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Subject: Pikemen, a moderate Abstract strategy game. rss

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Keith "Boaty McBoatface" C
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Pikemen is an interesting abstract strategy game for 2 to 4 players. The game was not produced as a stand alone game, but its rules were given in the book “Playing with Pyramids” along with many other games which can be played with IceHouse playing pieces.

The games uses a standard 8x8 Chessboard and one stash of IceHouse pyramids for each player. The initial setup varies depending on players, but they are generally opposing one another. Each player starts with a certain number of pieces which represent his pikemen.


Two player setup.


Three player setup.


Four player setup.

All pieces start in the upright position, indicating that they are taking a defensive posture. On each player’s turn, they can either move any piece that isn’t in a defense stance, or they can reorient any piece. When a player wishes to move a piece, it moves any distance in the direction it is pointing (orthogonally or diagonally). After moving the piece, the player can reorient it in any direction, or set it in the defensive posture.

The goal of this game is to capture 12 points worth of your opponents’ pieces. Large pieces are worth three points, mediums are two points and smalls are one point. You take enemy pieces by moving your pieces onto their spaces, much like Chess. However, there are a few rules regarding how pieces are captured. Any piece that is in an attack posture (not upright) can be taken by any other piece. If the piece is defending, it can only be taken by a larger piece. As a result, a defending large piece cannot be taken at all.


In this example the following actions are possible. The green 3-pip piece can take the standing red 2-pip piece since it is smaller. The other two green pieces can take the red pieces they are pointing at since they are both lying down. The large red piece pointing upward cannot take the piece it is pointing at since it is of the same size. The 2-pip red pointing at the standing 2-pip green cannot attack since they are of the same size. The 2-pip red pointing at the attacking 3-pip red is acting as a defensive piece. Any piece that takes the 3-pip red it is pointing at cannot remain in attack posture without risking being taken.

Since each player starts the game with all of his pieces defending, the first few turns are used to organize your attack. While attacking pieces may be vulnerable, having them guarded by your other pieces is a strong deterrent to your opponents. The main strategy of this game is to keep your pieces as guarded as possible. If you can retaliate against an opponent’s attack, they may be less likely to do so. Also, you may want to point your attackers at your opponent’s pieces just so they will remain in a defensive posture, since they will be completely vulnerable if they reorient to set up for a move.

Overall, I think Pikemen is a strong abstract strategy game with much of the feel of Chess, but less complexity.

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Michael Howe
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Thanks for the review. I'll have to try this game some time, maybe even make a Zillions implementation. Have you played it enough to know that it doesn't suffer from drawishness? Sounds to me like there might be a premium on defense, something that always concerns me when playing an abstract strategy game.
 
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Keith "Boaty McBoatface" C
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I've only played a few times. I don't claim to be an expert, so can't really say how it might play out with people who have played many times. I was thinking about it after I submitted and it does seem that moving into another person's territory, taking a piece and setting yourself up defensively would work. Although, that piece wind up getting trapped since it is immobile and highly vulnerable once it is reoriented for movement.
 
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mhowe wrote:
Have you played it enough to know that it doesn't suffer from drawishness?


The 12 point winning condition can be reached by only taking roughly half of the pieces. So, it's hard to be so defensive as to protect that many pieces. Also, there's a feeling that there's almost always a chance for comeback if you can capture a big piece of two.
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Keith "Boaty McBoatface" C
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I updated the review with some images showing starting position. I'll add more images to show other aspects.
 
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MyO the HedgeFox
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Nice review. =)
And, by the way, the board is of good style!
 
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Russ Williams
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mhowe wrote:
Have you played it enough to know that it doesn't suffer from drawishness?

An ancient question, but FWIW I've never experienced anything close to drawishness in my 23 (as I write) logged plays.
 
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