Bulls and cows

Number of players
2
Recommended age
7+
Competition type
1 vs.1
Playing time
5
-10 min
Difficulty
Difficult
Cost or investment
Free

Brief description of the game

Bulls and Cows is a game of logic and strategy in which you have to guess your opponent’s secret number. A game with only two or three rules that ensures fun for many hours.
Table of contents

How to play "Bulls and Cows"

Set up before start playing

icono jugadores

PLAYERS

Bulls and Cows is a 1 vs. 1 game so two players are needed, from 7 years old and up.

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REQUIRED ITEMS

A pencil and a sheet of paper for each player.

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WHO'S FIRST?

Let the player with the least experience playing Bulls and Cows start.

Goal of the game

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HOW DO YOU WIN A GAME OF BULLS AND COWS?

The first person to guess the number the other person has thought of wins.

"Bulls and Cows" rules: playing a game

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CHOOSE NUMBERS

Each player secretly writes down a different 4-digit number.

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PROPOSAL

The player whose turn it is tries to guess the opponent’s number by saying four digits that must be different from each other.

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BULLS AND COWS

The opponent responds by giving a certain number of Bulls and Cows:

# BULLS = number of digits guessed and placed correctly

# COWS = number of digits guessed, whether or not they are in the right place..

The number of cows will always be greater than or equal to the number of bulls, because “cows include bulls”.

Example 1:

Secret number = 5408

Proposed = 3261

Outcome = 0 toros, 0 vacas

Example 2:

Secret number = 3284

Proposed = 3548

Result = 1 bull, 3 cows

Example 3:

Secret number = 2169

Proposed = 4379

Result = 1 bull, 1 cow

Secret number = 8642

Proposed = 8624

Outcome = 2 toros, 4 vacas

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SUBSEQUENT TURNS

Players alternate turns. At each turn there is a proposal and a response in the form of bulls and cows.

Game over. Who wins?

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AND THE WINNER IS...

The game ends when one of the players guesses the other player’s number to become the winner.

Tips to play "Bulls and Cows"

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TIP 1 – TIME PER TURN

If any of the players spend too much time thinking about their proposal, it will be convenient to agree on a maximum time per turn. If you overshoot that time, you lose your turn.

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TIP 2 – CHECK

At the end of the game the loser should check that the bulls and cows given by the opponent to his proposals were correct. What if they’re not? The winner pays dearly for his mistake and becomes a loser.

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TIP 3 – LONGER GAMES

You can play with more or less digits. The more digits, the longer the games go on.

Tricks and strategies "Bulls and Cows"

JUST A MOMENT!

The game will be more interesting and fun if you create your own strategies by analyzing your mistakes and successes after each game.

Now, if you have played 10 games and lost all 10… maybe these tips will come in handy.

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TRICK 1 – DISCARD TEMPLATE

Use some kind of template to cross out, after each turn, the figures that surely cannot be in certain positions. So you don’t have to memorize everything.

Example of a discard template

Number 1

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 0

Number 2

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 0

Number 3

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 0

Number 4

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 0

Example 1

If we propose the number 1234 and they tell us 0 cows, then we know that none of those numbers can be in the secret number. We can cross out those numbers:

Number 1

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 
6 7 8 9 0

Number 2

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 
6 7 8 9 0

Number 3

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 
6 7 8 9 0

Number 4

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 
6 7 8 9 0

Example 2

If we then propose the number 5678 and we are told 0 bulls and 2 cows then we know, because we have 0 bulls, that the first digit is NOT a 5, the second is NOT a 6…..

Number 1

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6 7 8 9 0

Number 2

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 

6
 7 8 9 0

Number 3

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 
7
 8 9 0

Number 4

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 5 
6 7 
8
 9 0

Moreover, since after saying 12345678 we have only been told 2 cows, we know that the other two digits must surely be the two we have not yet tried: 9 and 0.

So in the following proposals we always have to say a 9, a 0 (although we still don’t know where they go) and some of the ones that are still free in our staff.

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TRICK 2 – FIX NUMBERS

When you have 4 cows, all you have to do is order the numbers. But don’t just do it on a whim!

Example 1

Let’s suppose that luck is on our side and in our first proposal we throw the number 6789 and we get 0 bulls and 4 cows.

We know then that the correct numbers are those: 6,7,8,9 so we can cross out all the others:

Number 1

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 8 9 
0

Number 2

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 8 9 
0

Number 3

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 8 9 
0

Number 4

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 8 9 
0

and also, since we have 0 bulls, we know that none of them is in its correct position and we can cross out as well:

Number 1

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6
 7 8 9 
0

Number 2

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

7
 8 9 
0

Number 3

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 
8
 9 
0

Number 4

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 8 
9
 
0

Now all that remains is to place those 6,7,8,9 in position, and we will do it intelligently, taking advantage of everything we already know. Start by finding out what the first digit is. We know it’s not a 6. Try 7, but do not choose the other three digits at will. This is a mistake that many people make. Keep two of them in the positions we know are NOT correct. For example, use a 7 as the second digit and keep the 8 and 9 in the positions where we know they do not go.

If we propose 7689 and they tell us 2 bulls and 4 cows then we have nailed it and we already know that the first two figures are 76 because those two bulls cannot be either the third or the fourth figure, which we know are wrong.

Number 1

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6
 7 
8
 
9
 
0

Number 2

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

7
 
8
 
9
 
0

Number 3

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 
8
 9 
0

Number 4

&nbsp
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5

6 7 8 
9
 
0

And there is even more. If the first two digits are 76 then the other two must be 8 and 9. But as they are placed, in that order 8,9 we have obtained only two bulls. What does this mean? That we have them backwards, it has to be 9.8 and in the following proposal you already have the correct number: 7698.

Logically, there are more possibilities. If we go back, when we say 7689, if they tell us 1 bull instead of 2 bulls, then one of the two is right, the 7 or the 6, but we still don’t know which one. You will need more turns to find out.

But that’s all we can tell you! Think on your own because that’s the fun of the game: think what is the best proposal at each moment to minimize the number of attempts to guess the opponent’s number and therefore your chances of winning. Don’t propose random numbers!

TRICK 3 – OBSERVE HOW YOUR OPPONENT PLAYS

The winning strategy starts from the moment the secret number is chosen.

If your opponent always tries 1234 then don’t go writing a secret number with those four digits because on the first try you are giving him 4 cows and maybe even some bull!

logo loodens

LOODENS rating

  
100% recommended, it is a must have game that offers a lot for very little. It requires logic and a lot of concentration so the games fly by. You will be hooked from the first game because you will continuously come up with new tricks and new strategies to increase your chances of winning. That’s why after each game you often hear…. shall we play another one?

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