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Subject: Abstracting For 3 rss

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Johannes cum Grano Salis
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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I am by no means a scholar of Abstract games; I own a few (Travel Blokus, Ingenious, all the Gipf games save DVONN, Quoridor, and probably whatever I decide to buy today). So forgive me if this has been discussed before and my searching simply didn't uncover it.

Are there any abstract games that work with three players? So far, I've discovered Outfox, and... that's about it. Most abstract games are for either 2 or 4, and while games like Blokus have stated variants for three, they seem awfully clunky and inelegant. Even Quoridor seems to only work with 2 or 4; 3-player is just strange. This question is part academic and part practical. I have two nephews (ages: 9 and 6) and I'm about to spend some time with them. I was hoping we could all play some games together, and my search was stalling on Qwirkle for a while.

A follow-up question to this is: why? Why do abstract games not scale well from 2 to 3 on their way to 4? Is it because the shape of the board is generally four-sided and it makes offense/defense uneven, or that the boards are often composed of squares? I can't picture hexagonal boards being much more accommodating, though, despite the sides being divisible by 3. I found a three-player chess game in the database, and it looks absolutely chaotic. But there have to be 3-player abstracts out there. This is a GeekList waiting to happen.

Anyway, I'm almost done with my first cup of coffee and am procrastinating the start to my workday. Just something I was mulling over.

J

EDIT: I turned this into a GeekList. This forum doesn't seem to get much play, does it? Maybe if anyone has any thoughts on the second question, we can share them here, and the GeekList can be for sharing specific titles that work with 3 players.

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chearns
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Rare,

I am probably the wrong person to answer this question, because, for me, games with more than two aren't abstracts. Like, I think Ingenious is a great three player game, but I don't consider it an abstract, simply themeless.

For me abstracts hit a certain type of struggle, characterized by perfect information, no luck, and two players only, turning the struggle into one of clear analysis. No information you didn't have access to, no random elements to mess up your plans, and no third (or more) player to do something unthinkable.
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Simon Dorfman
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I recently tried Pente with three players and it was quite interesting:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1295/pente

A pattern of play quickly emerged where if one person (player 1) was about to win, the second player wouldn't stop it, instead playing somewhere else to benefit themselves and forcing the third player to stop player 1 from winning. Makes pente a totally different game than the 2-player variety.

Here's a great game for three players:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/21550/blokus-trigon

For four players, regular blokus is best, methinks:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2453/blokus
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Stephen Tavener
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In essence, a 2-player game is a battle of wits. In the case of a combinatorial game like chess, there's an expectation that the game will be won by skill alone.

As soon as you introduce a third player, this expectation goes out the window. Let's take the pente example Simon mentions:

Quote:
A pattern of play quickly emerged where if one person (player 1) was about to win, the second player wouldn't stop it, instead playing somewhere else to benefit themselves and forcing the third player to stop player 1 from winning


(1) The kingmaker problem: player 1 has a win, and player 2 sets up a win for themselves instead of blocking. Player three has a choice of letting player 1 or 2 win, but cannot win themselves.

(2) The left-of-the idiot problem: player 2 sees that player 1 has a winning move, and doesn't block. Player 3 doesn't see the win, and plays elsewhere. Player 1 wins, not because he was a better player than player 2, but because player 3 is a worse player. (Alternately, player 2 makes player 3's turn for them, also unsatisfactory).

That's following Simon's social convention. With other social conventions, other problems arise; for example, it is often the best policy for two players to gang up to crush the third, then play out the deciding battle.
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Dave Dyer
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Try Triad, which you can play at Boardspace.net, which was
specifically designed as a 3-player abstract. Both "losing" players are
strongly motivated to pick on the leader instead of each other.
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Harald Korneliussen
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Games with more than two players can often benefit from hidden information and even chance, to stay a game of skill. It's correct as Stephen Tavener says: A third player introduces inherent randomness, as it's very unlikely that there is a dominant, pure strategy (and the game is likely to be boring if it is).

So, if you add more than two players, it is in one sense not an abstract any longer - not a combinatorial game, not a pure game of skill. One might as well make use of other non-combinatorial elements to balance it - indeed, that is arguably what good, heavy modern eurogames do.
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ronaldinho @boardspace.net
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Blokus Trigon, Gemblo, Rumis (3D Blokus).

Through the Desert.

I think the abstracts that work well multiplayer are the ones that restrict a player's movements, usually by limiting them to growing from a "chain."
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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As Ingenious (with random tile draw) fits your criteria, I´d say Topology and Octiles should fit too.
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Martin Jackson
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Shoulder to Shoulder is an abstract designed for 3.
I picked it up second hand recently but haven't got round to playing it yet so I can't comment on whether it's any good...
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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I wonder why everyone (including myselfe) has overlooked the obvious.

I guess Chinese Checkers is by far the most popular multiplayer abstract.
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Russ Williams
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Markus Hagenauer wrote:
I wonder why everyone (including myselfe) has overlooked the obvious.

I guess Chinese Checkers is by far the most popular multiplayer abstract.

Not the most popular in the sense of ratings here at BGG.
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Markus Hagenauer jr.
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russ wrote:
Markus Hagenauer wrote:
I wonder why everyone (including myselfe) has overlooked the obvious.

I guess Chinese Checkers is by far the most popular multiplayer abstract.

Not the most popular in the sense of ratings here at BGG.


That´s right, but the most popular in the sense of common / widespread.
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Johannes cum Grano Salis
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mrraow wrote:
In essence, a 2-player game is a battle of wits. In the case of a combinatorial game like chess, there's an expectation that the game will be won by skill alone.

As soon as you introduce a third player, this expectation goes out the window. Let's take the pente example Simon mentions:

Quote:
A pattern of play quickly emerged where if one person (player 1) was about to win, the second player wouldn't stop it, instead playing somewhere else to benefit themselves and forcing the third player to stop player 1 from winning


(1) The kingmaker problem: player 1 has a win, and player 2 sets up a win for themselves instead of blocking. Player three has a choice of letting player 1 or 2 win, but cannot win themselves.

(2) The left-of-the idiot problem: player 2 sees that player 1 has a winning move, and doesn't block. Player 3 doesn't see the win, and plays elsewhere. Player 1 wins, not because he was a better player than player 2, but because player 3 is a worse player. (Alternately, player 2 makes player 3's turn for them, also unsatisfactory).

That's following Simon's social convention. With other social conventions, other problems arise; for example, it is often the best policy for two players to gang up to crush the third, then play out the deciding battle.


You know, I'm somewhat embarrassed I didn't think of some of these reasons when I was turning this over in my head yesterday -- thanks for the reply. I think it might have more to do with how much I respect my competitors that I didn't think of the "left-of-the-idiot" problem, because I don't play with idiots.

I guess my original thoughts on this were due in part to this: we introduced YINSH, ZERTZ and Quoridor to my in-laws this past weekend, and as we were playing the two Gipf games, one person would sit to the side and watch. Then the opponents would switch. I was hoping to sort of address that "problem" (which is unrelated to the game itself, obviously) but yet still take advantage of the fact that most abstracts are very simple to explain and learn. The GeekList has some good suggestions that a few of you made, so thank you also for those.

I also like the idea that an abstract is for 2 (as per Stephen's definition here) and for three I'm looking for a themeless game like Ingenious, which might not be an abstract in a strict sense.

J
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Johannes cum Grano Salis
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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Markus Hagenauer wrote:
As Ingenious (with random tile draw) fits your criteria, I´d say Topology and Octiles should fit too.


Don't know Octiles, but I'm a proud Topology owner, Markus!

J
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JonGetsGames
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One of my favorite games period: Taluva

It plays 2 to 4 players, and is brilliant with all three incarnations. 2 player has a slightly different feel due to having no intervening turns between you and your opponent, but it as well as 3 and 4 players are solid and really fun.

Plus the board always looks gorgeous and totally different at the end of every play.
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Russ Williams
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rarevos wrote:
You know, I'm somewhat embarrassed I didn't think of some of these reasons when I was turning this over in my head yesterday -- thanks for the reply. I think it might have more to do with how much I respect my competitors that I didn't think of the "left-of-the-idiot" problem, because I don't play with idiots.

This recent blog entry by chearns http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/1567/the-purity-of-struggl... might be of interest - it mentions multiplayer issues as well as randomness and other issues that make an "abstract strategy game" seem less so.
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Rio Malaschitz
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OMEGA is a new interesting abstract game for 2-4 players.
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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mrraow wrote:
In essence, a 2-player game is a battle of wits. In the case of a combinatorial game like chess, there's an expectation that the game will be won by skill alone.

As soon as you introduce a third player, this expectation goes out the window.


Stephen is on a particular quest for the perfect 3-player only abstract game. Fingers crossed!

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Hunga Dunga
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Markus Hagenauer wrote:
I wonder why everyone (including myselfe) has overlooked the obvious.

I guess Chinese Checkers is by far the most popular multiplayer abstract.

I recently played this game with the "Hong Kong" rules. Same as traditional Chinese checkers (traditional as in New Jersey tradition!), but if you are two (or more) spaces away from another marble, you can still jump it, as long as you land that many spaces on the other side of the marble. It makes for a more dynamic game!
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Russ Williams
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Hungadunga wrote:
if you are two (or more) spaces away from another marble, you can still jump it, as long as you land that many spaces on the other side of the marble.

I think of that as Spring-heeled Man jumping...
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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russ wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:
if you are two (or more) spaces away from another marble, you can still jump it, as long as you land that many spaces on the other side of the marble.

I think of that as Spring-heeled Man jumping...
I've always known this variant as "Super Chinese Checkers." I much prefer playing this way.
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Stephen Tavener
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Hungadunga wrote:
I recently played this game with the "Hong Kong" rules. Same as traditional Chinese checkers (traditional as in New Jersey tradition!), but if you are two (or more) spaces away from another marble, you can still jump it, as long as you land that many spaces on the other side of the marble. It makes for a more dynamic game!

Also see: High Tail It!
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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Check Eric Solomon's Corporation, too! Very strange game where a non-player color can win.

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David Whitcher
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Festival Climbers is multi player and works because there is no captures or elimination.

You can download it as a PnP at http://www.pyromythgames.com/free_games.html

There is also an Axiom version with AI in the files section. The AI is killer.
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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Let me invite you to try Hippos & Crocodiles & Buffalos, too.



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