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Subject: Abalone under the GIPF label - would it be a hit? rss

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Ender Wiggins
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Try to imagine: If Abalone was a new game appearing today for the very first time, and as part of the successful GIPF series, would it be a hit? (with the abstract fans who enjoy the GIPF series)

Naturally this raises a deeper question: to what extent do we regard a game as second-rate simply because it is an older game from the 1980s, or can be found in thrift stores for a buck or two? And to what extent do we find a game appealing just because it is new? I've wondered the same about Scotland Yard: if it had appeared for the first time today with glorious bits from Days of Wonder, would we all be raving about how great it is, or suggesting that it's a great gateway game? But because it doesn't have the same "novelty" factor as recently released games, do we perhaps tend to be somewhat dismissive of games like it?
 
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J C Lawrence
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EndersGame wrote:
Try to imagine: If Abalone was a new game appearing today for the very first time, and as part of the successful GIPF series, would it be a hit?


No. IIRC Abalone has been solved.
 
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Barry Figgins
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Abalone's been popular in my gaming group, a little. Overall, though, abstracts don't make as much of a splash as strongly themed games. I don't know if it would really be a hit.
 
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Arthur
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I do not believe it would fit into the GIPF project. The games in the GIPF project (which I believe is already over) all have things in common, and I do not Abalone would be similar enough. However, if Kris Blum redesigned it so that it could end without mutual consent of the players involved (assuming players play defensively), perhaps.
 
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Michael Howe
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clearclaw wrote:
[q="EndersGame"]
No. IIRC Abalone has been solved.


Can you provide a reference for that?
 
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Michael Howe
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Sorry I botched the quoting there. "Can you provide a reference" was my question in response to Clearclaw's thought that Abalone had been solved.
 
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Tony Chen
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I'd imagine that most games, except for the blatantly crappy ones, benefit from the novelty factor. However, after the initial rush has died down, and when people have played, explored, and tested the games more thoroughly, only the good ones stay to become "classics" (go, chess, hex, othello). The not so good ones fall out of favor.

Based on my limited plays, and those against inexperienced players at that, I am nevertheless inclined to say that abalone falls into the latter group. The game seems to favor defensive play and the hogging of the middle. Any attempt to initiate an attack and break the stalemate appears to put the player in a disadvantage. If that is the case, the game will lead to nowhere as both players will be making repetitive moves to preserve their defensive formations.

I've read online several ways to fix, or at least alleviate, this problem. One of them is to use a different starting position. The other is to place a neutral and (I think) immobile red marble in the middle space of the board. I have yet to try either of these methods.

Of the GIPF series I've played zertz, yinsh, and punct. While none of these approach the standard and quality of go, chess, or even othello, they have more strategic validity and depth than abalone does. I never played gipf, but I heard that it is kind of like a mix of abalone and gomoku.

Other "modern" perfect information games that have more strategic validity and depth than abalone are: Quads (also by Kris Burm), Pylos, Hive, Gobblet, etc.

My point is, while the GIPF series definitely benefited from the novelty factor, they are also inherently better games than abalone. So I guess my answer is abalone wouldn't be such a big hit even if it was released as part of the GIPF series.

While we are at it, other "modern" perfect information games that I feel are a bit lacking are Sahara and Quarto. Quarto is the worse of them all; it is just plain pointless in my opinion.
 
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J Jacy
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I think the problem isn't age, it's "quality" and more often than not availability (I know when I read about a cool game that's rated well and sounds as though it will fit my tastes, my enthusiasm for it lessens greatly if I have to trade, or eBay to get it). Abolone's comments and ratings seem to be based on it's gameplay, not age. And you should be recommending Scotland Yard as a good gateway game, for an even game have 4 detectives vs. Mr. X, and handicap it plus or minus a detective as needed. I think the reason people don't recommend Scotland Yard isn't its age, it's that since players need to work together, usually one player becomes the dominant decision maker, and it therefore really works best as a 2 player game.

So I can't speak for others as to the novelty being the main driver, (it may be the case for some, or many) but for me it's not the novelty, in fact it's usually the "tried, tested, and true" games that would get my recommendation.

-jjacy1
 
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Stephen Tavener
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Ooooh - what a thread; I'll have nighmares for a week!

Abalone first; the game isn't solved that I know of, but it IS flawed - the best strategy is to get your pieces into the middle and wait for your opponent to spread their pieces out. If both players know that, you're in for a very long and boring game. Aggression is NOT rewarded. The tragedy is that Abalone was ever produced in the first places; if not, I'm sure Kris Burm would have invented something similar to the Abalone board for playing GIPF, so you push a piece onto the board and the rest slide. I still maintain that the best use of an abalone set is to play GIPF with it.

So, no - Abalone is not of the same standard of project GIPF, and wouldn't get acclaim if released as part of the series. Kudos, then, to Kris Burm, who managed to produce 6 excellent abstract games with the added constraint of a hexagonal theme. Most folks seem to have one good abstract in them. At most

Now, onto the likes of chess, go, and othello. Go is an amazing game; very elegant, and would still be a hit today. Chess is complicated and fiddly, and prone to draws and would not catch on. Othello has most of the elements of a good game, but is borderline solved; I know the game is solved on a 6x6 grid; I wouldn't be surprised if the 8x8 game was also solved.

Finally, my games closet; yes, we still play at least some of the old games from the 80's. And 70's. Generally, the standard has improved; but the likes of Hare and Tortoise, Vector, 5ive Straight, Shark, Bazaar, Bausack, Diplomacy and Cosmic Encounter can still give these upstarts a run for their money!
 
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Mark McEvoy
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clearclaw wrote:
EndersGame wrote:
Try to imagine: If Abalone was a new game appearing today for the very first time, and as part of the successful GIPF series, would it be a hit?


No. IIRC Abalone has been solved.


Isn't ZERTZ darn close to being solved as well? I understand there are players who can play out a forced win after the opponent's first move, for some types of first move.

I believe Abalone is 'solved' in that it's suspected that, between good well-matched players, it lasts forever (defensive play rules the day and the first to deviate from a defensive stand is mostly assured a loss).

But then, between good well-matched players, Chess is usually a draw as well.
 
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Felix Rodriguez
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Zertz out of the box is pretty close to being solved. BUT this is why you need to get one or even two expansion sets to extend the board size. I think the designer said that Zerts+11 was the way to go here.

 
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Chris Trimmer
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EndersGame wrote:
Try to imagine: If Abalone was a new game appearing today for the very first time, and as part of the successful GIPF series, would it be a hit? (with the abstract fans who enjoy the GIPF series)

games, do we perhaps tend to be somewhat dismissive of games like it?



From an overall sales perspective, Abalone may be a bigger hit than any of the GIPF series.
 
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