One of Sackson's personal favorites among his own games is DOMINATION, also known as FOCUS. This game has been issued at various times by various companies all over the world, and is the only game of Sackson's to win the prestigious Spiel des Jahres ("Game of the Year") in Germany. This game is described in detail in Sid's great book, A Gamut of Games, with instructions as to how you can construct your own set using checkers and a checkerboard. Still, it's best to find a copy of one of the manufactured versions, if you can. The versions pictured here are the original FOCUS (1965) by Whitman, DOMINATION (1982) by Milton Bradley (by far the most common edition in the US), and FOCUS by Frankh-Kosmos, which came out in Germany in 1998 and is still available there.
This time, Sackson set out to reinvent the abstract strategy game, and DOMINATION is like Checkers on Viagra. As you can see from the photo, the game is played with colored dome-shaped pieces, which start out symetrically laid out on a grid. At the start of the game, each piece can move one space either horizontally or vertically, and will go on top of the piece it lands on, creating a stack that is two pieces high. The player whose piece is at the top of the stack has possession of it, and is the only one who can move it.
Here's the very cool part. Once a stack is two pieces high, it must move two spaces. A stack that's three pieces high must move three spaces. And so on, going up to the maximum of five high. If you control a stack that's three pieces high and want to move it only two spaces, you may only move the top two pieces in the stack. Obviously, you won't want to do this if the bottom piece is your opponent's, as it'll allow him to regain control of it. (However, there are times when this is exactly what you want to do, for strategic purposes.)
A stack can be no larger than five pieces high. If you move a two-piece stack onto a five-piece stack, the two pieces on the bottom come off the board. If they are yours, you get to keep them and can put them back on the board anywhere you like as your turn sometime later in the game. If they are your opponent's, they are captured permanently. Having these reserve pieces is crucial late in the game, as they can not only be put on vacant spaces, but also on top of an existing stack, possibly regaining control of it for you.
You win the game when you're the only player who can still make a move. By the way, the game comes with pieces in four colors, for up to four players, but the mere thought of this game for more than two players makes my head spin.
Typical Sackson. Like most of the games described above, it's simple in conception yet completely original.
David McCammond-Watts and James Huber created a lovely computer version of FOCUS (aka Domination) which you can find here. It's a Windows program, by the way.
Click to see if Funagain has the MB DOMINATION or the German FOCUS. Click here to get A GAMUT OF GAMES from Amazon, which has the rules to this game, along with instructions on how to make your own homemade set.
Now, some of the games only available in German, starting with "Metropolis"...