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Subject: Nex? rss

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Quinn Swanger
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Holly Springs
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Has anyone ever heard of Nex? It’s a Hex variant that’s short for “Neutral Hex” invented by Joao Pedro Neto in 2004, at least according to the awesome book Connection Games by Cameron Browne. It looks VERY interesting and I would love to be able to play it somewhere. I don't see an entry for it on BGG either. In a nutshell, Nex has the exact same goal as Hex of placing Black and White stones on a standard Hex board in an attempt to connect opposite sides. However ...

"The novelty ... lies in the inclusion of neutral pieces [e.g., gray] and a special move mechanism. On their turn players may either:

1) Place a piece of their color AND a neutral piece on empty cells, OR
2) Convert two neutral pieces to their color, AND convert a different piece of their color to neutral.

Neutral pieces do NOT count count in any connection."

Also according to Browne, "the two move types are nicely balanced and mean that there will always be an equal number of Black and White pieces at the end of each round. The unusual Type 2 moves allow a form of piece recycling; unwanted pieces can be returned to the neutral state in exchange for converting another piece in a more useful location. ...

Some passages of play tend to have an element of ‘chicken’, when players delay making a conversion that may also benefit the opponent. In such cases players tend to play Type 1 moves until absolutely necessary."
 
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Harald Korneliussen
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That kind of thing, people making different moves to avoid being the first to take one particular move, is generally something connection game designers try to avoid.
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Dr Caligari
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King of Prussia
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Please put it in the database.

I looked it up: Neutral Mutator, aka Nex.
 
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Mark Steere
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Palo Alto
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I hate to agree with Korneliussen, but Nex sounds like total crap.
 
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Benedikt Rosenau
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vintermann wrote:
That kind of thing, people making different moves to avoid being the first to take one particular move, is generally something connection game designers try to avoid.
My question is why I should play Nex when I can play Hex? For curiosity's sake?
 
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Grant Fikes
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Abilene
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I'm not qualified to judge whether Nex is better or worse than Hex, but it is worth noting that Nex is not drawless. A board with all spaces filled and only one neutral piece gives neither player a possible move, and is not guaranteed to have a connection.
 
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Jason Lee
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Actually, Nex is drawless: if N is the number of neutral pieces on the board,

- at the beginning, N = 0;
- at each turn, N is either increased or decreased by 1;
- N can be decreased by 1 if and only if N >= 2 before the move.

Then, after the first move, we always have N > 0.

Now, imagine the board is full with N = 1. Necessarily, before the move of the last player, we had N = 2 (the last move cannot also be the first move, given a proper size for the board). Thus, what did the player do during this last move? First, two neutral pieces have been converted to the colour of this player, and then a piece of the colour of the player has been converted to neutral. Hence, just before this last conversion, the board was full with no neutral piece and one winner.

Last: if the board is full and N >= 2 without winner, then the game is not over and the players are forced to decrease N until N = 1 (that is, N = 0 just before the last conversion of the last move).
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