$10.00
Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
147 Posts
[1]  Prev «  1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [6] | 

Abstract Games» Forums » General

Subject: How far can we push the "Abstract label" onto a game? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: splitting [+] themed-abstract [+] [View All]
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
everlong205 wrote:
abstract to me just means absense of theme, and also pieces that arent tangibly represtational of concrete things. not so much the mechanics themselves. So a game like Hive wouldn't be an abstract as it actually has a theme - bugs and has pieces that represent bugs. Chess woudlnt be since it has things like Kings and knights. Checkers though would be since it just has discs. It's not a perfect definition as there is a lot of overlap between games that one might consider abstract versus non abstract.

So a game like Clans for example would not be an abstract, even though it's listed as an abstract strategy game. In fact it's also listed as Prehistoric as one of those themes. If you can label a game as Prehistoric, its not an abstract.

Well that's even sillier. The conclusion you'd have to draw from this is that if you play chess with the Bauhaus chess set it's an abstract game, but it you use a Staunton set, or the Civil War set from the Franklin Mint, or the Simpsons set, then it's not an abstract.

Meadmaker wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Yep. Still irrelevant. What you are describing is the difference between combinatorial games and non-combinatorial games. And sure, that's important if you want to talk about game theory. But if you want to talk about having fun playing games, it's irrelevant.


You are projecting you concept of "fun playing games" onto others.

Not the least little bit. People have been having fun playing games for millennia - long before I came along to "project it on them" - and long before anyone thought to analyze them with game theory.

Quote:
Different people like different kinds of games, and for different reasons. Some people like games for the social nature, as a way to spend time with friends. Others like the fantasy element, pretending to be a king, general, railroad mogul, or mafia boss. Some people like to gamble. Some people like serious intellectual competition.

All true. And all still irrelevant. And some people like more than one of the above.

Quote:
If you like the fantasy aspect of games, then most games called "abstract" are not for you. ... If you like the social aspect, you might enjoy 2, 3, or more players, depending on what sort of "social" you have in mind, and elements of luck probably wouldn't bother you. If you like gambling, some "theme" is ok, and some chance is not an absolute necessity, but it helps.

Now who's projecting onto others?

Quote:
If, on the other hand,serious competition is your idea of fun, then 3 player games are not going to have much appeal.

What makes you think 3+ player games can't have serious competition?

Quote:
When I run a chess tournament, my players spend 5 hours in nearly complete silence, playing a game in which every move could be the difference between victory and defeat. (My tournaments are short. A lot involve twelve hours in one day, or 24 in the course of a weekend.) It's stressful. It's tiring. It's fun.

I never said otherwise. I made no assumptions about what is fun for any specific individual. If the only type of games you find fun are combinatorial games, that's fine. Most people on BGG like multiple types of games - as evidenced by their posts. If your lack of interest in all non-combinatorial games makes it useless to you to break them down into categories smaller than "non-combinatorial", that's also fine. However, to most people who ever play games, it is useful to have more categories than that.

Quote:
Different strokes for different folks.

Also true, and also irrelevant. As I understand it, we're trying to *define* a category, not *judge* a category.

Quote:
If competition is the reason for the game, combinatorial games really are different, and not just from a theoretical perspective. Game play is very different in combinatorial versus non-combinatorial games, even if the difference is some "minor variation" like the number of players.

Yes, they are different. As I think has been said multiple times by multiple people, including myself. We all agree on what a combinatorial game is. What we're trying to do here, is define what an abstract game is.

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
In three player Blokus, the game may well be decided by who best can summarize Proust, or at least using the same criterion once depicted in a rather famous fictional portrayal of a summarizing Proust contest.*

Nope. Your claim is not a mere exaggeration, it is absolutely false. The winner of a trivia game may well be decided by how well one can summarize Proust, but not Blokus.

So, I'm guessing you haven't seen the Monty Python skit. I assure you that the same skills used to win the summarizing Proust competition can be used to win games of three player Blokus.

Wrong again. I have the boxed set. I'm guessing you've never played 3-player Blokus (which I wouldn't recommend anyway - for a better game for 3, try Blokus Trigon). I assure you there is no Proust summarizing or tit measuring in the game. It's all about the geometric patterns on the board, and the only thing that matters to determine the outcome is how well each player can look ahead and determine how best to ensure that those patterns are better for him than for the opponents.

And while we're on the subject, what if multiple players in your chess tournament get together and analyze your play and manipulate the round progression by strategically throwing certain games so as to give someone on their "team" an advantage over you? A tournament is (from a game-theory standpoint) a multi-player game - the outcome of each round determines the way the next round is set up. Or do you always use an all-play-all system? And even if you do, the winner of the tournament game is determined by a score over multiple "sub-games".

Just something to think about.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
As I understand it, we're trying to *define* a category, not *judge* a category.


I think the OP gave us one good way to define the category of "abstract" game. It's one where a theme, if it exists, does not truly affect game play. The geometry of the pieces, the board, and the moves of the pieces are what matters, not any theme that is pasted on.

However, one other aspect of the question is what do people mean when they say that they are fans of "abstract" games or "abstract strategy" games. Often, what they mean is that they are fans of perfect information games, and they might like one game, while utterly rejecting a game that has a "minor variation", if that minor variation happens to take it out of the realm of perfect information games.

I think the confusion comes because most perfect information games are also abstract games.



Quote:
I'm guessing you've never played 3-player Blokus


Yes, I have. There are three people in my family, two adults and one child. We tried playing Blokus, but it didn't work so well. My wife would inevitably play in such a way to block my progress, which would allow our son to win. It wasn't much fun, although it wasn't nearly as bad as those occasions on which we tried to play Risk.

As a family, we found that we like Pandemic.

I think that hits on another reason why the abstract category is often used to mean the same thing as the perfect information category, although linguistically, that doesn'tmake much sense. Most abstracts involve some element of creating or exploiting interesting geometric relationships. A competition involving such a skill is going to appeal to a certain type of person, and that same type of person isn't all that likely to appreciate a player who plays less than optimally in order to provide an advantage for a different player. They also aren't all that likely to appreciate a victory that comes as a consequence of a lucky guess, such as might happen in Stratego.



Quote:
And while we're on the subject, what if multiple players in your chess tournament get together and analyze your play and manipulate the round progression by strategically throwing certain games so as to give someone on their "team" an advantage over you?


If detected, they would be disqualified. It's considered cheating.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
Meadmaker wrote:
However, one other aspect of the question is what do people mean when they say that they are fans of "abstract" games or "abstract strategy" games. Often, what they mean is that they are fans of perfect information games,

Well, if that's what they mean, then that's what they should say. 2-player Caylus is a perfect information game, but I've never heard anyone call it an abstract strategy game - and not merely because it has a theme. Likewise, you could play 2-player Agricola with the round cards in a pre-determined, and known order, and with open hands (or the family game). That would also be a perfect information game, but I wouldn't consider it an abstract game. I remember reading about a deterministic variant of Axis & Allies on this very website - it's also a complete information game when played with two players, but it's not an abstract game.

Quote:
I think the confusion comes because most perfect information games are also abstract games.

Probably true. But that doesn't mean that all abstract games have to be perfect information games. And there can even be perfect information games, like the examples I gave above, that aren't abstracts - they don't really satisfy the geometric feeling that most people expect from an abstract game.

Quote:
Quote:
I'm guessing you've never played 3-player Blokus


Yes, I have. There are three people in my family, two adults and one child. We tried playing Blokus, but it didn't work so well. My wife would inevitably play in such a way to block my progress, which would allow our son to win.

And your son summarizes Proust well, does he?

Quote:
Most abstracts involve some element of creating or exploiting interesting geometric relationships.

To me, that's pretty much the definition of abstract game.

Quote:
A competition involving such a skill is going to appeal to a certain type of person, and that same type of person isn't all that likely to appreciate a player who plays less than optimally in order to provide an advantage for a different player.

I don't think any type of person, playing any type of game is likely to appreciate that.

Quote:
They also aren't all that likely to appreciate a victory that comes as a consequence of a lucky guess, such as might happen in Stratego.

Stratego isn't that good of an example, but there are plenty of other games about geometric relationships that have some luck in them, but will still be appreciated by that type of person, because the luck tends to even out over the course of the game. In Stratego, one lucky guess can win or lose the game. Better games, like Torres, or Fjords, or Mississippi Queen, or 4-player Blokus, or 3- or 4-player Rumis, don't have such a wild swing on one lucky thing happening.

Quote:
Quote:
And while we're on the subject, what if multiple players in your chess tournament get together and analyze your play and manipulate the round progression by strategically throwing certain games so as to give someone on their "team" an advantage over you?


If detected, they would be disqualified. It's considered cheating.

Exactly! Which goes to show that there is some additional - hidden - information. After all, such cheating players are never actually violating the rules of any individual game of chess. How can you know they're cheating, instead of honestly losing a game now and then? Something beyond the geometric relationships is going on there. Maybe it's no so "pure" after all.

And the same thing can be said about multi-player Blokus, or other games. How can you be sure someone is colluding/kingmaking/cheating? If they're making a game-legal move, it could honestly be the move they've determined is best for them, mistakenly or not. And yes, collusion/kingmaking can also be considered cheating in non-abstract and non-perfect information games, too. It's just than no one really bothers, because there aren't any professional 4-player Blokus tournaments like there are with chess.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
I was thinking about Dominion. It has a theme. Its expansions even have subthemes. However, that theme isn't central to game play. It isn't simuluating anything. In terms of the English language, that game is pretty darned abstract. Despite that, it wouldn't be the sort of game that anyone likes if they say, "I like abstract games".

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Most abstracts involve some element of creating or exploiting interesting geometric relationships.

To me, that's pretty much the definition of abstract game.


And yet, that definition has very little to do with the word that is used in the definition. It shows the limitation of language.

What's the purpose of creating or defining the category? Other than a philosophical exercise? On Board Game Geek, or on the schedule at a convention, or on the shelves of a store, I think the purpose is to identify games that appeal to certain players. If you like game X, which is abstract, you may like game Y, because it is also abstract.

That's where this category runs into a bit of difficulty. If the appeal of a game is in finding interesting geometric patterns, then the presence of 3-4 players won't detract from the interest of the game. If, on the other hand, the appeal is in the competitive aspect, the existence of a third player is a total game changer. If you can lose the game, not because of bad play and failure to notice and exploit patterns, but because of social aspects and interpersonal relationships, many will reject it.

That's why the "minor variation" of adding a third player isn't minor at all. For me, hidden information or some degree of randomness will affect how I look at a game, but my basic approach to the game will be similar to a pure combinatorial game. I just have to add in consideration of probabilistic concerns. For some people, they hate that, because they could make the best move, and lose, but for me, personally, it's just one more element of game play. I'm still basing my moves on my analysis of the position on the board.

On the other hand, the addition of a third player will totally alter my outlook on the game. As soon as three or more players are involved, I know that it's also a social situation. If I'm in the kingmaker situation, I have to be conscious of the personalities involved as well as the game play itself.

Quote:
It's just than no one really bothers, because there aren't any professional 4-player Blokus tournaments like there are with chess.


You might be confusing cause and effect. In different parts of the world, there are a wide variety of games played as intense and/or professional competitions. They are always two player, or two team, games.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stoic Bird
United States
Fairport
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Meadmaker wrote:
They also aren't all that likely to appreciate a victory that comes as a consequence of a lucky guess, such as might happen in Stratego.

Stratego isn't that good of an example, but there are plenty of other games about geometric relationships that have some luck in them, but will still be appreciated by that type of person, because the luck tends to even out over the course of the game. In Stratego, one lucky guess can win or lose the game. Better games, like Torres, or Fjords, or Mississippi Queen, or 4-player Blokus, or 3- or 4-player Rumis, don't have such a wild swing on one lucky thing happening.


I'll go back to lurking shortly (interesting discussion...a lot of food for thought here), but I feel like I do need to defend Stratego. Yes, it's hypothetically possible for what you describe to happen, but I've never seen it with 2 competent players; a calculated risk may pay off, but a good attacker will never "guess" unless they're totally desperate, and even then, a good defender will never let their flag get into that position where they can't stop their opponent from blindly stumbling onto it if they have no reason to suspect the flag is there. I don't think "one lucky guess" in Stratego is any more game-breaking than a kingmaking move (intentional or not) in multiplayer Blokus; it's more decisive, sure, but one blocked move in Blokus can effectively put you out of the game.

Back directly on topic, I kind of mentally divide abstracts into "classical abstracts" and "modern abstracts". Classical to me are ones that are largely combinatorial, even if they're newer (GIPF, Blokus). Modern to me are ones that may or may not be combinatorial and the theme makes little to no difference in the way you play the game - things like Through the Desert or Kingdoms or even Stratego, for example. I guess my line as to whether something falls into this modern category or not is whether the game could be 100% ported to another theme and still make sense. The pieces in Stratego that have special functions all have thematic names, but the game wouldn't have to change if a different theme were slapped onto it. In Tigris & Euphrates, the board would look different if it wasn't set in that region, and since the rivers actually impact tile placement, I don't consider it an abstract, even though I'm also not consciously thinking about the theme during the game. Puerto Rico does not have a particularly strong theme either, but there are elements that wouldn't necessarily directly translate without some tweaking (mostly thinking of the way the ships work - while not necessarily realistic, they do at least make logical sense), so I don't think of that as an abstract either.

These subcategories have been pretty useful for me, though I don't know if they'd help others or not.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
Meadmaker wrote:
I was thinking about Dominion. It has a theme. Its expansions even have subthemes. However, that theme isn't central to game play. It isn't simuluating anything. In terms of the English language, that game is pretty darned abstract. Despite that, it wouldn't be the sort of game that anyone likes if they say, "I like abstract games".

Precisely! It's not in the Abstract Game category, because it has no geometric relationships - there's no grid or lattice. For even more "abstract" examples, look at any card game played with regular cards: Poker, Bridge, Rummy, Hearts, etc. - all are completely themeless, but none have a grid or geometry in them.

Quote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
Quote:
Most abstracts involve some element of creating or exploiting interesting geometric relationships.

To me, that's pretty much the definition of abstract game.


And yet, that definition has very little to do with the word that is used in the definition. It shows the limitation of language.

True. Language is limited, but as far as I can tell, that's what Abstract has come to mean in the context of games. Words have different meanings in different contexts. The "abstract" in "abstract game" does not mean the same as the "abstract" in "abstract art", for example.

However, that suggests to me that what we need is a new name. Maybe we should just chuck the term "abstract game" and replace it with "geometric game" or "combinatorial game" depending on which one you mean. Both of those terms would be far more precise and clear to the listener. (If "combinatorial" is too fancy a word for some, you could use "perfect information games" instead.)

Quote:
What's the purpose of creating or defining the category? Other than a philosophical exercise? On Board Game Geek, or on the schedule at a convention, or on the shelves of a store, I think the purpose is to identify games that appeal to certain players. If you like game X, which is abstract, you may like game Y, because it is also abstract.

Exactly! I like Geometric Games. It turns out that a lot of Geometric Games are also Perfect Information Games - and I still like them. Some Perfect Information Games are not geometric, and I don't necessarily like them.

Quote:
That's where this category runs into a bit of difficulty. If the appeal of a game is in finding interesting geometric patterns, then the presence of 3-4 players won't detract from the interest of the game. If, on the other hand, the appeal is in the competitive aspect, the existence of a third player is a total game changer. If you can lose the game, not because of bad play and failure to notice and exploit patterns, but because of social aspects and interpersonal relationships, many will reject it.

Right. You don't have to keep making this point. I agree with you. My point was that this is true of *any* game when you go from two players to more than two players - it doesn't matter if there are geometric patters or not. The kingmaker phenomenon is not exclusive to geometric games.

And BTW, a two player geometric game, while not having the social aspects, might still not be a perfect information game. A player who likes two-player geometric games like Chess and Go and Hive, might also like Stratego and 2-player Torres and Fjords, because even though there may be hidden information or luck in them, there is still no kingmaker phenomenon, not the social aspects that you describe.

Quote:
That's why the "minor variation" of adding a third player isn't minor at all.

Fine. Please don't get hung up on my use of the phrase "minor variation". Minor, major, my point is that 2-player Terra Nova comes in the same box as 3- and 4-player Terra Nova, and has the same rules, the same turn activities, the same board, the same pieces, the same BGG entry, the same product name to the manufacturer and retailer. It is for all these reasons that I said that it's silly to put the two-player and more-player instances of the game into different categories.

Quote:
Quote:
It's just than no one really bothers, because there aren't any professional 4-player Blokus tournaments like there are with chess.

You might be confusing cause and effect. In different parts of the world, there are a wide variety of games played as intense and/or professional competitions. They are always two player, or two team, games.

You might be confusing what I said. I added emphasis. If I get together with some other people and we play a multi-player geometric game, and two players collude, I could accuse them of cheating, but there's nothing to really do about it, since it's not a tournament, and nothing is really at stake (except my willingness to play with them in the future).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
VolcanoLotus wrote:
I'll go back to lurking shortly (interesting discussion...a lot of food for thought here), but I feel like I do need to defend Stratego.

Fair enough. I was overly harsh on Stratego. Sorry.

Quote:
In Tigris & Euphrates, the board would look different if it wasn't set in that region, and since the rivers actually impact tile placement, I don't consider it an abstract, even though I'm also not consciously thinking about the theme during the game. Puerto Rico does not have a particularly strong theme either, but there are elements that wouldn't necessarily directly translate without some tweaking (mostly thinking of the way the ships work - while not necessarily realistic, they do at least make logical sense), so I don't think of that as an abstract either.

Agreed. It's not enough for a geometric game to simply have a grid, or *some* geometry, it has to be, at the very least, *primarily* geometric. Tigris & Euphrates, IMO, has too much other stuff going on in the game to be considered a true geometric game, even though it does have some geometric character. (And I do like the game!)

And Puerto Rico has no geometry at all (I guess the only exception is the way the large buildings fit in the city, but that's a tiny part of the game.)

And of course, a game like Chutes & Ladders isn't a geometric game, even though the spaces are laid out in a square grid. It's still just a track, which could have been laid out in a squiggly line with no difference to the game play. And Memory or Concentration are not geometric games, even if the cards are laid out in a regular grid. I assume we all agree on this.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
And of course, a game like Chutes & Ladders isn't a geometric game, even though the spaces are laid out in a square grid. It's still just a track, which could have been laid out in a squiggly line with no difference to the game play.

Interesting; if one-dimensional geometry doesn't qualify as a "geometric=abstract" game for you, where does that leave the Mancala family of traditional games, or 1-dimensional go (Alak)? For you, are they not "real" abstract games?

(I believe you've said you don't consider totally non-geometric games like Nim to be abstract games, right?)

What about games that don't have any kind of grid but still involve topology, e.g. Sprouts?

To me, these are all "obviously" abstract games, but it sounds like some/all of them wouldn't be for you...?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
Phil Fleischmann wrote:

You might be confusing what I said. I added emphasis. If I get together with some other people and we play a multi-player geometric game, and two players collude, I could accuse them of cheating, but there's nothing to really do about it, since it's not a tournament, and nothing is really at stake (except my willingness to play with them in the future).


I was getting at why it isn't a tournament. It's not a coincidence. Four player games are not very good tournament games, because of the possibility of collusion, or even if there isn't collusion, someone can still play in such a way that you can't win,through no fault of your own. No tournament culture will ever grow up around four player Blokus. Meanwhile, if what you enjoy is trying to find the patterns, even if one player does play in such a way that harms your position, unless it's just utterly blatant that people are ganging up on you, you probably won't mind all that much. When playing Blokus in the default (4 player) mode, you might not win every game, and another player might be the cause of that just because he played in "your" spot instead of someone else's, but you still can enjoy the game because you are still doing the things you find enjoyable. You're still searching for the clever way of fitting all of your pieces into the available space. ("You" being used in a generic sense, referring to a player who generally enjoys Blokus.)

I think I've decided (for today at least) on "perfect information" games as my preferred moniker for those luckless games that are sometimes called "abstract" and sometimes "combinatorial". It zooms in on the defining characteristic, without sounding weird. One other advantage of the term is that when shortened it becomes "perfect".
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stoic Bird
United States
Fairport
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Meadmaker wrote:
I think I've decided (for today at least) on "perfect information" games as my preferred moniker for those luckless games that are sometimes called "abstract" and sometimes "combinatorial". It zooms in on the defining characteristic, without sounding weird. One other advantage of the term is that when shortened it becomes "perfect".


I like the idea of that...but then what do you do with stuff like Imperial?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
russ wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
And of course, a game like Chutes & Ladders isn't a geometric game, even though the spaces are laid out in a square grid. It's still just a track, which could have been laid out in a squiggly line with no difference to the game play.

Interesting; if one-dimensional geometry doesn't qualify as a "geometric=abstract" game for you, where does that leave the Mancala family of traditional games, or 1-dimensional go (Alak)? For you, are they not "real" abstract games?

(I believe you've said you don't consider totally non-geometric games like Nim to be abstract games, right?)

What about games that don't have any kind of grid but still involve topology, e.g. Sprouts?

To me, these are all "obviously" abstract games, but it sounds like some/all of them wouldn't be for you...?


I'm with Russ. I've been following the discussion, and I think both of you (David and Phil) have far too narrow of definitions for 'abstracts'. Abstracts are called such for a reason; and they're not called 'geometric' or 'combinatorial' for a reason, because not all games that the umbrella term 'abstract' covers fit these two criteria. Abstracts is a broader term than that; it happens to encompass a lot of combinatorial and geometric games, but those are not the end-all-be-all defining characteristics.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
mccann51 wrote:

I'm with Russ. I've been following the discussion, and I think both of you (David and Phil) have far too narrow of definitions for 'abstracts'. Abstracts are called such for a reason; and they're not called 'geometric' or 'combinatorial' for a reason, because not all games that the umbrella term 'abstract' covers fit these two criteria. Abstracts is a broader term than that; it happens to encompass a lot of combinatorial and geometric games, but those are not the end-all-be-all defining characteristics.


But I think that "abstractness" is not the reason that anyone likes these games, and I think that Phil and I have articulated the two main reasons that people who "like abstracts" like them.

FWIW, I, personally, am not a purist in preferring only perfect information games. I also enjoy Stratego and Blokus. I just don't think of them as quite so "pure" of a mental competition as the perfect information games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Abstract Games » Forums » General
Re: How far can we push the "Abstract label" onto a game?
Meadmaker wrote:
Four player games are not very good tournament games, because of the possibility of collusion, or even if there isn't collusion, someone can still play in such a way that you can't win,through no fault of your own.

I agree with that, but then...
Quote:
No tournament culture will ever grow up around four player Blokus.

That statement seems out of touch with reality.

I've personally played in Blokus tournaments, and tournaments of many other multiplayer games. Heck, just a month ago I won a K2 tournament (woot!) with all games being 4-player.

There is the rather famous popular annual event WBC = World Boardgaming Championships, with tournaments in many multiplayer games, and many other such events. Many multiplayer games have long histories of tournament culture, e.g. Titan, Diplomacy, etc.

Poker is a mainstream multiplayer game which clearly has a large successful (even televised) tournament culture.

Don't get me wrong: I agree with you that 2-player games are better in some obvious significant ways for "serious" competition/tournaments/etc.

But multiplayer tournament culture certainly exists!

Quote:
I think I've decided (for today at least) on "perfect information" games as my preferred moniker for those luckless games that are sometimes called "abstract" and sometimes "combinatorial".

Just to clarify: you're talking about games of no chance and no hidden information, whether or not they are 2-player? I.e. 2-player Blokus and 4-player Blokus are both "perfect information" games, right?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
russ wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
And of course, a game like Chutes & Ladders isn't a geometric game, even though the spaces are laid out in a square grid. It's still just a track, which could have been laid out in a squiggly line with no difference to the game play.

Interesting; if one-dimensional geometry doesn't qualify as a "geometric=abstract" game for you, where does that leave the Mancala family of traditional games, or 1-dimensional go (Alak)? For you, are they not "real" abstract games?

There is no clear, sharp dividing line between absracts and non-abstracts, or even between geometrics and non-geometrics. But yes, one-dimensional geometry is still geometry, and one-dimensional games can still be geometric, but the geometry has to actually matter in a significant way. Yes, the Mancala family can be included, as can Backgammon, but I still wouldn't include Chutes & Ladders.

Quote:
(I believe you've said you don't consider totally non-geometric games like Nim to be abstract games, right?)

Well there are different variations of Nim, some of which have geometry in them. I suppose those can be called abstracts, but for a game like Nim, it really doesn't matter, since I'm not going to play it anyway. Like Tic-Tac-Toe, it really doesn't matter what category it's in - I don't want to play it. The purpose of the categories is to describe the types of games people like or might like. Yes, TTT is obviously on a grid, and has geometric relationships, but who really cares?

AFAIC, the only purpose of TTT and Nim is for teaching about game theory (or maybe as a computer programming exercise). They are the canonical examples of Futile and Unfair games - probably listed in every textbook on game theory. I looked for my old game theory textbook from college, but I can't find it. I know I have it somewhere.

Maybe we can put those in another whole category: Barely Games, which would include TTT, Nim, Roulette, flip a coin, rock-paper-scissors, Craps, slot machines, etc.

Quote:
What about games that don't have any kind of grid but still involve topology, e.g. Sprouts?

Sure! Sprouts is geometric, just atypically gridless. As is Cutting Corners. Polarity (the one with the magnets, might also qualify. I've never played it, but I understand it has an element of dexterity in it, which might disqualify it. I'd say it depends on just how demanding it is of a player's dexterity. After all, to play Sprouts you have to have at least enough dexterity to move a pencil where you want it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
After all, to play Sprouts you have to have at least enough dexterity to move a pencil where you want it.

I don't see Sprouts as needing any more dexterity than any other game (you have to be able to place pieces in Go, move pieces in Chess, etc.) I.e. I don't think Sprouts is really about exact positions in continuous space any more than Go or Chess, they're all about discrete mathematical structures. And a paralyzed person could play any of these by communicating to another person what they wanted their move to be!

(I recently enjoyed the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly about a paralyzed person who could only blink... alas, he didn't play any games that way, though he wrote a novel!)

An "abstract game" (I'll say, loosely speaking, for the purposes of this thread anyway!) that I play sometimes that does have true continuous space and hence dexterity in some sense is Coin Clusters.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
Meadmaker wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:

You might be confusing what I said. I added emphasis. If I get together with some other people and we play a multi-player geometric game, and two players collude, I could accuse them of cheating, but there's nothing to really do about it, since it's not a tournament, and nothing is really at stake (except my willingness to play with them in the future).


I was getting at why it isn't a tournament. It's not a coincidence. Four player games are not very good tournament games, because of the possibility of collusion, or even if there isn't collusion, someone can still play in such a way that you can't win,through no fault of your own. No tournament culture will ever grow up around four player Blokus.

You're right that it's not a coincidence, but I think you are ignoring the obvious reason why. There are Chess and Go tournaments because people have been playing those games for (at least) hundreds of years. Hundreds of years from now, there could be professional tournaments of any recent multi-player game.

And as russ said, your statement is out of touch with reality. Have you ever heard of Poker? Scrabble? Mah Jong? Those games and many others all have professional, high-level tournaments. And not coincidentally, they've all been around for a good long time. (I played in a professional Scrabble tournament once. I always thought I was pretty good, but I got my ass handed to me!) And all of these games are multi-player, and could potentially have players colluding, though I'm sure that would be considered cheating just as much as it would in a Chess tournament.

Quote:
I think I've decided (for today at least) on "perfect information" games as my preferred moniker for those luckless games that are sometimes called "abstract" and sometimes "combinatorial". It zooms in on the defining characteristic, without sounding weird. One other advantage of the term is that when shortened it becomes "perfect".

Yes, it is a good name. But be careful about shortening it: Perfect Information Game abbreviates to "PIG". That's quite convenient. We can call them "pigs". (Offered with humor. No insult intended. I also like PIGs.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Me, sin? Pf! Nah! Chill
United States
Fountain Valley
California
flag msg tools
Why is there no Word Games Forum or Subdomain?
badge
There should be a Word Games Subdomain, or at least a Word Games Forum!
mbmbmbmbmb
russ wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
After all, to play Sprouts you have to have at least enough dexterity to move a pencil where you want it.

I don't see Sprouts as needing any more dexterity than any other game (you have to be able to place pieces in Go, move pieces in Chess, etc.)

Yes, of course. I didn't mean to imply that I wanted to exclude it for that reason. I would point out, however, that it is a bit more complicated "dexterity-wise" than the discrete geometric games. A paralyzed person can just say, "e4" when playing chess, but an instruction for a move in Sprouts would be a bit harder to convey. To play Sprouts with a paralyzed person, it might help to label each node added, with a number. Then they can say, "draw my line from node 5 to node 8, passing between nodes 4 and 2, but not passing between nodes 1 and 6, etc."

And while we're on the subject of atypical geometric games, what would you say about Ricochet Robots? Geometric, a grid, perfect information. But it's not a strategy game at all. It's a puzzle game. It has a time element - players race to see who can solve the puzzle fastest. (Which BTW, makes collusion impossible.) I'd still call it a geometric game, albeit an atypical one.

And there's another puzzle-race game with colored dots on clear plastic squares, whose name I can't remember. And Ubongo (and it's family).

Even further removed would be SET which, like Nim, doesn't even have any geometry in it. Yet I really like this game also. Somehow, it "feels" like the kinds of abstract games that I like.

Maybe that might be another way of defining the category (albeit a difficult one): it involves the same or similar thinking skills as other geometric games, it seems to exercise the same part of the brain.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
(I played in a professional Scrabble tournament once. I always thought I was pretty good, but I got my ass handed to me!) And all of these games are multi-player

Was the Scrabble tournament you played in a "serious" tournament yet multiplayer? All Scrabble tournaments I've heard of were 2-player - presumably exactly because the multiplayer format is less effective at measuring an individual player's strength.

(Silly anecdote: At a serious Polish Scrabble tournament which my wife was playing in, I played in side tournament for non-Polish people playing in Polish, and I won! Woot! But it was not quite as glorious at it sounds though, because there were only 6 competitors, and none of the others had even played Scrabble before...)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
And while we're on the subject of atypical geometric games, what would you say about Ricochet Robots? Geometric, a grid, perfect information. But it's not a strategy game at all. It's a puzzle game. It has a time element - players race to see who can solve the puzzle fastest. (Which BTW, makes collusion impossible.) I'd still call it a geometric game, albeit an atypical one.

I used to dislike those "solve a puzzle or find a pattern faster than the other players" type games (like Ricochet Robot, Set, Ubongo, Trio, Ma-Ni-Ki = Crazy Circus, etc), but I trained myself to like them.

I don't think of them at all in the same category as "abstract strategy games = combinatorial games", neither formally/objectively nor in terms of the subjective playing feeling/experience.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Meadmaker wrote:
mccann51 wrote:

I'm with Russ. I've been following the discussion, and I think both of you (David and Phil) have far too narrow of definitions for 'abstracts'. Abstracts are called such for a reason; and they're not called 'geometric' or 'combinatorial' for a reason, because not all games that the umbrella term 'abstract' covers fit these two criteria. Abstracts is a broader term than that; it happens to encompass a lot of combinatorial and geometric games, but those are not the end-all-be-all defining characteristics.


But I think that "abstractness" is not the reason that anyone likes these games, and I think that Phil and I have articulated the two main reasons that people who "like abstracts" like them.


Fair enough point. I think a game being theme-less lends itself to being a simple, combinatorial and/or geometric game, and there are superficially-themed games that have these properties (why OP started this thread).

I do still disagree that abstracts require these characteristics to be considered abstract. Just because they are popular mechanics to have in abstracts, does not mean they define them (there's some cognitive neuroscience research that deals with grouping that would be useful to bring up in this discussion if only I could remember the details). I have nothing further to argue for this point, because it is simply opinion, but based on the games in the 'abstract' category, I am not alone in this perspective (ie level of theme is major determinant in defining a game as 'abstract').
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
russ wrote:
Meadmaker wrote:
Four player games are not very good tournament games, because of the possibility of collusion, or even if there isn't collusion, someone can still play in such a way that you can't win,through no fault of your own.

I agree with that, but then...
Quote:
No tournament culture will ever grow up around four player Blokus.

That statement seems out of touch with reality.

I've personally played in Blokus tournaments, and tournaments of many other multiplayer games......



I had something specific in mind regarding "tournament culture". I was referring to a series of games where money and/or prestige was on the line, where people devoted lots of time to be recognized as a great player. Yes, of course, people get together and play Blokus at conventions in a tournament format, but there are no Blokus grandmasters, and I would contend that if there ever are any, it will be in the two player format.

Some counterexamples have been provided, but I don't think any of them are satisfying counterexamples. Scrabble, when played by NSA rules, is a two player game. Poker is obviously not a two player game. However, it's very different. Collusion would be easy to detect, and of marginal value. It is difficult for one player to assist another player at the expense of a third player. It's not impossible, but it isn't easy, either.

Mahjong, on the other hand, may very well be a good counterexample. It has professional players, a strong tournament culture, and multiple players. I've never played it, but from what little I know of it, it seems possible to gain an advantage based solely on turn order, and it seems possible to collude. In fact, I'm certain it must be, because you can get a job as an anti-collusion specialist. Thank you google. So, perhaps it is possible to have the sort of "tournament culture" to which I was referring, even in a multi player game.

Quote:

Just to clarify: you're talking about games of no chance and no hidden information, whether or not they are 2-player? I.e. 2-player Blokus and 4-player Blokus are both "perfect information" games, right?


I don't think so. In a four player Blokus game, there's a key piece of missing information that cannot be found on the board. What is the motivation of the players? Especially after their own victory has been made impossible, will they be trying to maximize their own, losing, scores, or will they be favoring one opponent over another, perhaps seeking what revege they can against an opponent who cut off their own advance.

One could quibble that there are psychological factors that affect every game played by humans, and so there is no such thing as a "perfect information" game. True, but two player games are far, far, less susceptible to that sort of manipulation.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
But be careful about shortening it: Perfect Information Game abbreviates to "PIG". That's quite convenient. We can call them "pigs". (Offered with humor. No insult intended. I also like PIGs.)


Yikes. Those acronyms can really burn you.

My first job in Detroit involved getting ready for production of the first Saturn vehicles at the plant being built in Spring Hill, Tennessee. There was a team assembled to supervise the integration of all the computers. By the second time they met, the team had already changed its name. It seems some people though Spring Hill Integration Team just didn't have the right ring to it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
Meadmaker wrote:
Quote:
Just to clarify: you're talking about games of no chance and no hidden information, whether or not they are 2-player? I.e. 2-player Blokus and 4-player Blokus are both "perfect information" games, right?


I don't think so.

Then it's the same problem with the ambiguity of "abstract (strategy) game" all over again, and using "perfect information game" to mean specifically 2-player games will cause the same confusion and terminology disagreement.

I.e. the "usual" meaning of "perfect information game" which I'm aware of makes no restriction to 2-player games.

(And I'm not just speaking theoretically; in practice "perfect information game" does not imply "2-player" for many people, e.g. see the geeklist Multiplayer perfect information games.)


Cf.:
http://www.gametheory.net/dictionary/PerfectInformation.html
Quote:
A sequential game is one of perfect information if only one player moves at a time and if each player knows every action of the players that moved before him at every point. Technically, every information set contains exactly one node. Intuitively, if it is my turn to move, I always know what every other player has done up to now.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_information
Quote:
In game theory, perfect information describes the situation when a player has available the same information to determine all of the possible games (all combinations of legal moves) as would be available at the end of the game.


http://www.gametheorystrategies.com/2011/09/27/introduction-...
Quote:
Perfect information in game theory is when a player who is about to make his move in a game can see all the moves that have been made before.


===

Quote:
In a four player Blokus game, there's a key piece of missing information that cannot be found on the board. What is the motivation of the players?

Well, you don't truly know the motivation of the opponent in a 2-player game either. And in any case, player motivation is not part of any definition of "perfect information game" that I recall or can find. The usual distinguishing characteristic as far as I can see is sequential turn and no hidden information or randomness, so that the game state and possible successor game states are always knowable.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Lame
United States
Huntington Woods
Michigan
flag msg tools
russ wrote:
Meadmaker wrote:
Quote:
Just to clarify: you're talking about games of no chance and no hidden information, whether or not they are 2-player? I.e. 2-player Blokus and 4-player Blokus are both "perfect information" games, right?


I don't think so.

Then it's the same problem with the ambiguity of "abstract (strategy) game" all over again, and using "perfect information game" to mean specifically 2-player games will cause the same confusion and terminology disagreement.

I.e. the "usual" meaning of "perfect information game" which I'm aware of makes no restriction to 2-player games.


Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bruno D
United States
East Northport
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
After carefully reading all 3 pages in this thread, it is clear that abstract games are all those that cannot be considered non-abstract

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
[1]  Prev «  1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [6] | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.