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Subject: Opening moves for the second player - Countering the starting player advantage rss

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Mauricio Noda
Brazil
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I didn´t see anyone here posting this strategy. And since there are a lot of people complaining about Hive giving advantage for the starting player, here it goes.

There are basically 2 ways (maybe more) for the second player to open the game without having disadvantage in the turn stealing race:


1) Side-by-side queens

In this strategy, the second player puts the queen right beside the first player queen. The game will usually end in a draw.

>-<
< Q >-<
>-< Q >
>-<

If the first player doesn´t open the game with the queen, the second player starts with the queen anyway and gets advantage in the turn stealing race.
1st player: any piece except queen
2nd player: queen
1st player: queen (pinning own first piece)
2nd player: any piece
1st player: any piece
2nd player: pins 1st player queen and starts ahead in the turn stealing race


2) Sharing 1 blocking hex (no queen in first move variant)

In this strategy, the second player puts the queen with 1 hex distance from the first player queen. (Q = queen, G = grasshopper or spider)

>-<
>-< G >-<
< Q >-< G >
>-< >-<
< Q >
>-<

If the first player moves the queen afterwars, it wastes a move and lags behind in the turn stealing race.

And the catch is, if either player blocks the shared hex, it will surround both queens. If it is the last hex to be blocked, the game will draw, if not, the player which blocks it will waste a move.

So, both players will need to focus in stealing more turns, and the game will tends towards a more balanced pinning battle instead of an unbalanced attacker (starting player) versus defender game.
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J.C. Tsistinas
United States
Marcellus
New York
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1.) The only response to an open-game Queen Bee, is an open-game Queen Bee. As you said, in all likelihood, the game ends without a win. It's for this reason the tournament-rules forbid open-game Queen Bees.

2.) It's not always a wasted move, to occupy the shared-hex. It may provide a positional advantage to do so.
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Christian Sperling

Brisbane
Australia
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Hi Mauricio.
You sound like someone who has a background as a mathematician or a programmer. ;-)

I agree that a first player Queenbee start has to be answered with a second player Queenbee.
If the startplayer doesn`t play a Queenbee and the second player does ...he will get into trouble as far as I remember. I did a lot of research with other players about that problem some years ago.

Hive is a lot about tempo but not only. As the defender you have to prolong the game (and there is always a way to give a good answer which keeps you in the game) until you reach the point when you leave the "simple" place a new tile, move it or block another, then play another new tile - sequence. If both combatants are playing well, the start player has to restructure, do hop-arounds or crawl longer ways on top of the hive or do some other long term movements. Then the start player advantage disappears and the better player will win.

There are some defender strategies which seem that you are far away from being equal in your effort to surround the opponent`s Queenbee but once you have immobilized the other player or placed your blocking pieces so precisely that the only docking points for new pieces make no sense or take too much time for getting from A to B, the defender has time to compensate the turns he seemed to have lost in the beginning.

The positioning is as important as the efficiency of not wasting a single move. I doubt that you can make rules which describe everything so detailed that you have a general concept how to win.
There are basic advices you can give but the more you get deeper and deeper you will always find exceptions which require another rule how to act perfectly.
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Mauricio Noda
Brazil
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Eucalyx wrote:
Hi Mauricio.
You sound like someone who has a background as a mathematician or a programmer. ;-)

Both... I have a background in software development (programming) and game theory (applied mathematics).

Eucalyx wrote:
I agree that a first player Queenbee start has to be answered with a second player Queenbee.
If the startplayer doesn`t play a Queenbee and the second player does ...he will get into trouble as far as I remember. I did a lot of research with other players about that problem some years ago.

Hive is a lot about tempo but not only. As the defender you have to prolong the game (and there is always a way to give a good answer which keeps you in the game) until you reach the point when you leave the "simple" place a new tile, move it or block another, then play another new tile - sequence. If both combatants are playing well, the start player has to restructure, do hop-arounds or crawl longer ways on top of the hive or do some other long term movements. Then the start player advantage disappears and the better player will win.

There are some defender strategies which seem that you are far away from being equal in your effort to surround the opponent`s Queenbee but once you have immobilized the other player or placed your blocking pieces so precisely that the only docking points for new pieces make no sense or take too much time for getting from A to B, the defender has time to compensate the turns he seemed to have lost in the beginning.

The positioning is as important as the efficiency of not wasting a single move. I doubt that you can make rules which describe everything so detailed that you have a general concept how to win.
There are basic advices you can give but the more you get deeper and deeper you will always find exceptions which require another rule how to act perfectly.

There are complaints in other threads about more pieces (expansions) making immobilization strategies less effective and unbalancing the game in favor of the starting player. The purpose of this thread is to teach beginners how to workaround this apparent unbalance in Hive.
 
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J.C. Tsistinas
United States
Marcellus
New York
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The addition of expansion pieces reduces the propensity a resource-depletion strategy will come to fruition.

My concern with the strategy recommended in #2 of the original post, is Player One can remove this line of action, simply by placing his Queen Bee directly-behind his original piece.
 
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Christian Sperling

Brisbane
Australia
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Mauricio,

I will support your goal to give Hive beginner`s some advices how to react on the first players advantage but therefore is so much more necessary than to tell them what to do in the first 2 moves. Beginners normally don`t need diagrams or calculations but real scenarios. without a connection to their own game`s experience all theoretical stuff will not stick in their brains. I fear that a thread here will not have a good chance to accomplish the mission you are going for because the topic is too complex. You have to write a book about it, well structured, with many examples... and even then it will only work if the reader goes on playing his usual Hive games until he realizes that he has made a mistake or is unsure what to do. Then he will have a look in the book watching out for a hint. In best case he is interested to know more and will read further after the game to gather more background information. - That is my theory how most of the Hive beginners will behave.;-)
Please don`t take my doubts about your noble intention as an offense. I like what you want to do I am just not convinced about your method to solve the sophisticated start player`s advantage in a single thread here on Boardspace.
 
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Jason Wallace
United States
Rochester
New York
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While white can place his Queen right behind his initial piece, this leaves him without a second good place for a blocker, and leaves his queen slightly more vulnerable in the late game. However, you are right it helps white in the short term, but it ends up being a mildly aggressive opening for white, as his defense will be somewhat compromised if black survives white's initial assault and turns the tide a touch.

Also, white can delay placing his queen by placing an ant second and forcing more of a reaction from black, but then the best bet for black is usually to stall with another blocker so he can determine where his queen is placed with respect to white's.
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Mauricio Noda
Brazil
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Eucalyx wrote:
I am just not convinced about your method to solve the sophisticated start player`s advantage in a single thread here on Boardspace.

It is not supposed to. But, currently, there is only one other thread about Hive openings, and it doesn´t address this issue.
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Mauricio Noda
Brazil
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b a n j o wrote:
My concern with the strategy recommended in #2 of the original post, is Player One can remove this line of action, simply by placing his Queen Bee directly-behind his original piece.

Nice observation.

But any piece that white puts into play afterwards will touch its own queen bee, risking being pinned right after it is placed and losing tempo.

Also, black´s first grasshopper/spider threats being unpinned if the hex adjacent to it (the would be shared hex) is occupied. That hex is still somewhat defended. The same is not true for white.

But it will lead to whole different set of opening moves.
 
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Gustavo
Brazil
União Da Vitória
Paraná
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I thought the tournament opening rules for Hive were already standard among most players.

In any case, I don't think we should work on strategies involving queen vs. queen when we have an almost-official (or maybe even official?) rule against it. Beginners might not like the idea of finding out that the strategies they developed cannot be used in a tournament setting.
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Omi C
Philippines
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I'm still trying to figure out how to beat my playing buddy when I choose to go second.
 
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David J
United States
Waterville
Maine
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Wat_BR wrote:
b a n j o wrote:
My concern with the strategy recommended in #2 of the original post, is Player One can remove this line of action, simply by placing his Queen Bee directly-behind his original piece.

Nice observation.

But any piece that white puts into play afterwards will touch its own queen bee, risking being pinned right after it is placed and losing tempo.


Let's say white then moves his queen bee one space out, so that it is only touching the newly placed piece. It is now bordered only once, instead of twice. Would you consider this a loss of tempo for white? Black now needs to surround it by one more piece than before.

Wat_BR wrote:

Also, black´s first grasshopper/spider threats being unpinned if the hex adjacent to it (the would be shared hex) is occupied. That hex is still somewhat defended. The same is not true for white.



Do you mean that: by creating the empty space between the two queen bees, a space that is unlikely to be filled (since it can only be filled by a beetle), this makes it likely that the first g/s will continue to be pinned? That is true, but this assumes no one is moving their bees.
 
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