What's the REAL abstract game of the year? Please Nominate.
Nick Bentley
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Madison
Wisconsin
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Games Magazine recently announced its end-of-the-year awards. Among them was an award for "best abstract strategy game". The award went to a game called Blox. I've no doubt that Blox is a very good game, but it is not what many abstract game connoisseurs think of when they think of abstract games. For one, it's for more than 2 players. For two, it has chance events.

That led me to wondering what games we might consider for the distinction of abstract game of the year, among those that satisfy the following qualities:

1. For 2 Players only.
2. No chance events; features perfect information.
3. No Theme.
4. Made public in 2009.

Please nominate whatever game you think rocks. I'm not going to pick a winner (though you can vote by thumbing). I just want to start a conversation about good abstracts from 2009. Note that that game needn't have been published physically. Many of the really great abstract games never get published, so publication is too restrictive a condition. I'm just looking for games that were first made public in some form or other in 2009, even if it just means the author posted the rules online.

While I'm at it, as an aside, I'm interested in hearing what some of you abstract enthusiasts may think of my most recent foray into abstract game design:

http://nickbentley.posterous.com/new-game-coil
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1. Board Game: Yavalath [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:3927]
Nick Bentley
United States
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This is an extremely short and tactical abstract that has the distinction of having been designed not by a human, but by software. A clever fellow named Cameron Browne wrote a program, for his Ph.D. I believe, to permute and evolve rulesets for abstract games, and to identify those likely to be of interest to humans. Yavalath is one of the games that the program generated, and it is indeed very interesting, at least to me.

Note that I am nominating here ONLY the 2 player version, which was what the program evolved. Not the 3 player variant which was added later by meddling humans.



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2. Board Game: Ordo [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:6220]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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It seems a shame to see this list sitting with only a single game nominated, so I'll put forward a game I tried for the first time last week: Ordo. This, like Yavalath above, is published by Nestor Games, but this time the game was designed by a human - Dieter Stein.

Ordo is played on an 8x10 checkered board with each player having 20 pieces in their colour on their side of the board. The main object of the game is to have one of your pieces reach your opponent's home row. The difficulty arises from the restriction that requires you to keep all of your pieces connected by the end of your turn. It's like requiring each player to maintain a supply chain in a conflict simulation. This rule leads to the other winning condition: you lose if your pieces become disconnected and cannot be rejoined by the end of your turn.

Player's take turns generally moving one piece forward, orthogonally or diagonally. They can capture an opponent's piece by ending their move on that piece's location. You can only move backwards if it is to reconnect a broken formation. The other type of move you can do in the game is the "ordo move": two or more adjacent pieces can be moved together along an unbroken orthogonal path. It reminds me of Army Ants, to a degree.


It's an interesting game. You need to breach your opponent's line while maintaining your own defenses and keeping your supply line intact, but also in a workable formation to bring pieces up from support into the action along the front lines. Or, with good timing, you may be able to swing your pieces around the other player's formation to strike out at their home row with a strong "ordo" finishing move. I liked it.
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3. Board Game: Arimaa [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:1908]
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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Not a new design, but published for the first time this year.
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