Apr 21, 2005

Ataxx

Ataxx & Hexxagon are very interesting games but there doesn't seem to be any strategic element, merely tactics. However, on much bigger boards, there might be some strategy. This variant is a very large game of Hexxagon with a restricted progressive mutator (which speeds and adds depth to the game) and with a more mixed-up start (to allow more flexibility of directions).

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1344 HEXXAGON

Every move must be from stones already on the board at the start of the turn
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  abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFG      XXX    OOO
          x . . . x . . . o          1.  v4  n6,m5p4,f6
         . . . . . . . . . .         2.    
        . . . . . . . . . . .        3.    
       . . . . . o . . x . . .       4.      
      o . . . . . . . x . . . o      5.      
     . o . . . o . . . . . . . .     6.        
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    7.        
   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8.        
  o . . . x . . . . . . . o . . . x  9.  
   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10.          
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   11.        
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    12.        
      x . . . o . . . x . . . x     13.      
       . . . . . . . . . . . .      14.      
        . . . . . . . . . . .       15.    
         . . . . . . . . . .        16.    
          x . . . o . . . o         17.  

5 comments:

clauchau said...

Hi dear friend :-)

Ah yes, I agree about the original game. In other words, it's like moving atoms one at a time without tasting any molecules, or moving sand pieces one a time without seing the resulting mandala before the end. It is too microscopic. Too syntaxic as opposed to semantic.

It is easy to see that when playing against a computer - and invariably getting crushed by it. You realize you don't know what the game strategy is about. The computer is like unconsciously knowing better.

As you suggest, the game may not have been played properly until now. The proper space and time scale for us humans to get a grasp at its strategy might really be larger. It's as if we had been playing Warcraft like Chess.

An so, although I still have to try it, you just made another of your excellent suggestions!

clauchau said...

I don't know if it was your initial intent, but what do you think about saying the two stones resulting from a duplicating step as below were both already on the board at the start of the turn?

. . x . . s
. o . x -> . O O s
. . . . . .

Because where is the original stone after the step is completed? What did it do? Did it drop a new stone on the neighbouring spot, or did it moves there and left a new stone behind, or did it even move and split in two midway and the two parts grew and turned into full stones?

I think it elegant to allow four such small steps leaving a trace behind, much like four long jumps are allowed with the same stone. And I won't mention the question about what really is a jump, haha!

. . x . x . . s . x
. o . x . . -> . o O s . .
. . . . x . . O O s

So I suggest the restriction to read more like:

Stones that change color cannot be used before the next turn.

clauchau said...

I now remember some strategy for the original game. At least against an opponent who focuses on immediate points, you can try and build up a two-stone thick wall around an empty territory. Your opponent won't be able to break into it, and you'll turn it into friendly stones in the end.

There also is some parity to consider in the holes of the endgame. More genereally, endgames are pretty interesting and understandable and you can see them in advance (a bit).

(Sorry about the messed up ascii art, I couldn't insert a code, pre or tt tag).

sLx said...

Dear Claude,

About your suggestion: "Stones that change color cannot be used before the next turn."

It's a bit less restrictive than this actual rules since a stone may jump several times within the same turn, which, imho, inserts too much change into the game dynamics. We didn't try it, but it may work (we can try a match if you like :-)

We are exploring many progressive mutators with 'classics'. We found out that there is always the need of some restriction, or else the game becomes too chaotic, ie, with huge changes between turns meaning less decisiveness (and also less good drama ;-)

Progressive mutators have some nice features, they: (a) make the job difficult for computers; (b) make the games shorter (good for email play); (c) give rise to some nasty and bloody winnning sequences

Nice to hear from you!!

João

ps: this game idea is from Bill Taylor. This blog concerns games born during our net talks and play experience

clauchau said...

I aggree multiple jumps with the same stone seem too explosive. Then I understand it is logically elegant to disallow growing roots like

o --> o O --> o O O --> o O O O

as well in the same turn.

So, in other words, the restricted progressive mutator you mean to apply is about allowing only those moves that are available at the start of every turn ?

It sounds good to me. Almost like allowing multiple realities to coalesce at the end of every turn.