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Subject: Guides: Amazons, Breakthrough, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple rss

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Deep Fish
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
PSchulman wrote:
Neat idea, I've tried to make one myself for Pylos (a favorite of mine) and those are hard to come up with.

If you don't mind, I'll see if I can improve them in terms of topics arrangement. I'm really struggling to read them as is. For example, in the Amazons one, you start discussing faulty territories, while I'd discuss. Then you jump to strategic considerations, then opening. It's all over the place to me.

I'd be interested in this if you do carry on and complete it?

I enjoyed Quoridor and Pylos has an interesting "form" also that I wish to explore.

Thanks OP, for the current introductions to games. I feel like some sort of resource as this would be conducive to galvanize interest in the selected abstracts, showcasing their "designs in action".
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Florent Becker
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
Great articles so far! Just a nitpick: for the puzzles, they would be a bit more readable if you introduced the notation at the same time as the rules, and if the rows and columns were numbered on the diagram.
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Pablo Schulman
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
DeepFishTaluva wrote:
PSchulman wrote:
Neat idea, I've tried to make one myself for Pylos (a favorite of mine) and those are hard to come up with.

If you don't mind, I'll see if I can improve them in terms of topics arrangement. I'm really struggling to read them as is. For example, in the Amazons one, you start discussing faulty territories, while I'd discuss. Then you jump to strategic considerations, then opening. It's all over the place to me.

I'd be interested in this if you do carry on and complete it?

I enjoyed Quoridor and Pylos has an interesting "form" also that I wish to explore.

Thanks OP, for the current introductions to games. I feel like some sort of resource as this would be conducive to galvanize interest in the selected abstracts, showcasing their "designs in action".

I'm on it. Just need a little bit of time. I've got my hands quite full right now.
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
dpeggie wrote:
My goal is to draw people into playing abstract games. I want to achieve this through a book (more generally, some kind of publication). There are already many books/pages with long lists of rules for games. I decidedly want to avoid that. Here's why: if someone gives me a long list of anything (food recipes, music files, books), I'll shrug it off. Information overload is not good advertisement. Instead, I want to highlight some exceptionally good games, that cover a wide range within the abstract design space. To show people what these games offer, I'm willing to write short articles that illustrate gameplay.
Have you considered making videos to showcase the games? Quick, punchy videos illustrating the game play and using a good website may do more to get people interested than writing a book. Just a thought.
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David Ploog
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
NJames wrote:
Have you considered making videos to showcase the games? Quick, punchy videos illustrating the game play and using a good website may do more to get people interested than writing a book.
No, not at all

I'm an old-fashioned book worm. And a mathematician, so I am really used to writing. It's a good idea about the videos but somebody else would have to make those.

Then again, the exploration of a particular game is perhaps well suited to the slow book medium. Grasping a bunch of heuristics takes time and mental effort, and even more so for solving problems (which is a good way to get a feeling for a game).

I also have a whole chapter about theoretical aspects of abstract games... content even less fitting for a quick video.

galbolle wrote:
Great articles so far! Just a nitpick: for the puzzles, they would be a bit more readable if you introduced the notation at the same time as the rules, and if the rows and columns were numbered on the diagram.
Thank you! I pondered that but shied away yet (the precious space). I'll have a try with coordinates in problems.
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George Leach
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
So what is the list then?

Of course I disagree with some and wholeheartedly endorse others of those you've selected as expected.

I note no GIPF games are touched upon as yet, nor Chess relatives. Are they areas you're not interested in?
 
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David Ploog
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
Jugular wrote:
So what is the list then?
Ah, the list. I have a file sitting around called list.pdf

I'll happily talk about it, and also explain my motivation. And I'm as happy to hear what I am missing -- there are so many games, and a lot of them would fit my criteria but I am not aware of them. First, what I'm going for:

Simple material: boards with squares or hexes; plain checkers or Go stones. This excludes Chesses and fancy games like the Gipf series. And sowing games such as Owale etc. But simple material in particular means that the entry barrier is pretty low: easy to start an actual game!
Small sample, great variety: because I want to go into gameplay beyond elementary pointers, I cannot feature many games. So it'll be a small number of games. On the other hand, I want to show as much as I can of the design possibilities (under the above limitation).
Bias for classics: I am very afraid of the cult of the new, and I'll rather showcase an established minor classic than a game that's hot now, and perhaps forgotten in a year.

So here is my list, sorted by winning conditions. I have also set up my own scheme for goals in abstracts, and I am using that. Feel free to bug me about it -- this will come up in the book (in fact, these sections are all written) but perhaps someone is interested in this already now. Entries without brackets will definitely come, barring the black plague or meteor showers. Games in (round brackets) are something I really really want, and those in [square brackets] are further away. An asterisk* means I already have something written up. I like to delude myself that each of the games below adds something to the abstract world no other (previous) game does.

Linking: Slither*, Gonnect*, (Hex) (Havannah) (Network) (Unlur)
Crossing: Epaminondas, Malawi*, Tablut, (Breakthrough) (Murus Gallicus) [Archimedes]
Capturing: Dameo, Emergo, Fanorona, Focus*, (Cannon) [Guerilla Checkers]
Unification: Lines of Action*, (Ayu) (Inertia)
Racing: Halma* with long jumps
Pattern: (Hexade) (Manalath)
other: (Accasta Pari)

The above are all games won by a condition on board positions. The other category is games won by scoring. Here I consider three types:

Captive scoring: Buku (Pilari) [Gauss]
Chain scoring: Symple* Minimize [Abande]
Territory scoring: Go*, Amazons*

You'll note I am bending my own rules in a few cases: Fanorona does not have a standard board, but I will cover it for its amazing capturing rule; the exciting history helps, too. Amazons needs three colours, but territory games have the highest potential in my book, and you can play the game with Go stones or Poker chips or something.

Quote:
Of course I disagree with some and wholeheartedly endorse others of those you've selected as expected.
It has to be like this! For example, you'll note I have no line games (Renju, Connect6,...). This is because I think they're all pretty localised, hence tactical, and I don't feel like exploring them. So I've settled for two non-line pattern games. Similar with chain scoring games -- there are so many being developed these days (Ecalper, Catchup, Produto, Omega, Xodd... the list is very long), and I have my problems with the whole category. The two entries I've listed are clever ways to deal with what I perceive as the fundamental problem, and they're also extremal within the group (Minimize is minimal (duh!) and Symple is maximal).

Quote:
I note no GIPF games are touched upon as yet, nor Chess relatives. Are they areas you're not interested in?
As a kid I've been going to a Chess club, so I know my ABCs. Of the main Chesses, I like Shogi and Xiangqi a lot but I couldn't say anything nontrivial about them. And I am not at a fan of Chess variants, a dime's a dozen. And they violate my desire for simplicity -- so many pieces, and initial positions are much more arbitrary than for games like Epaminondas or Lines of Action.

About Burms' games: I've played a bunch of them, and they are good. Probably very good -- I didn't play them for long enough to state that but I am happy to believe it. Now, here's the thing: to me, these games are excellently produced, very cleverly designed combinations of turn and win conditions, and Burms definitely knows about balance. Someone certainly should write a book about strategy in the Gipf series, ideally including potentials and so. His designs, however, are not basic, and that's an important quality to me.

edit: I'm particularly interested in scoring games other than chain scoring games and/or "win by most stones on the board".
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Craig Duncan
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
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Similar with chain scoring games -- there are so many being developed these days (Ecalper, Catchup, Produto, Omega, Xodd... the list is very long)
Could you define chain scoring? It seems to include both recursive scoring (e.g. Catchup, Side Stitch), multiplicative scoring (Produto, Omega), and even additive scoring (Xodd, sort of).

If additive scoring counts as chain scoring, then Go has chain scoring, I suppose.

Anyway, chain scoring aside, some games with (by my lights) somewhat novel scoring systems =

Polar
Starweb
Blooms (in its current "first to capture X enemy stones" form)

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David Ploog
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
cdunc123 wrote:
Could you define chain scoring?
Of course. I should probably just create a thread about winning conditions at some point. First, I give the definition, then I tell you how I got there. It uses the notion of chain by which I mean a maximal connected set of stones of one colour. (This is called a clump in Lines of Action, and sometimes a group but being a Go player, I don't like that.)

A chain scoring game is a game having a game-end condition [almost always: board is full] such that afterwards, the score of a player is determined from the list of sizes of chains of that player.

There are very many examples. Assume that at game end, player A has n chains, of sizes L1 >= L2 >= ... >= Ln. I have compiled the following examples of chain scoring games (the table looks nicer in the pdf, but you'll get the idea -- if you're aware of further examples, please tell me!):

Ln [min] (smallest chain wins) Minimize
L1 [max] (largest chain wins) Catchup, Ecalper
L1*L2 [max] (product of two largest chains) Produto
L1+...+Lk [max] (sum of k largest chains) Taiji
n [min] (smaller number of chains) Xodd, Yodd
n [min] (compare number of chains to bid) Libra
L1*...*Ln [max] (product of all chain sizes) Multiplicity, Omega
L1+...+Ln [max] (number of stones) Othello, Ataxx, Io, Flume... many games
L1+...+Ln - nP [max] (number of stones minus P points for each chain) Symple

This is roughly ordered by complexity. The [min] / [max] tells you how the scores are compared.

Quote:
It seems to include both recursive scoring (e.g. Catchup, Side Stitch), multiplicative scoring (Produto, Omega), and even additive scoring (Xodd, sort of).
Yes, very good

Quote:
If additive scoring counts as chain scoring, then Go has chain scoring, I suppose.
No, because my definition is very specific, and Go scores are not really defined by chains (couldn't be, because of eyes). I came up with my notion because I noticed game after game evaluating scores through chains... I don't have a strict definition for "territory scoring" but there is no need for that anyway, because I'm aware of only few such games (Go, Amazons, perhaps Ponte del Diavalo? I am *very* grateful for any further examples!)

Thanks for your list, I need to evaluate it first!

Some games use chain scoring but not for all chains... the chains have to meet some condition in order to count. An example is Star (chain has to touch three border tiles). One could call these conditional chain scoring games. Similarly, some stacking games define score as something about stack sizes, for example Abande, and one could call these vertical chain scoring games. In general, I think it is preferable to have a tight notion (like my definition of "chain scoring") with inevitable gray area around it, rather than an overly inclusive notion that sort of fits anything (I claim that Cameron Brown's notion of "connection game" is too inclusive to be useful.)
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Pablo Schulman
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
Ponte del Diavolo should be chain scoring by your definition: you earn points by having linked groups of size 4 in the board, the more groups you have linked, the more points you score (triangular scoring).

Also, there is an example of maximum conditional scoring. In Carnac, the player with the most groups of at least size 3 wins. In case of a tie, the owner of the largest group wins.
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Pablo Schulman
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
dpeggie wrote:
I should probably just create a thread about winning conditions at some point.

I know for sure you won't agree with (all of) them, but here's a starting foundation for you.
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christian freeling
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
dpeggie wrote:
L1*...*Ln [max] (product of all chain sizes) Omega
I presume you've seen Multiplicity.

dpeggie wrote:
I don't have a strict definition for "territory scoring" but there is no need for that anyway, because I'm aware of only few such games (Go, Amazons, perhaps Ponte del Diavalo? I am *very* grateful for any further examples!)
Sygo, Io, Storisende and some minor stuff, and that's just my own shop. Othello too but there must be quite a bit more.
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David Ploog
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
PSchulman: Many thanks, that thread is very good to know! I wouldn't have found that on my own.

ChristianF: I looked at every single game on mindsports, of course. But I didn't do that again when compiling examples for winning conditions chapter. Sorry! My previous rant about chain scoring games now includes your Multiplicity (same formula as for Omega) and Io (in the same class as Othello and many other games).

Sygo is a territory scoring game, so I definitely have to give that another look. I couldn't figure out just from reading the rules whether Storisende formally is chain scoring in my sense or not.
 
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christian freeling
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Re: Some short articles: Amazons, Slither, Symple
dpeggie wrote:
PSchulman: Many thanks, that thread is very good to know! I wouldn't have found that on my own.

ChristianF: I looked at every single game on mindsports, of course. But I didn't do that again when compiling examples for winning conditions chapter. Sorry! My previous rant about chain scoring games now includes your Multiplicity (same formula as for Omega) and Io (in the same class as Othello and many other games).

Sygo is a territory scoring games, so I definitely have to give that another look. I couldn't figure out just from reading the rules whether Storisende formally is chain scoring in my sense or not.
I (only) now understand why you rank Othello under chain scoring but Go not. No problem so far as I'm concerned.
An endposition in Storisende only features the Wall and established territory. The latter is defined regardless of ownership or lack thereof. So the 'chains' actually play no role other than that 'sole presence' (read 'at least one man and no opponent's men') defines ownership. The game is much more than pure territory, but the endcondition is just that.
 
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David Ploog
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
I finally got something on LOA to show. Still not happy with the result but hopefully it can improve with feedback. There is content on LOA (five dense page by Ralph Betza from 1979, and seven pages by Kerry Handscomb from 2000). The cool bit is that Claude Chaunier's text (AGM 5, 2001) mostly disagrees with the established wisdom. I'll try to get some input by the cool folks who do computer LOA.

The Amazons and Symple texts are noticeably improved, too.

By the way, is anyone here in contact with Corey Clark (Slither) or Brian Wittman (Minimize)? I've been trying to get in touch but couldn't reach either gentleman. Brian is probably "simpledeep" both on BGG and on LG but that didn't help so far. (Mostly, I want to ask if they're aware of articles on their games.) I guess that kicks Minimize out of the list... but there's no shortage of games to go in instead.
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
I *knew* this thread reminded me of something I'd seen before on here.. Surely enough, a bit of googling turned up:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1429056/several-strategy-ar...

And wouldn't you know it, the two fellows most into it there, Pablo and Nick, are the most eager to help out with this too. I really hope this gets some traction. It is an absolutely worthy project.

And here I've been toying with the horrifically foolish idea of starting a micropress for chess and games and things... whistle

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David Ploog
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
althus wrote:
I *knew* this thread reminded me of something I'd seen before on here.. Surely enough, a bit of googling turned up:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1429056/several-strategy-ar...
Yes, I'm aware of that thread, although I wasn't when I first proposed my Slither guide over here. We've talked about it, and it turned out that my approach is much more elitist than Nick's. I am not sure if it is fair to say that his project has run out of steam. I know that it is absolutely fair to expect my project to fail...

Quote:
And wouldn't you know it, the two fellows most into it there, Pablo and Nick, are the most eager to help out with this too.
As it happens, we seem to have lost Nick to professional game design/publication work.

Quote:
I really hope this gets some traction. It is an absolutely worthy project.
So do I! I am not sure I can do it alone, and thankfully, I already had a lot of support, for every single of the guides written so far. There are some guides in the pipeline where I feel reasonably confident that I can say something nontrivial on my own.

And many thanks for your kind words! This is very much appreciated!!

However, I can use any support for pattern games: if you feel like discussing Minimize, Manalath, Connect6 with me (or have pointers to existing articles/guides), please contact me! It is really hard to develop meaningful heuristics for a game you only play against yourself. It is so much better to be able to talk about moves and concepts.

Originally, this book project started with someone who also lives at my place. However, that guy flaked totally and didn't produce a single line of content. I am very open for contributions of all kinds. Hopefully, I can prove this statement by adding Breakthrough and Cannon guides; these have been written by fellow BGG participants.

Quote:
And here I've been toying with the horrifically foolish idea of starting a micropress for chess and games and things... whistle
Printing is easier than ever. The problem is access to the audience. I still have clue what I'll do if/when I declare the book to be ready.

PS: If you are interested in discussing particular guides, other games, or theory with me, please drop me a message. The manuscript currently sits at 110 pages, of whice 1/3rd is "theory". I don't want to flood this forum which is why I've only submitted two pieces of that chapter so far (the threads on win conditionsand on piece distribution). I would love to discuss clarity, depth, tactics vs strategy, but I don't want to bore you guys to death.
 
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
Quote:
Quote:
And wouldn't you know it, the two fellows most into it there, Pablo and Nick, are the most eager to help out with this too.
As it happens, we seem to have lost Nick to professional game design/publication work.
Partly that, partly that I have a brand new kid, for the first time. In any case, I'm not likely to participate much here for the foreseeable future.
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David Ploog
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
milomilo122 wrote:
I have a brand new kid
Congratulations! A child means another player of games
Quote:
In any case, I'm not likely to participate much here for the foreseeable future.
Pity that. You've been a driving force in this forum.
 
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
milomilo122 wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
And wouldn't you know it, the two fellows most into it there, Pablo and Nick, are the most eager to help out with this too.
As it happens, we seem to have lost Nick to professional game design/publication work.
Partly that, partly that I have a brand new kid, for the first time. In any case, I'm not likely to participate much here for the foreseeable future.
Congratulations Nick! Of course you have to get your priorities right.
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
milomilo122 wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
And wouldn't you know it, the two fellows most into it there, Pablo and Nick, are the most eager to help out with this too.
As it happens, we seem to have lost Nick to professional game design/publication work.
Partly that, partly that I have a brand new kid, for the first time. In any case, I'm not likely to participate much here for the foreseeable future.
Congrats to you both. As an experience expert I can assure you that you're in for some considerable emergent complexity.
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
The Player of Games wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Partly that, partly that I have a brand new kid, for the first time. In any case, I'm not likely to participate much here for the foreseeable future.
Congratulations Nick! Of course you have to get your priorities right.
Yes indeed - Nick, you'll need to put the kid up for adoption and get back to focusing on games.
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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
dpeggie wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
I have a brand new kid
Congratulations! A child means another player of games
Thanks! His name is Ludo, so I assume that means he'll be repulsed by the very idea of games.

Nonetheless, Ludo is a cutie! Here he is at 4 days old:

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Re: Short articles: Amazons, Lines of Action, Slither, Symple
christianF wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
And wouldn't you know it, the two fellows most into it there, Pablo and Nick, are the most eager to help out with this too.
As it happens, we seem to have lost Nick to professional game design/publication work.
Partly that, partly that I have a brand new kid, for the first time. In any case, I'm not likely to participate much here for the foreseeable future.
Congrats to you both. As an experience expert I can assure you that you're in for some considerable emergent complexity.
I've found that making even slight headway in trying to predict his moods is beyond me. Emergent complexity indeed. He's the most opaque game I've yet played.
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David Ploog
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Added Breakthrough which allows its existence to Carlos' guide. Many thanks, again!

I didn't have Breakthrough in the original list of games I wanted to cover. The game is now in because I'm convinced (1) it has the necessary depth, (2) it is a crossing game of very different type to the ones I would like to add later (Epaminondas and Malawi), and (3) it shows that I was serious when I said I'd like to collaborate.

As usual, feedback of any kind is welcome. Most dear to me, again as always, are (ideas for) further heuristics. And if you've stumbled upon a hard problem, please shout! ("Hard" because thanks to Carlos we already have cool, easier problems.)

You may have seen that I've been trying to break the text/diagram monotony by ending each game chapter with a picture. If you have ideas for fitting motives for Breakthrough, I am all ears. By the way, the use of colour is on purpose, my graphic designer convinced me to do it. I am very happy about the additional clarity.
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