Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

Abstract Games» Forums » General

Subject: Playing abstract games solitaire rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Gustavo
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Finding opponents to play abstract games face-to-face has become increasingly harder (or any kind of game, actually). Playing on the computer and online is OK, but I'm not a huge fan of playing boardgames on screens.

Despite enjoying multiplayer wargames as a solo experience, I have never been able to come up with a satisfactory way of playing abstract games solo. I'm sure I'm not the first one around to want to play abstracts solitaire, so I would appreciate if any of you could share your experiences and how-to's.

Thanks!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Obsolete Man
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm sure you're aware of them, but there are books that contain nothing but numerous Chess and Go problems to help improve your play.

I'm a wargame guy rather than an abstract guy, but to me playing solo is rather sterile. Which is not to say I don't do it, but part of the fun of gaming is outwitting your opponent. You can't outwit yourself.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
Hmm... Besides the obvious "watching a story unfold" aspect which helps make soloing wargames more interesting, it occurs to me that another aspect is that soloing a typical wargame has you moving lots of units for one side, then switching to the others. So you get more immersed in one side and can sort of "forget" what you were planning & thinking about for the "opponent's side" more easily.

So I wonder if it would work psychologically to set up several different abstract games, and play a move for (e.g.) the north side on each board, then pause and come back later and then play a move for the south side on each board. That might be a way to more easily "lose focus" temporarily and achieve the "split personality" which makes soloing a game work better.

But I have never tried it, so I don't know if it works.

Other than that idea... yeah, solving problems. And replaying pro games.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
flag msg tools
designer
The overtext below is true.
badge
The overtext above is false.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another possibility I have heard suggested is to physically move to a different seat when you change players.

It's a different experience, since you can't lay traps; but the best move is the best move regardless, so it should be possible in principle.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carlos Luna
Spain
Rubí
Catalunya
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I haven't tried it but a possible solution will be going Monte-Carlo style:

Each turn write down the 3 best moves you can devise then roll a dice to select the one to be played. Then do the same for the other player...

Of course the number of moves per turn could be adjusted to match the preferences of the player or the requirements of the game (games that are tense won't allow a single mistake a thus you should use fewer moves, etc.). You can also make exceptions whenever is clear that all but one move will make you loss the game.
8 
 Thumb up
5.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
flag msg tools
designer
The overtext below is true.
badge
The overtext above is false.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CarlosLuna wrote:
Each turn write down the 3 best moves you can devise then roll a dice to select the one to be played. Then do the same for the other player...

Nice idea. Counterproposal:
- nominate one player as the random player.
- write down all of the best moves you can find for that player, and choose one at random.
- play the other side as normal.

I'll try this next time I playtest.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian K
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have had a lot of fun with puzzles from Thinkfun. I recommend turnstile, rush hour and tipover. Solving them gives me the same satisfaction as finding the winning move in an abstract, and I like the nice components.

I also really like the puzzles from hanayama, but they are more of a continous challenge where the thinkfun ones are more discrete (like abstracts (usually) are).

You can also move on the computer and move the mirror on the physical board. I think the challenge is nicer against a real opponent.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nathan James
United States
Covington
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmb
gmsa84 wrote:
Finding opponents to play abstract games face-to-face has become increasingly harder (or any kind of game, actually). Playing on the computer and online is OK, but I'm not a huge fan of playing boardgames on screens.

Have you tried setting up a physical board near the computer? Plot your moves on the board, then submit online.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gustavo
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks everyone for your replies.

russ wrote:
Hmm... Besides the obvious "watching a story unfold" aspect which helps make soloing wargames more interesting, it occurs to me that another aspect is that soloing a typical wargame has you moving lots of units for one side, then switching to the others. So you get more immersed in one side and can sort of "forget" what you were planning & thinking about for the "opponent's side" more easily.

So I wonder if it would work psychologically to set up several different abstract games, and play a move for (e.g.) the north side on each board, then pause and come back later and then play a move for the south side on each board. That might be a way to more easily "lose focus" temporarily and achieve the "split personality" which makes soloing a game work better.


I agree with the differences you raised, Russ. Not being able to "forget" what the other side did is the main reason why I've never been able to play abstracts solo. However, playing multiple games at the same time would make me loose the immersion aspect that I like so much on abstracts.

mrraow wrote:
CarlosLuna wrote:
Each turn write down the 3 best moves you can devise then roll a dice to select the one to be played. Then do the same for the other player...

Nice idea. Counterproposal:
- nominate one player as the random player.
- write down all of the best moves you can find for that player, and choose one at random.
- play the other side as normal.

I'll try this next time I playtest.


These are all good ideas, especially Stephen's. I wondered if anyone has tried something similar before, and how it went. Thanks!

NJames wrote:
Have you tried setting up a physical board near the computer? Plot your moves on the board, then submit online.


That could work, except that I usually end up being too lazy to do both things and stick to the screen for practicality...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Bush
United States
Radiant
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you have a record of the moves played in a game you lost against an opponent, either human or machine, you could spend time on your own trying to discover why you lost.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drink Me
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gmsa84 wrote:
Thanks everyone for your replies.

russ wrote:
Hmm... Besides the obvious "watching a story unfold" aspect which helps make soloing wargames more interesting, it occurs to me that another aspect is that soloing a typical wargame has you moving lots of units for one side, then switching to the others. So you get more immersed in one side and can sort of "forget" what you were planning & thinking about for the "opponent's side" more easily.

So I wonder if it would work psychologically to set up several different abstract games, and play a move for (e.g.) the north side on each board, then pause and come back later and then play a move for the south side on each board. That might be a way to more easily "lose focus" temporarily and achieve the "split personality" which makes soloing a game work better.


I agree with the differences you raised, Russ. Not being able to "forget" what the other side did is the main reason why I've never been able to play abstracts solo. However, playing multiple games at the same time would make me loose the immersion aspect that I like so much on abstracts.

It's interesting that you put it this way. It seems to imply that you think player A's best moves are all traps, and if his player B could see everything that A sees, B would always play correctly and dodge the trap. Whereas I assume that as soon as A plays the move, A and B are seeing the same basic lines, and A fully expects B to play the best of those lines, but is satisfied that that line is good for A nonetheless; and the challenge for B is to find something different from all those lines that takes A out his comfort zone again.

So my problem with pure solitaire isn't that I don't forget what A was thinking when I play B (why would I want that?), it's that I can never play B to be more creative than A, or vice versa. It's as though I had an hour of thinking time on my first move, and played out several games in my head before playing a move on the board and seeing how my opponent would respond; the games I would imagine would be pure spongy nonsense, because my opponent wouldn't get any input into them, wouldn't get any chance to push back and provide the friction that gives me something to overcome.

This is why puzzles are so great - someone has already taken the time to design a challenging position for me. It's vastly better than solitaire.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Moshe Callen
Israel
Jerusalem
flag msg tools
designer
ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
badge
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Some abstracts play well solo, others not so much, but I've never been able to put my finger on what makes the difference. Perhaps for me, playing abstracts solo is for when I'm at the analyze stage of playing the game-- namely figuring how best to play the game.

Otherwise, I dont change seats but I do typically turn the board about.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gustavo
United Kingdom
Birmingham
West Midlands
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
sollnurspielen wrote:
It's interesting that you put it this way. It seems to imply that you think player A's best moves are all traps, and if his player B could see everything that A sees, B would always play correctly and dodge the trap. Whereas I assume that as soon as A plays the move, A and B are seeing the same basic lines, and A fully expects B to play the best of those lines, but is satisfied that that line is good for A nonetheless; and the challenge for B is to find something different from all those lines that takes A out his comfort zone again.

So my problem with pure solitaire isn't that I don't forget what A was thinking when I play B (why would I want that?), it's that I can never play B to be more creative than A, or vice versa. It's as though I had an hour of thinking time on my first move, and played out several games in my head before playing a move on the board and seeing how my opponent would respond; the games I would imagine would be pure spongy nonsense, because my opponent wouldn't get any input into them, wouldn't get any chance to push back and provide the friction that gives me something to overcome.

This is why puzzles are so great - someone has already taken the time to design a challenging position for me. It's vastly better than solitaire.


I guess for me is a mixture of your point of view and Russ's. I definitely don't play hoping that my opponent won't see my move. But a real opponent may see better moves than me, or have a different overall strategy, or play worse moves than me that can change the outcome of the game, whereas if I'm playing against myself, all this would be lost. These things give abstracts certain unpredictability (unless you are a pro, being able to see the movement tree out of EVERY possible move on the board), but most of it gets lost when playing solo.

Your point about puzzles is a good one. I think any abstract being played solo would be essentially a puzzle (and some would say any abstract IS a puzzle, but let's not get into that), so maybe the best way to enjoy them solitaire would be solving difficult puzzles made by great players.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Hutnik
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gmsa84 wrote:
Finding opponents to play abstract games face-to-face has become increasingly harder (or any kind of game, actually). Playing on the computer and online is OK, but I'm not a huge fan of playing boardgames on screens.

Despite enjoying multiplayer wargames as a solo experience, I have never been able to come up with a satisfactory way of playing abstract games solo. I'm sure I'm not the first one around to want to play abstracts solitaire, so I would appreciate if any of you could share your experiences and how-to's.

Thanks!


An idea would be to set a target goal of a game state within a certain number of moves, as a challenge. Pretty much you are creating puzzles with the game itself. It isn't the same thing. Lack of randomness also makes it more of solving a puzzle.

You can do things like get a program like Zillions of Games and play an AI if that would be of interest. Zillions plays a LOT of games.

On this note, I did find, for example, my game Sight Reduction ended up working as a puzzle also. It uses a randomized set up, for variance sake. And then by having a player play both sides, the idea was to have it reach a state. The configurations vary in difficulty.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Karen Robinson

Colorado
msg tools
I play abstract board games solo all the time, mostly because I love the look and feel of the boards and pieces and can't find opponents very often. I'm not very good at looking ahead, which works in my favor.

I find that games where the two sides have different goals work best for me, things like hnefatalf and asalto and bagh chal and fox-and-hounds work much better than things like chess.

I made up a solo mancala game that has brought me a lot of joy over the past few years. It's based on the traditional puzzle Tchuka Ruma, but it plays more like a game. I'll describe it here, and then try to find a place to post it in the mancala section:


I use a basic western Mancala board, with six holes on a side and a storehouse for each side. I start with various numbers of stones per hole, 3 or 4 or 5, not the same number in each hole, which makes it a different game each time. Choose a hole on either side, and begin sowing counter-clockwise. Sow into the storehouse on the right but not the one on the left (which belongs to your imaginary opponent.)

If you end in your storehouse, choose another hole and take another turn. If you land in a hole that already had one or more stones in it, pick them all up and continue sowing. If you land in an empty hole (which will now have one stone in it) you end that turn and pay a penalty of two stones from your storehouse into your "opponent"'s storehouse. Then take your next turn and continue.

At any time you may end the game by taking all the stones left in the playing holes and putting them into your opponent's storehouse. If you have more stones in your storehouse than in your opponent's storehouse, you win. I generally win about half the time. The more stones you have, the bigger the win. A good player, which I'm not, could aim for capturing all the stones.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ray R.
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm very new to this and have only been playing solo to learn the rules, but in teaching a couple of games I've enjoyed the unexpected learning opportunities that come up when a new player makes a "newbie blunder" that turns out to be a brilliant move (if only we'd known it at the time). This happens all the time when teaching Hive. "Whoa! By putting that piece there, you've made it so I have nowhere I can put my Grasshopper and still get to your Queen in under three moves"

Play a series of quick, semi-random but legal moves to get the board into an interesting state and then play out the rest of the game for both sides. Or, while playing semi-randomly, play ever so slightly better for one player than the other and then, when you switch modes to finish out the game, see if you can cause the slightly disadvantaged player to win (while playing both sides just as well).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juan Valdez
msg tools

Try playing to a draw.

I've tried this with games ranging from Fire in the Lake, to Diskworld (play as Vimes), to Connect 4.

I have found it surprisingly difficult.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven Meyers
msg tools
Without a doubt it's frustrating to have to struggle so much to find over-the-board opponents for non-traditional abstract games. The great majority of those who do enjoy abstracts play the traditional ones, such as chess, checkers and go, for which over-the-board opponents aren't hard to find. But those of us in this forum, who mostly prefer recently invented games or little-known variants of traditional ones, often find ourselves with no one to play with over-the-board.

Some enjoyment can still be had playing abstracts against ourselves, but there is always a certain bad taste in the mouth. I've tried playing abstracts with my wife and my friends, but it's clear that they're doing it out of kindness rather than a real desire to play the game. This also leaves a certain bad taste in the mouth.

In my opinion the problem is getting worse, as video games become more and more popular. It's particularly disheartening to see that many of these games are violent and nihilistic, as well as largely devoid of spiritual value. It is common to hear people enthusiastically discussing the latest "first-person shooter," for instance. Have these people given up on beauty?

The difficulty in finding over-the-board opponents for abstracts led me to start experimenting with solitaire board games, games that are specifically designed for one person to play with physical equipment. This is what led me to develop BoxOff, and I continue to play around with ideas for new solitaire games. I enjoy this, but the problem of finding over-the-board opponents for non-traditional abstracts remains unsolved.

Steve


































































2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Luis Bolaños Mures
Spain
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
swshogimeyers wrote:




































































I couldn't agree more.
4 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.