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Subject: An enjoyable three player abstract rss

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Craig Duncan
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Two Go-playing friends of mine and I recently got together at a bar for drinks. Since we all three share a love of abstract games, I wanted to bring along a game that all three of us could play.

Toward that end I posted a recommendation query on BGG asking others to recommend "print-and-play" three-player abstracts (see here).

From the research inspired by this list, I ended up choosing two games to bring and play: Yavalath and Triskelion. We enjoyed both. This is a report of the Triskelion game.

Here is a picture of our board after the penultimate turn:



The copper player won in the next turn, by placing black in the hex by the penny on the left, at the top of the vertical sequence of 3 black stones, thereby connecting both of his sides. Note that this simultaneously created a "complex win" condition in black for the silver player (connecting the bottom silver side with the two opposite opponent sides, namely, the copper side on the right and the blank side at the top). But as the placer of the stone, the copper player won. Close game!

I was neither copper nor silver. But, you can see that I myself was one move away from victory, just needing a single white stone to connect my two sides. Unfortunately, when my turn came round I was playing black, and then two turns later an opponent blocked me with another black stone.

Like, I said, a close and tense game!

So far this is my only game of Triskelion, but it left me wanting to play more. We agreed it is a unique game that calls for some unusual strategy. One of my friends call it "mind-bending" (and he meant that as a compliment!).

Give it a try yourself. You can print boards from the files here on BGG, and then all you need is playing pieces in two colors (30 pieces in each color will definitely suffice for a size 5 board, though 25 pieces per color will do for nearly all games, I would guess).
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David Molnar
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cdunc123 wrote:
Note that this simultaneously created a "complex win" condition in black for the silver player (connecting the bottom silver side with the two opposite opponent sides, namely, the copper side on the right and the blank side at the top). But as the placer of the stone, the copper player won.


I'm afraid I don't get this. Why would that black Y be "for silver"? It connects three alternating sides, so for each player (silver, copper, blank) it satisfies the second winning condition of connecting one of that player's sides to the two opposite sides of the opposing players.
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Craig Duncan
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molnar wrote:
cdunc123 wrote:
Note that this simultaneously created a "complex win" condition in black for the silver player (connecting the bottom silver side with the two opposite opponent sides, namely, the copper side on the right and the blank side at the top). But as the placer of the stone, the copper player won.


I'm afraid I don't get this. Why would that black Y be "for silver"? It connects three alternating sides, so for each player (silver, copper, blank) it satisfies the second winning condition of connecting one of that player's sides to the two opposite sides of the opposing players.


D'oh! You are exactly right, David. I think when I wrote that comment (after just one game ever of Triskelion) I hadn't quite realized that a three-sided connection for one player is actually a three-sided connection for ALL players!

So in effect, in Triseklion, you never want to take a game board to within just one stone of a three-sided win, since that will give the next player to play that stone color the win. In practice, then, the three-sided win connection works to create "no go" cells, i.e. cells you mustn't play a given color in, since to do so would give a three-sided win to the next player to play that color.

What this means is that if your two-sided win chances have been extinguished (trust me, this can happen), then your only hope for a three-sided win is to try to block the other players' two-sided wins and send the game into a cold phase where all players' goal is to avoid creating the condition for a three-sided win for an opponent. Then you hope you outlast the others in such a cold phase. Very hard to pull this off, I should think.

For a twist on Triskelion, check out my own Chromatix. This also has three-sided wins, but since pieces are only semi-shared in Chromatix, it is not the case that a three-sided win for one player is a three-sided win for all. So it's possible intentionally to strive for a three-sided win on your own. That is to say, bringing the board within one of such a win does not necessarily give the game away to an opponent.
 
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