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Subject: Ogre on Shabbat rss

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Darin Sunley
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[Disclaimer: I am not a rabbi. The following analysis is based on information from the following pages, which provide official sources, but I have not checked the cited sources for accuracy, and am almost certainly not qualified to do so.

* http://ph.yhb.org.il/en/01-24-07/
* http://www.halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Games_on_Shabbat...
* http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11762/games-on-sh...
]

As most people know, religiously observant Jews observe Saturday as a day of rest, called "Shabbat". On this day, Orthodox Jews avoid doing any task that was one of the 39 distinct kinds of work involved in building the Tabernacle, as well as certain other activities, like kindling a fire (which precludes starting and operating a motor vehicle or any electrical or electronic device), carrying objects outdoors, or benefiting from any of the above. The general guideline is to avoid, by your own labor, bringing anything new into the world.

Most families use the time for the study of scriptures, and general family togetherness without the distractions of screens, phones, and chores. This is frequently advised to include board games, chess being the canonical example. But as with all activities on Shabbat, the specific play mechanics must be considered carefully.

I personally am looking at becoming more religiously observant, and to specifically become more observant of Shabbat, so I decided to research whether Ogre could be played on Shabbat. What I found was surprising.

The first instruction you'll typically find when you look up Orthodox guidelines for board games on Shabbat, is that "dice games or games of chance" are disallowed. At first glance, that would seem to kibosh Ogre altogether. Further research found, however, that this isn't a problem. Dice, it seems, are allowed, as long as the game is not being played for money or food. Even if major advantages or disadvantages within the game are obtained via die rolls, it seems permissible. Monopoly is specifically cited as being allowed.

The main obstacle, it turns out, to a game being playable on Shabbat, is whether it involves writing. Writing, even to the extent of writing only 2 letters, even to the extent of making any meaningful temporary marks, is one of the labors of the Tabernacle, and is therefore disallowed.

So at this point, GEV scenarios would be allowed, since they only involve token manipulation, die-rolling, and table-lookups, all of which are permissible. But what of the Ogres? Marking up Ogre record sheets is clearly a no-go.

Fortunately, as I thought about the problem, I found a couple of options. I was inspired in this approach by a technique I saw on the Judaism Stack Exchange page [linked to above] for scorekeeping in games like Scrabble - use a book with several hundred pages, and place a bookmark on the page whose number is your current score. Simple genius.

The first option would be to print off an Ogre record sheet in a large scale, with boxes for weapon systems and tread units 1-1.5 cm across. You could then use easily-available tokens [like the glass stones you can find in any game store] to cover each box as the systems are damaged.

This approach is very straightforward, but requires record sheets than don't, at the moment, exist, and a large supply of tokens. It also occupies a significant amount of table real estate, and is more vulnerable to feline incursions than might otherwise be desirable.

Thinking about it for awhile, I arrived at second option for representing the Ogre's state that uses significantly fewer and more common components: two deck of cards.

By way of example, consider a game with a MkV. At the beginning of the game, the Ogre player makes several stacks of cards:

* A stack of two spades, representing the Main Batteries
* A stack of six clubs, representing the Secondary Batteries
* A stack of six diamonds, representing the Missiles.
* A stack of twelve hearts, representing AP guns.
* A stack of other cards, representing the Treads.

The bottom-most 20 cards in the Treads stack should be face-down. The next 20 face-up, and the top 20 cards face-down again. This way it is obvious at a glance when the Ogre loses a movement point.

During game play, whenever the opposing player damages a system of the Ogre, they remove cards from these stacks. It is very important that the opposing player be the one to do this - one of the disallowed labors on Shabbat is "borer" - to sort and separate things you don't want from things you do want. The defending player wants these cards - on a psychological level they concretely represent the defending player's gradually developing victory, and they can use them to calculate victory points at the end of the game, so they must be the one to remove them from the stacks.

The third option is mainly an extension of the card system described above, and one I intend to implement over the next few weeks:

Instead of using playing cards, I intend to make cards of my own for the various Ogre subsystems. By doing so I can include information on the cards that will make using them much more convenient and ergonomic.

Cards for a weapon system would be labeled with the weapon system's name and stat line, and the number of victory points the system is worth. The advantages of having this info visible on the table as public information, and for the defending player to have actual VPs on the cards he collects by damaging the Ogre, are obvious. Another useful piece of information would be perhaps a number from 1-3 for MBs, 1-8 for SBs, 1-6 for missiles, 1-6 for missile racks, and 1-20 for internal missiles, etc, so that it is clearer at a glance how many systems are left.

Tread units cards would have a large 4, 3, 2, or 1 on them, indicating the Ogre's current movement points.

A single set of these cards would suffice to represent a single Ogre, and they could be printed off in different text colors so that multiple Ogres could be used simultaneously.

This system would work well for Ogre, and the underlying principles extend well to other games whose scorekeeping needs are more complex than Scrabble, but still relatively simple. This card system would probably not scale well to something like Classic Car Wars [and Harpoon and Battletech may never be easily playable by token manipulation alone], though screenshots of the early playtests show that Car Wars 6e may be much less dependent on writing and lean more on token manipulation to represent vehicle state.

This seems to be the direction the industry in general is going (though almost certainly not for the religious motivations - it's just also good kinesthetic gameplay design]. It's a good direction for SJG to be taking, and an interesting set of design considerations that all aspiring game designers should consider.
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Brad Miller
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Looking at your effort...

Glad I'm not a religious person

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Andrew Hackard
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That's an awful lot of effort not to follow rules you imposed on yourself. I'm impressed.
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Robert Rossney
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Just play with a shabbos goy. If you let him be the Ogre player he's not even doing your work for you.
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Abraham Quicksilver
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Interesting solution to the problem, and maybe actually good for general play too. I like stacks of things to denote the capabilities

There's something more significant about removing something when it is destroyed
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Alison Mandible
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I didn't know about the restriction on sorting wanted things from unwanted.

If I'm understanding you right, this seems to make the discard action in Scrabble forbidden, and might even restrict the activity of moving letters around on your tray to think about words (I know that, without any special intention on my part, moving tiles around on the tray usually leads to the letters I hope to use this turn on the left, and letters I'm temporarily ignoring on the right).

And some other games, like 7 Wonders, would become difficult to even set up, since you need to remove cards from the deck based on player count.
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Alex Nguyen
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Nice work!

This reminds me of various games that handle components elegantly. Star Realms does the simple double-sided deck of cards to track points. Mage Knight has a cool example where a stack of tokens tracks not only current stats (the top-most visible token in the stack) but also (as the top-most token gets discarded and flipped over) the total number of units you can command.
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Malechi
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Simplest solution: Play on a weeknight!
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Mark Robinson
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Wow Darin! Very impressive!
I now know a little bit more about Judaism - thanks you for your gaming-related insight (I'm from a Christian background).

I don't believe cats are any respecters (is that a word?) of gaming during religious observance... or gaming at any other time either!
 
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Darin Sunley
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This article lays out the rules on "Shabbos Goy" pretty clearly.
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1140867/jewish...

TL;DR - it's basically a myth, and most examples people have heard of are gross misunderstandings or outright abuses against the rules.

That said, and again, I am not a rabbi, it might actually be allowed in this case. A non-Jew ["goy" is actually a derogatory term] playing Ogre as the Ogre, playing the game because they enjoy it, is deriving benefit for themselves, and [and this is important] cannot modify their playing of the game so as to intentionally increase the Jew's benefit - playing the game is playing the game, you can't play the game more or harder in any meaningful way.

On the other hand, the Jew cannot initiate asking them to play the game - they have to start setting up the game of their own accord. But seeing that, a Jew can probably join in as the defense. [Again, not a rabbi. Any Jew should be bouncing this off their rabbi before taking it to heart.]
 
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Andrew Walters
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The Ogre War Room app for iOS and Android does Ogre record sheets. Can you use a phone? Or a tablet?

The other possibility is simply keeping track of the Ogre in your heads. When two people try to keep track of secondary batteries and treads they can do it easily. You will have little trouble remembering main batteries and missiles. Most people would consider this more work than making tick marks, but you have to operate with a very specific definition of "work".

Part of the great thing about Ogre is that it is very intense, very dramatic. A by product of this is that it keeps the Ogre's condition very much in the forefront of both players' minds. I bet you could do it by memory without feeling uncertain.
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Russ Williams
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andreww wrote:
The Ogre War Room app for iOS and Android does Ogre record sheets. Can you use a phone? Or a tablet?


OP wrote:
(which precludes starting and operating a motor vehicle or any electrical or electronic device)
 
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Ben Cipponeri
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You could use dice for keeping track. Just rotate the die to show the correct face. Use d10's for the treads, d6's for the secondaries, d12's for the AP's, etc.
 
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Chris Ganshaw
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Curious to the extent that writing is not permitted. Is a simple "dot" allowable? If so, the ogre sheets could be laminated (clear contact paper) and then use an erasable marker to make the "dot" keeping track of hits.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for a man to go to this effort to follow his religion.

Shalom Shabbat
 
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Karl Gallagher
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The previous post went up Friday at 6:46pm.

Which makes me wonder if it was before or after sunset.
 
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Evan Dunn
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No, no writing. Honestly, a rabbai would tell you not to take any risks, and be on the safe side.

I like the stacks idea though.
 
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Andrew Walters
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Google tells me that sunset in New York is at 7:13, EDT. So there was a half hour to spare...
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