not span the full distance between the two opposite lateral sides of the main portions of those other industry pieces.
  • The industry piece 990 is further shown having additional structural features (e.g., holes in the form of the words “Wind” and a windmill symbol) that identify the type of industry represented by the industry piece 990. However, these structural markings depicting the type of industry may vary in their type and style, and other structural features, such as the hollowed interior and appearance of windows, etc., may be absent or different. Moreover, the exact size and shape of the main portion 992 and handle portion 995 may vary, and the cross-sectional size and shape of the main portion 992 of the industry 990 may vary from top-to-bottom while maintaining the same bottom footprint.
  • According to other aspects and embodiments of the present invention, an industry storage tray or platform is provided for holding the industry pieces together in an efficient space-conserving manner during their storage, such as in a game box, etc. Such an industry storage tray may also serve as a holder and organizer of the various industries during play of the game to neatly conserve space and reduce the amount of time needed to search for a particular industry. An industry tray may also provide a facilitated way to transport the industries together into and out of the storage game box or container and/or during play of the game. The various industry types may be grouped together on the industry storage tray to assist with locating a particular industry or returning an industry to the storage tray during game play and/or in preparation of the game for storage. The description for an industry storage tray of the present invention may be similar in many ways to the description for the various industry regions. Much like the industry regions described above, the industry storage tray may be generally planar in shape and have a plurality of receiving holes in an ordered two-dimensional pattern. Indeed, such an ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes of the industry storage tray may correspond to the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes of the industry region(s) of the game board with which the industry storage tray is associated. For greater space conservation, the industry pieces may preferably be crowded closely together on the industry storage tray (e.g., without unused receiving holes between most or all of the industry pieces). With such a packed or crowded arrangement of industry pieces on the storage tray, the holder portions of the industry pieces may be important to provide or facilitate access to, removal of, placement of etc., the industries from, or onto, the storage tray. The holder portions of the industry pieces may also be used to present identifying information about those industry pieces, which is especially useful when industry pieces are packed or crowded closely together on an industry region or industry storage tray, such that the identifying information on the sides of the main portions of those industry pieces is blocked and obstructed from view.
  • The outer size and shape of the industry storage tray may vary. Moreover, much like the industry regions described above, the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes as well as the cross-sectional shape of the individual receiving holes may also vary. However, the outer size and shape of the industry storage tray may depend (at least in part) on the size(s), shape(s), and number(s) of the various industries to be placed on the industry tray and how well they can be packed together. However, even with a given number of industry pieces having a combination of sizes, shapes, etc., the outer size and shape of the industry storage tray may still vary somewhat while still accommodating those industry pieces in space-conserving manner, which may further depend on how and where the industry tray is stored, such as in a game box, container, etc. Indeed, a game box or container may have a compartment dedicated (at least in part) for the purpose of housing the industry storage tray (with industry pieces), and thus the size and shape of the industry storage tray may be tailored to the size and shape of such a compartment. Structures, markings, etc., may also be present on the top of the industry storage tray to help indicate proper positioning and orientation of the industries on the storage tray.
  • Most typically, the pattern of receiving holes in the industry storage tray may be a rectangular grid of columns and rows to correspond to a similar pattern of protrusions on each of the industry pieces, which may individually have a rectangular, square, L-shaped, etc., footprint as described above. In such a case, the industry tray may have a shape with outer sides that are perpendicular or at right angles to each other, such as a rectangle, square, etc., to correspond to the spacings between protrusions of each of the industry pieces disposed in a similar pattern. Most commonly, the industry storage tray may have a rectangular or square outer shape with the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes arranged in a rectangular grid. The shape of the individual receiving holes may also vary but may most commonly be square.
  • An embodiment of a rectangular industry storage tray 1000 according to the present invention is provided in FIG. 15A. The industry tray 1000 is shown having a generally planar shape with outer side walls and edges 1001 a-d, including short side edges 1001 a, 1001 b and long side edges 1001 c, 1001 d, a plurality of column partitions 1003 a-mm (double letter notation starting after entire alphabet for single letter notation) and a plurality of row partitions 1005 a-i, the column and row partitions 1003, 1005 separating a plurality of receiving holes 1007 arranged in an ordered two-dimensional (grid-like) pattern (i.e., 10×40 grid). For example, a first column partition 1003 a, a first row partition 1005 a, and a few examples of receiving holes 1007 a 1, 1007 g 5, 1007 i 38 are also labeled in the figure. The industry storage tray is shown as being rectangular with a length dimension (and number of column partitions 1003) that is substantially greater than the width dimension (and number of row partitions 1005), such as to fit neatly inside a compartment of a storage game box having similarly elongated dimensions. However, as stated above, the dimensions, such as the length and width dimensions, of the industry storage tray may vary. The plurality of receiving holes 1007 may also be partially enclosed by a bottom wall 1002 (if present) of the industry storage tray 1000.
  • As stated above, structure(s), marking(s), etc., may be present on the top of the industry tray to indicate the proper positioning of the various industries on the tray. Such structure(s), marking(s), etc., may be visibly present in place of one or more receiving holes, placed on top of one or more of the side wall(s) or edge(s), etc. Such indicia may correspond to name(s), abbreviation(s), symbol(s), etc., of one or more industry types to help with visualizing their proper placement. For example, a couple of indicia labeled “W” and “FF” (labeled 1009, 1011) are shown in FIG. 15A in place of receiving holes (four apiece) on top of the storage tray 1000. Alternatively, for example, various marking(s) may be present along the top(s) of one or more of the side edge(s) and/or partition(s) to indicate boundaries and zones, regions, sections, etc., of the storage tray for placing the different groups of industry pieces.
  • The industry storage tray may be made as one continuous piece, or a plurality of smaller pieces or portions that may be assembled together. For example, FIGS. 15B and 15C show two respective (half) pieces or portions 1020, 1030 of an industry storage tray that may be assembled together to form an assembled storage tray much like tray 1000 in FIG. 15A. The first portion 1020 is shown having a first outer side or end 1021 a and a second outer side or end 1021 b on opposite sides of the first portion 1020 and a third outer side or end 1021 c and a fourth outer side or end 1021 d on opposite sides of the first portion 1020. Likewise, a second portion 1030 is shown having a first outer side or end 1031 a and a second outer side or end 1031 b on opposite sides of the second portion 1030 and a third outer side or end 1031 c and a fourth outer side or end 1031 d on opposite sides of the second portion 1020. Furthermore, the second outer side or end 1021 b of the first portion 1020 and the first outer side or end 1031 a of the second portion 1030 are shown having complementary structures for their attachment together. The second outer side or end 1021 b of the first portion 1020 is shown having a projecting ledge 1025 and the first outer side or end 1031 a of the second portion 1030 is shown having a receiving slot 1035, such that the projecting ledge 1025 may be inserted into the receiving slot 1035 to help secure the reversible attachment of the first and second tray portions 1020, 1030 together to form an assembled storage tray (see, e.g., assembled storage tray 1050 in FIG. 15E). If the attachment between tray portions of an assembled industry tray are intended to be permanent, an additional adhesive, glue, bonding, fusion, etc., between the tray portions may be used perhaps in addition to one or more corresponding ledge(s), slot(s), etc.
  • A column partition is shown at the first outer side or end 1031 a of the second portion 1030 that will partially enclose the column of receiving holes along the second outer side or end 1021 b of the first portion 1020. However, it is easy to imagine how this might be reversed with the column partition supplied by the second outer side or end 1021 b of the first portion. It is further possible for each of the first and second portions to supply parts of the same column partition that may come together when the first and second portions are attached. It is further conceivable for the break or division (i.e., the line of attachment) between the two portions of the industry storage tray to be through the middle of a column of receiving holes. However, such an arrangement will generally be less preferred because the column of receiving holes bounded by the column partitions on separate portions of the tray may become pushed apart during use and/or the sizes of the holes along the jointly formed column may be imperfect or variable. It is further conceivable for a break or division (i.e., a line of attachment) between the two portions of the industry storage tray to instead be along another (or more lengthwise) dimension. However, it is generally preferred for a break, division, line of attachment, etc., between two or more portions of an industry storage tray to be along a shorter (e.g., width) dimension to shorten the length of the break, division, line of attachment, etc., to improve manufacturing of the tray portion(s), and/or for greater reduction in the longest dimension of the industry tray by disassembly, such as for more compact storage.
  • An industry tray handle may be further provided to facilitate the lifting and transport of the industry storage tray. An example of an industry tray handle 1070 is further shown in FIG. 15D having a plurality of protrusions 1077 projecting down from a bottom of the industry tray handle 1070 (e.g., from a bottom of a base portion 1071 of the industry tray handle 1070). Much like the industry pieces described above, the protrusions 1077 may be inserted into a corresponding set of receiving holes of an industry storage tray. Thus, the pattern and spacings of the protrusions 1077 on the bottom of the industry tray handle 1070 will match or correspond to the ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes of an industry storage tray. In FIG. 15D, for example, there are ten protrusions arranged in a 5×2 arrangement. As a result, the protrusions 1077 may be inserted into the receiving holes of a storage tray to facilitate its lifting and transport. For secure attachment of an industry tray handle to an industry storage tray, the protrusions on the bottom of the industry tray handle may be sized to form a reversible tight fit with a corresponding set of receiving holes of a storage tray, such that the entire industry storage tray (and the industries placed on it) is/are lifted and moved with the industry tray handle. The industry tray handle may also (or instead) have a clip that may have at least two opposing portions that are biased to pinch or snap into engagement with the storage tray (e.g., pinch one or more of the partitions and/or walls of the tray), or the industry tray handle may have a strap that wraps around the tray with the two ends of the strap having two corresponding clip portions that can be clipped together. Especially if the attachment between the tray handle and storage tray is meant to be permanent, only one or fewer protrusion(s) (or no protrusions) may be present and used for attachment to a storage tray, which may or may not form a tight fit with their corresponding receiving hole(s), and an additional adhesive, glue, bonding, fusion, etc., may be used to reinforce their physical attachment together.
  • The industry tray handle 1070 is further shown having a vertically extending stem portion 1073 and a handle portion 1075. The stem portion 1073 and handle portion 1075 are further shown as being approximately perpendicular to each other, such that they form a T-shaped structure. The stem portion 1073 is shown spanning from a top side of the base portion 1071 to the bottom side of the handle portion 1075 of the industry tray handle 1070. Thus, a player may have access to grasp the handle portion 1075 of the industry tray handle 1070 with their fingers and/or thumb due to the narrow stem portion 1073 and the gap(s) or spacing(s) between the handle portion 1075 and the base portion 1071 of the industry tray handle 1070. However, an industry tray handle according to aspects and embodiments of the present invention may vary in its size, shape and configuration and/or its manner of attachment to the industry storage tray while providing a same or similar function. Regardless of its exact shape and configuration, such an industry tray handle may generally be attached at or near the center of an industry storage tray to promote weight balance when the tray handle and storage tray are jointly lifted and moved. For example, as shown in FIG. 15E, an industry storage tray handle 1070 is shown attached near the center of an industry storage tray 1050, the storage tray 1050 in FIG. 15E being an assembled storage tray comprising the two tray portions 1020, 1030 (in FIGS. 15B and 15C) attached together along a line of attachment 1040. However, the positioning of the industry tray handle on top of a storage tray may vary, especially if there are two or more industry tray handles attached to the top of the storage tray.
  • According to other aspects and embodiments of the present invention, a player pegboard is provided for each player to keep track of the number(s) and location(s) of their various industries within the industry region(s) of the territory section(s) of a game board. Such a pegboard may be generally planar in shape and arranged and configured to have a plurality of columns and rows in a table- or matrix-like format on a top surface to provide all combinations of the different industry types with the different territory sections of the game board. In other words, the pegboard may have a plurality of “cells” on the top surface of the pegboard with each cell corresponding to a single column/row position on the pegboard and thus a particular combination of a single industry type with a single territory section of the game board. Each of these cell(s) will generally have a plurality of peg holes for receiving one or more peg(s) that each correspond to an individual industry of that type in an industry region within that particular territory section. Furthermore, the peg itself may have identifying marking(s) and/or color(s) to indicate exactly which industry region within that territory section is occupied by that industry (see below). Although the overall size and shape of the pegboard may vary while still providing cells organized into a plurality of intersecting columns and rows, the shape of the pegboard may preferably be rectangular with a rectangular grid of cells at each of the column/row intersections with the columns and rows intersecting each other at right angles.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, each of the various territory sections of the game board may be separated into a series of columns on the pegboard, and each of the various industry types may be separated into a series of rows on the pegboard that each intersect with the columns of territory sections to create combinations of pegboard “cells” as described above. This arrangement of intersecting columns and rows on the pegboard may be preferred if the number of industries exceeds the number of territory sections of the game board. Alternatively, this arrangement or orientation of intersecting columns and rows may be reversed with the territory sections separated into a series of rows, and the industry types separated into a series of columns on the pegboard. In the latter case, however, the peg holes inside each “cell” may need to be positioned and arranged differently (e.g., into a greater number of rows per cell) for the overall size and shape of the pegboard to remain about the same.
  • FIG. 16A provides a pegboard 1100 according to an embodiment of the present invention having a plurality of columns 1105 a-d and rows 1107 a-f for the organized placement of pegs within the individual column/row cells. The rows 1107 a-f are shown spanning from a left side (i.e., a first outer side or end 1101 a) to a right side (i.e., a second outer side or end 1101 b) of the pegboard 1100, and the columns 1105 a-d are shown spanning from a third outer side or end 1101 c to a fourth outer side or end 1101 d of the pegboard 1100. The identity of each of the respective columns 1105 a-d may be marked, labeled, etc., at the top of each column (i.e., at or near the third side 1101 c of the pegboard 1100), with the individual cells for that column positioned between such identification at or near the third side 1101 c and the bottom of that column (i.e., at or near the fourth side 1101 d of the pegboard 1100). For example, the plurality of columns 1105 of the pegboard 1100 in FIG. 16A are shown to correspond to the territory or terrain sections of a game board, including “Flatlands” 1105 a, “Mountains” 1105 b, “Shoreline” 1105 c, and “Tundra” 1105 d. The cells for each of these territory section columns of the pegboard 1100 in FIG. 16A correspond to the plurality of rows of the pegboard for each of the various energy industry types and include “Biofuel” 1107 a, “F. Fuel” 1107 b, “H-elec.” 1107 c, “Nuclear” 1107 d, “Solar” 1107 e, and “Wind” 1107 f. The identity of the industry type for each of the rows 1107 a-f of the pegboard 1100 is marked, labeled, etc., in a specialized side panel or column 1103 at or near the left side (i.e., the first side 1101 a) of the pegboard 1100.
  • The specialized side panel or column 1103 is shown on the left or first side 1101 a of the pegboard in FIG. 16A but could instead/also be located on the right or second side 1101 b of the pegboard 1100. Additional information may be further marked, displayed, etc., in the side panel or column for each of the energy industry types. Indeed, the side panel or column may be divided into two or more sub-columns, such as a first sub-column, a second sub-column, etc., to present additional information for each of the various industry types. The side panel or column 1103 of the pegboard 1100 in FIG. 16A is shown having a first sub column 1103 a and a second sub-column 1103 b. The first sub-column 1103 a is shown providing “energy credit” (E-c logo) or monetary information for each of the industry types, and the second sub-column 1103 b is shown providing “terawatt-hours” (TWh) or energy output or production information for each of the industry types. The identity of the first sub-column 1103 a and the second sub-column 1103 b may each be marked, labeled, etc., with a symbol, lettering, etc., at the top of the side panel 1103 and sub-columns 1103 a, 1103 b (i.e., at or near the third side 1101 c of the pegboard 1100). The location of the identifying label, marking, etc., may be in the same top “row” as the identifying information for each of the territory section columns (see, e.g., identifiers for columns 1105 a-d above). The monetary information marked, displayed, etc., in the first sub-column 1103 a may correspond to the amount of income per industry that a player may receive (i.e., for the industries owned by that player) each time that player passes or lands on one of the spaces along the closed loop path of the game board, such as a start space. The energy output information marked, displayed, etc., in the second sub-column 1103 b may correspond to the amount of energy produced per industry owned by a player of the game.
  • To help with visually distinguishing the different columns and rows (especially adjacent columns and rows) of the peg board, various marking(s), etc., such as division line(s), structural change(s), etc., may be present to help delineate the different territory sections and the boundaries between them. For example, one or more columns and/or rows (and/or adjacent columns and/or rows) of a pegboard may have different colors, shadings, textures, markings, etc., to help distinguish them, and/or a structure(s) may be present as a border between them, such as a recessed border line(s), etc. As another example, each of the columns and/or rows or at least the adjacent columns and/or rows may be positioned differently and/or have different structures on their surfaces. According to the pegboard embodiment 1100 in FIG. 16A, two of the territory section columns 1105 a, 1105 b are shown having a first shading or color, two other territory section columns 1105 c, 1105 d are shown having a second shading or color, and the side panel or column 1103 is shown having a third shading or color. Alternatively, each of the columns could have a different color, etc., or alternate between two or more colors, etc.
  • In addition, the side panel or column 1103 and the plurality of territory columns 1105 a-d of the pegboard 1100 in FIG. 16A are shown being divided by recessed lines or markings between them (i.e., between adjacent cells and identifiers of the columns), and the plurality of rows 1107 (and the row of identifiers at the tops of the columns 1103, 1105) are shown being divided by recessed lines or markings between them. The recessed lines or markings between adjacent columns and/or rows may create a series of peaks and valleys in the structure of a pegboard. Such an alternating structure of peaks and valleys may not only improve visualization of the different columns and/or rows of cells but may also improve manufacturing of the pegboard, such as by injection molding, and/or conserve the amount of material or plastic needed to make the pegboard without sacrificing its structural integrity.
  • By totaling or summing the amount of income per industry for all of the industries owned by a player, the amount of income that the player receives each time they land on or pass one of the path spaces may be determined, and the total energy output for a player may be determined by summing or totaling energy produced by all of the industries owned by a player at any given time. With the example in FIG. 16A, these income and energy output numbers in side panel 1103 are the same regardless of the territory section in which the industry/industries may be located. However, a pegboard could conceivably display different income and/or energy output numbers for each of the territory sections, such as with multiple specialized panels or columns (e.g., analogous to side panel 1103 in FIG. 16A) for each of the territory sections, which may each be positioned alongside the respective territory column.
  • As introduced above, a pegboard will generally have a plurality of peg holes for receiving one or more pegs corresponding to the number of industries that a player may have on the industry regions of an associated game board. In general, each “cell” of a pegboard will contain a plurality of peg holes, each cell will correspond to one territory section of an associated game board and one energy industry type, and each peg hole will correspond to one or more industry/industries of a given type in that territory section. Most typically, each peg will correspond to a single industry piece on the game board, but a peg may alternatively correspond to more than one industry in some cases as discussed below (e.g., by an additional peg cap). The peg holes for each cell may be grouped by territory section. For example, each of the cells of the “Flatlands” territory section 1005 a may have a plurality of peg holes 1109, each of the cells of the “Mountains” territory section 1005 b may have a plurality of peg holes 1111, each of the cells of the “Shoreline” territory section 1005 c may have a plurality of peg holes 1113, and each of the cells of the “Tundra” territory section 1005 d may have a plurality of peg holes 1115. In addition, the peg holes of any territory column 1005 a-d may be further subdivided based on their row depending on the type of industry. Thus, the peg holes for a given cell may be identified by the peg hole number for that territory section column (e.g., 1109, 1111, etc.) followed by a letter (e.g., “a”, “b”, etc.) that indicates the row for the type of industry. With the order of industry type rows shown in FIG. 16A for example, a few examples include the following: (i) the peg holes for the cell corresponding to fossil fuels in the flatlands section may be identified jointly as 1109 b, (ii) the peg holes for the cell corresponding to nuclear industries in the mountains section may be identified jointly as 1111 d, and (iii) the peg holes for the cell corresponding to hydroelectric power in the tundra section may be identified jointly as 1115 c.
  • As mentioned above, each cell of a pegboard may contain a plurality of peg holes. The number of peg hole(s) per cell may vary but may preferably be the same for each of the cells. According to embodiments of the present invention, the number of peg hole(s) per cell may be in a range from about 5 to about 15, or from about 8 to about 12, or about 10. Continuing with the peg hole labeling system above, each of the peg holes of a particular cell may be identified by a sequential number (e.g., “1”, “2”, etc.) after the territory column number and industry row letter. Thus, as a few examples, the third peg hole for nuclear industries in the flatlands territory section may be labeled and identified as 1109 d 3, the tenth peg hole for nuclear industries in the shoreline territory may be labeled and identified as 1113 d 10, and the ninth peg hole for biofuel industries in the tundra territory may be labeled and identified as 1115 a 9.
  • Therefore, the pegboard may be used to keep track of how many industries of each type are owned by a player of the game and where they are located on the game board (i.e., in which territory section and/or industry region). This visual record of the placement of industries per player will not only facilitate the calculation of total energy output and monetary income (with each pass of the closed loop path of the game board), but also help determine and verify which industries are owned by each of the players of the game. Although the plurality of peg holes per cell 1109 a-f, 1111 a-f, 1113 a-f, 1115 a-f are shown as being arranged linearly along the row for each cell, the peg holes in each cell may be arranged differently, such as in two or more rows per cell, in a staggered arrangement, in subparts by industry region, etc., which may allow for the overall size and shape of the pegboard to vary.
  • As discussed further below, the appearance (e.g., color or other markings, etc.) of the pegs themselves, or a portion(s) thereof, may indicate additional information about the particular industry represented by each peg placed in a peg hole of a pegboard. For example, the peg pieces may be grouped depending on what colors or other marking(s) on at least a portion of their surfaces, and each of those color(s) or marking(s) may represent, for example, a particular industry region(s) within one or more territory section(s). In other words, the industry regions of a single territory section may be color-coded or have other indicia to correspond to the colors or other indicia of one of the groups of peg pieces. Since the pegs are already organized into territory columns on a peg board, the colors or other indicia for each of the industry regions of a territory section may be repeated for industry region(s) of other territory section(s) to reduce the total number of peg groups.
  • Accordingly, more than one territory section of a game board may have an industry region of the same color (e.g., yellow, blue, green, orange, etc.), and industries placed on each of those industry regions may be represented by pegs having the same color (e.g., yellow, blue, green, orange, etc.) or other indicia without causing confusion between the different industry regions because each of the same colored pegs will be additionally segregated into their respective territory columns of the peg board. Such a color coding of pegs and industry regions obviates the need for separate sub-columns for each industry region within each of the territory section columns, which may become too confusing or cumbersome. However, although less preferred, it is conceivable that the pegs could be the same color, and the plurality of industry region sub-columns may alternatively be presented on a pegboard to indicate and distinguish the different industry regions within a given territory section of the game board. For example, industry region sub-columns may be used for groups of peg holes associated with each of the industry regions of a territory section, which may be marked, labeled, etc., by an associated identifier at the top of the respective sub-column, or each cell for a particular combination of territory section and industry type may alternatively be subdivided into parts or portions with groupings of peg holes that correspond to the different industry regions.
  • Each of the peg holes per cell of a pegboard may be sized and shaped to receive a corresponding peg piece to indicate the presence of an industry on an associated game board. The cross-sectional size and shape of each of the peg holes may be engineered based on the cross-sectional size and shape of the pegs (e.g., with low clearance), such that a portion of each peg fits snugly and securely in a corresponding peg hole of the pegboard. A snug fit between at least a portion of a peg and at least a portion of a corresponding peg hole of a pegboard (along with a sufficient length of insertion of the peg into the peg hole) will allow the pegs to remain securely positioned on the pegboard even when bumped or jolted slightly. Thus, at least a portion of the peg hole (e.g., a lower or bottom portion of the peg hole) may have cross-sectional dimensions that are similar or about the same as the dimensions of at least a portion of each peg. Further, the top opening of each of the peg holes may be chamfered/beveled, rounded (i.e., have a radius), etc., to create a wider opening near the top of the peg hole, which may assist a player attempting to insert a peg into the corresponding peg hole of a pegboard. Each of the peg holes may be enclosed on a bottom side, such as by a bottom wall(s), or the peg hole may extend all the way through the pegboard (i.e., from the top surface to the bottom surface of the pegboard).
  • Similarly to the industry storage tray, the pegboard may also be made as one piece or assembled from two or more pieces. For example, a pegboard may be assembled from three pieces according to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 16B-D. The three pieces in these figures include a first portion 1120, a second portion 1130, and a third portion 1140. In assembling the pegboard, the second portion 1130 may be positioned and attached between the first and third portions 1120, 1140. The first portion 1120 is shown corresponding to the side panel or column 1103 in FIG. 16A having a first side or end 1121 a, a second side or end 1121 b, a third side or end 1121 c, and a fourth side or end 1121 d with the first, third and fourth sides or ends 1121 a, 1121 c-d forming part of the outer sides of the assembled peg board. The second portion 1130 is shown corresponding to the flatlands and mountains territory section columns 1105 a, 1105 b in FIG. 16A having a first side or end 1131 a, a second side or end 1131 b, a third side or end 1131 c, and a fourth side or end 1131 d with the third and fourth sides or ends 1131 c-d forming part of the outer sides of the assembled peg board. The third portion 1140 is shown corresponding to the shoreline and tundra territory section columns 1105 c, 1105 d in FIG. 16A having a first side or end 1141 a, a second side or end 1141 b, a third side or end 1141 c, and a fourth side or end 1141 d with the second, third and fourth sides or ends 1131 b-d forming part of the outer sides of the assembled peg board.
  • One or more projection(s), structure(s), etc., on a side or end of one pegboard portion may engage with opening(s), slot(s), etc., on another pegboard portion for their attachment together. Such attachments, engagements, etc., between the pegboard portions may be reversibly or irreversibly tight-fitted, clipped and/or “snapped” together, and/or a more permanent and reinforced attachment may be achieved by using an adhesive, glue, bonding, fusion, etc., may be used to reinforce the physical attachment of the portions of the pegboard. As further shown in FIGS. 16B-D, the second end 1121 b of the first portion 1120 of a pegboard has a plurality of projections 1125 that may engage a corresponding set of equally spaced-apart holes (not visible) in the first end 1131 a of the second portion 1130 of the pegboard. Likewise, the second end 1131 b of the second portion 1130 of the pegboard has a plurality of projections 1135 that may engage a corresponding set of equally spaced-apart holes 1145 in the first end 1141 a of the third portion 1140 of the assembled pegboard. By having a reversible attachment of the pegboard portions, storage of the pegboard may be facilitated or enabled. Manufacturing may also be improved by making multiple pegboard portions that can be assembled together.
  • According to aspects and embodiments of the present invention, a plurality of pegs are provided for insertion into one or more peg holes of a pegboard for a player to keep track of the number, type and/or location of their industries in the various territory sections and/or industry regions of a game board. Each peg may be generally elongated in shape with a major or longitudinal axis and generally be symmetrical in its shape relative to a mid-plane or minor axis that is approximately perpendicular to the major or longitudinal axis of the peg and approximately equidistant from the two longitudinal ends of the peg. The length and width(s) of a peg may vary somewhat. The length of the peg may vary, such as within a range from about 0.5 inch to about 2 inches, or the length may be about 1 inch. The width(s) of the peg may vary, such as within a range from about 1/32 inch to about 5/16 inches. The widest part of the peg may be within a range from about 1/16 inch to about 5/16 inch, such as about 3/16 inch. Each peg may have two oppositely oriented outer portions that may generally be symmetrical to each other and project outward from a middle portion of the peg, the middle portion of the peg generally being larger in cross-sectional size than both of the two respective outer portions on either longitudinal side of the middle portion of the peg.
  • Having a peg with a wider middle portion and/or angled outer portions may provide a few benefits, including possibly (i) improving the injection molding of the peg (or parts of the peg assembled together), (ii) providing a stop against further insertion of a peg into a pegboard hole, and/or (iii) improving the gripping and/or handling of an individual peg piece with a player's finger(s) and/or thumb (e.g., relative to a cylindrical peg), such as for grasping and separating the peg from a group of pegs in a case or container, lifting the peg out of a pegboard hole, and/or pushing the peg into the pegboard hole. Indeed, each of the smaller outer portions of a peg may become inserted into and engaged with a corresponding peg hole of a pegboard, and the middle portion of the peg (being larger in size) may eventually stop further insertion of the peg into the peg hole (e.g., when the larger middle portion contacts the top opening of the peg hole, the interior of the peg hole, and/or the surrounding top surface of the pegboard). Alternatively, the increasing cross-sectional size of an outer portion closer to the middle portion of the peg may eventually stop further insertion of the peg into a peg hole (instead of the middle portion per se) when that outer portion and respective end are inserted into the hole. For example, further insertion of a peg into a peg hole may be stopped when a wider part of an outer portion of the peg contacts the top opening of the peg hole, the interior of the peg hole, and/or the surrounding top surface of the pegboard.
  • An embodiment of a peg 1200 is shown in FIG. 17A having an elongated shape with a first end 1201 a and a second end 1201 b at opposite longitudinal ends of the peg 1200. A first outer portion 1203 and a second outer portion 1205 of the peg 1200 are shown oppositely oriented (i.e., projecting outwardly in opposite directions) from a middle portion 1207 of the peg 1200, the first outer portion 1203 and second outer portion 1205 shown having symmetrical shapes relative to a mid-plane 1201 c of the peg (positioned approximately equidistantly from the first and second ends 1201 a, 1201 b of the peg 1200). The peg embodiment 1200 in FIG. 17A has a smooth or gradual inward slope on the sides of the outer portions 1203, 1205 from the middle portion 1207 toward the respective ends 1201 a, 1201 b of the peg 1200. As a result, the outer portions 1203, 1205 have a smaller cross-sectional size and shape than the middle portion 1207 of the peg 1200. However, other kinds of changes in the cross-sectional size and shape of the peg between the middle portion and each of the outer portions of a peg are also possible. For example, instead of a gradual inward sloping of the sides of the outer portions from the middle portion of the peg, there may instead be an inwardly stepped or more abrupt reduction(s) in size and/or shape (not shown) between the mid-plane and respective longitudinal end(s) of the peg, which may be in addition to an otherwise inwardly sloping side(s) toward the respective longitudinal end(s) of the peg. By having a stepped reduction in the cross-sectional size and/or shape between the middle portion and respective longitudinal end(s) of the peg (e.g., within an outer portion(s) of the peg), such an inwardly stepped structure may rest on a top surface of the pegboard surrounding a peg hole when the peg is inserted into the peg hole. An inward sloping of the sides of the outer portion(s) of a peg may also stop or decrease in slope between the middle portion and the respective longitudinal end of the peg, and at least part of the outer (or outermost) portion of the peg may become constant in cross-sectional size and shape. It is even conceivable that a part of the outer portion(s) of a peg may increase in size and/or shape as long as such an increase does not interfere with the peg engaging a pegboard hole.
  • By having two oppositely oriented outer portions on either side of the middle portion of the peg, either of the two outer portions may be inserted into a peg hole. Accordingly, depending on which outer portion and end of the peg are inserted into a peg hole of a pegboard, different status information about the particular industry represented by the peg may be recorded and/or communicated to the player(s) of the game. A first outer portion of the peg may have a first visible color(s), shading(s), marking(s), etc., to indicate the industry region in which the respective industry is located (e.g., the same color as the respective industry region), whereas a second outer portion of the peg may have a different or second visible color(s), shading(s), marking(s), etc., to indicate a status for that particular industry. Further, the first color or other visible marking may generally be different than, and visibly distinguishable from, the second color or other visible marking. As discussed further below, two alternative or “flipped” orientations for a peg 1200 inserted into a pegboard hole are shown in FIGS. 17D and 17E. In that example, FIG. 17D shows a first end and first outer portion 1203 of the peg 1200 fully exposed and presented (i.e., with the second end and second outer portion 1205 of the peg 1200 inserted into the peg hole) to indicate the industry region for the industry represented by the peg, whereas FIG. 17E shows a second end and second outer portion 1205 of the peg 1200 fully exposed and presented (i.e., with the first end and first outer portion 1203 of the peg 1200 inserted into the peg hole) to indicate a status for the industry represented by the peg 1200.
  • Typically, the color, marking(s), etc., of the second outer portion of the peg (e.g., red) will be unique and different from each of the colors, markings, etc., of the first outer portion used to correspond to the industry regions. Indeed, each of the pegs (regardless of the particular industry region) may have a second portion with the same color(s), shading(s), marking(s), etc., to indicate a same or similar status for the associated industry. For example, a first outer portion 1203 and first end 1201 a of the peg 1200 in FIG. 17A are shown having a first color or shading to indicate the industry region that the peg 1200 represents, whereas the second outer portion 1205 and second end 1201 b of the peg 1200 are shown having a second color or shading that is different than the first color or shading. Although there is not necessarily a clear border or separation between the middle portion and each of the two outer portions of a peg, the middle portion may be a combination of the color(s), shading(s), marking(s), etc., of the two outer portions and/or comprise a third color(s), shading(s), marking(s), etc. For example, as shown in FIG. 17A, a peg embodiment 1200 may have a middle portion 1207 with color(s), shading(s), marking(s), etc., that are equally shared with the first and second outer portions 1203, 1205, which may transition at a border at or near the mid-plane 1201 c of the peg 1200. In fact, a peg of the present invention may be made of two (or more) parts or pieces, such as two halves. Two halves of a peg may be joined at or near the mid-plane of the peg and coupled together by corresponding male and female structures on each of the two halves of the assembled peg. By constructing the peg of two or more parts, such as two halves, the color coding or other indicia of the two outer portions of the peg may be produced by their separate manufacturing using different materials.
  • Thus, if the second end and second outer portion of the peg is inserted into a peg hole, then the peg will be oriented with the first outer portion and first end of the peg fully exposed and visible above the pegboard. This may indicate a “normal” status for the industry with the color of the first portion of the peg indicating in which industry region within the respective territory section of the game board that the respective industry is positioned, located, etc. For example, the embodiment of a peg 1200 in FIG. 17A may have its second outer portion 1205 and second end 1201 b inserted into a peg hole of a pegboard with the first outer portion 1203 and first end 1201 a of the peg 1200 hilly exposed above, and oriented away from, the pegboard to indicate the corresponding industry region. However, if the orientation of the peg in a peg hole of a pegboard is inverted with the first end and first portion of the peg inserted into the peg hole, then the second outer portion and second end of the peg will be fully exposed and visible above the pegboard. This may instead indicate a “compromised” status for the industry, such as to indicate that the assets of the industry have been sold, etc. For example, the peg 1200 in FIG. 17A may have its first outer portion 1203 and first end 1201 a inserted into a peg hole of a pegboard with the second outer portion 1205 and second end 1201 b of the peg 1200 fully exposed above, and oriented away from, the pegboard to indicate a change of status for the corresponding industry region. Although the peg is inverted in the pegboard, the color of the first portion of the peg may still be partially visible to further indicate the industry region of a territory section of the game board in which the respective industry is positioned, located, etc., such that the affected industry may be more easily identified.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, a peg cap may be further provided comprising a small hollow cylinder or the like. The peg cap may consist of a ring- or doughnut-shaped cylinder with a hollow bore from one end of the cap to the other, which may be placed around one of the two outer portions of a peg. Alternatively, the peg cap may have one end of the bore closed or sealed, such that the peg cap may be fitted like a “hat” onto only one of the longitudinal ends of the peg. In fact, the shape or design of the peg cap can vary while maintaining its purpose of fitting onto a peg to indicate additional information relating to the peg and the industry/industries it represents. As discussed further below, the peg cap may be used as a multiplier during play of the game to mean 2 times, 3 times, etc., the number of industries indicated by the peg alone. Since the number of peg holes in the pegboard may be limited per cell, the peg cap provides a way to indicate a greater number of industries when all of the peg holes for that cell are occupied. Even if not all of the peg holes for a cell are used, a player may still use a peg cap electively as a more convenient way to indicate or keep track of multiple industries of the same type within the same industry region.
  • The size and shape of the bore of a peg cap will generally be at least slightly or somewhat larger than the cross-sectional size and shape of the end(s) and at least an outermost portion(s) of each peg, such that the peg cap may be fitted onto and around one of the outer portions of the peg. As shown for the peg cap embodiment 1300 in FIG. 17B, the peg cap 1300 may comprise a hollow cylinder 1301 with a bore 1303 through it from one end of the peg cap to the other. Thus, as shown in FIG. 17C for example, one of the two ends 1201 a, 1201 b may be inserted through the bore 1303 of the peg cap 1300, such that the peg cap 1300 is placed around one of the two outer portions 1203, 1205 of the peg 1200. Eventually, due to the larger cross-sectional size of one of the outer portions 1203, 1205 and/or the middle portion 1207 of the peg 1200, the peg cap 1300 may no longer be inserted onto the peg 1200 (i.e., due to contact between an inner surface(s) of the bore 1303 of the peg cap 1300 and a side surface(s) of the peg 1200).
  • According to aspects and embodiments of the present invention, a peg case is provided for holding the pegs when they are not in use (e.g., not inserted into the peg holes of a pegboard). A peg case or container may comprise a plurality of bins for sorting and containing the different groups/types of pegs (and/or peg caps). Each type of peg may have a certain kind of identification in common, such as color, marking(s), etc., that may represent one or more industry region(s) in one or more of the territory sections of the game board having a corresponding identification (e.g., the same color, marking(s), etc.). Thus, the peg case or container may hold and contain the different types of pegs (and/or peg caps) and sort them by type into the plurality of separate bins during storage and play of the game. In fact, each of the peg case bins may have particular color(s), marking(s), etc., that correspond to (e.g., are the same as) the color(s), marking(s), etc., of the pegs contained in that bin to visually assist a player in identifying the correct bin from which to place or remove a peg for storage or during play of the game. The peg case or container may be made as one piece or assembled from multiple pieces, which may each correspond to the individual bins. Each bin may preferably have a bottom wall, back and lateral side walls and an upwardly sloping or inclined front wall (i.e., forward toward a front end of the bin). The upwardly sloping or inclined front wall may even be upwardly curved (i.e., the upwardly sloping or inclined front wall does not need to be perfectly planar). The upwardly sloping front wall of a bin wall may be further described as being at an inner angle relative to the bottom wall of the bin that is greater than 90° but less than 180°. However, the front wall of a peg case may not be upwardly sloping and may be approximately vertical like the back and lateral side walls, and/or the overall shape and/or number of walls of a bin(s) may vary while still performing its function of holding the pegs.
  • Although the size and shape of the bins of a peg case or container may be different, the size and shape of the bins may more typically be the same or similar, such as to allow for at least the alignment of the outer walls of the bins when they are assembled together to form a peg case or container having a consistent outer shape. One or more of the bins may further have front and/or rear projection(s), which may be at or near the top or upper lip(s) of one or more of the front and/or back wall(s). These projection(s) may cooperate and engage with corresponding structures of a lid (e.g., slider and stabilizer tabs, ledges and/or tracks) to cover the top opening(s) of the bin(s) of a peg case or container (see below), such as to help keep the pegs contained inside the bin(s) and/or peg case/container during storage and play of the game. Typically, such projection(s) may be present at or near the upper lip of one wall of the bin, or such projection(s) may be present at or near each of the upper lips of at least two walls on opposite sides of the bin. When the projection(s) are present at or near each of the upper lips of at least two walls on opposite sides of the bin, the projection(s) on the two opposite walls of the bin may be oppositely oriented relative to each other. For example, projection(s) may be present at or near each of the upper lips of a front and back wall of a bin that are oppositely oriented relative to each other (i.e., the projection(s) at or near the upper lip of the front wall of the bin extend in a forward direction, whereas the projection(s) at or near the upper lip of the back wall of the bin extend in a rearward or backward direction).
  • The upwardly sloping front wall of a bin may assist with the selection, isolation and grasping of one or more pegs for its/their removal from the bin. When a player reaches into the bin to take out a peg(s) and/or peg cap(s) with their finger(s), one or more peg(s) and/or peg cap(s) may be pulled or dragged toward and along the upwardly sloping front wall. As the player maintains contact between their fingertip(s) and the peg(s) selected for removal from the bin while dragging the peg(s) along the upwardly sloping front wall, other non-selected peg(s) will fall back toward the bottom of the bin interior due to gravity. By continuing to pull or drag the selected peg(s) along the upwardly sloping front wall, the peg(s) will eventually reach the top or upper lip of the front wall, at which point the thumb (or another finger) of the player may be additionally brought into opposing contact with the selected peg(s) as those peg(s) begin to extend above the top or upper lip of the front wall. This process of removing a peg(s) or peg cap(s) from a bin may be performed easily with simple finger(s) and/or thumb motions.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, a peg case or container is provided having a plurality of bins that correspond to the number of different types of peg(s) and/or peg cap(s). For example, the number of bins of a peg case or container may be in a range from two to ten, or alternatively within a range from three to six, such as four or five bins. Whether in a straight, curved or winding arrangement, the bins of a peg case may most typically be arranged in series (i.e., in a generally side-to-side arrangement). However, it is conceivable for two or more bins to have their back walls oriented inwardly, and/or facing, toward each other, at a parallel or non-parallel angle (i.e., with one or more angular gaps between the lateral side walls of the two or more bins). As a result, the front walls of two or more of the bins of the peg case/container may be facing in different directions. For example, the back walls of two or more bins of a peg case or container may be in parallel (e.g., contacting, and/or attached to, each other), or the back “walls” of the two or more bins may be the same and in common with each other. In either case, the respective front walls of the two or more bins having opposed or common back wall(s) may be oppositely oriented relative to each other. Alternatively, the back walls of the two or more bins of the peg case or container may be non-parallel and/or continuously arranged in a U-shaped, V-shaped, closed loop, etc., configuration. As mentioned above, the peg case or container may be made as one continuous piece, or assembled together from two or more pieces, such as two or more bins.
  • An embodiment of a peg case 1400 is provided in FIG. 18A having four bins including a first or left outer bin 1401, a first inner or middle bin 1402, a second inner or middle bin 1403, and a second or right outer bin 1404. Each of the four bins 1401, 1402, 1403, 1404 of the peg case 1400 in FIG. 18A is shown having (respectively) a bottom wall 1405 a, 1407 a, 1409 a, 1411 a; two lateral side walls, including a first lateral side wall 1411 a, 1412 a, 1413 a, 1414 a and a second lateral side wall 1411 c, 1412 c, 1413 c, 1414 c; a back wall 1411 b, 1412 b, 1413 b, 1414 b; and an upwardly sloping front wall 1405 b, 1407 b, 1409 b, 1411 b. Each pair of adjacent bins may contact, connect, attach to, etc., one another along respective lateral side walls. For example, the second lateral side wall 1411 c of the first or left outer bin 1401 may contact, connect and/or attach to, the first lateral side wall 1412 a of the first inner bin 1402; the second lateral side wall 1412 c of the first inner bin 1402 may contact, connect and/or attach to, the first lateral side wall 1413 a of the second inner bin 1403; and the second lateral side wall 1413 c of the second inner bin 1403 may contact, connect and/or attach to, the first lateral side wall 1414 a of the second outer bin 1404. As mentioned above, one or more of these contacting and/or attached lateral side walls of two adjacent bins may alternatively be, or fused or formed into, a single common lateral side wall shared between the two adjacent bins, especially if the peg case is made of one continuous piece or assembled using segment(s) of bins.
  • Each of the bins shown assembled together into the peg case or container embodiment 1400 in FIG. 18A are individually shown separately in FIGS. 18C-F. The first outer bin 1401 is shown in FIG. 18C having a relatively large top opening between the upper lips 1405 b′, 1411 a′, 1411 c′, 1411 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1405 b, the first and second lateral side walls 1411 a, 1411 c, and the back wall 1411 b, respectively, of the first outer bin 1401. The first inner bin 1402 is shown in FIG. 18E having a relatively large top opening between the upper lips 1407 b′, 1412 a′, 1412 c′, 1412 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1407 b, the first and second lateral side walls 1412 a, 1412 c, and the back wall 1412 b, respectively, of the first inner bin 1402. The second inner bin 1403 is shown in FIG. 18F having a relatively large top opening between the upper lips 1409 b′, 1413 a′, 1413 c′, 1413 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1409 b, the first and second lateral side walls 1413 a, 1413 c, and the back wall 1413 b, respectively, of the second inner bin 1403. Finally, the second outer bin 1404 is shown in FIG. 18D having a relatively large top opening between the upper lips 1411 b′, 1414 a′, 1414 c′, 1414 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1411 b, the first and second lateral side walls 1414 a, 1414 c, and the back wall 1414 b, respectively, of the second outer bin 1404.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, the bins of a peg case or container may most typically have depths or lengths (i.e., measured as a distance from the top or upper lip of the upwardly sloping front wall to the top or upper lip of the back wall) that are about the same. For example, the greatest depth or length of a bin (and its top opening) may be in a range from about 1 inch to about 6 inches, or more typically in a range from about 3 inches to about 5 inches. Likewise, the depths or lengths of the bottom walls of the bins of a peg case or container may also typically be about the same. However, if a sloping front wall is present, the length or depth of the bottom wall may be less than the overall length/depth of the bin. For example, if a bin has a sloping front wall, the depth or length of the bottom wall may be in a range from about 0 inches (i.e., no bottom wall if the front wall slopes all the way to the back wall) to about 4 inches, or more typically within a range from about 1 inch to about 3 inches. With the first outer bin 1401 shown in FIG. 18C for example, the depth (or length) of the bin 1401 would be measured from the upper lip 1405 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1405 b to the upper lip 1411 b′ of the back wall 1411 b of the bin 1401, and the depth (or length) of the bottom wall 1405 a of the bin 1401 would be measured from (i) where the bottom wall 1405 a and upwardly sloping front wall 1405 b meet to (ii) where the bottom wall 1405 a and the back wall 1411 b meet. The bins of a peg case or container may most typically have heights (i.e., measured vertically from the bottom wall of the bin to each of the top or upper lips of the walls of the bin) that are also about the same. For example, the height of the bin may vary within a range from about 3/16 inch to about 3 inches, or more typically in a range from about 0.5 inch to about 2 inches. By having the depths and heights of the bins overall (as well as the depths of the bottom walls of the bins) be about the same, the overall shape and outer dimensions of the peg case or container may be kept relatively more consistent and/or constant.
  • The bins of a peg case or container may also preferably (and more typically) have widths (i.e., measured as a distance from the top or upper lip of a first lateral side wall of a bin to the top or upper lip of a second lateral side wall of the bin) that are about the same for uniformity. For example, the width of a bin may vary within a range from about 0.75 inch to about 4 inches, or more typically in a range from about 1 inch to about 3 inches. With the first outer bin 1401 shown in FIG. 18C for example, the width of the bin 1401 would be measured from the upper lip 1411 a′ of the first lateral side wall 1411 a to the upper lip 1411 c′ of the second lateral side wall 1411 c of the bin 1401 (and/or as the width of the bottom wall 1405 a between the first and second lateral side walls 1411 a, 1411 c. However, the widths of the bins of a peg case or container may vary, such as when the one or more of the bins contain relatively greater or fewer numbers of peg(s) and/or peg cap(s). Moreover, the lateral side walls of the bins of a peg case or container may preferably (and more typically) be approximately parallel to each other for the peg case or container to have a more rectangular overall shape. However, non-parallel angles may also be possible to provide a more bended or curved shape, such as in an inwardly, outwardly or winding arrangement. The thicknesses of each the various walls of a bin may also vary and may more typically be within a range from about 1/16 inch to about ¼ inch.
  • Additional structures are also shown on each of the bins 1401, 1402, 1403, 1404 either for connecting, attaching, etc., two adjacent bins together or for interacting with a lid to secure the lid to an assembled peg case or container. For example, the first outer bin 1401 is shown in FIG. 18C having (i) a first protrusion 1431 a oriented horizontally and projecting outwardly from near the middle of the second lateral side wall 1411 c and (ii) a second protrusion 1431 b oriented vertically and projecting outwardly from near the back of the second lateral side wall 1411 c of the first outer bin 1401. The first inner bin 1402 is shown in FIG. 18E having (i) a first recessed area 1432 a oriented horizontally and positioned near the middle of the first lateral side wall 1412 a and (ii) a second recessed area 1432 b oriented vertically and positioned near the back of the first lateral side wall 1411 a of the first inner bin 1402. These protrusions 1431 a, 1431 b of the first outer bin 1401 are shown positioned and oriented in alignment with the corresponding recessed areas 1432 a, 1432 b of the first inner bin 1402, such that they engage each other when the second lateral side wall 1411 c of the first outer bin 1401 is brought into close proximity and/or contact with the first lateral side wall 1412 a of the first inner bin 1402 for attachment of the two bins 1401, 1402 together, such as by a tight fit and/or a clipped or “snapped” engagement between them, which may be reinforced by an adhesive, etc. As yet another alternative, two bins may be attached together by sliding projection(s) on one bin into a corresponding slot of the other bin from the front or back of the other bin.
  • A similar type of engagement may be visualized in FIGS. 18D and 18F between the second inner bin 1403 and the second outer bin 1404. The second inner bin 1403 is shown in FIG. 18F having (i) a first protrusion 1433 a oriented horizontally and projecting outwardly from near the middle of the second lateral side wall 1413 c and (ii) a second protrusion 1433 b oriented vertically and projecting outwardly from near the back of the second lateral side wall 1413 c of the second inner bin 1403. The second outer bin 1404 is shown in FIG. 18D having (i) a first recessed area 1434 a oriented horizontally and positioned near the middle of the first lateral side wall 1414 a and (ii) a second recessed area 1434 b oriented vertically and positioned near the back of the first lateral side wall 1414 a of the second outer bin 1404. These protrusions 1433 a, 1433 b of the second inner bin 1403 are shown positioned and oriented in alignment with the corresponding recessed areas 1434 a, 1434 b of the second outer bin 1404, such that they engage each other when the second lateral side wall 1413 c of the second inner bin 1403 is brought into close proximity and/or contact with the first lateral side wall 1414 a of the second outer bin 1404 for attachment of the two bins 1403, 1404 together, such as by a tight fit and/or a clipped or “snapped” engagement between them, which may be reinforced by using an adhesive, glue, bonding, fusion, etc.
  • A similar kind of engagement between the outer sides of the second lateral side wall 1412 c of the first inner bin 1402 and the first lateral side wall 1413 a of the second inner bin 1403 may be present (not visible in FIGS. 18 e and 18F). Although a particular arrangement for the two sets of corresponding protrusions and recessed areas is shown in FIGS. 18C-F for adjacent bins, the number, positioning, orientation and/or configuration of the protrusion(s) and corresponding recessed area(s) on opposing lateral side walls of two adjacent bins of an assembled peg case or container may vary according to other embodiments while still enabling their aligned engagement and reversible or irreversible coupling together for attachment of the two adjacent bins together, such as by a tight fit and/or a clipped or “snapped” engagement between them, which may be reinforced by additionally using an adhesive, glue, bonding, fusion, etc., between them. However, the one or more protrusion(s) and corresponding recessed area(s) may be absent if the adjacent bins are manufactured as one piece and/or if the bins are permanently attached together by using an adhesive, etc.
  • According to some embodiments, one or more of the bins of a peg case or container may each have front and/or rear projection(s) that are oppositely oriented and extend forward and backward, respectively, from a portion of the front and/or back wall(s) of the respective bin, such as from a portion at or near the upper lip(s) of the front and/or back wall(s) of the bin. Each of these projections may interact and engage with corresponding structures of a lid for secure but reversible attachment of the lid to a peg case/container comprising the bins. For example, the first and second inner bins 1402, 1403 are shown in FIGS. 18A, 18E and 18F having front and rear projections at or near the upper lips of the front and back walls of each bin. The first inner bin 1402 is shown having a backward-extending rear projection 1421 a at or near the upper lip 1412 b′ of the back wall 1412 b and a forward-extending front projection 1421 b at or near the upper lip 1407 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1407 b, the rear and front projections 1421 a, 1421 b being oppositely oriented relative to each other and elongated in shape along the respective upper lips 1412 b′, 1407 b′ of the back and front walls 1412 b, 1407 b, respectively, of the first inner bin 1402. Likewise, the second inner bin 1403 is shown having a backward-extending rear projection 1423 a at or near the upper lip 1413 b′ of the back wall 1413 b and a forward-extending front projection 1423 b at or near the upper lip 1409 b′ of the upwardly sloping front wall 1409 b, the rear and front projections 1423 a, 1423 b being oppositely oriented relative to each other and elongated in shape along the respective upper lips 1413 b′, 1409 b′ of the back and front walls 1413 b, 1409 b, respectively, of the second inner bin 1403.
  • An embodiment of a peg case lid 1500 is shown in FIGS. 18B and 18G that may be used for its secure but reversible attachment to the assembled peg case/container 1400 in FIG. 18A. The top side 1503 of the lid 1500 is visible in FIG. 18B (showing an example of optional markings on its surface), and the bottom side 1505 of the lid 1500 is visible in FIG. 18G. The lid embodiment 1500 may be described in reference to FIG. 18G as having a generally planar shape with a first side or end 1501 a, a second side or end 1501 b, a third side or end 1501 c and a fourth side or end 1501 d, the first and second ends 1501 a, 1501 b and the third and fourth ends 1501 c, 1501 d being on opposite sides of the lid 1500, respectively, as shown. The lid 1500 may be further described as having a main planar portion 1502 that is rectangular in shape (to correspond to the combined top area of the bins of the peg case/container) with continuous flanges 1507, 1509, 1511 extending downward from the main planar portion 1502 at or near the three of the four sides or ends of the lid, such as the first, third and fourth ends 1501 a, 1501 c, 1501 d of the lid 1500. However, a downwardly extending flange may be absent from one of the sides or ends of the lid, such as the second end 1501 b of the lid 1500, to allow the lid to be slid into engagement with front and/or rear projection(s) of a peg case or container. Although continuous flanges are shown in FIG. 18G, these downwardly extending flanges may instead be discontinuous (e.g., with gaps at or near the corners between the respective sides or ends of a peg case lid), and/or each side or end of a lid may instead have two or more flanges.
  • To securely but reversibly attach a lid to a peg case or container, the open end of a lid (i.e., due to the absence of a flange at that end) may be slidingly engaged with the front and/or rear projection(s) of the bin(s) of a peg case or container. At least one side or end (or two opposite sides or ends) of a lid may have a downward extension(s) with inwardly extending ledge(s), the ledge(s) being at or near the bottom of the downward extension(s). A horizontal track or slot may thus be present between each of the inwardly extending ledge(s) and the main planar portion of the lid. The downward extension(s) may extend downwardly from the flange(s) at or near the respective side or end of the lid. Each horizontal track or slot may have top-to-bottom dimensions that are about the same as (e.g., slightly larger than) the corresponding dimensions of the one or more respective front or rear projection(s) of a bin(s) of a peg case that engage the track or slot, such that the front or rear projection(s) fit closely inside the track or slot with only a relatively small amount of vertical clearance to permit smooth sliding motion in either direction along the sliding axis of the track or slot.
  • The horizontal depth of each track or slot may be a distance that is at least sufficient to keep the projection(s) of the peg case and bin(s) from vertically falling out of the track or slot. Thus, when the projection(s) are engaged and inserted within its/their respective horizontal track or slot on at least one side of the lid, relative movement between the peg case and lid is restricted to side-to-side sliding movement along the sliding axis of the horizontal track or slot until the projection(s) disengage and slide out of each of the horizontal track(s) or slot(s) of the lid. Additional inwardly extending guide tab(s) may also be present on the flange(s) at or near the two opposite sides of the lid to help guide and align the sliding engagement between the projection(s) and the track(s) or slot(s) of the lid. These guide tabs may also function to provide a more snug and secure fit between the lid and the peg case to avoid having the lid unintentionally slide off the peg case, such as when the peg case is lifted by grabbing the side edges of the lid, which may also cause the pegs to spill out of the peg case.
  • As exemplified for the lid embodiment 1500 in FIGS. 18B and 18G, the lid 1500 is shown having continuous flanges 1507, 1509, 1511 on the first, third and fourth sides or ends 1501 a, 1501 c, 1501 d of the lid 1500 (the second end 1501 b of the lid is open). A first and second downward extensions 1513, 1523 are shown extending further downward from the first and third flanges 1507, 1511 at the third and fourth sides or ends 1501 c, 1501 d of the lid 1500, respectively, the first and second downward extensions 1513, 1523 having a respective inwardly extending ledge 1515, 1525 defining a first track 1517 and a second track 1527, respectively, for receiving corresponding projection(s) of a peg case or container. Each of these tracks 1517, 1527 is shown having both of its ends being open, although only the end closest to the second end of the lid 1500 may need to be open to receive the corresponding projection(s) of a peg case or container. In addition, two guide tabs 1519, 1529 are shown projecting inwardly from the first and third flanges 1507, 1511 at the third and fourth ends 1501 c, 1501 d of the lid 1500, respectively, each of the guide tabs 1519, 1529 being positioned between (i) the respective first and second tracks 1517, 1527 (i.e., on the same side 1501 c, 1501 d of the lid 1500) and (ii) the second flange 1509 at the first end 1501 a of the lid 1500. These guide tabs 1519, 1529 of the lid 1500 may engage the front and back walls of the bin(s) of a peg case or container when the projection(s) of the peg case/container are being inserted into tracks 1517, 1527 to help keep the peg case/container and lid 1500 aligned as the projections of the peg case/container are inserted and slide within the tracks 1517, 1527 of the lid 1500.
  • Although the second end 1501 b of the lid embodiment 1500 is shown being open in FIG. 18G, a lid may alternatively have the first end of the lid open, or both the first and second ends of the lid open (not shown). As yet another alternative, either or both of the third and fourth ends might be open (i.e., without a downwardly extending flange), and the first and/or second ends of the lid may have a downward extension(s) with ledge(s) for creating a track(s) for engagement with projection(s) on the outer lateral side(s) of a peg case (not shown). When a peg case lid is not attached to its peg case, it may be placed underneath the peg case. An additional structure(s) may be present or combined with the lid that might reinforce or brace the positioning of the front wall(s) of a peg case to keep it from leaning forward by accidental force.
  • With the assembled peg case embodiment 1400 in FIG. 18A, oppositely oriented front projections 1421 a, 1423 a and rear projections 1421 b, 1423 b present on the two inner bins 1402, 1403 of the peg case 1400 may become engaged with the lid 1500 by first inserting the first set of front and rear projections 1421 a, 1421 b of the first inner bin 1402 of the peg case 1400 into the receiving ends of the first and second tracks 1517, 1527, respectively, of the lid 1500 and sliding those projections 1421 a, 1421 b toward the first end 1501 a of the lid 1500 along and within the tracks 1517, 1527 until the second set of front and rear projections 1423 a, 1423 b of the second inner bin 1403 become inserted into the receiving ends of the first and second tracks 1517, 1527, respectively. Both of the first and second sets of projections 1421 a, 1421 b, 1423 a, 1423 b of the peg case 1400 may continue to slide toward the first end 1501 a of the lid 1500 within the tracks 1517, 1527 until the lid 1500 covers the whole top area of the peg case 1400 (see, e.g., FIG. 18B). Thus, due to the presence of the second downwardly extending flange 1509 at the first end 1501 a of the lid 1500 and the inwardly projecting guide tabs 1519, 1529 on the inner side of the first and third downwardly extending flanges 1507, 1511 at the third and fourth ends 1501 c, 1501 d of the lid 1500, which are closer to the first end 1501 a of the lid 1500, the first and second sets of projections 1421 a, 1421 b, 1423 a, 1423 b of the peg case 1400 may only be slid into and out of engagement with the lid 1500 from one side (assuming that the relative orientation of the lid and peg case are kept the same). However, if the orientation of the lid were reversed (or did not matter), then the lid may instead (or also) be inserted from the opposite side of the peg case (e.g., by first inserting the second set of front and rear projections 1423 a, 1423 b of the second inner bin 1403 of the peg case 1400 into the receiving ends of the first and second tracks 1517, 1527, respectively, of the lid 1500).
  • To maintain alignment between the peg case 1400 and lid 1500 while the front and rear projections 1421, 1423 of the peg case 1400 are inserted into, and sliding along and within, the respective tracks 1517, 1527 of the lid 1500, guide tabs 1519, 1529 may contact the front and back wall(s) of the bin(s) of the peg case 1400 (e.g., front wall 1405 b and 1411 b of bin 1401)—e.g., such contact may be at or near the upper lips 1405 b′, 1411 b′ of the respective front and back walls 1405 b, 1411 b of the first outer bin 1401. As the top of a peg case becomes fully covered by its lid, the inwardly projecting guide tab(s) may also function as a possible stop against further sliding movement of the lid relative to the peg case by its/their contact with the projection(s) of the peg case, although an outer lateral side of the peg case may instead contact a flange of the lid. For example, the guide tabs 1519, 1529 of the lid 1500 may contact the first set of front and rear projections 1421 b, 1421 a of the first inner bin 1402 of the peg case 1400, respectively, and/or the second flange 1509 at the first end 1501 a of the lid 1500 may contact the first lateral side wall 1411 a of the first outer bin 1401 (e.g., at or near its upper lip 1411 a′). Moreover, the guide tabs may also function to secure the static positioning of the lid on top of the peg case by reinforcing their relative alignment after the lid is attached.
  • According to an alternative set of embodiments, the peg boards and pegs (and other associated components and pieces, such as the peg case, etc.) may be replaced with an electronic “peg board” or energy tracker, which may be provided or presented on a user interface(s) of one or more computer(s) and/or electronic device(s). For example, the analogous electronic peg board or energy tracker may keep track of the number(s), type(s), and/or location(s) of the various industries owned by each player, as well as their status (e.g., assets sold, etc.). An electronic peg board or energy tracker may be held by each player of the game separately. For example, each player may have their own electronic peg board or energy tracker, such as a personal computer, mobile phone, etc., which may be presented on a user interface of a computer or programmable electronic device, such as by operation of a software program or application (or “app”) that is stored on, or is accessible by, the computer or other programmable electronic device. Alternatively, a computer or electronic device may be shared among more than one (or all) of the players.
  • According to these embodiments, the player(s) may enter information into the software program or application and/or a user interface(s) of the computer or programmable electronic device serving as the electronic peg board or energy tracker of the present invention, about a purchase, repurchase, sale, etc., of one or more industries as well as the amount of currency that they have depending on the amount(s) of currency received and/or paid over the course of the game. Thus, an electronic peg board or energy tracker of the present invention may be used to keep track of not only the type(s), location(s), etc., of the one or more industries owned by a player, but also the amount of currency held by the player(s) of the game and the amount of energy currently produced by the player(s) of the game based on the number(s) and type(s) of industries that they own. This eliminates the need for the peg boards, pegs, and peg case and/or the currency and currency tray depending on the range of functionalities provided by the electronic pegboard or energy tracker.
  • If each player has their own electronic pegboard or energy tracker, which may be in the form a software program or application on a computer or programmable electronic device, to keep track of their industries and/or currency, then that player may enter relevant information over the course of the game, which becomes stored by the software application, etc. Alternatively, the electronic pegboard or energy tracker may be a single device for keeping track of the industries, currency, etc., of all of the players of the game. In such a case, the electronic pegboard or energy tracker may be kept and/or operated by a designated broker or banker during the game for entering and keeping track of such information. Such an electronic pegboard(s) or energy tracker(s) may be provided with the board game and/or installed, downloaded, etc., onto a computer or electronic device, such as a mobile phone, etc., by one or more of the player(s) for use with the board game. Upon passing the start space of the game board path, a player may query the electronic pegboard or energy tracker device about their energy production level and/or how much currency they should receive. According to some embodiments, each player may be issued an individual code or card that they may use to carry out currency transfers and/or industry purchase or sale transactions, etc. The individual code or card may interact with a central electronic pegboard or energy tracker device of the present game invention. The central electronic pegboard or energy tracker device may be able to individually recognize the code or card and assign the currency transfer or industry transaction to the specific player associated with the individual code or card.
  • According to aspects and embodiments of the present invention, a currency tray is provided for holding and separating the currency of the game, which may be referred to as “energy credits,” or another game-specific name. The currency tray may generally have a plurality of currency slots for receiving separate stacks of currency bills of different denominations. Thus, the total number of currency slots will generally be equal to or greater than the number of currency denominations held by the currency tray. The currency slots of the currency tray may generally be arranged in series, and each slot may include a separating wall and a supporting wall with the upper or top surfaces of each of the separating and supporting walls being planar in shape. The alternating separating and supporting walls of the plurality of serially arranged currency slots of the currency tray may be structurally arranged and configured in a sawtooth or zigzag pattern. The separating and supporting walls of each currency slot may meet at a lower “trough” or intersection line of such an alternating sawtooth or zigzag pattern, and the separating wall and supporting wall of adjacent currency slots may meet at an upper “peak” or intersection. However, instead of the upper peak or intersection being a linear edge or intersection line where the supporting wall and separating wall of adjacent currency slots meet, there may instead be an additional connecting wall, such as a horizontal connecting wall, between the supporting wall and separating wall of one or more pair(s) of adjacent currency slots resulting in a pattern that deviates from a pure sawtooth or zigzag pattern with a blunt or flat surface “peak” between the adjacent currency slot(s). Thus, each supporting wall of a currency slot ascends from the lower trough of the currency slot to an upper peak where the supporting wall meets the separating wall of an adjacent currency slot (or an additional connecting wall between them). Similarly, the separating wall of a currency slot descends from an upper peak where the separating wall meets the supporting wall of an adjacent currency slot (or an additional segment between them) to the lower trough of the currency slot.
  • According to many embodiments of a currency tray, the separating walls of the currency slots may be approximately parallel to each other, and/or the supporting walls of the currency slots may be approximately parallel to each other. Moreover, linear “peaks” and/or “troughs” of the alternating pattern between the separating and supporting walls of a currency tray may also be approximately parallel to each other. The supporting walls of the currency slots of a currency tray may also be slanted or inclined and not horizontal (i.e., the supporting walls of the currency slots may generally not be parallel to a flat supporting surface underneath the currency tray and/or a bottom edge of the currency tray). Indeed, as explained further below, the angles present or formed between (i) the separating and supporting walls of each of the currency slots and (ii) the supporting wall of each of the currency slots and the bottom of the currency tray (and/or a supporting surface underneath the tray), are important in determining the functionality and usefulness of the present currency tray in facilitating the removal of an individual currency bill from a stack of currency bills in each of the currency slots of the currency tray.
  • By having the supporting walls of each of the currency slots upwardly inclined from a lower “trough” or intersection line between the separating and supporting walls of a currency slot to an upper “peak” at or near where the currency slot is joined to an adjacent currency slot, a stack of currency bills placed on top of the supporting wall may be caused to lean slightly toward, and/or tend to remain in contact with, the supporting wall of the currency slot due to gravity. This “leaning” of the stack of currency bills against the separating wall of the “wedge” or V-shaped currency slot, which may be occasionally reinforced by pressing the stack more firmly or tightly into the currency slot, may assist in keeping the stack of currency bills neatly aligned. Furthermore, depending on the angle between the separating and supporting walls of each of the currency slots of a currency tray, the cross-sectional shape of a stack of currency bills placed into the currency slot may be affected. Due to the “leaning” of the stack of currency bills against the separating wall of the currency slot (and/or conversely the separating wall “pressing into” the stack of currency bills), the inner side of the stack (i.e., consisting of the inner edges of the bills of the stack) may be caused to become and/or remain aligned with the plane of the separating wall due to their contact with the separating wall.
  • In addition to the effect of gravity, the inner side of the stack of currency bills may also be initially and/or occasionally pressed into closer and more consistent contact with the separating wall of a currency slot to cause or maintain contact and alignment of the inner side of the stack of currency bills with the separating wall. Thus, the outer side of the stack of currency bills (i.e., consisting of the outer edges of the bills of the stack) will also become similarly aligned since all of the currency bills of the stack would have the same planar dimensions. As a result, if the angle between the separating and supporting walls of a currency slot is 90° for example, then a stack of currency bills placed firmly into the currency slot would assume or adopt a generally rectangular cross-sectional shape. However, if the angle between the separating and supporting walls of a currency slot is less than 90°, then the stack of currency bills placed firmly into the currency slot would instead assume or adopt a rhombus cross-sectional shape.
  • According to embodiments of a currency tray, a slot angle between the separating and supporting walls of a currency slot may preferably be less than 90° (i.e., at an acute angle) to cause a stack of currency bills placed into the currency slot to have, assume and/or adopt more of a rhombus cross-sectional shape. The slot angle between the separating and supporting walls of a currency slot may also preferably be greater than 30°, or more preferably greater than about 45°, to avoid the “wedge” angle of the currency slot being too narrow or closed. More preferably, the slot angle between the separating and supporting walls of a currency slot may preferably be within a range from about 60° to about 85°, or within a range from about 70° to about 80°, such as about 75°. With the stack of currency bills having a rhombus cross-sectional shape, each of the currency bills (except for the bill at the bottom of the stack) will generally have a slight overhang due to its outer side edge extending past the outer side edge of the currency bill directly beneath it. In other words, the outer edge of the currency bill on top of the stack will be, form, or provide the upper corner of the rhombus cross-sectional shape due to the stack of currency bills being upwardly inclined from its inner side contacting the separating wall of the currency slot toward its outer side due to the upward slope of the supporting wall of the currency slot. This slight overhang in combination with the non-horizontal upward angle and incline of the stack of currency bills toward its outer side may cooperate to allow a person to more easily remove, grab, pull, and/or slide the top currency bill from the stack.
  • An upward incline angle of the supporting wall of a currency slot may also resist the remainder of a stack of currency bills from “following” the top currency bill being removed, pulled, etc., from the stack (i.e., by friction between the currency bills of the) due to the counter lean of the stack caused by the inclined supporting wall. The incline angle between the supporting walls of a currency tray and the horizontal bottom(s) of the tray and/or front or back wall(s) (and support surface for the tray) may vary within a range from greater than 0° to about 90°, or between 0° and 90°, but may more preferably be within a range from greater than 0° to about 45°, such as within a range from about 15° to about 30°. Indeed, the slots may be more vertically oriented (i.e., closer to 90°) to provide a more compact size overall for the currency tray and perhaps a greater amount of gravity to cause the bills to sink into their respective slots and resist being lifted or moved along with a selectively removed bill(s) on the “top” of the stack. The combination of the slight overhang and/or the inclined surface of the supporting wall may contribute to the top currency bill being more easily and selectively removed from the remainder of the stack of the currency bills with a simpler and more natural motion of a person's finger(s) and/or thumb. Because the outer overhang and outwardly upward inclined features for a currency stack placed in a currency slot of a currency tray would generally be present for each of the currency bills of the stack, these benefits may be utilized repeatedly for the successive removal of currency bills from the top of the currency stack.
  • As stated above, the upper surfaces of the separating and supporting walls of each of the currency slots of a currency tray may each be planar in shape. The planar dimensions of each of the separating and supporting walls may be described as having a depth or length dimension and a width dimension. The planar width of the separating wall (i.e., from peak to trough) may generally be about the same for each of the currency slots may vary and be within a range from about 3/16 inch to about 3 inches, or more typically from about ½ inch to about 1.5 inches, depending at least in part on the dimensions of the currency and the overall height of the currency tray. Similarly, the planar width of the supporting wall (i.e., from trough to peak) may vary but may generally be about the same for each of the currency slots. For example, the planar width of a supporting wall of a currency tray may be within a range from about 1.5 inches to about 2.5 inches depending at least in part on the dimensions of the currency and the overall height of the currency tray. The planar length or depths of each of the separating and supporting walls of a currency tray (i.e., from a front edge/end to a back edge/end or wall) may typically be about the same but vary within a range from about 2 inches to about 6 inches depending at least in part on the dimensions of the currency stack and bills. However, the depths or lengths of the separating and supporting walls of a currency tray may be less than the lengths of the currency bills, such that a portion of the currency bills of a stack projects out from one or both of the front and/or back end(s) or edge(s) of the currency slot walls, which may facilitate placement and lifting of the currency stack from the tray.
  • According to some embodiments, a back wall may also be present that is attached, connected, and/or continuous with the back sides or ends of the separating and/or supporting walls to provide a stop against the further insertion of a currency stack into the currency slots and to help maintain alignment of the currency bills of a stack in a front-to-back direction or axis. Such a back wall may also help keep the currency stack(s) in the respective slot(s) of a currency tray when the currency tray is bumped, etc. However, the shape and arrangement of the back wall may vary while still carrying out its function of holding the currency stack in place. A back wall(s) of a currency tray may be perpendicular to the separating and/or supporting walls of the currency slot(s) of the tray, and the back wall may close off at least a portion of the area or space between the back ends of the separating and supporting walls of one or more currency slots. The back wall of the tray may also have a top edge that may be approximately horizontal and/or at about the same height or above the “peaks” between the separating and supporting walls of the tray. By having the height of the back wall (and/or other wall(s) of the tray) at or above the “peaks” between the separating and supporting walls of the tray, the currency bills may be protected from damage if items are stacked on top of the currency tray during storage, such as inside a game box. For example, a back wall of a currency slot may cover only a sufficient portion of the area between the back ends of the separating and supporting walls of the currency slot to restrain or block the stack of currency bills (perhaps in cooperation with the separating wall of the currency slot) from falling off the back end of the currency tray, which may require contact with only a portion of the back side of the stack. The back wall may be common and continuous between more than one currency slots of a currency tray, or there may be one or more back wall(s) for each of the currency slot(s) that are separate from each other.
  • A front wall may also be present that covers at least a portion (or all) of the area or space between the front edges or ends of the supporting and separating walls of adjacent currency slots, which may also be common and continuous and/or bounded by a bottom edge that may be approximately horizontal and/or at or below the “troughs” between the separating and supporting walls of the fray, in which case the bottom edge of the front wall may also form part of the bottom of the currency tray (perhaps along with a bottom edge of the back wall and/or the bottom(s) of two lateral side walls). With the currency tray supported by one or more of the front, back, and/or later side walls, etc., the currency tray may be otherwise hollow below the supporting and separating walls of the fray, such as to conserve material.
  • An embodiment of a currency fray 1600 is provided in FIG. 19A having a plurality of supporting walls 1601 a-f and separating walls 1603 a-f arranged in a zigzag or sawtooth pattern. An inward angle is present or formed between each adjacent pair of supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603 defining each currency slot of the tray 1600. The supporting wall 1601 and the separating wall 1603 of each currency slot meet at a lower “trough” of the zigzag or sawtooth pattern, whereas the supporting wall 1601 and the separating wall 1603 of adjacent currency slots meet at a higher “peak” of the zigzag or sawtooth pattern. For example, linear intersecting “troughs” 1613 c, 1613 d are shown in FIG. 19A between the third and fourth supporting walls 1601 c, 1601 d and the third and fourth separating wall 1603 c, 1603 d of the third and fourth currency slots, respectively. Similarly, linear intersecting “peak” 1611 c is shown in FIG. 19A between the second supporting wall 1601 b of the second currency slot and the third separating wall 1603 c of the third currency slot. A first lateral peak 1611 a is shown between a first lateral side wall 1605 of the currency tray 1600 and a first separating wall 1603 a of the first currency slot, and a second lateral peak 1611 g is further shown between a sixth supporting wall 1601 f of the sixth currency slot and a second lateral side wall 1607 of the currency tray 1600, the first and second lateral side walls 1605, 1607 being on opposite lateral ends of the currency tray 1600.
  • With the currency tray embodiment 1600 in FIG. 19A, each of the supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603 may have approximately the same length or depth (i.e., from a front edge or end to the back edge or end of the respective wall). For example, the length or depth of the fourth separating wall 1603 d may be from its front edge/end 1603 d′ to its back edge/end 1603 d″, and the length or depth of the sixth supporting wall 1601 f may be from its front edge/end 1601 f′ to its back edge/end 1601 f″. The widths of the supporting walls 1601 a-f are shown as being about the same, and the widths separating walls 1603 a-f are shown as being about the same. However, the widths of the supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603 are different from each other. A back wall 1609 having a horizontal top edge 1609′ is further shown that is continuous with the back ends of the supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603, which may be common and continuous between the currency slots of the tray 1600. A front wall 1615 having a horizontal bottom edge 1602 (which is also the bottom of the tray 1600 that rests on a support surface) is further shown that is continuous with the front ends of the supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603 between adjacent slots, which may also be a common and continuous front wall of the tray 1600.
  • As mentioned above, a slot angle may be present or formed between the supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603 of each currency slot that may preferably be an acute angle less than 90° as discussed above. For example, a slot angle (α) is shown between the second separating wall 1603 b and the second supporting wall 1601 b of the second currency slot, which may be about the same as the angles between the supporting and separating walls 1601, 1603 of the other currency slots. In addition, an incline angle may be present or formed between the supporting walls 1603 and the bottom(s) of the front and/or back walls (and/or a flat support surface). For example, an incline angle (β) is shown between the first supporting wall 1601 a and a horizontal bottom edge 1602 of the front wall 1615 (and tray 1600). For purposes of illustration, a stack of cards 1650 is shown placed in a currency slot of the currency tray 1600 defined by supporting wall 1601 b and separating wall 1603 b.
  • An assembled currency tray may be made as one continuous piece or assembled from two or more pieces. A currency tray similar to the fray embodiment 1600 in FIG. 19A may be assembled from a first tray portion 1710 and a second tray portion 1730 in FIGS. 19B and 19C, respectively. The first tray portion 1710 in FIG. 19B is shown having supporting walls 1711, separating walls 1713, a front wall 1715 and a back wall 1719. The first tray portion 1710 is further shown having a first lateral end 1725 and a first junction end 1718, the first junction end 1718 having two outward projections 1720 a, 1720 b on its lateral surface. Similarly, the second tray portion 1730 in FIG. 19C is shown having supporting walls 1731, separating walls 1733, a front wall 1735 and a back wall 1739. The second tray portion 1730 is further shown having a second lateral end 1737 and a second junction end 1738, the second junction end 1738 having two bore holes 1740 a, 1740 b. Accordingly, the two tray portions 1710, 1730 may be joined together to form an assembled currency tray by mating the first and second junction ends 1718, 1738 and by having the outward projections 1720 a, 1720 b on the first junction end 1718 of the first tray portion 1710 become inserted, coupled and engaged with the bore holes 1740 a, 1740 b of the second junction end 1738 of the second tray portion 1730. The outward projections 1720 a, 1720 b of the first tray portion 1710 may also become reversibly or irreversibly “snapped” into engagement with the bore holes 1740 a, 1740 b of the second tray portion 1730. According to some embodiments, there may also (or instead) be a clipping mechanism, such as a tab or the like, that may engage a corresponding recessed area, and/or alternatively, two or more portions of a tray may be assembled together by sliding projection(s) of one portion into a corresponding slot of another portion from the front or back of the other portion. If a permanent coupling is acceptable between the first and second tray portions 1710, 1730, the coupling or attachment of the two tray portions 1710, 1730 may be additionally reinforced by using a glue, adhesive, bonding, fusing, etc.
  • According to aspects and embodiments of the present invention, various playing cards or objects are provided that may be randomly drawn from a stack or deck to provide chance events, opportunities or information that may impact the course of game play or kept permanently by a player(s) of the game as an informational resource. According to embodiments of the present invention, one or more resource or “player permanent” cards or objects are provided that present useful game-related information, which may be kept by a player(s) of the game. Although playing cards may generally be used for this purpose, the information may instead be presented, marked, etc., on one or more paper sheet(s), pamphlet(s), plate(s), block(s), or other object(s) while fulfilling the same purpose. Typically, a resource card(s) will present information about the costs for carrying out various transaction types involving the different industries in one or more of the territory sections of the game board. For example, each resource card may present transactional and cost information for each of the energy industries in one or more of the territory section(s). Preferably, each resource card may present transactional and cost information for all of the industries in only one territory section, in which case the resource card may also be referred to as a “territory card.”
  • The transactional information presented on each card or object may include information relating to at least the initial purchasing and permitting of one or more industries, or more preferably for all types of industries, in one or more territories. However, each resource card may also present transactional information regarding the sale of an industry (or selling of the industry's assets) and/or the repurchase of that industry (or more specifically that industry's assets) for each type of industry in a territory. Each type of transactional information for each of the industries may be presented in a matrix or table format of columns and rows. For example, the industry types may be listed vertically to label each of the rows of cost information, and each of the columns may include information for initial purchase and permitting of an industry (e.g., labeled “Initial Buy”), sale of an industry and/or its assets (e.g., labeled “Sell Assets”), and/or repurchase or reacquisition of an industry and/or its assets (e.g., “Buy Back”). Each of these actions may be restricted to the player's turn, and only one of these actions may be permitted per turn for that player. Some of these actions, such as “Initial Buy” or permitting of an industry, may also be restricted in terms of its placement on the board—e.g., a new industry may only be placed on a particular industry region of a territory section of the board corresponding to the space of the path on which player is located at that time. However, other actions may not be limited in terms of their location on the game board—e.g., a player may sell the assets and/or permit of any industry/industries on the game board during their turn regardless of where their player piece is located along the game board path, but a player may not newly purchase an industry (or buy back an industry that previously had its assets sold) on the same turn during which they sell the assets and/or permit of an industry, regardless of where those industries are located on the game board or whether the industry having its assets and/or permit sold is the same as, or different from, the industry being newly purchased (or repurchased).
  • If a player buys or purchases a new industry, which may be referred to as “permitting” to reflect the governmental and regulatory approval process required to obtain a permit and start a new industry, then an industry piece of that type is placed on the industry region of the respective territory section of the game board, and a corresponding peg may be placed in a peg hole of an industry peg board to keep track of the purchase. As shown in FIG. 17D, for example, a peg 1200 may be placed in a peg hole 1251 of a peg board 1250 with a first outer portion 1203 of the peg 1200 on top and fully visible to indicate (e.g., by its corresponding color, indicia, etc.) which industry region (within the territory section) is occupied by that industry. Another unoccupied or empty peg hole 1253 is shown next to the peg hole 1251 occupied by the peg 1200. Thus, the cost amount per industry type shown in an “Initial Buy” column may represent the amount of currency or cost of initially purchasing and permitting that type of industry and placing it in the particular territory.
  • On the other hand, if a player owning an industry piece that is already present within an industry region of a territory section of a game board would like to receive currency in exchange for that industry, the player may sell that industry's assets (rendering the industry inactive) and acquire the designated amount of currency for that industry. The amount of currency received for selling an industry's assets may be presented in another “Sell Assets” column of the resource card, which may generally be less than the amount required to initially purchase of the industry. Since the industry is rendered inactive by the sale of its assets, the industry piece is removed from the game board. In such a case, however, the player maintains ownership of the permit even though the assets of that industry are sold. To keep track of the industry being kept but encumbered by its assets being sold, a peg (previously placed in the pegboard to represent the industry and its type and location on the game board) may be inverted to indicate the change in status for that particular industry. As shown in FIG. 17E, for example, the peg 1200 may be inverted in the peg hole 1251 of the peg board 1250 with a second outer portion 1205 of the peg 1200 on top and fully visible to indicate (e.g., by its color, indicia, etc.) the altered or encumbered status of the industry represented by that peg 1200. As explained above, the color, indicia, etc., of the first and second outer portions of a peg may be different to alternatively or additionally provide such distinguishable indications of placement and status. Although the peg holes 1251, 1253 of the peg board 1250 are shown in FIGS. 17D and 17E as being enclosed on their bottom ends, the peg holes of a peg board may instead span all the way through the pegboard (i.e., from the top to the bottom of the pegboard).
  • According to another scenario, if a player has sold the assets of an industry, such that the industry piece is removed from the game board and the peg on the peg board representing industry is inverted to indicate such a status, the player may later decide to repurchase or buyback the assets of the industry to make it active again (since the player has retained the permit for the industry). The amount of currency required to repurchase or buy back the industry's assets may be presented in another “Buy Back” column of the resource card, which may generally be greater than the amount received by selling the assets of the industry (but less than the amount required to initially purchase the industry). Since the industry is reactivated by the repurchase of the industry's assets, the industry piece be placed back onto the same industry region of the game board (assuming there is enough space left in the industry region). To keep track of the active status of the industry being restored, the peg (previously inverted to indicate the encumbered status for industry) may be inverted again back to its original orientation to indicate that the industry is restored. As shown in FIG. 17D-E, for example, the inverted peg 1200 in the peg board 1250 in FIG. 17E may be flipped back to its original orientation shown in FIG. 17D oriented with the first outer portion 1203 of the peg 1200 on top to indicate (e.g., by its color, indicia, etc.) only the industry region location (without encumbrance) for the industry. However, a player that initially purchases or buys-back an industry during their turn may not sell the assets and/or permit of that industry or any other industry during the same turn.
  • According to yet other scenarios, a player may sell off the permit along with, or after parting with, the assets of an industry. Thus, a player owning an industry within an industry region of a territory section of the game board may receive currency in exchange for that industry's permit (with or without the sale of its assets). The amount of currency received for selling an industry's permit may be the same as for selling the industry's assets (see, e.g., “Sell Assets” column of the resource card). Thus, there are two scenarios in which a player may wish to sell their assets: (i) a player may sell the permit of an industry along with that industry's assets, or (ii) a player may sell the permit of an industry that has already sold its assets. In the former case, the player may sell the permit and assets of the industry together (i.e., sell the entire industry) in return for receiving a greater amount of currency that may be twice the amount received for selling the assets alone (see, e.g., “Sell Assets” column above). In the latter case, however, the player would sell only the permit since the assets of the industry were already sold for receiving a lesser amount of currency that may be equal to the amount received for selling the assets alone. In either one of these scenarios, the peg that represents that industry (see, e.g., FIGS. 17D and 17E) is completely removed from the pegboard to reflect that all rights in the industry have been surrendered. With the former scenario, the industry piece is also removed from the game board (the industry piece is already removed in the latter scenario).
  • A few examples showing the front faces of resource or territory cards for each of the territory regions or sections of the game board are provided in FIGS. 20A-D for a game board having at least four industry regions/territories: flatlands, mountains, shoreline, and tundra (see e.g., FIGS. 1A and 8). An example of a resource card for the flatlands territory is shown in FIG. 20A, an example of a resource card for the mountains territory is shown in FIG. 20B, an example of a resource card for the shoreline territory is shown in FIG. 20C, and an example of a resource card for the tundra territory is shown in FIG. 20D. Each of these territory resource cards may be kept by one or more of the player(s) of the game as an informational resource during play of the game. As discussed above, each of these resource cards has columns of information for different types of transactions, such as “Initial Buy,” “Buy Back,” and “Sell Assets,” for each of the types of energy-producing industries (e.g., biofuel, fossil fuel, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, and wind). Although not shown, the back faces of these cards may be blank or display a color, design, logo, etc., such as to indicate that they are resource or territory cards and/or which territory is represented by the resource card.
  • Generally speaking, the amount of currency required to initially buy and construct an industry in a particular territory will be greater than the amount of currency needed to buy back or repurchase that industry after its assets are sold. Likewise, the amount of currency required to initially buy or buy back an industry will each generally greater than the amount of currency received for selling the industry's assets. However, if the permit for an industry is sold along with its assets, the amount of currency received for that transaction (e.g., twice the amount for selling the industry's assets alone) may be about the same or greater than the amount required to buy back or repurchase the industry, but the combined permit-plus-assets sale amount for an industry may generally be less than the amount required to initially purchase that industry.
  • As can be seen, for example, in FIGS. 20A-D, the amounts of currency paid/received for each type of transaction for a particular industry type varies depending on which territory the industry is located since industries may be more costly or risky to construct, start and make operational in some territories versus others. In the flatlands territory (see, e.g., FIG. 20A), the most amount of currency may be required for initial purchase of a hydroelectric industry, whereas the solar and wind industries may require the least amount (i.e., with the biofuel, fossil fuel, and nuclear industries requiring intermediate amount(s) of currency to purchase). In the mountains territory (see, e.g., FIG. 20B), the most amount of currency may be required for initial purchase of a nuclear industry, whereas the solar and wind industries may again require the least amount (i.e., with the biofuel, fossil fuel, and hydroelectric industries requiring intermediate amount(s) of currency to purchase). In the shoreline territory (see, e.g., FIG. 20C), the most amount of currency may be required for initial purchase of a biofuel industry, whereas the wind industry may require the least amount (i.e., with the fossil fuel, nuclear, hydroelectric and solar industries requiring intermediate amount(s) of currency to purchase). In the tundra territory (see, e.g., FIG. 20D), the most amount of currency may be required for initial purchase of a solar industry, whereas the remaining industries may require lesser amount(s) of currency to purchase.
  • For a particular industry in a particular territory section, the amount of currency received for selling the assets of the industry (i.e., “Sell Assets”) may generally be in a range from about 20% to about 45% of the amount of currency paid for initial purchase (i.e., “Initial Buy”) of that industry, or more typically in a range from about 30% to about 40% of the amount of currency paid for initial purchase of that industry. Similarly, the amount of currency required to repurchase an industry (i.e., “Buy Back”) may generally be in a range from about 40% to about 90% of the amount of currency required for initial purchase of that industry, or more typically in a range from about 60% to about 70% of the amount of currency paid for initial purchase of that industry. With regard to these ranges, outlier percentages may exist in some cases for one or more industries in one or more of the industry regions. For example, the biofuel industry in the flatlands territory may have an outlier percentage (e.g., a “Buy Back” amount of about 40% of the “Initial Buy” amount and a “Sell Assets” amount of about 20% of the “Initial Buy” amount).
  • According to embodiments of the present invention as discussed and introduced above, a first set or plurality of cards, which may be referred to as “Energy” cards (or by another name), may be stacked together into a first stack or deck of cards, which may be referred to as the “Energy” deck (or by another name). As discussed above, this first set or plurality of cards may include cards that require a player(s) to take a particular action, such as to “do” (or refrain from doing) something. Other cards of the first set may require a player(s) to “move” to another space on the path of the game board, such as to a specific permitting or investing space on the board. The first set or plurality of cards may also include cards that provide a monetary penalty or reward for the player(s) of the game. Yet other cards of the first set of cards may simply require the player to read a particular factual statement written on the card that pertains to the energy industry, which may be seen as neutral in its effect on the game (other than being an “opportunity cost” for the player). The total number of cards of the first set or stack/deck of cards may vary, for example, from about 45 to 70 cards, or alternatively from 50 to 60 cards, or alternatively from 50 to 55 cards, such as about 53 cards, which may include card(s) representing one or more of the different card subtypes, subgroups or subsets as described herein. Indeed, the first set or stack/deck of cards may include about 20 to about 30 cards requiring a player to do (or refrain from doing) something or providing for the occurrence of an event that affects the industries of one or more player(s) (e.g., based on its/their type and/or location). The remaining cards may be either or both of the fact-reading cards and/or the move cards.
  • Each of these different subsets of cards (of the first set or plurality of cards) may be based on the occurrence of certain events or changes that affect one or more industries in one or more of the territories. More typically, the cards of the first set or plurality of cards may affect only the player drawing the card, but some of the cards may also affect the other players of the game simultaneously (if they meet any condition(s) stated on the card). Moreover, some of the cards of the first set or plurality of cards may affect only one or more listed industries and/or only one or more industries located within a particular territory section(s) of the game board. Different portion(s) of a card may display the type(s) and/or location(s) of the industry/industries affected. Furthermore, each card may have a number or other footnote to reference a source of information providing the factual basis or explanation in support of the statement, event, requirement, etc., provided by or on the card (e.g., a website, industry or news article, etc.), which may be a list of references and/or a description (and/or visual presentation) provided in the documentation supplied with the game, such as the game manual or instructions, and/or electronically accessible, such as via the interne, cell phone service, etc. Various expansion or replacement packs of cards, or a subset(s) of cards, may also become available over time, such as to increase or decrease the level of difficulty of the game, to update the relative probabilities, costs, incomes, etc., of the various industries. The reference numbers displayed on the cards of a particular set (or subset) of cards may also be associated with or given other indicia, such as a background color, etc., to match cards of the same set, subset, pack, etc.
  • The cards of the first set or stack/deck of cards may be drawn one-by-one when a player lands on a particular type of card-drawing space corresponding to the first stack/deck of cards, which may be indicated by a corresponding color, design, logo, etc. FIGS. 21B-M provide a number of examples showing a front face of various cards of a first set or plurality of cards, which may be referred to as “Energy” cards. Each of the cards may also have the same or similar color, design, logo, etc., such as the stylized letter “E” with color pattern (see, e.g., FIG. 21A), to indicate that they are part of the same (first) set or plurality of cards. The cards of the first set or plurality of cards may be stacked together into a first stack/deck of cards, which may also be referred to as the “Energy” deck. FIGS. 21B-D provide a first subset of examples of cards of the first set or stack/deck of cards that provide for the occurrence of an event that results in an immediate monetary penalty or reward for one or more players based on the occurrence of an event, which may further depend on the type(s) and/or location(s) of the industries of the player(s) on the game board. FIGS. 21E-G provide a second subset of examples of cards of the first set or stack/deck of cards that provide for the occurrence of an event that affects either the status or the ability to develop or profit from one or more industries in one or more territory location(s) on the game board as specified by the card, which may have a lasting effect over several player turns.
  • A key difference between the first and second subsets of cards (of the first set or stack/deck of cards) is the nature of the effect provided by the card and/or when that effect occurs. The second subset of cards may affect the industries themselves (i.e., their purchase, operation, etc.), whereas the first subset of cards may only provide a one-time monetary reward or penalty. The second subset of cards may also have a more lasting effect (e.g., for a complete round of player turns, until a player(s) cross the start space, etc.), whereas the first subset of cards may involve an immediate and instantaneous payment or receipt of money or currency. Thus, a card of the second subtype may be kept out of the first stack/deck of cards once drawn to remind player(s) of its lasting effect. Accordingly, this second subset of cards of the first set or stack/deck of cards may be labeled as “Keep” cards.
  • FIGS. 21H-I provide a couple examples of a third subset of cards of the first set or stack/deck of cards that require a player to read or at least take note of a factual statement to themselves and/or other players of the game. Finally, FIGS. 21J-M provide examples of a fourth subset of cards that require a player(s) to move to another location or space on the game board, such as a specific permitting space within a particular territory section to provide the player(s) with an opportunity to invest on the corresponding industry region, or an investing space.
  • According to other embodiments of the present invention as discussed and introduced above, a second set or plurality of cards, which may be referred to as “Investment” cards (or by another name), may be stacked together into a second stack or deck of cards, which may be referred to as the “Investment” deck (or by another name). As discussed above, this second set or plurality of cards may provide investment opportunities for a player(s) of the game. A player landing on one of a (second) corresponding set or group of card-drawing spaces may have the option of drawing a card from the second set or stack/deck of cards. Since the second (or “Investment”) set or stack/deck of cards provide an investment risk (i.e., they may provide a gain or loss) for the player drawing the card, that player may choose to avoid and not take the risk of drawing a card from the second stack/deck when landing on one of the corresponding spaces of the game board during their turn. Thus, the player may simply pass on the opportunity to draw a card from the second (or “Investment”) set or stack/deck of cards.
  • As a second option, a player landing on one of the corresponding card drawing spaces may also mitigate their risk by requesting another player(s) to share in the benefit or risk posed by drawing the card (before deciding to draw a card from the second (or “Investment”) set or stack/deck of cards). The relative percentage(s) between the two or more players (who agree to share in the reward/benefit or risk posed by drawing of the card) may typically be the same or pro rata. For example, two players may decide to share in the risk or reward 50/50 (i.e., 50% for one player, and 50% for another player). However, the player(s) may instead decide to divide and share their relative risk or reward posed by the card to differing amounts. For example, two players may decide to share the risk or reward 60/40 (i.e., 60% for one player, and 40% for another player). As another example, three players may decide to share the risk or reward 60/30/10 (i.e., 60% for a first player, 30% for a second player, and 10% for a third player). As yet another (third) option, a player landing on one of the corresponding card drawing spaces may also avoid the risk by offering their “investment” opportunity to another specific player(s) who may then choose to take or avoid the risk or reward posed by drawing the card.
  • The total number of cards in the second set or stack/deck of cards may vary but may generally be less than the total number of cards in the first set or stack/deck of cards (since the second set or stack/deck of cards may be frequently reshuffled—e.g., after each time a card is drawn from the second set or stack/deck of cards). For example, the total number of cards in the second (or “Investment”) set or stack/deck of cards may vary within a range from about six (6) to about fifteen (15), or more typically from about eight (8) to about twelve (12) cards, although a greater number of cards is also possible. Thus, the probability of receiving an “Investment” card providing (i) a benefit/gain/reward or (ii) a risk/loss/burden/penalty will depend on the relative numbers and percentages of the respective cards providing the different “investment” outcomes. For example, to incentivize players to draw a card from the second (or “Investment”) stack/deck, there may be a slightly greater chance of drawing a card with a benefit rather than a burden or loss, such as a 60% probability of benefit versus a 40% probability of loss (e.g., six benefit cards versus four loss cards for a stack/deck containing a total of ten cards). Most typically, the benefit or burden for a player(s) drawing the card (and/or sharing in its risk) will be instant and immediate payment or receipt of a sum of currency. However, it is also possible for these “investment” cards to provide other kinds of benefits/gains or burdens/losses that may instead affect or apply to one or more industries held by the player(s) in one or more territory sections.
  • The cards of the second set, plurality or stack/deck of cards may be drawn one-by-one when a player lands on one of a second set or group of card-drawing spaces corresponding to the second stack/deck of cards, which may be indicated by a corresponding color, design, logo, etc. FIGS. 22B and 22C provide a couple examples showing the front faces of two possible cards of a second set or stack/deck of cards, which may be referred to as “Investment” cards. Each of the cards may also have (on their opposite back face) a common, same and/or similar color, design, logo, etc., such as the stylized energy credit (E-c) logo with a design and color pattern (see, e.g., FIG. 22A), to indicate that they are part of the same (second) set or plurality of cards. The cards of the second set or plurality of cards may be stacked together into a second stack/deck of cards, which may also be referred to as the “Investment” deck as mentioned above.
  • FIGS. 22B and 22C provide a couple examples of cards of the second set or stack/deck of cards that provide for (i) a benefit, reward or gain, or (ii) a burden, penalty or loss as a result of taking the “investment” risk of drawing the card, which may be passed along, and/or shared with, other player(s) of the game. For example, FIG. 22B provides an example of a card from a second (or “Investment”) set or stack/deck of cards providing a loss for the player(s) involved, whereas FIG. 22C provides an example of a card from the second (or “Investment”) set or stack/deck of cards that provides a benefit for the player(s) involved. Each of these card examples requires the player(s) involved in the investment opportunity and risk to immediately receive or make payment of a certain sum of currency.
  • According to other aspects and embodiments of the present invention, units of money or currency in the form of bills are provided, which may be broken down into different denominations. According to some embodiments, the currency may be referred to as “energy credits” and/or further designated with an “energy credit” (E-c) logo as shown in the figures (although other names, logos, designs, etc., are also possible). In general, although one denomination may be used, there may be at least two or more denominations of the currency for different unit amounts of the currency, and each of these denominations may include a plurality of bills. For example, as shown in FIGS. 23A-F, the currency denominations may include bills having currency values of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 currency units, which may be referred to as “energy credits” (or by another name). Although any number of units may be used for the various currency denominations, typically the number of units for each of the currency denominations will consist of 1 unit or convenient multiples of 2, 5 and/or 10 currency units (e.g., “energy credits”). Thus, the currency for the game may include a plurality of bills for each of these denominations, which may be kept or grouped together in stacks or decks, such as by being separately stacked in the currency slots of a currency or credits tray as discussed above (see, e.g., FIGS. 19A-C). The dimensions of the individual currency bills may vary but may each be rectangular with a length within a range from about 1 inch to about 6 inches and a width within a range from about 1 inch to about 3 inches. Of course, the design, shape, color(s), etc., of the various currency denominations (apart from its value) may vary as a matter of design choice. For example, the currency denomination(s) may instead take the form of a chip.
  • According to many aspects and embodiments, other components may be provided that are also part of a board game of the present invention. According to embodiments of a board game, a plurality of player pieces are provided to represent each of the players on the game board—i.e., placed on the spaces of the closed loop path of the game board. These player pieces may potentially have any suitable size, shape and design, which may vary from simple and utilitarian chips, pawn-like pieces, etc., to more elaborate designs that are more of a combination of appearance and function. However, each of the player pieces may generally have a bottom portion that contacts the top surface of the game board that is smaller than the two-dimensional area of each of the spaces along the closed loop path.
  • According to some embodiments, however, the player pieces may have a more elaborate design that may resemble, depict or represent a theme or aspect of the game. FIG. 24 provides some examples of elaborate player piece designs representing the different types of energy industries. For example, player piece 1800 represents the biofuel industry having a base portion 1801 and an upper decorative handle portion 1803, player piece 1900 represents the coal industry having a base portion 1901 and a decorative handle portion 1903, player piece 2000 represents the hydroelectric industry having a base portion 2001 and a decorative handle portion 2003, player piece 2100 represents the natural gas industry having a base portion 2101 and a decorative handle portion 2103, player piece 2200 represents the nuclear industry having a base portion 2201 and a decorative handle portion 2203, player piece 2300 represents the oil industry having a base portion 2301 and a decorative handle portion 2303, player piece 2400 represents the solar industry having a base portion 2401 and a decorative handle portion 2403, and player piece 2500 represents the wind industry having a base portion 2501 and a decorative handle portion 2503. With these examples, the lower base portions of the player pieces may rest on the playing surface of the game board, and the upper decorative handle portions may provide a sculptural representation of the associated industry as well as a portion or handle for grabbing and moving the player piece by the hand of a player. Although the examples in FIG. 24 are mostly a matter design choice, they may enhance the game playing experience and energy theme, and a player may choose an energy industry of choice (e.g., a “favorite” energy industry) for their player piece, which may indicate the player's bias in terms of energy preference.
  • Other components may also be provided as part of a board game of the present invention including a random number generator, such as one or more dice (see, e.g., FIG. 25), and other documentation, such as game instructions, reference materials, etc. (see, e.g., FIG. 26), which may be in the form of a pamphlet, booklet, sheet(s) of paper, etc.
  • According to aspects and embodiments of the present invention, a storage or game box or container is provided for storing the components and pieces of the game together while the board game is not being played. The game storage box or container may be divided into a number of compartments by partition walls. In addition, various spacers and elevating pieces may also be placed in one or more of the compartments of the storage box or container to customize the dimensions of the compartment and/or to provide an upper level of storage. The outer dimensions of the game storage box may be defined by a plurality of outer walls, such as four outer walls for a rectangularly shaped game storage box. Each of the outer walls and partitions may be extended vertically above the bottom wall of the game storage box. The game storage box or container may have a variety of overall shapes but may most typically be rectangular or square to correspond to the likely rectangular dimensions of the game components, trays, peg boards, etc. Likewise, the different compartments of the storage box or container may also generally be rectangular or square.
  • According to an embodiment of the present invention, a rectangular game storage box 2700 is provided in FIGS. 27A-D showing stages in the sequential placement of components, etc., of a board game into the game storage box 2700. The game storage box 2700 is shown having length and width dimensions that are much greater than its height dimension. The storage box 2700 is shown having a first outer wall 2701 a, a second outer wall 2701 b, a third outer wall 2701 c, a fourth outer wall 2701 d, and a bottom wall 2702. The interior of the game box 2700 is further shown divided into several compartments including a first compartment 2707 a, a second compartment 2707 b, a third compartment 2707 c, and a fourth compartment 2707 d. Each of these compartments is bounded by four of the outer wall(s) and/or partition(s). The first compartment 2707 a is shown bounded by the first, third and fourth outer walls 2701 a, 2701 c, 2701 d and a first partition wall 2703 a; the second compartment 2707 b is shown bounded by the third and fourth outer walls 2701 c, 2701 d, the first partition wall 2703 a and a second partition wall 2703 b; the third compartment 2707 c is shown bounded by the second and third outer walls 2701 b, 2701 c, the second partition wall 2703 b and a third partition wall 2703 c; and the fourth compartment 2707 d is shown bounded by the second and fourth outer walls 2701 b, 2701 d, the second partition wall 2703 b and the third partition wall 2703 c.
  • A first spacer 2709 a is shown positioned in the first compartment 2707 a near, and/or in contact with, the third outer wall 2701 c of the storage box 2700 to partially close or shorten a lower and/or upper space of the first compartment 2707 a, which may be used to account for the shorter dimensions of the currency tray and/or pegboards, respectively. Two elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b are shown placed in the fourth compartment 2707 d in a spaced-apart arrangement with a gap between them, the first elevating piece 2705 a positioned near, and/or in contact with, the third partition wall 2703 c and the second elevating piece 2705 b positioned near and/or in contact with the fourth outer wall 2701 d. Two spacers 2709 b, 2709 c are placed within the gap between the two elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b of the fourth compartment 2707 d to define a smaller receiving area between the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and spacers 2709 b, 2709 c. However, each of the spacers 2709 a-c may be optional and/or absent. Various items, such as the game instructions and/or other documentation, media, etc., 2715 (see, e.g., FIG. 26), may be placed in the bottom of the smaller receiving area of the fourth compartment 2707 d as shown in FIG. 27A. The various decks of game cards 2711, 2712, 2713, including perhaps the first and second sets or stacks/decks of cards and sets of resource cards (see, e.g., FIGS. 20-22), are shown placed on top of the first elevating piece 2705 a toward one corner of the fourth compartment 2707 d (i.e., adjacent to the second and third partition walls 2703 b, 2703 c), and an additional smaller compartment may be present for receiving those stacks/decks of cards, etc.
  • The game storage box embodiment 2700 in FIG. 27A may receive additional components of the board game. For example, as shown in FIG. 27B, a plurality of player pieces 2719 are shown placed and stored in the third compartment 2707 c of the game box 2700, and a peg case with lid 2721 is shown placed and stored in the receiving area between the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and spacers 2709 b, 2709 c in the fourth compartment 2707 d of the game box 2700 (e.g., on top of the game instructions, etc., 2715). Of note are the dimensions and placements of the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and spacers 2709 b, 2709 c in the fourth compartment 2707 d. The close or snug fit between the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and the sides of the peg case 2721 will keep the peg case from rotating and generally stationary, whereas the spacers 2709 b, 2709 c may resist sliding of the peg case 2721 within the receiving area but create a space for a user or player to reach into the game box 2700 and grab and lift the peg case 2721 out of the game box 2700 (e.g., due to the L-shape of the spacers 2709 b, 2709 c). Other shapes for the spacers may also be used having gaps, etc., that may facilitate access to, and removal of, the peg case 2721 inside the receiving area. To provide an even upper level in the fourth compartment 2707 d of the game box 2700, the peg case plus lid 2721 may have a height that is about the same as heights of the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b, such that additional items may be stably placed and laid on top of them.
  • In addition, a currency tray 2717 is shown placed and stored inside the first compartment 2707 a of the game box 2700 with the first spacer 2709 a closing in an upper space or portion of the first compartment 2707 a at or near the third outer wall 2701 c of the game box 2700. The first spacer 2709 a may close any gap between one of the lateral ends of the peg boards 2727 (see below) and the third outer wall 2701 c of the game box 2700. However, a spacer in the first compartment 2707 a may also fill a lower space or portion of the first compartment 2707 a between one of the lateral ends of the currency tray 2717 and the third outer wall 2701 c of the game box 2700, or both an upper and lower space or portion of the first compartment 2707 a between one of the lateral ends of the peg boards 2727 (see below) and the third outer wall 2701 c of the game box 2700. An elevated piece(s) may also be optionally present in the first compartment 2707 a to raise a currency tray 2717 and/or peg boards 2727 placed therein. One or more side spacer(s) may also be present next to the first outer wall 2701 a and/or the first partition wall 2703 a inside the first compartment 2707 a, such as to provide a more snug fit for any game components (e.g., a currency tray and/or pegboards) and/or to elevate and support a game component(s) (e.g., pegboards) within the first compartment 2707 a. Although not shown, additional partitions may be present between the individual player pieces and/or other smaller pieces, such as dice, etc., in the third compartment 2707 c. Such partitions may be between only the lower portions of the player pieces or the same height or taller than the player pieces.
  • Starting with the game box 2700 having some of the game components in FIG. 27B, additional board game components may be subsequently placed inside the game box 2700 as shown in FIG. 27C. A stack of peg boards 2727 may be placed and stored in the first compartment 2707 a of the game box 2700 on top of the currency tray 2717, and an industry storage tray 2729 (including the industry pieces packed together on top of the industry storage tray 2729) may be placed and stored in the second compartment 2707 b of the game box 2700. Although not shown, one or more elevated piece(s) may be present in the second compartment 2707 b to raise the tops of the industry pieces in the storage tray 2729 to near the lid 2800 of the game box 2700. By having the tops of the industry pieces near the lid 2800, they may be less likely to fall and/or shift out of place when the game box 2700 is moved, etc. Alternatively, a lid, flap or cover may be placed on top of the industry pieces on the tray to help hold them in place, which may rest on the industry tray or on a portion of the game box compartment. Such an industry cover, etc., may be U-shaped or L-shaped with one of the sides of the cover resting on top of the industry pieces, or a flap may extend out from a side of the game box compartment and fold up or down. Additional game pieces, components, etc., may be placed on top of such a cover, lid, flap, etc., to weigh it down (if not positioned near the top or lid for the game box) to help hold it in place, or a tab(s) or spacer(s) may be present between the industry cover, etc., and the game box top or lid to hold it in place during storage and transport. Similarly, placement of the pegboards 2727 on top of the currency tray 2717 may help keep the currency in place on the tray 2717 during movement of the game box 2700.
  • A pair of dice 2723 are also shown placed and stored in the third compartment 2707 c of the game box 2700 along with the player pieces 2719. Furthermore, a folded game board 2725 (see, e.g., FIG. 1D) is shown placed in the fourth compartment 2707 d of the game box 2700 resting on top of the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and the peg case 2721 in the receiving area between the elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and spacers 2709 b, 2709 c in the fourth compartment 2707 d. The folded game board 2725 is shown with its folded corner placed in a corner of the fourth compartment 2707 d near where the second and fourth outer walls 2701 b, 2701 d of the game box 2700 meet. Due to each of the peg case 2721 and elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b having about the same height, the folded game board 2725 is able to stably rest flat on top of them.
  • Finally, a game box lid, top or cover 2800 may be placed on top of the game box 2700 in FIGS. 27A-C to cover, protect and contain the game components placed and stored inside the game box 2700. The game box cover 2800 is shown including a top wall 2802 and four downwardly extending side walls including a first side wall 2801 a, a second side wall 2801 b, a third side wall 2801 c, and a fourth side wall 2801 d. The spacing between each pair of opposite side walls 2801 of the game box cover 2800 are slightly greater than the corresponding distances between the respective opposite outer walls 2701 of the storage box 2700. Thus, the side walls 2801 of the game box cover 2800 may be placed around the outer walls 2701 of the game box 2700 by inserting the game box 2700 into the interior space between the side walls 2801 of the game box cover 2800. A name, logo, etc., identifying the board game may also be placed on top of the game box cover 2800 for display and identification purposes.
  • FIGS. 27A-D provide different states for an embodiment of a game box 2700 and cover 2800 according aspects of the present invention. However, as mentioned above, the size, shape and configuration of a game box may vary while still providing an efficiently organized arrangement and/or compartmentalization of game components. For example, among many other possible variations, the third and fourth compartments 2701 c, 2701 d of the game box 2700 in FIGS. 27A-C may instead be located in the middle of the game box with the second compartment 2701 b moved to the other side of the third and fourth compartments and next to the second outer wall 2701 b. As another alternative, both of the first and second compartments 2701 a, 2701 b of the game box 2700 in FIGS. 27A-C may both be moved to the other side of the game box with (i) the third and fourth compartments 2701 c, 2701 d moved over next to the first outer wall and (ii) the first and second compartments 2701 a, 2701 b moved over next or near to the second outer wall of the game box (in such a case, either the first or second compartment may be directly adjacent to the second outer wall of the game box). With any of these arrangements, the orientations of the peg case 2721, elevating pieces 2705 a, 2705 b and second and third spacers 2709 a, 2709 b (if present) shown in the fourth compartment of the game box may be rotated or translated. Moreover, the placement and orientation of the folded game board 2725 may also be modified, such that its folded corner is positioned in one of the other corners of the fourth compartment of the game box, and/or other components, pieces, etc., of the board game (especially smaller components, pieces, etc., such as the card decks, die/dice, instructions, etc.) may be placed elsewhere inside the game box, such as in a different compartment(s).
  • According to another broad aspect of the present invention, methods are provided for playing the game by two or more players, preferably two to four players. The game may be played using many or all of the components, pieces, etc., of the board game described above. According to many embodiments, play of the board game may begin by placing a game board for the game (see, e.g., FIGS. 1A and 8) onto a support surface, such as a table top, etc., which may also involve unfolding the game board (e.g., from its folded state in storage—see, e.g., FIG. 1D) to fully reveal its top playing surface.
  • An equal amount of currency may be distributed to each of the players at the beginning of the game. Since the currency for the game is fictitious, the value set for the currency may be arbitrary, and thus the amount of currency distributed to each player at the start of the game may vary. However, while the value of the currency may vary proportionally, the relative value may be fixed among the various costs, rewards, penalties, incomes, etc., with the industries and playing cards. According to some embodiments, the amount of currency distributed to each player may be within a range from about 450 units (or “energy credits”) to about 500 units (or “energy credits”), such as about 475 units (or “energy credits”). For example, if 475 units is given to each of the players at the start of the game, this amount may be divided into denominations including two 100 unit bills, two 50 unit bills, five 20 unit bills, five 10 unit bills, and five 5 unit bills (see, e.g., FIG. 23). These amounts may be in proportion to the specific costs/income associated with the industries according to embodiments described above and in the figures (see, e.g., values on pegboard in FIG. 16A-B, costs and values for the industries in FIG. 20, and the amounts included in the examples of cards depicted in FIGS. 21-22 that may be drawn from one of the game card stacks/decks).
  • At the beginning of the game, one of the players (or a person not playing the game) may be designated as the currency broker or banker (or “energy broker”) for receiving and distributing the currency during the course of the game. Money or currency received by the currency broker may be placed into a currency tray (or bank), and money or currency distributed out to the players at the beginning and during the game may be paid out of the currency tray. Thus, the currency tray may be seen as representing the supply of money in circulation in the general economy that is not held by one of the players of the game. The currency broker may pay out money to the player(s) intermittently during the game for income received from their industries, for the sale of industry assets or for gains, rewards, etc., received from various card draws, and the currency broker may receive money from the player(s) when an industry is purchased (or repurchased) or from losses, penalties, etc., incurred from various card draws.
  • In addition to an initial sum of money or currency, each player may also be given a pegboard or the like (see, e.g., FIG. 16) for keeping track of the location and/or status of their industries. The pegboards may also facilitate the calculation of income received by the player(s) intermittently during the game for energy production from their industries in the amounts (depending on industry type) that may be indicated on the peg board as well as the calculation of the amount of energy produced by their industries toward the threshold level needed ultimately to win the game. Furthermore, each player may also receive a resource card(s), such as territory cards for each of the territory sections on the game board (see, e.g., FIG. 20), providing relative cost/value information for the various industry types in each of the territory sections of the game board. While it is possible for two or more players to share use of the resource cards, these resource card(s) may typically be kept permanently by the player(s) during a game for repeated reference. According to embodiments of a game board described above in connection with FIGS. 1A and 8, each player may receive four resource or territory cards corresponding to each of the four territory sections of the game board (e.g., flatlands, mountains, tundra, shoreline) with each territory card providing the relative cost/value information for the various industry types in that territory. In addition, each player may choose, select or be given one of the player pieces, which may be simple objects or elaborate pieces (see, e.g., FIG. 24), to represent them on the game board path during play of the game. Each of the players will begin by placing their player piece on or near the start space of the closed loop path marked on the game board (see, e.g., start space 120 on path 104 in FIG. 1A). One or more of the player pieces will be considered “on” the start space for purposes of their next roll or move even if the player piece(s) are actually positioned only near the start space due to lack of room within the start space itself to fit all of the player pieces.
  • Each of the above actions at the beginning of the game may occur in any particular order as long as they occur (if needed) before game play commences. In addition, one or more card stack(s) may also be placed face down on the game board (or at least in the proximity of the game board). Each of the player(s) may draw card(s) from these card stack(s) over the course of the game, such as when a player lands on a corresponding card-drawing space on the path of the game board. Preferably, the game board will have one or more card holder(s) attached to the game board for receiving and holding the one or more card stack(s) during the game. Most commonly, there will be two card stacks or decks placed face down in two card holders attached to the game board. In other words, each of these card decks may be placed in its respective card holder (perhaps after being shuffled) at the beginning of the game. According to many of these embodiments as described above, the two card decks placed face down into their respective holders may include a first card deck comprising a first plurality of cards (providing chance events or factual statements that may be read aloud) and a second card deck comprising a second plurality of cards (providing investment opportunities). The chance event cards of the first deck may include cards requiring a player(s) to do (or refrain from doing something), pay or receive a sum of currency, or move their player piece to another space on the game board.
  • The goal or object for each player to win the game is to be the first player who can achieve a certain level of energy production and then be able to sustain or maintain that level of production for at least one full cycle by their player piece around the closed loop path of the game board. This final lap by the player after the requisite level of energy production is reached may be referred to as a “victory lap” and serves to prove that the player is able to maintain that level of energy production at or above the requisite threshold level to meet sufficient public demand for energy. For example, a player may become eligible to declare a “victory lap” once they land on or pass the start space if they have met at least the threshold energy production level required to win the game. Thus, the player will be required to complete one more full cycle around the game board path. If the player still meets the requisite threshold level of energy production on their next pass around the game board path (i.e., the next time they land on or pass the start space), they win the game. However, a player may not be allowed to purchase any new industries, buy back any industries, take part in any investments, and/or receive currency for landing on or passing the start space during, and/or for, their last cycle or “victory lap” around the closed loop path of the game board, but the player may sell assets/permits of their industries and must also abide by any instructions or actions required by any cards drawn by that player during their last cycle or “victory lap” around the game board path.
  • At the first moment the player realizes that they meet the energy production threshold to win as they land on or pass the start space, that player may declare a “victory lap” and thus not receive any currency for landing on or passing the start space (as they might otherwise receive for their industries). In addition, a player conducting a final “victory lap” around the board may also not be allowed to take part in any investment even if they land on a corresponding card-drawing space. Moreover, a player carrying out their “victory lap” to win the game will be subjected to a high probability of negative card draws due to the relatively high number of the first group of card drawing spaces (or “Energy” spaces) along the game board path, which may impose fines, penalties, etc. Therefore, a player declaring a “victory lap” will not receive income from their industries on their last two cycles, trips, passes, etc., around the game board (i.e., when they first pass or land on the start space and declare the “victory lap,” and the next time they pass or land on the start space if they are not able to sustain the threshold level of energy production required to win the game—assuming they met that threshold previously).
  • Thus, the “victory lap” serves as a test to see if the player can sustain their winning level of energy production without new industry production and/or investment windfalls and in the face of any penalties, losses, etc., that may be encountered in their last cycle or trip around the board path. However, if the player is not able to maintain the threshold level of energy production upon landing on or passing the start pace on their next pass around the game board, then they do not win the game, and the game continues normally (i.e., they are permitted to receive any income from their industries and/or do any other activities that would otherwise be permitted—e.g., purchase new industries, etc.).
  • The amount of energy (e.g., “terawatt-hours” or “TWh”) required to win the game may vary depending on the number of players (i.e., since a greater number of players make the game more competitive and further divide up the available development space on the industry regions of the game board making it more difficult to reach a given level of production). While the threshold amount of energy production required to win the game may vary depending on the amount of energy production assigned to the various industries, the threshold amount of energy production may be proportionally based on actual “real world” production levels from the various energy industries and the total amount of energy needed to meet global or regional energy demand today. Thus, for a typical game being played by 2-4 players, the threshold energy production level required for a player to win the game may be in a range from about 2,500 TWh to about 3,500 TWh, such as about 3,000 TWh. The level of energy production achieved by a player may be determined by adding up the production levels from all of their active industries (i.e., by summing the products of the number of each type of active industry and the level of production from those industry types). For example, the “TWh” amounts for each type of industry shown on the left side of the pegboard in FIG. 16A may be multiplied by the number of active-status pegs in the row corresponding to that industry type, and the multiplication products for each of those industry types may then be summed together.
  • Of course, for a player to stay in the game, they must not go broke (i.e., not be able to meet any immediate payment obligations that may be imposed during the game). If a player is required to make a payment amount of currency or money (e.g., due to drawn card instructions or a failed investment risk) but they do not have a sufficient amount of currency on hand to pay that amount in full, the player is permitted to sell off assets, permits and/or industries that they own to meet the immediate payment obligation. As explained above in connection with FIG. 20, a player may sell the assets of an industry or completely sell the industry (i.e., both its assets and permit) in return for a sum of cash or currency, but the associated industry is either lost entirely or rendered inactive by such a sale. Even though energy production may be lost from those industries (at least temporarily until the player can buy it back), the cash or currency received may be enough to meet their immediately required payment.
  • However, if a player who is required to pay a certain sum of money or currency (e.g., due to the player drawing a card instructing the same) cannot pay that amount (even after selling off all of their remaining assets, permits and/or industries in full), then that player loses and is eliminated from the game, at which point their player piece and industries are removed from the game board and any remaining currency that they may still have is returned to the currency broker. Any peg(s) for their industry/industries is/are also removed from the pegboard, and both the pegboard and peg(s) may be returned to the game box or container. Even if that player is able to make the required payment to the currency broker but (i) does not have any remaining active industries (e.g., due to selling off their assets, permits, and/or industries in full to meet the payment obligation) and (ii) does not have enough currency left over to purchase any type of industry anywhere on the board, then the player still loses and is eliminated from the game (i.e., because without any currency income for energy production and no ability to purchase or repurchase an industry to produce energy, it would be impossible for them to win the game). A situation in which a player loses the game due to lack of funds may be referred to as “Energy Sector Degradation” to reflect a real world analogy of the loss of energy production resulting from an energy producer exiting the energy market that must be met and compensated by one or more other player(s) in the energy industry to meet public energy demand.
  • Returning to the initial steps for playing the game, once the card decks are in place, the player pieces are positioned on the start space of the game board path, and each player has received their pegboard, resource card(s), and/or initial sum of currency, play of the board game by the players may begin. The players may generally take turns in a predetermined order, such as in a clockwise or counter-clockwise fashion, although a clockwise direction may typically be more intuitive and preferred. Thus, the only question may be to initially determine which player goes first. This may be determined in a variety of different ways but may preferably be done using a random number generator, such as by each player rolling a die (or pair of dice) and determining which player rolled the highest (or possibly lowest) number. If there is a tie between two or more players, those players may roll again to determine which player goes first.
  • Once the player having the first turn is determined, that first player may proceed to roll the die/dice to determine how many spaces to move and advance their player piece along the path of the game board on that turn. The direction of movement of the player pieces could be in either direction around the closed loop path of the game board but may preferably be in a more intuitive clockwise direction around the game board path. Depending on which space the player piece lands on, the player may be required to take an action (e.g., draw a card and follow the instructions provided by the card, etc.), or the player may be provided with an opportunity to do something (e.g., take part in an investment risk, purchase/permit and place an industry within an industry region of the game board, etc.). Later in the game, a player may also have additional options during their turn of selling the asset(s) and/or permit(s) of one or more of their industries and/or repurchasing an industry of theirs that previously had its assets sold.
  • Once the first player has finished their turn (i.e., after advancing their player piece a number of spaces and taking any additionally required or elected steps), then the next player in the predetermined order of turns (e.g., the player to the left of the first player with a clockwise order) may take their turn by first rolling the die (or pair of dice) to determine how many spaces to advance their player piece from the initial start space. Depending on which space they land on, the player may be required to take an action or may have the opportunity to purchase a new industry or take part in an investment as discussed above for the first player. Again, players may also have additional options during their turn later in the game after they have purchased one or more industries, including selling the asset(s) and/or permit(s) of their industries and/or repurchasing an industry/industries that previously had its/their assets sold. The order of turns among the players continues according to the predetermined order or direction of turns with each player first determining a number of spaces to advance their player piece and then taking additional required or elected actions based on which space they land on. Eventually, the predetermined order of turns (among the players) returns to the player that had the first turn, and the order of turns continues to cycle among the players in the same predetermined direction.
  • During play of the game, a player piece may not be permitted to land on a space already occupied by the player piece of another player. Exceptions to this rule may apply to (i) the initial placement of all of the player pieces on the start space at the beginning of the game, and (ii) moving a player piece to a destination space as instructed by a “move” card that is already occupied by the player piece of another player. Otherwise, if a player would have landed on a space occupied by another player during their turn (based on their roll), the player may instead be required to advance to either the next or previous space along the path of the game board (preferably the next space along the path). Thus, if a player rolls a “seven,” but the seventh space from that player's current location is already occupied, then that player's roll may be treated as if the player had rolled an eight (i.e., the player advances eight spaces instead).
  • As discussed above, the choices and/or requirements for a player during their turn may generally depend on which space along the path they land during their turn. Thus, the various possibilities that a player may encounter depends on the different types of spaces (and their relative numbers) along the path on which a player may land during their turn. These spaces may be divided into (i) card-drawing spaces and (ii) permitting spaces, which may be serially arranged along the closed loop game board path (e.g., in a somewhat controlled but otherwise random order). As discussed above, the card-drawings spaces may be further subdivided into a first set or group of card-drawing spaces and a second set or group of card-drawings spaces. The first set/group of card-drawing spaces may correspond to a first stack or deck of cards, and the second set/group of card-drawing spaces may correspond to a second stack or deck of cards. Thus, when a player lands on one of the first group of card-drawing spaces, the player may draw a card (e.g., a top card) from the first stack/deck of cards, and when the player lands on one of the second group of card-drawing spaces, the player may draw a card (e.g., a top card) from the second stack/deck of cards. According to many embodiments, the player may be required to draw a card from the first stack/deck of cards when they land on one of the first group of card-drawing spaces, but the player may instead only be permitted or allowed (i.e., given the opportunity but not required) to draw a card from the second stack/deck of cards when they land on one of the second group of card-drawing spaces.
  • According to embodiments of the present invention, when a player lands on one of the first group of card-drawing spaces, that player may be required to draw a card from the first stack/deck of cards, which may be referred to as the “Energy” deck. The first set/group of card-drawing spaces may be marked with a letter, symbol, logo, design, color, etc., corresponding to the first stack/deck of cards. For example, both the first set/group of card-drawing spaces and the cards of the first stack/deck of cards may display the same or similar letter, symbol, logo, design, color, etc., such as the letter “E” with background design for reference to the “Energy” deck. Upon drawing one of these cards from the first stack/deck, the player may be required or permitted to (i) do (or refrain from doing) one of a variety of different actions, such as pay or receive a sum of currency, (ii) move their player piece to another designated or destination space along the game board path, or (iii) read a factual statement that is written on the card.
  • If the card drawn from the first stack/deck of cards (e.g., the “Energy” deck) requires a player to “do” (or refrain from doing) something, the player must satisfy what is required by the card and complete the assigned task (e.g., pay money, etc.) before their turn is over. However, some of these “do” cards may be kept by the player since they may remain applicable over a more extended period of time than that player's turn (e.g., until a full round of player turns, for one trip around the game board path, or until the next time the player(s) land on or pass the start space). The “do” cards having such a prolonged effect may also be referred to as “keep” cards because they are kept and remain applicable over a period of game play. If a player cannot immediately complete a required task during their turn (even after selling any assets, permits and/or industries that they may own), then the player loses and is eliminated from the game as discussed above. If the card drawn from the first stack/deck of cards (e.g., the “Energy” deck) requires a player to read a factual statement on the card, then the player must do so (preferably aloud) to provide an educational purpose for the game. Such “fact” cards may also have the effect of being neutral for the player drawing the card (by avoidance of a positive or negative effect), although the “fact” card may also represent an opportunity cost for the player. If the card drawn from the first stack/deck of cards (e.g., the “Energy” deck) requires a player to move to another space on the game board, then the player must move to that space as part of their turn. Upon arriving at the destination space specified by the “move” card, the player is generally permitted to take any action on that space that would be permitted if they had landed on that space directly by their roll (unless the card states otherwise).
  • Typically, one of two types of destination spaces are possible with a “move” card drawn from the first stack/deck of cards: (i) one of a second set/group of card-drawing spaces (or “Investment” spaces), or (ii) a special permitting space that also serves as a destination for a “move” card. The permitting spaces and the second set/group of card-drawing spaces are described further below. Since there are a plurality of spaces for each of the permitting and second group of card-drawing spaces, the “move” card drawn by the player may further specify which particular space is the destination space for the player (although it is possible that a “move” card may give a player a choice of more than one destination space). For example, the “move” card of the first stack/deck may include a logo, emblem, etc., that indicates a particular permitting space or a specific territory section of the board. If the logo, etc., on the “move” card identifies one of the territories, then the destination space may be the only space of that kind within that territory. Otherwise, a logo, emblem, etc., on the “move” card may identify a particular space having the same or similar logo, emblem, etc.
  • According to many embodiments, a destination space for a “move” card that is also a permitting space may be the only permitting space within a particular territory that displays the same or similar logo, etc., shown on the card. If a player is instructed to move to a particular permitting space, they would then be allowed to purchase a new industry on the corresponding industry region(s) during the same turn (as if they had landed on that space directly). On the other hand, if a player is instructed to move to one of the second set/group of card-drawing spaces (e.g., a particular “investment” space) by the “move” card, they may be permitted to draw a card from the second stack/deck of cards and/or engage in an investment accordingly during the same turn as if they had landed on that space directly.
  • As explained above, if a player lands on one of the second set/group of card-drawing spaces, then the player may draw a card from a corresponding second stack/deck of cards, which may be referred to as an “Investment” deck. Again, the player may have the option of whether to draw a card from the second stack/deck or pass on the opportunity since the card represents a risk—i.e., the player may receive a gain or loss depending on which card is drawn. As further exampled above, a player drawing a card from the second stack/deck of cards may also solicit “partners” to share in the risk or reward (e.g., according to agreed-upon percentages) for any gain or loss realized with drawing one of these “investment” cards to mitigate the risk.
  • All cards drawn by a player should be read aloud to make sure that the player is complying with the requirements on the card. After a player draws a card from one of the two decks during their turn, they should return that card to the stack/deck from which it came. Typically, if a card is drawn from the first stack/deck of cards (e.g., the “Energy” deck), then the card may be returned to the bottom of that deck. According to embodiments of the present invention as described above, a first holder may be provided having a side slot(s) for receiving the card to help deliver the card to the bottom of the first stack/deck of cards in the first holder without a player having to manually lift up the first stack/deck of cards. The card may be returned face-up to the bottom of the first stack/deck to indicate that the card has already been drawn. Once all of the cards have been drawn from that deck (as indicated by a face-up card rising to the top of the stack/deck), the first stack/deck of cards may be picked up, reshuffled and returned face-down to the first holder. However, if a card is drawn from the second stack/deck of cards (e.g., the “Investment” deck), then the card may be returned anywhere to that deck face-down (like the other remaining cards). While a second card holder may be provided for the second stack/deck of cards, the second stack/deck may be picked up and reshuffled frequently (e.g., after each instance in which a card is drawn from that deck). In that way, the probability of drawing any particular card from the second or “Investment” stack/deck (i.e., the investment risk) may be kept relatively constant.
  • If a player lands on a permitting space along the path of the game board, then that player may be allowed to purchase a new industry only within the industry region(s) associated with that permitting space. As described above, a line or other marking may indicate which permitting space(s) are linked to which industry region(s). Preferably, each permitting space is associated with only one industry region, and vice versa. When landing on (or moved to) a permitting space, a player is allowed to purchase or “permit” as many new industries of the same and/or different type(s) as they would like (and can afford) to place on the corresponding industry region(s) associated with that permitting space during their turn, assuming that the permitted industry/industries can fit within that industry region. However, a player is not required to purchase or permit an industry for an industry region when the player lands on a permitting space (i.e., the player may simply pass on the opportunity).
  • If a player who lands on (or moves to) a permitting space chooses not to purchase or permit a new industry on the associated industry region when presented with the opportunity during their turn, then the next player (i.e., a first next player in the predetermined order of player turns) may have the same option to purchase/permit a new industry on the same industry region, which may be further passed along to a second next player (in the predetermined order of turns) if the first next player also chooses not to purchase/permit a new industry on that industry region, and so on, until either (i) a player decides to take the opportunity forfeited by one or more of the preceding players, or (ii) all of the players have decided not to take the opportunity. In either case, play of the game resumes as normal with the first next player once one of those scenarios or conditions occurs (e.g., the first next player rolls the dice, moves their player piece, etc.). The passing along of an opportunity to each of the players in order (before the next player's turn) is intended to represent the real-life business reality that there is often a window of time to act on an opportunity, and if someone who first sees the opportunity chooses not to act and pursue it, someone else likely will and the opportunity will no longer be available.
  • When a player purchases and places a new industry on an industry region of the game board, the player pays the specified sum of money for the purchase to the currency broker. The player may rearrange, reorganize and reposition any other preexisting industries that may already be present in that industry region to make room for the new industry. Since these industry regions are meant to represent an average of large amounts of regional or global geography (and not a specific area or tract of land), the exact positioning of the industry pieces within each industry region is not considered important. Instead, the total area of the industry region is more applicable (although the shape of the industry region still affects the number and placement of different combinations of industry types that may fit on the industry region). If a player is unable to rearrange the industry pieces already present within an industry region to make room for one or more type(s) of new industries to fit into that industry region, then industries of that/those type(s) are not allowed for that region. Therefore, even if a player lands on a permitting space (especially later in the game after the number of industries accumulates), they may not be allowed to purchase and place one or more type(s) of industries (or any type of industry) for that industry region. As explained above, different industry types have different “footprints.” Thus, one or more industry type(s) having a smaller footprint(s) may fit into the industry region while other industry type(s) may not. The ability to fit a newly purchased (or repurchased) industry piece into an industry region may also depend on the shape of the industry region and/or the shape of the footprint of the industry piece when space is limited.
  • As further explained above, a player purchasing a new industry may place a peg representing that industry into the pegboard in the appropriate column/row cell (i.e., each of the columns and rows representing either a territory section of the board where the industry is located or the industry type). The color, markings, etc., of the peg itself may also be used to indicate the particular industry region within the territory section of the game board where the industry is located in combination with its placement on the peg board. The peg may also have different marking(s), etc., that may also be used to indicate a status for the industry.
  • A player may have other options during their turn with regard to any industries that they have already purchased and own. As described above, a player may decide to sell the assets and/or permit of one or more of their existing industries during their turn to generate additional currency. If the assets of an industry are sold in return for a specified sum of currency (from the currency broker), then the industry piece is removed from the board (since it is no longer active), and the peg on the pegboard representing the industry may be flipped to indicate its inactive status. Unlike the purchase of a new industry, which may be restricted to an industry region(s) associated with the permitting space on which the player lands, a player may sell the assets of one or more industries located anywhere on the board during their turn. The sum of currency received by the player for the sale of the assets of an industry during their turn is dependent on where (i.e., in what territory section) that industry is located and not on where the player piece is located along the path of the game board. However, a player may not sell the assets and/or permit of any industry during the same turn in which an industry is newly purchased/permitted (or repurchased).
  • Another option that the player may have during their turn is to sell the permit for one or more industries (already owned by the player) in return for a specified sum of currency (from the currency broker) after, or along with, the sale of the assets of that/those industry/industries. However, a player is not permitted to sell the permit of an industry unless the assets of that industry were previously or are simultaneously sold. If the assets of the industry are sold along with its permit (i.e., the industry is completely sold in full), then the industry piece is removed from the board, and the peg corresponding to the industry is removed from the pegboard to indicate that no vestige of that industry remains in the game. Thus, although a greater sum of currency is received for selling off an industry in full (i.e., assets plus permit) than selling off only its assets alone (e.g., double the amount than selling the assets alone), the player maintains the right to repurchase (i.e., buy back) the industry when only the assets of the industry are sold at a cost that is lower/less than newly purchasing that industry from scratch.
  • Thus, a player may generally prefer to keep the permit if selling of the assets alone will be sufficient to meet their short term payment obligations. On the other hand, if the assets of an industry have already been sold, then the player will only have the permit left to sell in return for a sum of currency, which may be the about the same (or the same) as the amount of currency received for selling its assets. In such a case, the industry piece will have already been removed from the game board, and the player only needs to remove the peg from the pegboard to indicate that no vestige of that industry remains in the game. Like the sale of industry assets, a player may sell the permit(s) and/or assets of one or more industries located anywhere on the board during their turn. The sum of currency received by the player for the sale of the permit and/or assets of each industry is dependent on where (i.e., in what territory section) that industry is located and not on where the player piece is located on the path of the game board. However, a player may not sell the permit of any industry during the same turn in which an industry is newly purchased/permitted (or repurchased)
  • Another option that a player may have on their turn may be to repurchase or buy back any industries that previously had its assets sold in return for payment (to the currency broker) of a sum of currency. This cannot be done if the permit for that industry has also been sold—i.e., a player must still own the permit for that industry to buy it back. However, the one or more industries that may be repurchased during a player's turn may be located anywhere on the game board (i.e., regardless of where their player piece is located along the game board path), but the player must wait to repurchase an industry/industries until after they have rolled the die/dice, moved their player piece accordingly, and taken any additional actions that may be required for their turn (e.g., as instructed by a drawn card). The sum of currency required to repurchase each industry is dependent on where (i.e., in what territory section) the permit for that industry is located (and not on where the player piece is located on the path of the game board). Upon repurchasing one or more industries, a player may then replace the industry piece onto the industry region of the territory section from which it was previously removed to sell its assets. The player may also flip the peg representing that industry back to its original position to indicate that the industry is reactivated. Much like with the purchase of a new industry, a player must be able to fit the industry piece into the industry region. Although the existing industry pieces may be reorganized and repositioned within the industry region, if the repurchased industry cannot be made to fit into its industry region, then the repurchase cannot occur (at least until sufficient space within that industry region later becomes available).
  • To stay in the game (i.e., remain in business), a player must remain solvent and able to meet their financial obligations. If a player cannot meet an immediate payment obligation or remain a viable player during the game (even after selling off the assets and/or permits of industries that they own) due to insufficient funds, then that player instantly loses and is eliminated from the game. Each player receives an income of currency from their industries upon completion of each cycle or pass around the game board closed loop path (i.e., typically when the player lands on or passes the original start space). The amount of income received by a player with each cycle or pass around the board path will depend on the number and type(s) of active industries that the player owns at that time when the income amount is determined. As stated above, the pegboard may assist in this calculation. Thus, when a player lands on or passes the original start space, they may first receive income for their industries before taking any additional required or elected actions during their turn, which may depend on which space the player lands and/or any card drawn accordingly.
  • When a player completes each cycle or pass around the game board path (i.e., typically when the player lands on or passes the original start space), the player should also determine if the total amount of energy production from their active industries meets or exceeds the threshold level required to win the game. If that threshold is met or exceeded, the player may declare the same, such as by announcing a “victory lap” or other phrase, which the player may be required to maintain for another cycle or pass around the game board path as discussed above. If the player is incorrect in making such a declaration, there is no penalty other than the imposed restrictions on that player's “victory lap” during their next cycle or pass around the path. The determination of whether a player's energy production level meets or exceeds the threshold for winning the game (upon landing on or passing the original start space) may be required prior to being paid for their industries. If a player does meet that energy production threshold, the player may be denied their income for their industries as part of the “victory lap” sustainability test.
  • Methods of playing the “board game” of the present invention as described herein may also be implemented via hardware, software or a combination of hardware and software (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.). Aspects of the present invention may be implemented by a computer or electronic device according to a computer readable program code present on a computer readable medium. Indeed, some aspects of the present invention may take the form of a computer readable program product embodied in one or more computer readable media having the computer readable program code present thereon. The above-identified method steps may be performed by a programmable computer or electronic device, such as a personal computer, personal digital assistant (PDA), mobile phone, etc., which executes software residing in an accessible non-transitory computer-readable media. Indeed, software may include an application or “app” intended for a computer or electronic device.
  • Such software and/or hardware based methods for playing the present game may be generally analogous to the steps for playing the physical board game of the present invention as described above. Players of the software game may take turns, and each of the players may advance through series of screens, windows, etc., on a computer or electronic device to move their player piece, draw a card, purchase, repurchase, sell, etc., an industry/industries (or their assets or permits), collect or pay money or currency, etc. Indeed, the computer or electronic device may include a user interface that allows a player to enter information pertaining to the play of the game, and presents various status information for the player(s) relating to play of the game. The software, application or computerized method of playing the game on a computer, or electronic device may also keep track of the number and placement of the industries of each of the players of the game as well as their current level of energy production and/or how much currency they have to spend. The software, application or computerized method may also determine when a player(s) are eligible for a “victory lap” around the board or when a player wins the game. One or more general screen(s) and/or window(s) of the user interface may display the status of the game more generally with respect to one or more (or all) of the players of the game, whereas player screen(s), etc., may display information with respect to an individual player and/or their turn.
  • As stated above, the computer of the present invention for playing a game of the present invention may comprise a processor and one or more computer readable media that may be part of, in communication with, and/or utilized by the computer. The computer may comprise a personal computer, an electronic device, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA), mobile phone, etc., or any other programmable data processing device or apparatus. The computer may also comprise one or more computers, processors, servers, etc., jointly to carry out play of the game. The computer may be local to where the players are located, or the computer may be remote but in communication with a user interface(s) via a network, such as the internet, local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), etc. Any combination of one or more computer readable media may be utilized.
  • The computer readable media may be a computer readable signal medium or a computer readable storage medium. A computer readable storage medium may be, for example, but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, or semiconductor system, apparatus, or device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer readable storage medium would include the following: a portable computer diskette, a hard disk, a random access memory (RAM), a read-only memory (ROM), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory), an appropriate optical fiber with a repeater, a magnetic storage device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. In the context of this document, a computer readable storage medium may be any tangible medium that can contain, or store a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device. A computer readable signal medium may include a propagated data signal with computer readable program code embodied therein, for example, in baseband or as part of a carrier wave. Such a propagated signal may take any of a variety of forms, including, but not limited to, electro-magnetic, optical, or any suitable combination thereof. A computer readable signal medium may be any computer readable medium that is not a computer readable storage medium and that can communicate, propagate, or transport a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device. Program code embodied on a computer readable signal medium may be transmitted using any appropriate medium, including but not limited to wireless, wireline, optical fiber cable, RF, etc., or any suitable combination of the foregoing.
  • Computer program code for carrying out operation of the game of the present invention as disclosed herein may be written in any combination of one or more programming languages, including an object oriented programming language such as Java, Scala, Smalltalk, Eiffel, JADE, Emerald, C++, CII, VB.NET, Python or the like, conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language, Visual Basic, Fortran 2003, Perl, COBOL 2002, PHP, ABAP, dynamic programming languages such as Python, Ruby and Groovy, or other programming languages. The program code may be executed on a computer that is local to the player(s) and/or a remote computer or server. If used, the remote computer may be connected to a user interface(s) through any type of network, including a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (for example, through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider) or in a cloud computing environment or offered as a service. Indeed, the game of the present invention may be carried out on multiple computer(s) and/or electronic device(s) local to each of the players of the game with those computer(s) and/or electronic device(s) communicating with each other through a network. For example, the players of the game may be linked via a network, webpage and/or shared application (or “app”) even though the players are in separate locations.
  • The computer program instructions for the game may be provided to a processor of the computer or programmable apparatus to implement a game playing method. These computer program instructions may be stored in a computer readable medium as stated above that when executed can direct the computer to function in a particular manner, such as to present a series of screen(s), window(s), etc. The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto the computer to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or programmable apparatus to produce a computer implemented process. It will be further understood that the game method of the present invention may comprise all or a portion of the method steps described herein, and such steps may be performed in different orders as long as the sequence of steps maintains necessary logic flow and groupings.
  • According to other aspects and embodiments of the present invention, methods for making or manufacturing the various board game components, pieces, etc., are further provided. A game board may be made by adhering multiple layers or together, such as with glue or the like, each layer of the game board comprising one or more of cardboard, chipboard, particle board, plastic sheet, paper, fabric, cloth, laminate, etc. A liner may be wrapped around the side edges of a game board, and another layer(s) on a top and/or bottom side of the game board may be overlaid on top of the liner to help secure the liner to the board. A top layer of the game board may include a variety of markings, etc., that depict the spatial and graphical aspects of the board game. One or more recessed areas in the top of the game board may be made by cutting away one or more layer(s) of the game board, which may be done after the layers of a game board are assembled, adhered, etc., to one another, or before those layers of the game board are assembled, adhered, etc., to each other. One or more card holder(s) and/or industry region(s) may be attached to the game board, which may be fitted inside the recessed area(s), and/or the card holder(s) and/or industry region(s) may be optionally glued or adhered to the game board. One or more side projection(s) may be optionally present on the sides of the card holder(s) and/or industry region(s) which may be laterally inserted into or between the layer(s) of the game board for secure attachment thereto. The card holder(s) and/or industry region(s) may be attached to the game board before or after the game board is fully made or assembled, such as before or after any layers, linings, etc., such as before or after any top layer(s), sticker(s), etc., providing markings for play of the game are applied, adhered, etc., to the top playing surface of the game board.
  • Further provided are methods for making or manufacturing the other components of the board game of the present invention, including the card holder(s), industry region(s), industry piece(s), industry storage tray(s), peg board(s), peg case(s), peg bin(s), peg(s), etc. Each of these components may be made as one whole piece or article, or as multiple pieces, which may be assembled, welded, soldered, brazed, glued, fused, bonded, etc., together. Each of these components may preferably be made of plastic, but may also conceivably be made of metal, wood or other sufficiently hard material. Such methods for manufacturing a component(s) of a board game of the present invention may include any suitable manufacturing method known in the art. For example, such methods for manufacturing a component made of plastic may include injection molding, three-dimensional (3D) printing, etc. For a component made of metal, such methods for manufacturing the component may include “punching out” pieces from a metal sheet and folding those pieces into a desired shape and/or welding, etc., different pieces together, forging of the metal into pieces of desired size and shape, by cutting using computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) or computer numerical control (CNC) methods and machines, etc. For a component made of wood, such methods for manufacturing the component may include assembling pre-cut pieces together, or cutting, chiseling, etc., the component using CAM- or CNC-based or other methods and machines, etc.
  • While the present invention has been disclosed with reference to certain embodiments, it will be apparent that modifications and variations are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. Furthermore, it should be appreciated that all examples in the present disclosure, while illustrating embodiments of the invention, are provided as non-limiting examples and are, therefore, not to be taken as limiting the various aspects so illustrated. The present invention is intended to have the full scope defined by the language of the following claims, and equivalents thereof. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative and not as restrictive.

Claims (49)

What is claimed is:
1. A game apparatus comprising:
a game board having a generally planar shape and a top playing surface,
wherein a closed loop path comprising a plurality of serially arranged spaces is marked on the top playing surface of the game board,
wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into two or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, the two or more territory sections being separated by one or more territory borders,
wherein the closed loop path on the top playing surface of the game board passes through each of the two or more territory sections,
wherein the closed loop path separates a main inner area between a center of the game board and the closed loop path from a main outer area between the closed loop path and the outer side edge of the game board, and
wherein one or more industry region locations for receiving one or more industry regions are present on the top playing surface of the game board, each industry region location being recessed below the surrounding top playing surface of the game board.
2. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into three or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board.
3. The game apparatus of claim 2, wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into four or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, and
wherein the territory sections include: a mountains section, a tundra section, a flatlands section, and a shoreline section.
4. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein each territory section includes one or more industry region locations.
5. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein each territory section includes three or more industry region locations.
6. The game apparatus of claim 5, wherein at least two of the industry region locations in each of the territory sections are located in a portion of the main outer area of the game board within the respective territory section.
7. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the closed loop path is located within a range from about 40% to about 80% of the total distance from the center of the game board to the outer side edge of the game board.
8. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the game board comprises a plurality of layers, each layer comprising one or more of the following: cardboard, chipboard, particle board, plastic sheet(s), paper, fabric, cloth, and laminate, and
wherein each industry region location is recessed below the surrounding top playing surface of the game board due to one or more of the top layers of the game board being absent or removed.
9. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the serially arranged spaces of the closed loop path marked on the top playing surface of the game board comprise:
a plurality of card-drawing spaces; and
a plurality of permitting spaces.
10. The game apparatus of claim 9,
wherein the plurality of card-drawing spaces comprises a first set of card-drawing spaces and a second set of card-drawing spaces,
wherein about 25% to about 75% of the total number of spaces of the closed loop path are the first set of card-drawing spaces,
about 5% to about 25% of the total number of spaces of the closed loop path are the second set of card-drawing spaces, and
about 25% to about 75% of the total number of spaces of the closed loop path are permitting spaces.
11. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the number of serially arranged spaces of the closed loop path marked on the top playing surface of the game board is within a range from about 25 spaces to about 50 spaces.
12. The game apparatus of claim 11, wherein six to ten spaces of the closed loop path are within each of the territory sections of the game board.
13. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the planar shape of the game board is symmetrical along at least two perpendicular axes.
14. The game apparatus of claim 13, wherein the planar shape of the game board is circular.
15. The game apparatus of claim 1, further comprising:
one or more industry regions, each industry region comprising outer side walls and a plurality of partitions, the plurality of partitions separating an ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes,
wherein each of the one or more industry regions is attached to one of the industry region locations of the game board.
16. The game apparatus of claim 15, wherein the plurality of partitions of each industry region includes a first group of partitions and a second group of partitions, each of the first and second groups including a plurality of non-intersecting partitions.
17. The game apparatus of claim 16, wherein at least one partition of the first group intersects at least one partition of the second group.
18. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein one or more card holder locations for one or more card holders are present on the top playing surface of the game board for receiving one or more card holders.
19. The game apparatus of claim 18, wherein each card holder location is recessed below, the surrounding top playing surface of the game board.
20. The game apparatus of claim 18, further comprising:
one or more card holders, each card holder comprising a base and a plurality of vertically extending side walls and/or side wall portions,
wherein each of the one or more card holders is attached to one of the card holder locations of the game board.
21. The game apparatus of claim 20, comprising:
two card holders including a first card holder and a second card holder, wherein the first card holder is attached to a first card holder location, and the second card holder is attached to a second card holder location.
22. The game apparatus of claim 1, wherein the game board further comprises one or more linear folding creases and a linear break.
23. The game apparatus of claim 22, wherein the one or more linear folding creases include a first folding crease and a second folding crease, the first folding crease being approximately perpendicular to the second folding crease.
24. The game apparatus of claim 23, wherein the linear break of the game board is collinear with the first folding crease of the game board.
25. The game apparatus of claim 24, wherein the first folding crease and the linear break are positioned along a first center line of the game board, and
wherein the first folding crease spans from a first position on a side edge of the game board to an intersecting point, and the linear break spans from the intersecting point to a second position on a side edge of the game board, the first and second positions being on opposite sides edges of the game board.
26. The game apparatus of claim 25, wherein the one or more folding creases further include a third folding crease, the third folding crease being approximately parallel to the second folding crease, wherein the second and third folding creases straddle a second center line of the game board at a symmetrically small distance from the second center line.
27. The game apparatus of claim 26, wherein the third crease is approximately perpendicular to the first break.
28. The game apparatus of claim 26, wherein the first center line is approximately perpendicular to the second center line.
29. The game apparatus of claim 26, wherein the game board comprises:
two card holder locations for receiving two card holders present on the top playing surface of the game board, each card holder location being recessed below the surrounding top playing surface of the game board,
wherein the two card holder locations include a first card holder location and a second card holder location, the first and second card holder locations being at mirrored positions relative to the second center line of the game board.
30. A game apparatus comprising:
a game board having a generally planar shape and a top playing surface; and
one or more industry regions, the one or more industry regions being attached to the game board at one or more industry region locations,
wherein a closed loop path comprising a plurality of serially arranged spaces is marked on the top playing surface of the game board,
wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into two or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, the two or more territory sections being separated by one or more territory borders,
wherein the closed loop path on the top playing surface of the game board passes through each of the two or more territory sections,
wherein the closed loop path separates a main inner area between a center of the game board and the closed loop path from a main outer area between the closed loop path and the outer side edge of the game board.
31. The game apparatus of claim 30, wherein each industry region comprises outer side walls and a plurality of partitions, the plurality of partitions separating an ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes.
32. A currency tray comprising:
two or more currency slots arranged in series, the two or more currency slots comprising a first currency slot and a second currency slot,
wherein each currency slot comprises a supporting wall and a separating wall,
wherein the supporting wall of the first currency slot is upwardly inclined from a lower intersection with the separating wall of the first currency slot to an upper intersection of the supporting wall with the second currency slot, the first currency slot being adjacent to the second currency slot.
33. The currency tray of claim 32, wherein the slot angle between the supporting wall and the separating wall of each currency slot is within a range from about 45° to about 90°.
34. The currency tray of claim 32, wherein the incline angle between the supporting wall of each currency slot and the horizontal bottom of the currency tray is greater than 0° and less than or equal to 45°.
35. A board game comprising:
a game board having a generally planar shape and a top playing surface, the game board further having one or more industry regions, the one or more industry regions being attached to the game board at one or more industry region locations,
wherein a closed loop path comprising a plurality of serially arranged spaces is marked on the top playing surface of the game board,
wherein the top playing surface is subdivided into two or more territory sections marked on the top playing surface of the game board, the two or more territory sections being separated by one or more territory borders,
wherein the closed loop path on the top playing surface of the game board passes through each of the two or more territory sections, and
wherein the closed loop path separates a main inner area between a center of the game board and the closed loop path from a main outer area between the closed loop path and the outer side edge of the game board; and
two or more player pieces.
36. The board game of claim 35, wherein each of the one or more industry regions comprises outer side walls and a plurality of partitions, the plurality of partitions separating an ordered two-dimensional pattern of receiving holes, wherein each of the one or more industry regions is attached to one of the industry region locations of the game board.
37. The board game of claim 35, wherein one or more card holder locations are present on the top playing surface of the game board, each card holder location being recessed below the surrounding top playing surface of the game board.
38. The board game of claim 37, further comprising:
one or more card holders, each card holder comprising a base and a plurality of vertically extending side walls and/or side wall portions,
wherein each of the one or more card holders is attached to one of the card holder locations of the game board.
39. The board game of claim 37, further comprising:
an industry storage tray, the industry storage tray having a generally planar shape with outer side walls and intersecting partitions separating a plurality of receiving holes in an ordered two-dimensional pattern.
40. The board game of claim 39, wherein one or more industry pieces are placed on the industry storage tray, the downwardly extending protrusions of the industry pieces being inserted into receiving holes of the industry storage tray.
41. The board game of claim 35, further comprising:
a plurality of industry pieces, each industry piece comprising a main body portion; and one or more protrusions, the one or more protrusions extending downward from the bottom of the main body portion.
42. The board game of claim 35, further comprising:
one or more peg boards, each pegboard having a planar shape and organized by markings on a top surface of the peg board into a plurality of columns and a plurality of rows, the intersections of the plurality of columns and the plurality of rows defining a plurality of cells, wherein each cell includes a plurality of peg holes for receiving one or more pegs.
43. The board game of claim 42, further comprising:
a peg case, the peg case comprising a plurality of bins, each of the bins having a bottom wall, a back wall, a first lateral side wall, a second lateral side wall and a front wall, wherein the bins are serially arranged with one or more lateral side walls separating neighboring bins, wherein a top opening is formed between the upper lips of the bottom, front and lateral side walls.
44. The board game of claim 43, further comprising:
a plurality of pegs, each peg having an elongated shape with a first outer portion and a first longitudinal end and a second outer portion and a second longitudinal end, the first and second longitudinal ends being on opposite ends of the peg, wherein the first outer portion and the second outer portion are oppositely oriented.
45. The board game of claim 44, wherein two or more of the pegs are stored in one or more of the bins of the peg case.
46. The board game of claim 35, further comprising:
a currency tray, the currency tray comprising:
two or more currency slots arranged in series, the two or more currency slots comprising a first currency slot and a second currency slot, the first currency slot being adjacent to the second currency slot,
wherein each currency slot comprises a supporting wall and a separating wall, the supporting wall of the first currency slot being upwardly inclined from a lower intersection with the separating wall of the first currency slot to an upper intersection of the supporting wall with the second currency slot; and
two or more stacks of currency bills of different denominations.
47. The board game of claim 46, wherein each stack of currency bills is placed in a respective currency slot of the currency tray.
48. The board game of claim 35, further comprising:
two or more decks of playing cards.
49. The board game of claim 35, further comprising:
a game storage box, the game storage box comprising:
a plurality of outer walls including a first, second, third and fourth outer wall;
a plurality of partitions including a first, second and third partition; and
a bottom wall, the plurality of outer walls and partitions extending vertically from the bottom wall of the board game storage box,
wherein the storage box further includes:
a first compartment between the first outer wall, the third outer wall, the fourth outer wall, and the first partition;
a second compartment between the third outer wall, the fourth outer wall, the first partition and the second partition;
a third compartment between the second outer wall, the third outer wall, the second partition and the third partition; and
a fourth compartment between the second outer wall, the fourth outer wall, the second partition, and the third partition.
US14/200,609 2014-03-07 2014-03-07 Game of energy policy and strategy Abandoned US20150251083A1 (en)

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