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Subject: Define "Abstract Strategy Game" and help me understand why not X rss

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Chip Crawford
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I've ready the BGG definition and the wikipedia one. Just looking for a little discussion.

Why wouldn't Splendor be listed as an abstract strategy game?
 
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Jimmy Smith
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Because it has artwork and somewhat thematic components?
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Chip Crawford
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Yeah, I guess it's a real loose term, right?

I'd say you could slap pretty much any theme on that and not change anything.

I thought, "well maybe because of the shuffled cards," but take a game like The Duke. That has random pulls from a bag, and I'd call it abstract strategy.
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Sarah Kelley
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I wouldn't mind to see it listed that way. The theme is lightly washed on.
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Mauricio Montoya
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It may be little and pasted on, but the theme is there, in the cover, in the component's art and in the premise on the first page of the manual. As small as it may be, the game is no longer considered an abstract by a lot of people because of it.

Games like Checkers, Ingenious or Quixo don't have even a single paragraph of story in the manual or a justification as to why your pieces are opposing the other player's ones. Your pawns aren't supoosed to be knights, wizards or farmers, and although you can king a checkers piece, it doesn't give it control over a kingdom or anything else besides 1 simple rule change. The game is a mathematical, geometrical or logical puzzle meant to be enjoyed as it is, not for the narrative it presents. Even the covers for those games tend to be just a picture of the pieces and/or the name of the game because they're not supposed to be representing anything else.

Sure, you can make a version of Splendor just with white cards with icons and numbers and you won't lose anything gameplay-wise, but the game as it is produced and marketed is not an abstract game.

And for discussion's sake, I give you this version of Santorini as opposed to this version of Santorini.
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Chip Crawford
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mearendil wrote:
It may be little and pasted on, but the theme is there, in the cover, in the component's art and in the premise on the first page of the manual. As small as it may be, the game is no longer an abstract for it.

Games like Checkers, Ingenious or Quixo don't have even a single paragraph of story in the manual or a justification to why your pieces oppose the other player's ones. Your pawns aren't supoosed to be knights or farmers, and although you can king a checkers piece it doesn't give it control over a kingdom or anything else besides 1 simple rule change. Even the covers tend to be just a picture of the pieces and/or the name of the game because they're not supposed to be representing anything else.

Sure, you can make a version of Splendor just with blank cards with icons and numbers and you don't lose anything, but the game as it is produced and marketed is not an abstract game.

And for discussion's sake, I give you this version of Santorini as opposed to this version of Santorini.


Good points Mauricio.

Oh WOW! The Santorini versions are great! Haha. So the 2004 version is abstract strategy but the 2016 version adds a story and thus not?
 
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ChipChuck wrote:
I've ready the BGG definition and the wikipedia one. Just looking for a little discussion.

Why wouldn't Splendor be listed as an abstract strategy game?


Because the decks of cards prevent open information and make the game not combinatorial.
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Ken Lewis
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darthain wrote:
ChipChuck wrote:
I've ready the BGG definition and the wikipedia one. Just looking for a little discussion.

Why wouldn't Splendor be listed as an abstract strategy game?


Because the decks of cards prevent open information and make the game not combinatorial.


This is similar to what I was thinking. I have never played Splendor, but if the decks of cards apply a lot of luck of the draw aspects, that is probably why it is not seen as an abstract strategy game.
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Mauricio Montoya
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ChipChuck wrote:
Oh WOW! The Santorini versions are great! Haha. So the 2004 version is abstract strategy but the 2016 version adds a story and thus not?


Yup, you have house floors and blue rooftop pieces instead of plain white blocks, your player pieces are miniatures of the gods instead of cylinders, and you're building a city on an island instead of placing blocks on a grid. The gameplay is EXACTLY the same, but I guarantee that a lot of the people that pledged on the newer game's KS wouldn't have looked twice at the original game.

I give you: theme
 
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George Louie
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mearendil wrote:
It may be little and pasted on, but the theme is there, in the cover, in the component's art and in the premise on the first page of the manual. As small as it may be, the game is no longer considered an abstract by a lot of people because of it.

Games like Checkers, Ingenious or Quixo don't have even a single paragraph of story in the manual or a justification as to why your pieces are opposing the other player's ones. Your pawns aren't supoosed to be knights, wizards or farmers, and although you can king a checkers piece, it doesn't give it control over a kingdom or anything else besides 1 simple rule change. The game is a mathematical, geometrical or logical puzzle meant to be enjoyed as it is, not for the narrative it presents. Even the covers for those games tend to be just a picture of the pieces and/or the name of the game because they're not supposed to be representing anything else.

Sure, you can make a version of Splendor just with white cards with icons and numbers and you won't lose anything gameplay-wise, but the game as it is produced and marketed is not an abstract game.

And for discussion's sake, I give you this version of Santorini as opposed to this version of Santorini.


I get what you're saying and can't say I disagree with you.. but by that logic Hive would be considered to have a theme. But its listed as an Abstract Strategy Game on BGG.

 
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J C Lawrence
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Because it isn't a 2-player combinatorial game.
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Mauricio Montoya
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Chess too, but I think it's got more to do with how the game is marketed and percieved by the gaming public. You never see chess described as an "ancient Hindu warfare simulation", and it's supposed to be at least two of those things. The "theme" is just there for the sake of identifying the pieces, but the mechanics and the pieces' movement has little to do with that they're supposedly representing (the same with Hive).

As a rule of thumb (that I just invented right now), if your manual starts by saying something like "You are X trying to do Y in <time period>" your game is probably going to be listed as a thematic one. If it starts with something like "Your pieces..." it's probably an abstract
 
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glouie wrote:
by that logic Hive would be considered to have a theme. But its listed as an Abstract Strategy Game on BGG.

I disagree with BGG that Hive, The Duke and even Chess are abstract strategy.
 
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I would save your calories and your inner monologue (and sanity) when trying to get a handle on BGG's seemingly arbitrary labels and definitions. To me the Abstract label is reversed (ie; an abstraction of what?). Thematic is a MUCH better label and difference when trying to separate one category of games from another, in my own opinion.
 
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George Louie
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mearendil wrote:
As a rule of thumb (that I just invented right now), if your manual starts by saying something like "You are X trying to do Y in <time period>" your game is probably going to be listed as a thematic one. If it starts with "Your pieces..." it's probably an abstract


Do I really need to go through every Abstract Game on BGG and check your newly invented "rule of thumb"? LOL
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Chip Crawford
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wamsp wrote:
glouie wrote:
by that logic Hive would be considered to have a theme. But its listed as an Abstract Strategy Game on BGG.

I disagree with BGG that Hive, The Duke and even Chess are abstract strategy.


What would you consider them.
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K S
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Hive and Chess are themed combinatorial strategy games. I'm not sure that there is a named category more specific than "strategy" that I would want to place The Duke in. My primary objection is that each of these games is themed and thus not asbtract. Sure, the theme is "pasted-on" but if we're going to call The Duke "abstract" then I think we may as well call Splendor and Dominion "abstract".
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wamsp wrote:
Hive and Chess are themed combinatorial strategy games. I'm not sure that there is a named category more specific than "strategy" that I would want to place The Duke in. My primary objection is that each of these games is themed and thus not asbtract. Sure, the theme is "pasted-on" but if we're going to call The Duke "abstract" then I think we may as well call Splendor and Dominion "abstract".


Under this definition, how could any game with a variety of pieces be an abstract? I suppose you could make chess with pyramid, cube, sphere-like, etc. pieces, but when you get more pieces, like Duke, you have to give them some kind of name. How could one do that while keeping it abstract, under your idea?
 
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Carl Frodge
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ChipChuck wrote:
I've ready the BGG definition and the wikipedia one. Just looking for a little discussion.

Why wouldn't Splendor be listed as an abstract strategy game?

Mainly because it has random elements, and it's not abstract.
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David Buckley
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clearclaw wrote:
Because it isn't a 2-player combinatorial game.


Nor are Tsuro, Bridge, Qwirkle or Backgammon, all of which are classified by BGG as "abstract strategy games".

Chess has about as much theme as Splendor and I think most of us would still consider Chess an abstract game.

For me the term "abstract strategy game" describes a style of game, irrespective of theme or lack thereof, but I can't come up with a better definition than "I know one when I see one".

FWIW I don't consider Splendor an abstract strategy game but what do I know? I don't consider Bridge or Tsuro to be abstract strategy games either.
 
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Richard Irving
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Because the term "abstract game" predates BGG.

It is used to refer to games like Chess, Go, Othello, Shogi, Hex, etc.:
- 2 players (so petty diplomacy does not occur)
- perfect information (i.e. no random elements during play, but may exist during set up.)
- regular grid
- Most are completely abstract, but even in Chess, the names are of minimal simulation or thematic value (They are just names). The King is simply the name of a piece that moves 1 square orthogonally or diagonally and its loss loses the game.

The lack of theme is really the least important element. After Go could marketed as "Battle of the Microbes"--Black paramecia and white amebae fight over a Petri dish.
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J C Lawrence
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Buckersuk wrote:
Chess has about as much theme as Splendor and I think most of us would still consider Chess an abstract game.


Abstract strategy game traditionally means two-player combinatorial game. Whether or not it has a theme or how well developed that theme is, is entirely irrelevant. The tests are solely whether it is two-player and combinatorial. If it is, it is an abstract strategy game (as it submits to abstract strategic analysis), and it if isn't, well then, it isn't.
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Whoshim wrote:
Under this definition, how could any game with a variety of pieces be an abstract?

Ingenious

Whoshim wrote:
How could one do that while keeping it abstract, under your idea?

Why would it need to be done? Why does a large category of "abstract strategy games" need to exist at all?
 
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wamsp wrote:
glouie wrote:
by that logic Hive would be considered to have a theme. But its listed as an Abstract Strategy Game on BGG.

I disagree with BGG that Hive, The Duke and even Chess are abstract strategy.

I think that if the definition you choose for "Abstract" would lead to the result of Chess not being an Abstract, then your definition must be wrong.
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Gregg Saruwatari
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ChipChuck wrote:
I've ready the BGG definition and the wikipedia one. Just looking for a little discussion.

Why wouldn't Splendor be listed as an abstract strategy game?


I think plenty would call Splendor abstract. The question is: Who calls Splendor strategy?
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