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Abstract Games» Forums » General

Subject: New game: Lear rss

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Luis Bolaños Mures
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LEAR

Introduction

Lear is a finite territory game for two players: Black and White. It's played on the intersections (points) of an initially empty square board. The suggested board sizes are between 7x7 and 10x10 points.

Definitions

To flip a stone means to replace it with a stone of the opposite color.

Play

Black plays first, then turns alternate. On their turn, a player must place a stone of their color on an empty point. If the placement is part of an uninterrupted orthogonal line of stones made of two friendly stones and an uninterrupted line of enemy stones, said enemy stones are flipped. The two friendly stones can be both at one end of the enemy line or one at each end.


coffeegoosugarsugarsugar goocoffeesugarsugarsugar goosugarsugarsugarcoffee goocoffeecoffeesugarsugarsugar

In the first three diagrams above, a black play at goo flips the white stones; in the fourth diagram, it doesn't.

The game ends when the board is full. The winner is the player with the highest score. A player's score is the number of stones with their color showing that there are on the board, plus a komi (see below) where appropriate.

Komi

The komi is the number of points which are added to the score of the player who doesn't get to make the last move of the game. To avoid ties, the parity of komi should be different from the parity of the board size. On odd-sized boards, komi should be even and go to White; on even-sized boards, komi should be odd and go to Black.

Before the game starts, the first player tells their opponent the number which will be used as komi, and then the second player chooses which color to play.

Notes

I designed Lear to address my personal gripes on Othello, namely the obligation to always make capturing moves and the invulnerability of corner squares. While far from groundbreaking, I think Lear succeeds at side-stepping those perceived shortcomings in a simple and Othello-ish enough way.

Diagonal captures could be allowed, but, since there are two different capturing mechanisms already, limiting the capturing directions seemed adequate in order to keep the amount of flipping close to Othello. It also seems to make tactics pleasantly clearer.

This game is the polished version of an idea that I mentioned last April in a thread about Io and playtesting.

Without resorting to komi, it should still be possible to balance the game by cutting the value of the last move by half. This can be accomplished by ruling that pieces that would normally be flipped on the last move are removed instead, or, alternatively, by not allowing to flip in the horizontal direction on that move.
 
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Russ Williams
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luigi87 wrote:
If the placement is part of an uninterrupted orthogonal line of stones made of two friendly stones and an uninterrupted line of enemy stones, said enemy stones are flipped. The two friendly stones can be both at one end of the enemy line or one at each end.


coffeegoosugarsugarsugarcoffee goocoffeesugarsugarsugarcoffee coffeesugarsugarsugargoo goocoffeecoffeesugarsugarsugar

In the first three diagrams above, a black play at goo flips the white stones; in the fourth diagram, it doesn't.


I don't understand that rule or why the 4th diagram doesn't flip. :/
 
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Mike Fogus
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russ wrote:
I don't understand that rule or why the 4th diagram doesn't flip. :/


I think I understand why the 4th does'nt flip, but I'm not sure why the 3rd does.
 
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Luis Bolaños Mures
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russ wrote:
luigi87 wrote:
If the placement is part of an uninterrupted orthogonal line of stones made of two friendly stones and an uninterrupted line of enemy stones, said enemy stones are flipped. The two friendly stones can be both at one end of the enemy line or one at each end.


coffeegoosugarsugarsugarcoffee goocoffeesugarsugarsugarcoffee coffeesugarsugarsugargoo goocoffeecoffeesugarsugarsugar

In the first three diagrams above, a black play at goo flips the white stones; in the fourth diagram, it doesn't.


I don't understand that rule or why the 4th diagram doesn't flip. :/


Is it clearer with these simpler diagrams?:


coffeegoosugarsugarsugar goocoffeesugarsugarsugar coffeesugarsugarsugargoo goocoffeecoffeesugarsugarsugar

As before, only in the first three diagrams will the white stones be flipped.

More to the point, orthogonal lines of stones are flipped whenever they are either sandwiched (as in Othello) or skewered. A line of stones is skewered if there is a two-stone enemy line adjacent to it in the same orthogonal line of the board, as in the first and second diagrams.

As in the sandwich case, a line of stones is not flipped if it gets skewered as a result of a move by its owner.
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Russ Williams
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luigi87 wrote:
Is it clearer with these simpler diagrams?:


coffeegoosugarsugarsugar goocoffeesugarsugarsugar coffeesugarsugarsugargoo goocoffeecoffeesugarsugarsugar

As before, only in the first three diagrams will the white stones be flipped.

More to the point, orthogonal lines of stones are flipped whenever they are either sandwiched (as in Othello) or skewered. A line of stones is skewered if there is a two-stone enemy line adjacent to it in the same orthogonal line of the board, as in the first and second diagrams.

As in the sandwich case, a line of stones is not flipped if it gets skewered as a result of a move by its owner.


OK, I think I grok it now, thanks!

(FWIW I think part of my confusion earlier was based on understanding "two" to mean "at least two" rather than "exactly two".)
 
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Nick Bentley
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Interesting use of komi for the last-mover issue. Solves the problem cleanly. On the other hand, I surmise it'll make the endgame feel weirdly asymmetrical (to me) and make it harder to "see" who won without counting.

A larger criticism: this would seem to create a dynamic that frustrates me about many attempts to "free up" Othello-esque games by allowing un- or less-restricted placement - the opening becomes long and ponderous. There's no particular incentive to engage early (unless I've missed something?), so players sprinkle the board with isolated pieces for a long time.

You can avoid it by playing on a small board but then it feels too tight and tactical for my taste.

I've tried to design a ton of these games, but between the slow-opening problem and the last-mover problem, the only game among my own efforts I like is Shello. A really low hit rate.

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Luis Bolaños Mures
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milomilo122 wrote:
A larger criticism: this would seem to create a dynamic that frustrates me about many attempts to "free up" Othello-esque games by allowing un- or less-restricted placement - the opening becomes long and ponderous. There's no particular incentive to engage early (unless I've missed something?), so players sprinkle the board with isolated pieces for a long time.

I agree that openings can feel pointless without early fights, but on a moderately small board, like the standard 8x8 one, fights are never really far off, so the first few moves will have a definite goal: getting a good position for the upcoming fight. Experience should soon reveal which opening moves are more efficient at that, and so opening theory should arise.

Even if strategic considerations during the opening don't get much farther from "geography", for lack of a better word ("am I too close to the corners?", "am I at the right distance from the enemy?"), I'm hoping an 8x8 board will be small enough for these "geographic" considerations to make all squares feel meaningfully different.

Also, since the game, unlike Othello, doesn't require an initial set-up to be playable, I don't think imposing an arbitrary initial set-up is any better than having players open the game with arbitrary-looking moves, even if expert players were to agree that openings are intrinsically arbitrary (which I'm hoping they won't).

Creating an Othello-esque game with openings that feel unequivocally strategic seems a commendable design goal in itself, but mine here was much more modest. And it's a slippery road anyway: even Go used to be played with some pre-placed stones to promote early fights and save players having to face the abyss of an empty 19x19 board. Lear is not nearly as strategically ambitious as Go, but if it has at least 64/361sts (less than one fifth!) of the potential of Go, it should do just fine starting from an empty 8x8 board...
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