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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #15 on: Mar 27th, 2009, 12:00pm »

Quote:
It's like comparing tennis to tabletennis. However much energy is required to become a world class tabletennis player, the game itself lacks the charisma to captivate the masses.

 
It's always interesting to me how much our view of games is shaped by our local culture. It's my understanding that had this conversation been taking place in China it wouldn't be far fetched for the above statement to be made, only with the sports reversed.
 
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #16 on: Mar 27th, 2009, 1:51pm »

on Mar 27th, 2009, 12:00pm, Janzert wrote:
Quote:
"It's like comparing tennis to tabletennis. However much energy is required to become a world class tabletennis player, the game itself lacks the charisma to captivate the masses."

 
It's always interesting to me how much our view of games is shaped by our local culture. It's my understanding that had this conversation been taking place in China it wouldn't be far fetched for the above statement to be made, only with the sports reversed.
 
Janzert

Guilty as charged Wink .
My argument remains however in that the games are comparable in terms of the energy required to become a world class player (and indeed the fact that a game allows players to become world class). The difference is in the measure of appreciation by the masses, one way or the other.
And indeed, in this case, one way in the 'west' and the other in China.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #17 on: Mar 27th, 2009, 2:46pm »

on Mar 27th, 2009, 10:18am, christianF wrote:
As you can see I argue Othello into both categories, and inherently, the dividing line is is less than clearcut.

What is the international standing of Othello?  I know it is quite popular because I see it in Walmart, but then again one can also find Monopoly everywhere.  How does the strategic literature of Othello compare to that of draughts?  Is there a professional playing/teaching class?
 
I find it unaccountable that the intense man vs. machine drama from chess and from English checkers didn't develop for Othello.  Is that because Japanese play it, and they have (witness shogi) a different sense of the honor at stake when playing machines?  Or is it because Othello gets no respect, just like nobody would care if a computer could play Monopoly well?
 
Quote:
Pente, the simple, beautiful and deep Pente, is not a mental sportsweapon. It's like comparing tennis to tabletennis. However much energy is required to become a world class tabletennis player, the game itself lacks the charisma to captivate the masses.
One could become a Pente master, I assume, but a grandmaster? Dedicating one's life to arranging 5 stones in a row or capturing 10? Hardly.

This interpretation truly surprises me.  First, Pente was definitely embraced by the masses, at least in the United States.  We played it at church camp when I was in high school.  You could find it everywhere.  There were clubs, there were books, there were tournaments including a World Championship.  Then suddenly the fad was over.  What happened?
 
I don't know exactly how fads are made and how they end, but it seems highly implausible that we collectively woke up one day and said, "What were we thinking?  Checkmate is grand and five-in-a-row is silly!"  I would be much more inclined to believe the public's change of heart had something to do with the World Champion declaring that the rules of Pente were broken, the first-player advantage was unacceptably large, and proposing everyone should start playing by alternate rules.
 
In other words, we didn't know at first whether Pente was a good mental sportsweapon or not.  It only became a "fad" after the fact when the game proved unbalanced.  The end of the craze was not the fault of a fickle populace that can't tell a good game from a flashing light, it was the fault of the game itself.
« Last Edit: Mar 27th, 2009, 3:13pm by Fritzlein » IP Logged

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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #18 on: Mar 28th, 2009, 3:45am »

Hello Fritzlein,
 
I truly appreciate an exchange of opinions that forces me to rethink ideas and concepts, so thanks for that Smiley .
 
on Mar 27th, 2009, 2:46pm, Fritzlein wrote:
What is the international standing of Othello?  I know it is quite popular because I see it in Walmart, but then again one can also find Monopoly everywhere.  How does the strategic literature of Othello compare to that of draughts?  Is there a professional playing/teaching class?

The volume of Draughts literature is dwarfed by the volume of Chess, Shogi and Go literature, but it surpasses the volume of Othello literature by about the same ratio. This isn't at all surprising. Draughts has been around much longer and has been played far more extensively, although the USA played only a very modest role. Here's a complete list (in dutch) of worldchampions. Closest to the USA is the Canadian Marcel Deslauriers (1956):
 
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wereldkampioenschap_dammen
 
on Mar 27th, 2009, 2:46pm, Fritzlein wrote:
I find it unaccountable that the intense man vs. machine drama from chess and from English checkers didn't develop for Othello.

First of all, Omar created Arimaa explicitly to make it hard for computers, by using mechanics that lead to an exploding branch density.
Havannah is implicitly hard for computers, because there's hardly anything to build an evaluation function around.
In 2012 a 10 game match will take place between me and one or more Havannah programs, one of which will be a joint effort by two German universities, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Johannes Waldmann, Leipzig (http://www.imn.htwk-leipzig.de/~waldmann/) and Prof. Dr. Ingo Althofer, Jena (http://www.minet.uni-jena.de/www/fakultaet/iam/personen/althofer_e.html). The program(s) win if they can beat me once.
 
See also: http://senseis.xmp.net/?Havannah
 
The point being that not all games are equal in terms of programmability.
 
I'm no expert, but I'm pretty certain that 6x6 Othello could be solved brute force, the way Checkers and Oware were solved. That is: perfectly. The size of the tree is such that 8x8 is currently out of reach, but as far as I'm aware the evaluation functions of Othello are fairly strong too and I don't know what the outcome would be if a really strong program would be pitted against the world champion.
 
But who cares about a really strong Othello program? You mentioned what I think is at the core of the issue: "the intense man vs. machine drama from chess and from English checkers".
Drama, that's what's absent in Othello, in Hex, in Pente. The drama of a deep combination, resulting in checkmate, or a breakthrough or wipe out in Draughts, or the capture of a really large group in Go, at the cost of minor losses. Dramatic tactics that can be understood, not only by strong players, but by an audience of laymen too.
 
I mentioned Marcel Deslauriers. He became world champion in 1956 and lost the title to the Russian player dr. Iser Koeperman in 1958. Please have a look at the link below, displaying a combination named after him, the 'Coup Deslauriers'. The position is from a 1956 game against his future successor.
 
http://mindsports.nl/index.php/arena/draughts/60-coups?start=5
 
That's drama. And that's what's missing in Pente, Othello, Hex.
 
on Mar 27th, 2009, 2:46pm, Fritzlein wrote:
There were clubs, there were books, there were tournaments including a World Championship. Then suddenly the fad was over.
What happened?  
 
I don't know exactly how fads are made and how they end, but it seems highly implausible that we collectively woke up one day and said, "What were we thinking? Checkmate is grand and five-in-a-row is silly!" I would be much more inclined to believe the public's change of heart had something to do with the World Champion declaring that the rules of Pente were broken, the first-player advantage was unacceptably large, and proposing everyone should start playing by alternate rules.
 
In other words, we didn't know at first whether Pente was a good mental sportsweapon or not. It only became a "fad" after the fact when the game proved unbalanced. The end of the craze was not the fault of a fickle populace that can't tell a good game from a flashing light, it was the fault of the game itself.

Yes, you're right, only I didn't need a 'proof' of that. First of all, there are deepening intricacies in Pente, but ever deepening? Pente is just too small for that. The whole 5-in-a-row concept suffers from first player advantage, and variants like Pente, Renju and Ninuke Renju seek to balance it one way or another to 'safe the game'. Good games don't need to be 'saved'. Pente, however elegant and deep, was playing outside its league.  
 
Games with strategies that are either 'fairly obvious' or 'fundamentally obscure' are not strategy games but tactical games. Pente is in the first class, Othello in the second, although strategic insights into it are still evolving. The main characteristic of such games is that it's hardly possible to distinguish between strategy and tactics. There are strategic goals, but hardly any more or less permanent sub-goals to be achieved as calculable signposts along the way. Tactical games are mental toys, not mental sportsweapons.
 
Hex on the other hand is a strategy game: it's strategy is neither obvious nor fundamentally obscure. It's tactics are clearly distinguished within the framework of its overall strategy. The swap rule serves perfectly to eliminate any first move advantage and a flexible boardsize makes it inexhaustible in both human and machine terms. Hex is a perfect 'mental sportsweapon' for those who are familiar with its intricacies - indeed 'ever deepening'. Hex only lacks the kind of drama that seems to be required to captivate the mind of the masses. Laymen have no way of knowing what's going on in any given position, and no dramatic turns of events ever happen. This is considered boring.
 
« Last Edit: Mar 28th, 2009, 4:58am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #19 on: Mar 29th, 2009, 2:53am »

on Mar 27th, 2009, 10:15am, Fritzlein wrote:
Christian, your services as a game whisperer are probably much in demand, so I understand if you decline this invitation, but you would honor one member of the Arimaa community, John Herr, if you would give a considered opinion of his abstract strategy game Rekushu, described in this thread.

Hello Fritzlein, John,
 
John, I've refelected a bit on this. I find the idea of occupying vertices to claim regions of squares excellent. There's a simple logic behind it, yet I cannot immediately think of a game that employs it. Usually one claims what is occupied: like vertices in Go or squares in Othello.
 
The actual mechanism is not very 'organic' though, so reflection alone poses its limits here and its not easy to see all the way though. What I do note however is that it is not at all easy to score in the first place. As Adanac remarked:
on Nov 26th, 2008, 5:43am, Adanac wrote:
It was definitely fun to play, but also very tough to score points against a good defensive player.

 
Which led Fritzlein to:
on Nov 26th, 2008, 7:34am, Fritzlein wrote:
But it is possible to force a score against a player who plays only defensively?

 
And your riposte:
on Nov 26th, 2008, 9:34am, The_Jeh wrote:
If anyone thinks he can prevent me from scoring by playing purely defensively, I would love to receive a challenge from him sometime.

Boldly spoken, but they may have a point there, don't they?
 
Allow me to ask a few questions:
 
1. Can there be reasons to decline claiming a region, other than preventing the removal of its four corner stones?
 
2. If a region is not claimed, and the opponent does not, on his next move, place a stone on its edge or inside, or claim a tile inside, can the player still claim it after that? Or is it only the act of completing a rectangle that gives the right to claim a region?
 
3. If a rectangle is completed, but the opponent has a stone on its edge or inside it, the region cannot be claimed. Why can't a player claim a completed rectangle if a friendly stone is on its edge or inside?
 
4. The obligatory removal of the four stones that constitute the basis for the claim is a good idea. If point 3 is considered, you might also consider the optional removal of the friendly stones on the edge or inside
 
5. If a rectangle is completed, but the opponent has a claimed tile inside it, the region cannot be claimed. Why can't a player claim a completed rectangle if a friendly claimed tile is inside?
 
I ask this because generally speaking a mechanism should not hamper itself.
 
Then there's Adanac's suggestion:
on Nov 26th, 2008, 5:43am, Adanac wrote:
The idea of a triangular board also occurred to me, not only to eliminate the mirror rule but also to make it easier to score (3 corners rather than 4).

 
on Nov 26th, 2008, 9:34am, The_Jeh wrote:
The triangular version you proposed interests me. However, you may notice that a player can obviously force a score on such a grid, unless one-cell claims are disallowed. And if one-cell claims are disallowed, then my hunch is that defense would be very obvious. I want any forced scoring to be deep enough so as to not be trivially solvable.
 
...
 
I take it back; the opposite is true. Offense on a triangular grid would be trivial regardless of cell size restrictions.

Is that so? If I place two stones on adjacent vertices, then obviously my opponent cannot prevent both threats to claim one triangle. Why forbid that? Would you forbid a beginning Go player to secure a small group where bigger issues are at stake?
 
If the stones are farther apart on the same line, cannot the opponent defend against both threats by placing a stone in between on the same line?
 
You may want to reconsider some of these aspects, because though the idea is very good, there may be a better and more 'organic' game there, with possibly even less rules. The current game won't run away by reconsidering Wink
 
Kind regards,
 
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #20 on: Mar 29th, 2009, 9:34am »

Quote:
1. Can there be reasons to decline claiming a region, other than preventing the removal of its four corner stones?

 
Of course not, but there is more than one reason for wanting to keep the stones on the board. If the stones are removed, it may unblock your opponent from scoring. Alternatively, you may want to keep the stones in place because they are part of a larger threat on which you are working. Of course, the game may work with the claiming of tiles being mandatory, but so far I have no reason to dislike the rules as they are.
 
Quote:
2. If a region is not claimed, and the opponent does not, on his next move, place a stone on its edge or inside, or claim a tile inside, can the player still claim it after that? Or is it only the act of completing a rectangle that gives the right to claim a region?

 
The player can still claim the rectangle at any point in the future if all the conditions are still satisfied. It is not the act of completing the rectangle that gives the right, only the existence of the individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions.
 
Quote:
3. If a rectangle is completed, but the opponent has a stone on its edge or inside it, the region cannot be claimed. Why can't a player claim a completed rectangle if a friendly stone is on its edge or inside?

Quote:
4. The obligatory removal of the four stones that constitute the basis for the claim is a good idea. If point 3 is considered, you might also consider the optional removal of the friendly stones on the edge or inside

Quote:
5. If a rectangle is completed, but the opponent has a claimed tile inside it, the region cannot be claimed. Why can't a player claim a completed rectangle if a friendly claimed tile is inside?

 
These are all interesting variations, and I have thought of them. I'm not sure what their consequences would be; I'd have to play them. Admittedly, I have become fond of and have not found serious flaw with the rules as they currently are. That and the fact that I have no companion to help me playtest has thus far taken away my incentive to experiment with possible "improvements."
 
Quote:
Is that so? If I place two stones on adjacent vertices, then obviously my opponent cannot prevent both threats to claim one triangle. Why forbid that? Would you forbid a beginning Go player to secure a small group where bigger issues are at stake?  

 
No I would not. And in fact during the middle of a game of Rekushu such situations do occur, where one must abstain from securing a little territory in order to prevent one's opponent from taking much more. However, I do not like the idea of a player knowing with certainty from the opening position of a blank board that he can forcibly score, regardless of whether his opponent can cancel it by scoring himself.
 
Quote:
If the stones are farther apart on the same line, cannot the opponent defend against both threats by placing a stone in between on the same line?  

 
Sure, but then one plays where one would have anyway, and while you cannot claim the triangle, since there is a stone on the edge, you now have two threats of the same magnitude as before, provided the board is large enough. So I do not see a way of making offense non-trivial without making defense trivial on a triangular grid.
 
Quote:
You may want to reconsider some of these aspects, because though the idea is very good, there may be a better and more 'organic' game there, with possibly even less rules. The current game won't run away by reconsidering

 
I am not averse to experimentation, but I would like to be convinced of the flaws/deficiencies of the current rules before making the momentous decision to scrap them. My challenge from above may be bold, but it still stands. Perhaps you would like to play a game sometime to get the feel of it? I do appreciate your sage comments and help. It would be great if I could someday gain a somewhat substantial player pool.
« Last Edit: Mar 29th, 2009, 9:52am by The_Jeh » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #21 on: Mar 29th, 2009, 11:48am »

on Mar 29th, 2009, 9:34am, The_Jeh wrote:
Of course, the game may work with the claiming of tiles being mandatory, but so far I have no reason to dislike the rules as they are.
The player can still claim the rectangle at any point in the future if all the conditions are still satisfied. It is not the act of completing the rectangle that gives the right, only the existence of the individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions.

That's fair enough, and an option is indeed preferable.
 
on Mar 29th, 2009, 9:34am, The_Jeh wrote:
These are all interesting variations, and I have thought of them. I'm not sure what their consequences would be; I'd have to play them. Admittedly, I have become fond of and have not found serious flaw with the rules as they currently are.

Neither have I. But you may know the Shogi proverb 'if you've found a good move ... look for a better one' Wink
 
on Mar 29th, 2009, 9:34am, The_Jeh wrote:
Sure, but then one plays where one would have anyway, and while you cannot claim the triangle, since there is a stone on the edge, you now have two threats of the same magnitude as before, provided the board is large enough.

Yes, the character would be that of an 'offensive race' and it might be difficult to catch up for the second player. One might even consider a swap with regard to the size of the first triangle.
 
on Mar 29th, 2009, 9:34am, The_Jeh wrote:
I am not averse to experimentation, but I would like to be convinced of the flaws/deficiencies of the current rules before making the momentous decision to scrap them. My challenge from above may be bold, but it still stands. Perhaps you would like to play a game sometime to get the feel of it?
The decision is only momentous in the light of your fondness of the current rules. I'm not implying you shouldn't be, quite the opposite in fact, but as an inventor, generally speaking, questioning one's babies comes with the territory.  
 
And yes, we are often at iGGC at the same moment, so I'd be happy to be your next victim Smiley
 
« Last Edit: Mar 29th, 2009, 11:49am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #22 on: Mar 29th, 2009, 12:04pm »

on Mar 29th, 2009, 11:48am, christianF wrote:

...Neither have I. But you may know the Shogi proverb 'if you've found a good move ... look for a better one'...

 
Wasn't that a quote from Lasker?
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #23 on: Mar 29th, 2009, 2:22pm »

on Mar 28th, 2009, 3:45am, christianF wrote:
I truly appreciate an exchange of opinions that forces me to rethink ideas and concepts, so thanks for that Smiley .

And I truly appreciate the experience and insights of a veteran game designer.  The honor is ours.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #24 on: Apr 8th, 2009, 5:34am »

on Mar 8th, 2009, 6:30pm, Fritzlein wrote:
What enables me to know that his word is more reliable than that of the next game designer?

Hi Fritzlein, Omar, all,
 
Unexpectedly and unintentionally I've been given the opportunity to put my little money where my big mouth is, that is, I've invented a new game over the last three days. No board or material and implicitly no play testing. That's your department Wink .
 
It happened in the process of translating rules at iGGC. For the last two weeks I've been engulfed in rules and ideas, and out of the chaos the contours of a game emerged, the evening of the April 6th, not looked for and rather intrusively. I eventually fell asleep pondering it.
The next day it popped up on and off, and solidified in the evening. This morning I added a final modification concerning shots at the goal and the keeper ... soccer, yes, quite an unusual theme in the light of my previous work.
 
The trigger was a game called Jeson Mor, very old, and rather blunt and primitive in structure, but obviously fun or it wouldn't have survived in the first place. Something stuck about running toward a basket, grabbing what's inside and bolting.
That's what occupied me while translating Phutball, a game I knew of course, though I'm embarrasingly bad at it.
Further games that crossed my mind during the 'whispering' period were Camelot and indeed Arimaa. You'll find some similarities there.
 
Last night the concept had solidified to the point that I mailed the story and the provisional rules, with the diagram below, that I quickly made using Congo material, to Ed van Zon, my partner at MindSports, to Arty Sandler at iGGC, and to Benedikt Rosenau, a friend in Germany with a deep interest in board games. Here's a slightly more crystallized version:
 
HanniBall

© mindsports.nl

 
 
HanniBall is a two-player abstract boardgame invented by Christian Freeling the 6th, 7th and 8th of April 2009, without board or pieces, as a 'mental exercise'.
 
Board
The board is a rectangle of 9x15 squares, with two additional goals of 1x3 squares. There are two 'goal areas' of 2x5 squares. Both players, White and Black, have 11 pieces: 1 Keeper, 2 Lions, 4 Elephants and 4 Knight. The diagram shows the board with the pieces in the initial position. The ball lies in the centersquare.
 
Object
The object of HanniBall is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. If a player shoots the ball into his own goal, he has lost.
 
Moving and capturing
On his turn a player is allowed to make up to three moves. A 'move' may be:
1. Moving a piece that does not have the ball.
2. Moving a piece that does have the ball.
3. Shooting the ball.
 
Shooting the ball can only be done by a piece that has the ball in its possesion. The pieces move and shoot as follows:
 
* The Knight moves as the knight in Chess, but may not jump to its target square if both the in between squares are occupied by pieces.
A Knight shoots the ball 'king's move' wise. If a Knight shoots the ball, it lands on a straight or diagonally adjacent square.
 
* The Elephant moves as the king in Chess.
An Elephant shoots the ball 'knight's move' wise. If an Elephant shoots the ball, it lands on a square one knight's move away, no restrictions.
 
* The Lion combines the options of Knight and Elephant, so it moves and shoots either way in any combination.
 
* The Keeper combines the options of the 'HanniBall knight' and the queen in Chess, but may not leave the goal area (except for the goal itself).
A Keeper shoots the ball up to five squares away, queenwise. Direction and distance are the player's choice.
 
* Only the Keeper is allowed to enter the goal, the other pieces are not. Inside the goal the Keeper should not have the ball in its possession, because a ball inside the own goal ends the game in a win for the opponent.
 
The Ball
The Ball may land on any square, whether or not occupied.
 
* If a piece moves to a square where the ball is, it takes possession of the ball.
* If the ball lands on a square occupied by a piece, the piece takes possesion of the ball.
* If a player is in possesion of the ball, and it is his turn, and he has still one or more move options left, than he can do one of the following.
1. Shoot the ball.
2. Move the piece and take the ball along.
3. Move the piece and leave the ball.
4. Move another piece.
 
* If a player is in possesion of the ball, and it is not his turn, then the piece holding the ball can be captured by the opponent. Capture is by replacement. The captured piece is taken off the board, and the capturing piece takes possession of the ball.
 
Please note that if a player shoots the ball to an opponent's piece, and he has still one or more move options left, he can capture that piece!
 
Shots at the goal or the keeper
If a player shoots the ball into the opponent's goal, he wins the game (into his own goal means he loses).
If a player shoots the ball at the opponent's Keeper, then the latter cannot catch it. Instead the following happens:
 
* Is the Keeper in the goal, then the ball ricochets back into the field, straight or diagonally forwards, with a maximum of five squares. Direction and distance are at the shooting player's choice.
 
* Is the Keeper not in the goal, then the ball ricochets back into the field, straight or diagonally forwards or straight sideways, with a maximum of five squares. Direction and distance are at the shooting player's choice.
 
Swap
The game starts with a 'swap' option for the second player. One player makes up to three moves, the other chooses which side he'll play.
 
That's it.
Give it a try, you'll be the first Kiss
 
cheers,
christian
 
HanniBall © mindsports.nl - First publication at the Arimaa Forum, April 8, 2009.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #25 on: Apr 9th, 2009, 8:59am »

We've done some playtesting today. Any enthusiasm would appear biased, so let me just say that I've found neither inconsistency nor incompleteness in the rules.
 
Strategically I can say that it's a team sport. In actual play this is one of the first things that becomes apparent.
 

a provisional board with Grand Chess pieces

 
Tactics revolve around capture. You cannot, as a rule, in a crowded field have the ball and not risk being captured. Towards an endgame this will be another matter.
 
Usually capture starts with one player picking up the ball (1), passing it to an opponent's piece (2) and capture that piece (3). So the capturing piece is left with the ball in possesion. Now there's a risk of a double capture: the opponent captures back the piece that is in possesion (1), passes the ball to another opponent's piece (2), and captures it (3). Of course this leaves him in possesion of the ball ...
 
So more often than not, the ball will remain in the field, to avoid immediate capture.
 
I'm sticking my neck out here, to convince the sceptics - whom I fully understand, and who's reactions have been equally well formulated as received - that this was (and obviously still is) the way I invented the majority of my games.
 
This one, again, more or less put itself together with me just watching the process. This is not in any way intended as provocative, just illustrative.
 
cheers,
 
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #26 on: Apr 9th, 2009, 2:32pm »

Christian,
 
Congrats on inventing yet another game!  I really enjoy Grand Chess and I’ll try this one out too when it goes online.
 
I’m contemplating whether it’s possible to generate a goal against a perfect defensive player.  For example, if a defensive-minded player retreats all 11 players into the goal zone, can the attacker break through?  If  the attacker ends a turn with a ball-carrying lion 4 rows away from the goal, then the next move it threatens:
 
1. Shoot the ball as an Elephant
2. Move the Lion as a Knight, capturing a defender.
3. Shoot at the goal, either winning the game or sending the ball back to its team-members.
 
The attacker has to leave an empty square 1 row outside of the goal zone for step #2 to work.  But is it possible to generate such an attack without allowing the defender to break through?  I can easily find such a position, but I can I force it against a perfect player?
 
Perhaps the attacker’s strategy should be a wall of pieces just outside of the defender’s goal zone with a ball-carrying elephant behind the wall.  Then:
 
1. Shoot the ball at a powerful defender.
2. Capture it with an adjacent elephant.
3. Shoot the ball back behind the wall.
 
I suppose the defender’s perfect position won’t be a solid 2x5 box but actually a large box with gaps between the pieces.  Is there such a box that cannot be broken?
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #27 on: Apr 9th, 2009, 11:12pm »

on Apr 9th, 2009, 2:32pm, Adanac wrote:
Christian,
 
Congrats on inventing yet another game!  I really enjoy Grand Chess and I’ll try this one out too when it goes online.

That's the plan. However, the applet is not simple, and I'd like to see/hear results of some playtesting first. It would be nice to see the game at iGGC and/or LG at some time in the future, though.
 
on Apr 9th, 2009, 2:32pm, Adanac wrote:
I’m contemplating whether it’s possible to generate a goal against a perfect defensive player.  For example, if a defensive-minded player retreats all 11 players into the goal zone, can the attacker break through?  If  the attacker ends a turn with a ball-carrying lion 4 rows away from the goal, then the next move it threatens:
 
1.      Shoot the ball as an Elephant
2.      Move the Lion as a Knight, capturing a defender.
3.      Shoot at the goal, either winning the game or sending the ball back to its team-members.
 
The attacker has to leave an empty square 1 row outside of the goal zone for step #2 to work.  But is it possible to generate such an attack without allowing the defender to break through?  I can easily find such a position, but I can I force it against a perfect player?

Good questions. If the attacker ends a move with a ball carrying Lion. then this Lion may be captured before it gets to the next turn. It's close to the defenders so it's more that likely that on of those can capture it in one or two moves.
Most of the time, a player ending a turn with the ball in possesion does so as the result of a previous capture: getting the ball (1), passing it to an opponent's piece (2) and capturing the piece (3). Sequences of exchanges may occur in which it is important to keep in mind that:
 
1. if a player has the ball in possesion at the beginning of the opponent's turn, the latter may be able to capture two pieces instead of just one.
2. an exchange may have an odd number of pieces directly involved, resulting in one player capturing more often than the other.
 
I noticed something that was not delibarately done: the squares of the back row, just outside the goal area, cannot be covered by the Keeper and allow a shot by an Elephant or Lion.
 
It would appear hard to cover everything, because it seems hard to avoid a capturing sequenqe in the first place, if after the opening pieces start to gather around the ball.
 
Quite another thing is: can 8 pieces be put tight around the ball? In that case the opponent cannot get to it (the knight's move is no jump).
I'm not sure about that one, but I doubt whether it can be forced.
But what about 5 on the side or 3 in a corner? That might be less difficult to enforce. This situation should be covered by the rules of course, but I'll have a look at it first. It will require a 'modification that emerged in playtesting', guilty as charged Wink . A simple solution would be to allow a player's Knights an Lions to jump, if and only if all squares a king's move away from the ball are occupied by opponent's pieces.
Even then the opponent might try to enclose the ball with 3 pieces in a corner and 2 extra pieces occupying the squares a knights move away. Food for thought.
 
on Apr 9th, 2009, 2:32pm, Adanac wrote:
Perhaps the attacker’s strategy should be a wall of pieces just outside of the defender’s goal zone with a ball-carrying elephant behind the wall.  Then:
 
1.      Shoot the ball at a powerful defender.
2.      Capture it with an adjacent elephant.
3.      Shoot the ball back behind the wall.
 
I suppose the defender’s perfect position won’t be a solid 2x5 box but actually a large box with gaps between the pieces.  Is there such a box that cannot be broken?

I think it is not very likely, in a crowded and close position, that the opponent would allow a Lion to be in possession of the ball at the beginning of the attack. If the attacking Lion did have it in possesion at the end of his previous turn, then the defender could most likely have captured it. In a crowded position, almost any piece holding the ball can be reached in two moves by some defender.
So it would most likely be the result of a previous capturing sequence that left the Lion in possesion in the first place. And it's like Chess: you don't leave your strongest pieces exposed without a good reason. "Lion in possession" was one of our first red flags, yesterday.
 
So my feeling is that tactics are on strained terms with the strategies you suggest. I can't say I'm sure though.
 
The decisions in our games yesterday all saw quite a lot of captures, and eventually one or two players breaking through the lines, taking advantage of the reduced material. And indeed the squares left and right of the goal area on the back rows, were involved because the attacking piece, once away from the defenders, can indeed hold the ball there for one move, because the Keeper can't move outside the goal area, and thus not capture such an attacker. On the next move the Keeper cannot block the player or the ball alone, because the attacker can make a move or even two, and shoot.
 
One modification for now: I think I'm going to call the 'knights' what they are: 'Horses'. I named the game "HanniBall" because of the Elephants, and Lions and Horses fit the name better. Ever seen a knight (in shining armour) cross the Alps? Grin
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #28 on: Apr 10th, 2009, 2:12am »

It is possible to 'bury the ball'.
 
If the ball, with or without piece, is in a cornersquare, say a2, and there are white pieces on b3, b4 and c3, then two additional pieces, one one a3 or a4, and one on b2 or c2, would block the opponent from getting to the ball. In the 'a4,c2' case, the ball would not even be surrounded 'king's move wise', so the above suggestion of allowing a conditional jump doesn't even solve the problem in a simple and generic way.
 
A simple solution would be to do away with the restriction of the knight's move altogether, but that would mean losing the tactics involved in blocking the knight's move with two interposing pieces. Not too big a loss maybe, but I kind of like the analogy with real soccer: you can get past one defender quite easily, but if two are blocking your path, it's a lot harder. I'm not prepared to give up on that quite yet.  
Moreover it doesn't solve the above situation, where the squares a knight's move away from the ball are also blocked.
 
Of course it's 'unsporting conduct', but the rules should cover it one way or the other.
 
I'm thinking about it. As long as it remains the only problem emerging after playtesting, I'm quite happy Cheesy
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #29 on: Apr 10th, 2009, 4:37am »

Modifications
I've got three modifications that have no relation to playtesting:
 
1. 'Knights' are renamed 'Horses'.
 
The second one is a simplification of the 'shot at the opponent's Keeper' rules, by using one generic rule:
 
2. If a player shoots the ball at the opponent's Keeper, it ricochets in any of eight directions, 'queenwise', at the choice of the shooting player, not farther than 5 squares and not into the goal.
 
This eliminates the need to specify the Keepers position as either in or outside the goal, and makes the bounce generic 'queenwise', without the need to specify 'forwards' or 'sideways'.
 
The third one is 3-fold - I can hardly see that playing any role. Maybe at some point in endgames, but I can't even think of an example right now. Nevertheless:
 
3. 3-fold is a draw.
 
The 'Buried Ball' problem
Now the one modification that emerged through playtesting, concerning the 'buried ball':
 
4. At the end of any player's turn, the ball may not be in an area that is completely separated from the rest of the field by orthogonally connected pieces of either or both colors.
 
In other words, there must be, at the end of any turn, a 'king's move route' out of an area surrounded by pieces, if it contains the ball.
 
With this rule, the restrictions on jumping, for the Horse and the Lion, can remain intact, and therewith the tactics involved, and the affinity with real football in terms of being able to get past one defender, but not past two at the same time.
« Last Edit: Apr 10th, 2009, 5:34am by christianF » IP Logged
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