This is a Basic Linear: Unbalanced game.
The game scenario establishes that a newsletter has five slots (1 through 5), and at least three features, each of which completely occupies one or more of the slots. The available features are F, I, M, and T. Any slot not containing a feature contains a graphic (G):
This creates a Basic Linear diagram. The game is not Balanced, however, because we do not need to include all four types of features. In fact, we do not even need to include three of them, because there is no indication as to how many different types of features must be included. Just because the newsletter must have at least three features does not mean that it must have at least three different types of features. Read closely! For all you know, an issue can contain, say, four M features without violating any of the rules.
The other bizarre element here is that each feature can occupy more than one of the slots. Again, close reading was key! If you missed the modifier “or more” in the second sentence of the scenario, you might have assumed that each feature would go into a single, separate slot, with multiple features of the same type potentially occupying consecutive slots. This is the case in most linear games, but not in this one. The scenario clearly states that a single feature can occupy more than one of the slots. There just need to be at least three of them (but, as discussed earlier, not necessarily three different types).
To sum up, keep the following in mind as you examine the rules:
- a) A single feature can occupy multiple slots on your diagram.
b) At least three features must be used, but they do not need to be three different features.
c) Any slot that does not have a feature must contain a graphic.
The first rule states that any feature occupying more than one slot must occupy consecutively number slots. This rule merely clarifies the earlier suggestion that a single feature can occupy multiple slots: now we know that such a feature (if it exists) would have to occupy consecutively numbered slots:
Note that the newsletter can have multiple features of the same type, and they do not need to be consecutive! It is entirely possible, for instance, that there are three separate M features, each occupying there nonconsecutive slots. But, if a single M feature were to occupy multiple slots, these slots must be consecutive. And, since there must be at least three features in the newsletter, no single feature can occupy more than three slots (or else we would run out of space):
To further clarify the application of this rule, let’s look at a hypothetical solution. For instance, the following solution is possible, where a single Marketing feature occupies slots 1, 2, and 3; an Industry feature occupies slot 4, and a second Marketing feature occupies slot 5:
The second rule states that if an issue has any F or T features, then an F or T feature must occupy slot 1:
Be careful interpreting the exact meaning of this rule! It does not mean that F and T can only occupy slot 1: there could be multiple F or T features in your setup, some of which occupying slots other than, but including, slot 1. The only requirement is that, if there are any F or T features included in the newsletter, then an F or T feature must occupy slot 1.
This rule yields an interesting contrapositive: as long as slot 1 is occupied by a feature other than F or T (i.e. an I or an M feature, or else a graphic), then the newsletter cannot contain any F or T features at all:
- (I/M/G)1 F and T
The last rule states that an issue can have at most one industry feature:
- Max. 1 (I)
As you can see, this game requires—and prohibits—very little. They key is to understand precisely what the rules state, internalize them, and avoid make any unwarranted assumptions about how the rules operate. If you are having trouble understanding this, check out the answers to the List question (Question #19). You would notice, for instance, that multiple features of the same type can be included in the newsletter, and that they do not need to occupy consecutive slots (presumably, because they are different features). You would also notice that a single feature can occupy multiple consecutive slots. The List question can often be used to verify your understanding of the rules.
Though there isn’t much of a setup, here’s what we have so far: