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Subject: [WIP] ACNOS - 2-player abstract strategy game rss

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Alek Erickson
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game title: ACNOS
subtitle: ACKNOWLEDGE THE POTENTIAL
designer/artist: Alek Erickson

LINK TO THE 2-PLAYER PnP THREAD:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1726893/2017-two-player-pri...
2017 Two-Player Print and Play Game Design Contest


two-sentence description of the game:
ACNOS is a system of struggle that exists within a space of mathematically finite, but experientially infinite potential. The acknowledgement of such potential is the key to understanding and winning ACNOS conflicts.

Players: 2
Setup time: 0 min
Play time: 5 to 90 min
Age: 5 to 90 years
Theme: Morphogenesis, Emergence, Treasure-hunting, Potential

some tidbits about the game:
ACNOS is a 2-player abstract strategy board game created by Alek Erickson.
Players manipulate armies of shapes to capture the opponent's treasure.
ACNOS synthesizes some elements of classic games like Go and Chess.
ACNOS contains innovative ability mechanics to suit several play styles.
ACNOS introduces several degrees of choice adding to strategic complexity.
ACNOS has become subject of deep theory, lore, and a full soundtrack.

some mathematical statements about the game:
every game of ACNOS is decisive
there are roughly 5x10^35 legal initial positions in ACNOS
calculating number of legal board states breaks the calculators online,
but the number of legal states of any given square is roughly 36 million
ACNOS is NOT a game of perfect information (because of the 15 randomly shuffled reserve pieces, and from this reserve only the top "next piece" is public information at any given moment) but has one variant that allows players to arrange their reserve pieces in a line from first to last that becomes visible to both players when the veil is lifted.
Based on the rule that 1 ability must be activated by each player per turn, the maximum number of half-moves in any given ACNOS game is 90
From a typical starting position in ACNOS there are over 200 thousand ways to make your first move. Some of those can lose the game immediately...if your opponent can acknowledge the potential

ACNOS is being entered for consideration into the following categories:
Best Game
Best Heavy Game
Best Game With Language Independent Components
Best Use Of Theme
Best Art/Graphic Design
Best New Designer (since this is my first game)
Best New Mechanic (specifically for the way the merge ability works which to my knowledge has never been used before and it ends up having unexpected synergy with piece placement, blockade placement, and teleportation in the game; but generally for the new form of resource management: choosing from 1 of 3 ability mechanics each turn, each bring their own advantages and burdens)

LINK TO RULES MANUAL AND COMPONENTS
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bwx8kmu-ZcjzTFV2YzRtX0M1Rz...

LINK TO SAMPLE GAMES PDF
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bwx8kmu-ZcjzdnRJVExFSVBkSE...

LINK TO CORRESPONDENCE ACNOS FILE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bwx8kmu-ZcjzcjFWOUtJLUdlX2...

Alek Erickson
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Jonas Lidström Isegrim
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alekerickson wrote:

I have made a pdf that describes the final rules, contains my play tested pieces, and board, but how do I make it into a PnP file and post it to enter the contest?

Alek Erickson


Post a link to the pdf-file, that would be good enough!
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Marty Lund
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Good luck!
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Alek Erickson
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The link to the pdf has been added to the game description. Please check it out, thank you!

Alek
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Alek Erickson
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Hello everyone I just noticed that the moderators of the 2017 2-player PNP contest have not included ACNOS in the list of submissions? Have I done something wrong?

I just read through the first few pages of the 2017 2-player PNP contest thread. Seems like JK wants people to test out the other submissions!

I will print and play MALU, which looks interesting, and ALCHELEMENTAL, because the creator of that game spent valuable time reading my submission pdf for ACNOS.

I would like to ask the creators of MALU and other people...HOW DO I GET A GAME PAGE FOR ACNOS ON BGG? It seems so confusing to use this website.

Soon as I can I will provide feedback for those two games.

Cheers,

Alek Erickson
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JK
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Hi Alek, welcome to the contest!

Sorry about the delay of a couple of days in listing your game, but as noted in the main thread I was halfway up a volcano with no internet access...

Best of luck!
JK
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JK
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alekerickson wrote:
HOW DO I GET A GAME PAGE FOR ACNOS ON BGG? It seems so confusing to use this website.


Yes, it takes a while to figure the site out - I'm still learning new tricks after 2 years...

To get a BGG database listing (and game page) click on the main menu MISC - Add to database - Board game and fill in the form. The moderators will look over it and if there are no issues they will set it up for you. Note that there is always a huge backlog of requests and this can take some time (from my experience it takes about 6 weeks on average, give or take a couple of weeks). Once the listing is there you can add pictures, files etc.

Cheers,
JK
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JK
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Hi Alek,

I see you have entered both Best casual game and Best heavy game categories. Can you please add a few words about which rules variant you wish for each (e.g. Alchelemental has a "small board version" in the casual category and a "large board version" in the heavy category). These will help the voters to judge your game fairly (e.g. a voter who plays the full game may rate it poorly for Best casual game because it is too heavy, although there may be a really good casual variant).

Thanks,
JK
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Alek Erickson
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IDK JohnKean, maybe I am unclear on the specific definitions for the different game categories. Right now, there are no rules variants to ACNOS... except games that are ACNOS derivatives... which I don't think any of those exist yet. But if they did... they wouldn't be ACNOS, right? They would be different games derived from the game.

You mentioned that Alchelemental has different board sizes entered into the respective categories. That may work for Alchelemental, but I don't think that reducing the board size for ACNOS would make it any more Casual (As the rules would still take equal amount of work to explain). Although play testing has revealed that innocent looking mistakes can lead to immediate game over (if the opponent can acknowledge their potential), and the likelihood of short games between two players of unequal strength is one indication of a casual game (basically, ACNOS need not be an all-night battle, and all-nighters are associated with heavy games). Further, I read the description of casual as "you can play at the bar with friends" which is the setting of much of the ACNOS I've seen IRL.

But I think that in the same way that Chess and Go are heavy, ACNOS is heavy because of the potential for intense strategic struggles. In this vein, after some rough calculations of the computational complexity (analysis of the number possible board states and game trees) increasing the board size of ACNOS would lead to a mathematical nightmare (my point is that the game contains the potential for great "weight", warranting a position in the heavy category, without having to increase size).

I know you were looking for different versions of ACNOS, but I guess what I am trying to do is maintain that it is both heavy and casual under a single ruleset. If I need to withdraw from one category, please alert me.

Thanks,

Alek
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Alek Erickson
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PDF has been slightly modified to include a slide clarifying end of game rules and explaining why draws are impossible in ACNOS. Link should be the same.

ALSO: to avoid confusion I have withdrawn ACNOS from consideration in the Casual/Gateway category but have added ACNOS into consideration for "Best New Designer" because I am a new designer and this is my first game.
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Alek Erickson
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Update. From a typical starting position in ACNOS there are over 200 thousand ways to make your first move. Some of those can lose the game immediately...if your opponent can acknowledge the potential
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JK
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PLAYTESTER SPOT PRIZES

This game is eligible for a playtester spot prize for the next week!

See this post for more details.
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Alek Erickson
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thank you JK!!
 
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Wayne Koenig
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Hello,

I went ahead an looked through your rules. I went start to finish so all my comments are accordingly. If I need to clarify anything please PM me. I hope these are helpful.

---

- 5- 90 minutes is a big spread of time. By having this wide a spread you will eliminate potential players. Find an average time in the middle and stick to that.
- There is no theme (Not in the rulebook that is.) Not always a problem with abstracts, but something to consider. A lot of people in the hobby market like theme as I am sure you are aware.
- The aggressiveness sentence on page 4 seems a bit out of place. Maybe add it into a "points and tips" section?
- Transparent pieces are difficult for players to create. I like the plexiglass idea, but you might want to give a suggestion to players as to how to do this cheaply.
- I would move the "pieces" section on page 5 to after a "setup" page.
- At this point in the rules I got a thought. Check out a game called "Octi." It is not the same, but it might give you some options.
- Page 6. The term "layers" was confusing. The illustration made me think there was a chance to play this with more players. I would just say "Player 1's zone, Player 2's zone, and the neutral zone," unless there is another reason for saying layers later in the rules.
- This is not a huge deal, but I thought I would mention it. Once you have a game box you can use that as divider for the "river," but until then you might want to put "a big box" in the needed for PnP.
- Having players need to count their "number of arrows," seems like a bad idea. If Player 1 messes up and has 22, then it is a misdeal, and both players need to start over.
- Page 10. The flow of this page is off. If you are going to give players the option to "place a piece, Build a Blockade, Initiate merge" then I would recomend explaining those before you go into the other things that players can do. You don't want players to need to skip ahead.
- Page 11. "Pick a from the top.." Re-word
- Page 12. You mention blockades, but you have not explained them yet. I would blockages first. If you chose not to do this, put something here that says, "explained later."
- After reading this page I am convinced that you do not to have a merge ability. You could just has easily have a player "MOVE," his piece onto another piece. This then makes it a "capture" or a "merge." Having it be its own separate action I feel adds convolution and confusion.
- Page 13. I suggest having a "can not place" illustration for the diagonal blockade as well as the orthogonal.
- Page 14. This just seems to add convolution. How do I mark if a pieces has "teleported?" I would recommend just making it am max of 2 or 3 (your choice.) The wrap around board is cool, can I use it that way on the sides? (Ie. if I go through the right side, can I show up on the left side.)

---

I hope this are helpful. All of these ideas are person preference obviously, so feel free to keep what you like and toss the rest. I wish you luck in the contest.

God Bless,
Wayne
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Alek Erickson
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dear wayne: thank you for taking the time to read my manual, and thank you for all your feedback! Here I have responded to some things.

Orwe11 wrote:

- 5- 90 minutes is a big spread of time. By having this wide a spread you will eliminate potential players. Find an average time in the middle and stick to that.

I think I will report the mean, median, mode, standard deviation, and possible range of both gameplay time and number of moves per game.

Orwe11 wrote:

- The aggressiveness sentence on page 4 seems a bit out of place. Maybe add it into a "points and tips" section?

I will remove this sentence, but I may put it into the teleport section.

Orwe11 wrote:

- Transparent pieces are difficult for players to create. I like the plexiglass idea, but you might want to give a suggestion to players as to how to do this cheaply.

In the rule manual, I had specified transparency printouts. Transparencies are dirt-cheap. Also, I recently uploaded a Powerpoint version of the game for correspondence play.

Orwe11 wrote:

- At this point in the rules I got a thought. Check out a game called "Octi." It is not the same, but it might give you some options.

I recently discovered Octi, about a week ago, and then you brought it up. it is an interesting looking game. At first it made me sad, but then I realized how different these two games are.

Orwe11 wrote:

- Page 6. The term "layers" was confusing. The illustration made me think there was a chance to play this with more players. I would just say "Player 1's zone, Player 2's zone, and the neutral zone," unless there is another reason for saying layers later in the rules.

I could easily say rank as in chess, but the term layer came naturally from once having a merge piece that couldn't possibly ever touch the opponent's treasure. At that time I thought to myself, "it's on the wrong layer", and from then on I have called them layers.

Orwe11 wrote:

- This is not a huge deal, but I thought I would mention it. Once you have a game box you can use that as divider for the "river," but until then you might want to put "a big box" in the needed for PnP.

Yes, not a huge deal, I just assumed players would figure it out, but also not too much work for me to revise the manual to include this information.

Orwe11 wrote:

- After reading this page I am convinced that you do not to have a merge ability. You could just has easily have a player "MOVE," his piece onto another piece. This then makes it a "capture" or a "merge." Having it be its own separate action I feel adds convolution and confusion.

The point of the ability is something that you do once per turn, and forego the opportunity for other abilities during that turn. Merging does require movement to be completed. But choosing the ability to make it legal for you to merge pieces in a given turn is why this is an ability. Making something fall under the category of "Movement" versus "Ability" is an important distinction and changes the entire feel of the gameplay. If you decide to play the game, you could for instance play-test a variant where "flipping and/or rotation" is an ability, instead of a movement. The game becomes much less interesting.

Orwe11 wrote:

- Page 14. This just seems to add convolution.

I'm not clear on what you think adds convolution...the mechanic, or the wording?

Orwe11 wrote:

How do I mark if a pieces has "teleported?"

In all the games I have played and watched of people playing ACNOS there has been no problem in remembering which pieces make it across the entire board. People have brought this up to me before though. If the game gets published nice, I would include a hole for a peg that indicates unused merge potential. The point of the teleporting is to add incentive for people to guard and attack different areas than just the treasure. If someone teleports home and makes a 3-stack piece, it's akin to getting a queen in chess or a king in checkers. Not impossible to lose, but a lot easier to win. Plus, the teleportation synergizes perfectly with activating merge that turn, making a three (or four or five stack), and then potentially delivering ACNOS that turn (creating a position where capture of the treasure is inevitable).

Orwe11 wrote:

The wrap around board is cool, can I use it that way on the sides? (Ie. if I go through the right side, can I show up on the left side.)

No. If we allow that, then the ability to set up your treasure square at any point from the b-file to the g-file becomes somewhat meaningless. I want the distance between players treasure to be real, user-defined distance, and not subject to teleportation loopholes. The teleport wrap-around mechanic is in place simply 1) So that pieces that get to the other side aren't stuck and 2) To create a secondary goal for players to attack.

Hope these make sense!
Thanks again!
Alek



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