Jun 20, 2005

Neutral Mutator (part I)

Joao Neto has found a most promising new game mutator which seems applicable to a number of games. It is most applicable to games which begin with an empty board and continue with players adding a piece per turn. Obvious examples are: almost all connection games, Go, Go-moku, Reversi. Initially, this idea was meant to create a Hex variant, called Nex (or Neux):

NEX: On a Hex board, at each turn, the player must do one of:
       * Drop a friendly stone plus a neutral stone;
       * Flip two neutral stones into friendly stones and then
          flip a different friendly stone into a neutral stone.
The goal is as for Hex, with a connecting path including no neutrals.  

Here is a sample game:

    Vertical   Horizontal                      
  --v-----?-----h------?--                          
 1. b11   f6    d7     b8
 2. e7    g5    h3     f4
 3. i3    g3    g6     e6
 4. f6g5  a11   d10    h4
 5. f9    d9    g3h4   d7
 6. e4    f3    f4e6   d10
 7. i4    d6    h5     e3
 8. d6d7  g5    e3f3   f4
 9. i5    c4    h7     f8
10. h6    d3    g7     c10
11. d3c4  f6    f8d9   g3
12. i7    b10   i6     b9
13. b9b10 h6    c10b8  f3
14. c8    k5    d5     b11
15. e5    e9    a11b11 b8
16. e9k5  b9    e8     k2
17. j7    k7    j6     j2
18. k6    g4    j5     i2
19. k4    k1    k3     j3
20. j4    g8    i2j2   d5
21. Resign

Final Position:

  a b c d e f g h i j k
1  . . . . . . . . . . ?
2   . . . . . . . . h h ?
3    . . . v h ? ? h v ? h
4     . . v . v ? ? h v v v
5      . . . ? v . ? h v h v
6       . . . v h ? h ? h h v
7        . . . v v . h h v v ?
8         . ? v . h h ? . . . .
9          . ? . h v v . . . . .
10          . v h ? . . . . . . .
11           h h . . . . . . . . .
              a b c d e f g h i j k

These games are full of tactical subtleties. An interesting feature is that no piece is totally useless, because it can always be used to swap two neutrals. Swap battles tend to occur after some critical mass of neutrals is achieved. Forcing moves, (i.e. where the player forces the opponent to drop a piece of their own colour) are a key to success in this game,   as that is the only sure way to stop him flipping two '?'s next turn.

[cont.]

1 comment:

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