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Subject: Hex variant that fills up most of the board : Marathon Hex rss

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kid onTheRocks
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Hi,

I played Hex for a bit but found that if there are unequal level players, most of the board remains unfilled. Further, normal game of Hex (orthohex) is pretty unforgiving i.e. if you make two bad mistakes, your defeat is very certain.

I have come up with following variant to fix these issues. Let me know what you think.

Note: Wining condition for Marathon Hex is the same as normal Hex. You can play it with the same equipment / mobile app, that you currently use to play Hex.

Game happens in 2 Rounds.

Round 1. This round is played by "Adjacent rule" i.e. No adjacent hex may have same color stones.

If, after playing many moves, it is seen that a player has no place to keep their stones, without breaking the "adjacent rule", then they are allowed to keep their stone anywhere according to rules of Round 2 (see below).

Once any player breakes the adjacent rule, both players move to Round 2.

Round 2. This round is played by "Majority rule" i.e. If an empty hexagon is surrounded by N occupied places, and if the majority color in those N places is "C", then that hexagon cannot be filled with the same color "C".

Rephrasing - You cannot keep your stone in a place, if your color dominates surrounding 6 of that place.

For example - There are 6 places surrounding a hexagon "P". Suppose that 4 of these places are already occupied and 2 are yet unoccupied by any color.

If, of the 4 occupied places, all 4 of them OR 3 of them are of a color, then the original hexagon "P" cannot have the same color.

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I have only played this game in myself-against-myself mode and it seems to work but need to play it more to be sure that it fixes aforementioned issues.

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Impossible moves?


Could it happen that BOTH players cannot play a move in Round 2?

In the games I played, game did not DRAW because of impossible moves for both players - but if you notice any such situations - may be rules could be tweaked further.

I found an endgame where one player could not play further move in Round 2, but other player could play. At this time only 3 empty spots remained on the board. In such case, I'd allow the other player to play their moves consecutively, until the deadlock breakes OR other player wins (whichever happens earlier). Alternative suggestions welcome.
----------------

Let me know what you think!

PS. I have not read the "Connection Game" book, so someone may have already had this variant idea.
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Nick Bentley
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I’ve read the book a couple times and I don’t recall any game like it. I think you’re in the clear!
 
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Russ Williams
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vanarp_45 wrote:
I played Hex for a bit but found that if there are unequal level players, most of the board remains unfilled. Further, normal game of Hex (orthohex) is pretty unforgiving i.e. if you make two bad mistakes, your defeat is very certain.

I have come up with following variant to fix these issues. Let me know what you think.
FWIW I don't see how the first one (most of the board is not filled) is any kind of issue or problem needing to be "fixed". Why is that bad?

(Which is not meant to imply anything about your variant being good or bad. Just that I don't see any reason to consider it a flaw that the board doesn't get filled.)
 
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kid onTheRocks
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>I don't see how the first one (most of the board is not filled) is any kind of issue

Yeah, I should have written more about why I felt it was an issue. If the board remains mostly empty, most likely it is because one of the player is very strong compared to another.

When I was a losing player against strong AI, I felt bad because of so much of the board still remained empty. I wanted the game to feel like I am allowed to recover after making some bad mistakes. So I thought of this variant.
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Cameron Browne
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Hi,

That looks like an interesting Hex variant. Well done!

The closest variant I can think of is the recently invented Disthex, in which players are not allowed to play adjacent to the opponent's last move. This is an elegant way to achieve a similar result that fills more of the board: https://cambolbro.com/temp/gapd-3-2-02-disthex.pdf

Russ, I think that filling the board is a good thing to aim for. It generally means closer and tenser games, and represents more efficient usage of equipment which I equate with elegant design. This is one reason that ConHex is one of my favourites.

Regards,
Cameron
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kid onTheRocks
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Thanks Cameron for encouragement and also for introducing DistHex - such an elegant small change in the rules that makes a big impact on game.

BTW, another way to look at Marathon Hex is that it provides a good/competitive initial hex playing board after Round 1 is finished. Think of Chess games that do not start from standard initial position but start from an unusual, competitive position.
 
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