One of my goals with Tic-tac-toe Collection is to provide the user with lots of options. Some examples are board configurations and rules. A big problem with this is that most combinations don’t result in fun games. Although I want these options to be available, I don’t want people choosing these settings by default since they will have rather pointless games.
Some are obvious: a 1×1 grid for instance is pretty silly. There are some you might not realise immediately but make sense when you think about it, like more than two players on a 3×3 grid is unlikely to ever have a winner.
After that, it gets hazy. For instance when playing with two players and misère enabled (creating a line loses) on a board with an even width and height, the player going second can trivially force a win. For people who want to play seriously, this is bad. But for a casual player this is probably not a problem. How to force the win isn’t that obvious, and it’s at least as interesting as standard Tic-tac-toe.
Most of the games are probably a force win for one of the players. But that doesn’t mean the game should be disregarded. After all, 19×19 Gomoku is unlikely to ever be “solved” even though that too is probably a force win.
My solution is to try and highlight settings options that are popular (Standard Tic-tac-toe for example) or interesting (Rumble 6×6). For the moment that works, but over time as the number of good options increases, I’ll have to come up with something better…