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Re: [Unity_Games] SR: SNOB XI

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  • David Rapp
    ... Matthew is wearing his sarcasm pants here. I think H&Z is one of the best games ever. I spent some time showing Pat how to play and some of the neater
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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      Matthew "Statistix Lad" Gray wrote:
      > During Meuterer, Pat arrived, late, despite the fact that he wasn't
      > out saving lives. Dave and Pat also started a game of H&Z. They
      > report that having the corrected backs adds subtlety and finesse to
      > what was previously an uninteresting game.

      Matthew is wearing his sarcasm pants here. I think H&Z is one of the best
      games ever. I spent some time showing Pat how to play and some of the
      neater combos in the game. H&Z really rewards continued play, you learn
      new strategies and develop new techniques with each game. That's one of
      the things I love about it.

      > Upon wrapping these up, and various negotiations, we got to play
      > Lancashire Railways, which Pat had brought. Pat, the two Davids and I
      > played this, while Jonathan and Charles taught Eileen and Pete Taj
      > Mahal.
      >

      I was pleasantly surprised by Lancashire Railways, it had some neat
      mechanics and such. However, I cannot fathom how a cottage industry based
      on these types of games is so well supported. For one thing, I
      certainly didn't feel like the game couldn't have had another theme
      just as easily. This being my first train
      game, I'll have to see how others play. Are the mechanics significantly
      different from game to game?

      I'm interested to see how this will look when it debuts (when
      Matthews?) all chromed up at Nuremburg (sp?) this week.

      > I convinced DaveR to play a quick wrap-up game of Mole Hill with me,
      > which he beat me at, 8-4, or something like that. I think this game
      > has more depth than Dave gives it credit for.

      Score was actually 8-2, but who's counting? ;)

      I haven't lost yet. I still get the feeling that
      there are particular plays that should be standard every game. The bulk
      of the tension comes from deciding to place a fence either immediately
      next to a Mole's hole, or a step or two away. Usually the step or two
      away, although counterintuitive, is better, setting up blockades. I
      remain undefeated with this strategy. I really think optimal strategies
      are fixed in this little game.

      > The real excitement of the evening occured when Dave went into the
      > store and opted to purchase the heralded and much anticipated
      > "Survivor CCG". I am sure we all eagerly await his review, though the
      > sneak preview he gave my by utilizing his psychic powers was: "it
      > sucks".

      I read through the rules, and my Dionne Warwick-ish mind meld seems to
      hold. However, the game came in this awesome box that looks and feels
      like a crate that fell off of a boat, and is full of straw and two decks
      of the game. Matthew neglected to mention that the Survivor show is
      recommended by Dr. Yedidia and Dr. Rapp.

      D
    • Craig Massey
      ... It depends on the various games that you play. The crayon rails series is on set of mechanics, while the 18xx set is a totally different set of mechanics
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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        --- David Rapp <drapp@...> wrote:

        > I was pleasantly surprised by Lancashire Railways,
        > it had some neat
        > mechanics and such. However, I cannot fathom how a
        > cottage industry based
        > on these types of games is so well supported. For
        > one thing, I
        > certainly didn't feel like the game couldn't have
        > had another theme
        > just as easily. This being my first train
        > game, I'll have to see how others play. Are the
        > mechanics significantly
        > different from game to game?

        It depends on the various games that you play. The
        crayon rails series is on set of mechanics, while the
        18xx set is a totally different set of mechanics and
        the winsome catalog of games has 3 or 4 lines of games
        that have different mechanics. The difference between
        games in any particular train game genre usually
        revolves around a different map and then variations on
        a theme for a given mechanic which often times give
        each game its own unique feel and style. If you play
        1830 and then play 1870, your game experience will be
        very different even though the games use same basic
        engine (pardon the pun)

        > I'm interested to see how this will look when it
        > debuts (when
        > Matthews?) all chromed up at Nuremburg (sp?) this
        > week.

        From what I have read, the game will be cleaned up and
        the mechanics simplified somewhat. I'm looking
        forward to seeing it as a fan of train games in
        general and Lancashire Railways specifically - which I
        find to be a solid game.


        =====
        Craig W. Massey
        cwmassey@...

        __________________________________________________
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      • jsyedidia@yahoo.com
        ... I find Dave R s comments hard to understand. Mole Hill is a 2-player no-luck complete information game. Like any game of this type (e.g. Go, Chess, Hex,
        Message 3 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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          --- In Unity_Games@y..., David Rapp <drapp@p...> wrote:
          >
          > Matthew "Statistix Lad" Gray wrote:

          >> I convinced DaveR to play a quick wrap-up game of Mole Hill with
          >> me,which he beat me at, 8-4, or something like that. I think this
          >> game has more depth than Dave gives it credit for.
          >
          > Score was actually 8-2, but who's counting? ;)
          >
          > I haven't lost yet. I still get the feeling that
          > there are particular plays that should be standard every game.
          > The bulk of the tension comes from deciding to place a fence either
          > immediately next to a Mole's hole, or a step or two away. Usually
          > the step or two
          > away, although counterintuitive, is better, setting up blockades. I
          > remain undefeated with this strategy. I really think
          > optimal strategies are fixed in this little game.

          I find Dave R's comments hard to understand. Mole Hill is a 2-player
          no-luck complete information game. Like any game of this type (e.g.
          Go, Chess, Hex, Twixt, Hong Kong, 9 Men's Morris, Tic-Tac-Toe), there
          is a fixed optimal strategy, but a more interesting issue is whether
          the game is more like Go, for which we have no practical way of
          computing that strategy (even using computers), or like 9 Men's
          Morris, which has been solved with enormous effort by computer
          scientists, or more like Tic-Tac-Toe, which is directly analyzable by
          hand. My guess is that while Mole Hill is not as deep as Hex, Twixt
          or
          Hong Kong (and certainly nowhere near Go or Chess), it is probably at
          least in the same league as Nine Men's Morris. (It also seems to be
          much more fun to play.)

          To show that the game is not that deep, I challenge Dave R to present
          us with the Mole's optimal initial placement, and the Gardener's
          optimal initial response (and a proof that they are optimal.)

          By the way, Mole Hill is somewhat related to Chess-go, which is a
          family of games that mathematicians like to analyze (see Winning Ways
          for Your Mathematical Plays, by Conway Berlekamp and Guy). In these
          games,
          which you play on a square board of some size, one player moves a
          chess-like piece (of limited range) (in Kinggo it's a king, in
          knightgo it's a knight, etc.) and the other places go stones. The
          chess player may not move on a square occupied by a go stone. The
          object of the go player is to trap the chess player. The object of
          the
          chess player is to move off the board (he starts in the center) For
          certain chess pieces, you can prove that the go player will be able
          to trap the chess player provided the board is big enough (the go
          player's general strategy is to start placing his go stones quite far
          from the chess piece), but there's no proofs on what the minimal
          number of moves is.

          If anybody is interested in the theory of complete-information
          two-player no-luck games (known as combinatorial game theory), I
          recommend the web-site at
          http://www.ics.uci.edu/~eppstein/cgt/


          > I think H&Z is one of the best
          > games ever. I spent some time showing Pat how to play and some of
          > the neater combos in the game. H&Z really rewards continued play,
          > you learn new strategies and develop new techniques with each game.

          > That's one of the things I love about it.

          I agree with Dave R about H&Z. I highly recommend that people try H&Z
          more than just once. IMO, you'll start to really appreciate the game
          when you can play without consulting the cheat sheets (after say 3
          games).

          Jonathan
        • whunt@vistasource.com
          ... there ... by ... at ... present ... This is about the time my head exploded. This often happens with Jonathan, whose cerebral nature, like an iceberg, is
          Message 4 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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            --- In Unity_Games@y..., jsyedidia@y... wrote:

            > I find Dave R's comments hard to understand. Mole Hill is a 2-player
            > no-luck complete information game. Like any game of this type (e.g.
            > Go, Chess, Hex, Twixt, Hong Kong, 9 Men's Morris, Tic-Tac-Toe),
            there
            > is a fixed optimal strategy, but a more interesting issue is whether
            > the game is more like Go, for which we have no practical way of
            > computing that strategy (even using computers), or like 9 Men's
            > Morris, which has been solved with enormous effort by computer
            > scientists, or more like Tic-Tac-Toe, which is directly analyzable
            by
            > hand. My guess is that while Mole Hill is not as deep as Hex, Twixt
            > or
            > Hong Kong (and certainly nowhere near Go or Chess), it is probably
            at
            > least in the same league as Nine Men's Morris. (It also seems to be
            > much more fun to play.)
            >
            > To show that the game is not that deep, I challenge Dave R to
            present
            > us with the Mole's optimal initial placement, and the Gardener's
            > optimal initial response (and a proof that they are optimal.)

            This is about the time my head exploded.

            This often happens with Jonathan, whose cerebral nature, like an
            iceberg, is 90% concealed most of the time. And I did most of a math
            degree at that.

            Walter, just rolling the die and moving the dobber.
          • Dave Bernazzani
            ... Jonathan, have you played Twixt? I ve meant to bring it several times in the past for you to try. I think it s right up your alley. I ll be sure to try
            Message 5 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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              Jonathan wrote:
              >My guess is that while Mole Hill is not as deep as Hex, Twixt

              Jonathan, have you played Twixt? I've meant to bring it several times in
              the past for you to try. I think it's right up your alley. I'll be sure to
              try and pack it along one of these days.

              > I agree with Dave R about H&Z. I highly recommend
              > that people try H&Z more than just once. IMO, you'll start
              > to really appreciate the game when you can play without
              > consulting the cheat sheets (after say 3 games).

              Yes, the game definitely needs a few plays so you don't have to consult the
              cheat-sheet all the time. A neat game, but by no means my favorite in the
              Kosmos 2P lineup. Feels a little like a non-collectable version of Magic:TG
              mixed with Stratego. I was never a big fan of Stratego (Richard Borg has
              made mention that the game is really the Stratego Card Game that got left
              unpublished and had a face-lift).

              --
              Dave Bernazzani
              dber@...
              http://www.gis.net/~dber (South Shore Gamers)
            • David Rapp
              ... Me cryptic. ... I ve never played Nine Men s Morris, so I can t comment on that. However, I would argue that Mole Hill is not deep at all. I forget the
              Message 6 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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                Jonathan wrote:
                > I find Dave R's comments hard to understand.

                Me cryptic.

                > no-luck complete information game. Like any game of this type (e.g.
                > Go, Chess, Hex, Twixt, Hong Kong, 9 Men's Morris, Tic-Tac-Toe), there
                > is a fixed optimal strategy, but a more interesting issue is whether
                > the game is more like Go, for which we have no practical way of
                > computing that strategy (even using computers), or like 9 Men's
                > Morris, which has been solved with enormous effort by computer
                > scientists, or more like Tic-Tac-Toe, which is directly analyzable by
                > hand. My guess is that while Mole Hill is not as deep as Hex, Twixt
                > or Hong Kong (and certainly nowhere near Go or Chess), it is probably at
                > least in the same league as Nine Men's Morris. (It also seems to be
                > much more fun to play.)

                I've never played Nine Men's Morris, so I can't comment on that. However,
                I would argue that Mole Hill is not deep at all. I forget the exact
                coordinates of the garden grid, is it 7 x 9? Something like that. Go,
                while having never played and deferring to every other person I've ever
                heard sermonize on the subject, seems one one of the most complex games
                ever designed (designer game?).

                > To show that the game is not that deep, I challenge Dave R to present
                > us with the Mole's optimal initial placement, and the Gardener's
                > optimal initial response (and a proof that they are optimal.)

                Grant writing and manuscript editing prevent me from formalizing a
                proof. Rather I present initial placement options and a flavor for my
                reasoning.

                I would argue that the Mole's optimal placement is on top of a flowerbed,
                preferably for 2 points. Simply put, you've scored two points
                immediately. Also, move diagonally as much as possible. It increases the
                possiblity that if cornered, you can at the least drop two more mole
                holes.

                The gardner's optimal response seems to be laying fences near 2 point
                flowerbeds. This prevents the mole from easily capturing those
                beds. Since early on the mole can move fairly easily around the board, I
                spend less time concerned with capturing the mole than making it riskier
                for the player to try to score with those flowerbeds.

                Next time I play I plan on using a new strategy, laying a horizontal and
                then a vertical gate piece on each play. I want to see if I can set up
                enough garden obstacles before the other player places scoring stones that
                I can create more trap-blockades.

                One favored gardner strategy seems to be to block off the center mole
                hole. I'm not convinced of the validity of this strategy. I'm not sure
                you NEED to get to that hole to win, although it certainly doesn't hurt.

                [Chess-go info deleted]
                Perhaps I should apply for a fellowhip to study two-player games for an
                extended period of time? Jonathan, would you happen to know of any
                funding agencies? ;) 'Hard Core' game theory has never interested me
                much, although colleagues of mine have done some work in those areas
                without ever having heard of Spiele Des Jahres.... ;)

                D <----not the mole (tm ABC television network)
              • cwmassey@yahoo.com
                ... Very cool info Jonathan - thanks for the link ... H&Z ... While I haven t played H&Z enough to reach that point, Jonathan s and Dave s comments can be said
                Message 7 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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                  --- In Unity_Games@y..., jsyedidia@y... wrote:
                  > If anybody is interested in the theory of complete-information
                  > two-player no-luck games (known as combinatorial game theory), I
                  > recommend the web-site at
                  > http://www.ics.uci.edu/~eppstein/cgt/

                  Very cool info Jonathan - thanks for the link

                  > I agree with Dave R about H&Z. I highly recommend that people try
                  H&Z
                  > more than just once. IMO, you'll start to really appreciate the game
                  > when you can play without consulting the cheat sheets (after say 3
                  > games).

                  While I haven't played H&Z enough to reach that point, Jonathan's and
                  Dave's comments can be said about several games - including many of
                  Knizia's games. Too often a good game gets only a couple of sporadic
                  plays and players can miss a lot of what a game has to offer.
                  Interestingly enough Dave, didn't we have a discussion long ago and
                  far away about being able to judge a game after only one play - or
                  maybe less? I thought you were in this camp as opposed to being in the
                  camp that it takes more than one playing, somemtimes 3 or 4 to see how
                  what a game truly has to offer? Now that I have opened up that can of
                  worms....
                • cwmassey@yahoo.com
                  ... It was about the time when I was interested in more info. ... Does this mean candyland is hitting the table at MGVA this Thurs? ;-)
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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                    --- In Unity_Games@y..., whunt@v... wrote:

                    > This is about the time my head exploded.

                    It was about the time when I was interested in more info.

                    > Walter, just rolling the die and moving the dobber.

                    Does this mean candyland is hitting the table at MGVA this Thurs? ;-)
                  • David Rapp
                    ... Well, there is a difference. Upon first play, I believe people will find H&Z a good game. And it continues to reward good play. Unlike some games where
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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                      Craig wrote:
                      > While I haven't played H&Z enough to reach that point, Jonathan's and
                      > Dave's comments can be said about several games - including many of
                      > Knizia's games. Too often a good game gets only a couple of sporadic
                      > plays and players can miss a lot of what a game has to offer.
                      > what a game truly has to offer? Now that I have opened up that can of
                      > worms....

                      Well, there is a difference. Upon first play, I believe people will find
                      H&Z a good game. And it continues to reward good play. Unlike some games
                      where you know right off the bat whether you like it or not, and whether
                      you feel a game has anything to offer. It's not like upon first play you
                      will consider H&Z bad, and never try again. Rather, you try it, like it,
                      and learn more as you play it.

                      D
                    • Walter Hunt {the HOtC}
                      ... No, it ll be... Carcassonne Grand Prix :-) Walter.
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jan 30, 2001
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                        >> Walter, just rolling the die and moving the dobber.
                        >
                        >Does this mean candyland is hitting the table at MGVA this Thurs? ;-)

                        No, it'll be... Carcassonne Grand Prix :-)

                        Walter.
                      • jsyedidia@yahoo.com
                        ... times in ... be sure to ... No I haven t but I d like to. Thanks. There s a neat web-page with 40 Twixt puzzles of increasing complexity composed by the
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jan 31, 2001
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                          --- In Unity_Games@y..., "Dave Bernazzani" <dber@g...> wrote:
                          > Jonathan, have you played Twixt? I've meant to bring it several
                          times in
                          > the past for you to try. I think it's right up your alley. I'll
                          be sure to
                          > try and pack it along one of these days.
                          >
                          No I haven't but I'd like to. Thanks. There's a neat web-page with 40
                          Twixt puzzles of increasing complexity composed by the game's
                          designer Alex Randolph (he also designed Ricochet Robot among others)
                          at
                          http://www.gamerz.net/~pbmserv/Twixt/puzzles.html
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