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Subject: Abstract?! Have you gone mad? rss

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Mike Dommett
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Don't misunderstand me, I think that Patchwork is a masterful game. However, it seems to be at the top of the "Abstract" chart. Is everyone insane, or blind, or has the definition of "Abstract" recently changed? Frankly, this game is a far closer representation of it's subject matter than virtually every other game out there. To illustrate my point, let me describe either the process of making a patchwork quilt or playing this game and see if you can guess which:

1) Sit in the warmth and comfort of your home in order to embark upon a favourite pastime
2) Gather your materials in front of you
3) Attempt to assemble a myriad incongruent two dimensional shapes into a single, continuous surface
4) Admire your creation, reflecting on the enjoyment you had creating it, before returning to the unrelenting persistence of reality

Can you guess? Of course not, I just described both!

I hereby call on those confused by the elegance and simplicity of Patchwork and who may have mistakenly considered this heavily themed masterpiece to be abstract in nature to revise their classification and vote instead for Patchwork to be a "Themed" game! (I forgive you. I mean, it's not even like the name "Patchwork" betrays the theme as obviously as, say, "GIPF" .)
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Russ Williams
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Here you go:
Huh? Why is this abstract?

Executive summary: "abstract game" means different things to different people. Patchwork is a game of alternating turns with no randomness and no hidden info, like Chess or Go, and thus is an "abstract game" as many people use the term.
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mortego
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I consider it an abstract game but not because of someone else's definition.
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Rex Moore
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Oh, it's an abstract for sure. But the title of your post should be: "This is the #1 ranked abstract?! Have you gone mad?"



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Joel L
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Yes, it's an abstract game.
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Bill Eldard
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Hopkins wrote:
1) Sit in the warmth and comfort of your home in order to embark upon a favourite pastime
2) Gather your materials in front of you
3) Attempt to assemble a myriad incongruent two dimensional shapes into a single, continuous surface
4) Admire your creation, reflecting on the enjoyment you had creating it, before returning to the unrelenting persistence of reality

But you forgot the other similarities . . .

5) You buy new patches of material with buttons.
6) Periodically, as you work on your quilt, you receive an amount of buttons equal to the number of buttons you already have on your quilt.
7) If you decide not to add a patch of material, you receive an amount of buttons instead.

There . . . fixed.

(Disclaimer: I've never made a quilt, so I'm guessing.)
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Karl Bunyan
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Eldard wrote:
Hopkins wrote:
1) Sit in the warmth and comfort of your home in order to embark upon a favourite pastime
2) Gather your materials in front of you
3) Attempt to assemble a myriad incongruent two dimensional shapes into a single, continuous surface
4) Admire your creation, reflecting on the enjoyment you had creating it, before returning to the unrelenting persistence of reality

But you forgot the other similarities . . .

5) You buy new patches of material with buttons.
6) Periodically, as you work on your quilt, you receive an amount of buttons equal to the number of buttons already have on your quilt.
7) If you decide not to add a patch of material, you receive an amount of buttons instead.

8. Sewing pieces into your quilt not because you want it, but because someone else who's also making a quilt wants it more
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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What I think is mad is that a game with both hidden information (the tile racks) and randomness (the tile bag) like Ingenious is somehow on that list.

But then, BGG categories are weird in many ways. What's classified as a wargame and what isn't can be very strange too. Hardcore wargamers and euro-gamers tend to view it differently - I think something similar is happening with the Abstract category.

Abstract game = no luck, no hidden information, no simultaneous choices... that's the definition I grew up with it having in the circles where I discussed games before BGG. For example, Through the Desert, Chess, or 2-player 18xx fits here.

Whereas some people look at theme or lack of it. Then, things like Qwirkle, Ingenious, Poker, Scrabble, and so on, are all abstract. (And one could argue about degrees of theme - Chess has a (low, but existing) level of theme - does that disqualify it as an abstract if one uses theme to define the category?)

BGG seems to have landed somewhere in between - the wiki uses this image to illustrate different meanings of abstract:
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Rex Moore
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unic wrote:
What I think is mad is that a game with both hidden information (the tile racks) and randomness (the tile bag) like Ingenious is somehow on that list.


What would you classify it as other than abstract?


Quote:
Abstract game = no luck, no hidden information, no simultaneous choices... that's the definition I grew up with it having in the circles where I discussed games before BGG. For example, Through the Desert, Chess, or 2-player 18xx fits here.


These are called "combinatorial abstracts," as I've learned.
 
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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Well, the option when actually voting on a game page is not just "abstract game", it is "abstract strategy game", which does have this traditional meaning.

Me, I'd put Ingenious in the Strategy game category, where for example Poker currently is (whereas Bridge is in both Strategy and Abstract Strategy categories, with about equal votes for each - is the conclusion that Poker has more theme than Bridge somehow?), or possibly Family game (as it is quite light).

 
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Letsplay Another
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As far as I'm concerned, you are preaching to the choir Mike. I have always argued that this game does not belong in the abstract strategy category. See here for another discussion
 
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Spencer C
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unic wrote:



Huh. That definition of Perfect Information is a bit different than what I considered it as. Also, Stratego in Luckless is plain wrong. Maybe "No Random Element", but certainly not luckless.
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Russ Williams
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UanarchyK wrote:
unic wrote:



Huh. That definition of Perfect Information is a bit different than what I considered it as. Also, Stratego in Luckless is plain wrong. Maybe "No Random Element", but certainly not luckless.

"Luckless" seems a loose informal casual colloquial undefined term (at least I've never seen a clear unambiguous widely accepted definition of "luck" or of "luckless"... kind of like "fun" ), so I'm not sure one can say that it's "right" or "wrong"; evidently in this chart it is intended to mean "No Random Element".
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Mike Dommett
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Thanks for all the replies. As you probably guessed by the tone of my post, I was not entirely serious. However, the discussion about the classification of a "abstract game" is certainly interesting. In fact, this also relates to my recent question about the so-called "subdomains":

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1740827/how-browse-strategy...

It appears as though these were created with the idea that it should be possible to pigeonhole a game into a single subdomain, which is probably an impossible task, but still an interesting problem.
 
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Mike Dommett
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UanarchyK wrote:
Huh. That definition of Perfect Information is a bit different than what I considered it as.

Yes, I would argue that the tiles in the bag form part of the game-state, and that the unknown order of drawing these tiles disqualifies Carcassonne from being "perfect information". It certainly makes it distinct from Chess, Go, etc. I then would argue that a title containing the word "perfect" should be the absolute limit of whatever paradigm it is describing, and so it should be applied to Chess, Go, etc. and a new title be created for whatever Carcassonne is!
 
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Russ Williams
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Hopkins wrote:
It appears as though these were created with the idea that it should be possible to pigeonhole a game into a single subdomain, which is probably an impossible task, but still an interesting problem.

Yep, that pigeonholing/partitioning is a problem with the "subdomain" concept, since they obviously overlap in reality. E.g. there's no reason an "abstract" game cannot also be a "family" game (I suppose many families have played abstract games like Checkers, Connect 4, Blokus, etc). And it's often pointed out that many or most "wargames" certainly seem "thematic", and are very often also "strategic".

Then there's the problem that the definitions of the subdomains are kind of vague to begin with.
 
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Mack C
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russ wrote:
Patchwork is a game of alternating turns with no randomness...


Wouldn't the arrangement of the patches be a random element? I just lost a game I believe mostly due to the arrangement and my friend going first. I had a hell of a time getting button patches early in the game. I've been playing a silly amount of the app and like to think I've gotten pretty good. My friend had never played before. If I had been beaten by a little, I'd be surprised, but chalk it up to her being a great gamer, but I was TROUNCED.
 
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Russ Williams
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mackerous wrote:
russ wrote:
Patchwork is a game of alternating turns with no randomness...


Wouldn't the arrangement of the patches be a random element?

Sorry, I meant randomness during play, not during setup before players make any decisions. Similar e.g. to TZAAR, Chess 960, Hey, That's My Fish!, Gipsy King and various other such games with random setups but no randomness or hidden info during play, which most abstract fans consider to be abstracts.

You can view such a game with random setup as a family of closely related abstract strategy games (all using the same rules, just with different setups), one of which you randomly choose to play (during setup).

Simple example: Go players typically consider themselves to be playing "Go" whether it's on the full 19x19 board or on a smaller 13x13 or 9x9 board. They are effectively 3 distinct members of the family of "Go games". If we say "Let's play Go, but randomly decide whether we're playing on a 9x9, 13x13, or 19x19 board", then there is a (very simple!) random setup followed by no randomness and no hidden info during play.
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Letsplay Another
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russ wrote:


Simple example: Go players typically consider themselves to be playing "Go" whether it's on the full 19x19 board or on a smaller 13x13 or 9x9 board. They are effectively 3 distinct members of the family of "Go games". If we say "Let's play Go, but randomly decide whether we're playing on a 9x9, 13x13, or 19x19 board", then there is a (very simple!) random setup followed by no randomness and no hidden info during play.


I disagree with that analogy. A certain setup of Go won't give one player a huge advantage over another another player. However, that is commonly the case in patchwork, as mackerous and many others have experienced.

Patchwork might be more comparable to Backgammon in the way that luck is definitely a factor, but good play mitigates it. Backgammon helped solved this problem with the the doubling cube. It would be interesting to see how well a doubling cube would work in patchwork matches.
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Grant
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tflawless wrote:
russ wrote:


Simple example: Go players typically consider themselves to be playing "Go" whether it's on the full 19x19 board or on a smaller 13x13 or 9x9 board. They are effectively 3 distinct members of the family of "Go games". If we say "Let's play Go, but randomly decide whether we're playing on a 9x9, 13x13, or 19x19 board", then there is a (very simple!) random setup followed by no randomness and no hidden info during play.


I disagree with that analogy. A certain setup of Go won't give one player a huge advantage over another another player.

You missed the point of his analogy, which had nothing to do with whether different setups favored one player over another, and everything to do with considering different setups not as random elements but as variations with known parameters revealed before the game starts.

Nobody is denying that a certain setup can't favor one player over another.
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Letsplay Another
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He is comparing randomly choosing a Go gameboard size with the random setup of patches in patchwork. That is not a fair comparison.
 
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Grant
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tflawless wrote:
He is comparing randomly choosing a Go gameboard size with the random setup of patches in patchwork. That is not a fair comparison.

It is absolutely a fair comparison for making the point that defining the game's initial parameters is not a random gameplay element.
 
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