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TRUE Abstracts
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
Minas Gerais
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Hi folks. I'm new in this whole game thing, but my love for the abstracts are the real deal since i was like 13 (no, I'm not old, I'm 22 lol).

First, I was hooked by the ancient boardgames, deep strategy and you could imagine the scenario as you want it.

Chess would be a war between kingdoms... a battle between rich cousins... or nothing!
Backgammon would be... a race .
Fanorona... never thought about.
Mancala would be sowing a field... or sharing food one plate to other.. who knows!
Chequers is... chequers?

So, here's the deal... I'm creating this geeklist to discover old and new abstracts which are completely abstracts!

How could this be possible? Try to follow this simple guidelines:
1 - Imagine a neutral board (no scenario, flowers or other gimmicks), would it kill the game?
2 - Can you totally run away from the theme? for example: ponte del diavollo could be lightly-themed as building bridges between islands and reminds of venice or you could just play thinking in building links between groups of tiles. Also, in his review of Ablaze!, Tom Vasel said the game try to sell itself with a firefighter theme, but the theme is irrelevant from play).
3 - Imagine a new abstraction (i.e. a new theme) for the game, including new names for components with diferent names, can you see it happenning?
4 - I don't have problems with hidden information or random play or drawing tiles from a common pool, but cards to change game conditions or action cards and other things that goes beyond the strictly necessary kills me.

Note that it's not about no-themed games, but also lightly-themed games that rules can be transcripted to totally ignore the theme, and you could just thinking to yourself: what's the inspiration for this game? Who could thought of it?

If you want to, you could imagine your own theme for a non-themed game, like you saying: I always thought it would be somethin like that!
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1. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:129]
Pablo Schulman
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Let's begin with the pinnacle of abstract strategy games. Go!

Nothing much to say about this classic one but I'll quote Hikaru no Go (yes!) chapter 11:

Hikaru:

Yeah I'm just playing. Cause look, the goban has 9 stars on it, right?
This is space.
And you place stones there, as if you are creating planets.
You are building the universe.
It's kind of like of being God.

Or, you somethink like you're trying to fence your farm and keep your neighbour out.

But I prefer the more poetic explanation.
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2. Board Game: Abalone [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1458]
Pablo Schulman
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I've seem people saying it's loosely based on sumo...
but, what difference it does make? answer: none.
Might be broken, but for me a true modern classy abstract
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3. Board Game: Ponte del Diavolo [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2312]
Pablo Schulman
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A powerful tribute to a legendary game designer, it is loosely ambiented in Venice. But it would be perfect fine saying in a lake of magma or acid or whatever! Thing is: it is a connection game (well: it has a connective goal, right?)
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4. Board Game: Carnac [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:4412]
Pablo Schulman
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Really, THIS is what I call to abstract. It took several minutes of my time searching on wikipedia to discover what is carnac, standing stones (or megaliths) and see the inspiration behind this little gem that I hope someone publish it. I want it badly, yeah... that badly. loved the mechanics of this one.
Does it matter knowing what is carnac, or a megalith? no. But, gives a chill thinking of the history behind these names.
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5. Board Game: Rise! [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:7376]
Pablo Schulman
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From the BGG entry of the game:

In Rise!, players race to be the first to construct three towers on the growing game board, moving workers to and fro to keep the towers rising and the opponent befuddled.

From the mouth of one of the (hope so) publisher/designer:

Rise! was just at BGG CON and was received better than I could have imagined. Once people were able to play the game they saw the endless possibilities. What was very interesting is that people tend to attach their favorite theme to the game. Many say it's like a war game, others see it as a puzzle game. One even said he imagined they were spiritualists building a temple. It was very interesting to see peoples imagination taking the game where they wanted it. You'll see what I mean when you play it!

Ok. This for me is a abtract: if you can attach the theme or history or whatever you want to a game without interfering in gameplay. Matter of fact is an abstract with a spatial/temporal goal (maintain three hex for three turns) and a capture goal (capture all opponents workers).

I want it. So, folks, if you are interest fund this game on kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1300933859/rise-an-abstr... I think it is a good ideia and might have a lot of depth. abstract strategy games are a niche market so unless we help each other, primarily those ones who try to bring good games or ideas for us, we are meant to do ourselves or wait the good will of the great companies.
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6. Board Game: Plateau [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:6011]
Pablo Schulman
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I love this little gem! It seems war themed, mostly if you consider the prisoner's exchange.
Purist might not like the hidden information of this game, but it is where it shines. In a small grid, where conflict is inevitable it makes you wonder if atacking always is a good strategy.
Two goals: stack six of your pieces or capture six of your opponents pieces.

This game is one of the motives to support small publishers. My set is flying to me all the way in Brazil, hope it arrives soon.
 
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7. Board Game: SiegeStones [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:11722]
Pablo Schulman
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Interesting,as a game sistem and the core game itself.
We could think of this one as a besieging war battle, and first player to siege 4 towers is the winner. Only piece placement in this one.
 
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8. Board Game: Pick & Pack [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2841]
Pablo Schulman
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Ok, take all the gimmicks, all the apples and you have a abstract.And really, no action cards, I know they give variety, but it really is necessary?
Place the shared piece in a way that gain you most points without giving a good position to your opponent.
 
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9. Board Game: Tanbo [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Pablo Schulman
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Lightly-themed: grow your "root" and make it in a way your opponent don't entagle and kills it.
Could be as well be a fungus, or a colony or whatever you want to!
Piece placement battle, nice and cool. yeah. And plays in a Goban
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10. Board Game: Checkers [Average Rating:4.86 Overall Rank:16404]
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
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"Checkers is Checkers."
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11. Board Game: Tix [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
Martijn Althuizen
Netherlands
Helmond
Noord Brabant
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My modern true abstract..
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12. Board Game: Othello [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:2470]
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
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Who will in this ancient battle of light and darkness be sucessfull? will light prevail on the field? or Will darkness cast its shadow upon the light?

Or quoting Othello: The Moor of venice:

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,--
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!--
It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.
Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. (5.2.1-13)
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13. Board Game: GIPF [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:772] [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
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This entry is about all of the GIPF Series games. HOW THE HELL DID KRIS BURN THINK ABOUT THIS GAMES? Really, just thinking about it makes my mind blow away. Don't have them, but I'm gonna secure my copies as soon as possible.
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14. Board Game: Bambam Booboo [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
 
Martijn Althuizen
Netherlands
Helmond
Noord Brabant
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Perhaps you'll like this one too then. It's a lot lighter than Tix though..

Cheers,
Martijn
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15. Board Game: Hex [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:2702]
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
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The first game to receive the denomination of connection games. You know, when several persons claim the design of a game, without knowing it already exists to me it seems like a DAMN GOOD idea. (It is in the subconsciousness of humankind )
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16. Board Game: Kalah [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:3514]
Pablo Schulman
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Nothing illustrate better the idiom that says:

"You reap what you sow"

Although I don't understand why people insist in playing this ancient game with STONES. I never saw a rock crop. EVER. Believe me: I do Agronomics. Use instead this one: Mucuna aterrima, beautiful and cheap (as far as I know in Brazil)

http://dodesign-s.com.br/arquivos/2009/05/mucuna-preta-dodes...
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17. Board Game: Calculus [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked]
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
Minas Gerais
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My board (a wooden plate lol) is coming along, and I can't wait to devour this game. I never imagined you could mix a connection game with a territory secure game! This has the potential to be the real deal!
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18. Board Game: Sapos [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Rey Alicea
United States
New Jersey
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Perhaps you will like this one.
 
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19. Board Game: Foundations [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Johannes Wentu
Italy
Parma
Unspecified
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Well, also this one is completely abstract.
The name comes from the "Foundation" series (so that it is linked to my other two games, Isaac (Asimov) and Hari (Seldon)) but of course it referes to "building good foundations" for your next pieces
 
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