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Subject: Homeworlds Game Notation rss

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Moisés Solé
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This is something I've devised. It is intended to be shorthand for the recording of games during play, not to give an easy view of the position without having the pieces to follow (just like it's not easy to see the position from a chess game notation without some training to do so).

The system works like this: Colors are indicated by their initial letters, with upper case being for stars, and lower case for spaceships. It doesn't bother with planet names. I use G2, G2', G2" to distinguish planets, and no more of those would be needed, for if G2 is emptied / destroyed, the next middle green star can be called G2 again. There is no need to distinguish identical spaceships. The homeworlds are called H1 and H2 for the first and second player, respectively.

Actions and events are indicated by symbols, they are pretty logical. A construct is indicated by + followed by the color of the ship built. A trade is an = sign, between the old ship and the new color. Movement is a > (it tries to represent an arrow) with the destination next. There is no point in distinguishing regular movement from discoveries, since you can always see if the star exists when replaying the game, just take care of identical stars. The conversion of a ship by attack uses an x (by analogy from chess notation, which is read as "takes". You literally take an opponent's ship). Sacrifice actions are shown by a - (nice symmetry with the construct), and the follow-up actions are indicated later. You can separate them by slashes for readability. Catastrophes are indicated by an !

As an example of how this works, I've notated the game between Andy and Russell that can be found at http://wunderland.com/WTS/Andy/Games/HomeworldsPBEM/Game1Rep...

This is the notated game:
0. G3B1r3 Y2B1g3
1. H1 +r H2 +g
2. H1 r1=g H2 g1=b
3. H1 +r H2 +g
4. H1 r1=y H2 +b
5. H1 g1>B2 H2 b2>G3
6. H1 +r G3 +b
7. H1 r3=b G3 b2=y
8. H1 +y H2 -g3 / G3 +b+b / H2 +b
9. H1 y1>G2 G3 -b2 / G3 b3=r / H2 b3=g
10. G2 +y G3 r3>G2
11. G2 +y G3 y2>G2 G2!
12. B2 +g H2 -g3 / G3 +b+b / H2 +b
13. H1 b3=g G3 -b3 / G3 b2=g b2=y / H2 b3=r
14. B2 g1=y H2 +b
15. B2 +y G3 g2>B2
16. H1 -g3 / B2 +y / H1 +y+y H2 b2>G3
17. B2 -y2 / B2 y1>G3' y1>G3' H2 r3>G3'
18. G3' -y1 / B2 g1>B3 G3' xy1
19. H1 y3>G2' G3' r3>B2
20. H1 +r G3 +b
21. H1 r1>G2' B2 -g2 / G3' +b / H2 +b
22. H1 y1>G2" G3 -b2 / G3 b3=r / G2 r3=b
23. G2' +r G3 -y2 / B2 r3>H1 / G2 b3>H1
24. resigns

The final suicidal move is actually an illegal one. You can do that in a friendly game, but it's analogous to tipping your king in Chess.

What do you think?
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IIRC i've seen similar notations when people had questions about possible/allowed moves. But to see it formalized like that is on a different level. I also like the symbol choices and your arguments concerning the need for differentiability (or rather the lack thereof).

As you say yourself, like in chess, it's not quite easy to follow the notation without some training. But you can quickly replay the game or even recreate every turn's state from the relative notation.

Optional: If I want to record every turn's state in a third column, one would need to be able to differentiate between player's ships, as those can park at the same planet. Maybe you could extend your notation system for this?

Good idea, solidly written.
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Fantastic work! I once contemplated making an algebraic Homeworlds game notation but my initial idea was not nearly as elegant as yours. One minor correction, the catastrophe in round 11 of your example game should read "G2!" not "G3!" (I double checked the linked game history to be sure).

As originally written, your system fails to cover all of the (admittedly minor) edge cases and does not scale well for 3+ player games. Below are some of my thoughts and suggestions. Please feel free to disregard them entirely.

Passing - Passing is an uncommon but officially recognized turn option (see previous forum threads). I recommend denoting a pass with either a double dash "--" (with no system indicated) or simply "pass"

Catastrophes - While astronomically rare, it is technically possible for a single system to have more than one overpopulated color. In such an event, I would suggest appending the ! with the color for which the catastrophe is being called (for example, G2!y). In most cases this letter can be omitted but it may be a good practice to always include it since it makes it much easier to see major catastrophes involving stars (which, using your notation, should use a capital letter for the color; e.g. R2!R).

Three or more players - It is possible that, when playing with three or more players, a player executing an attack may choose to target one of two identical ships owned by different players. In cases of potential ambiguity, I would like to propose prefixing the targeted ship with its owner's player number followed by a colon. For example, G3 x2:y1 would indicate capturing player 2's y1 ship in the G3 system. Again, this addition would be needed fairly infrequently but it should still be covered by your notation system. Additionally, in 3+ player games, it is possible to have 4+ systems with identical stars. Therefore you will need to allow the prime designations to continue to ''' and beyond.

Thanks for sharing your idea! I am interested in hearing what the more experienced players think.


McForrer wrote:
Optional: If I want to record every turn's state in a third column, one would need to be able to differentiate between player's ships, as those can park at the same planet. Maybe you could extend your notation system for this?
It might get a bit tedious to record the full game state every turn. However I do see how it could be useful if you wanted to put a game "on hold" until a later time and did not want to bother with taking pictures (or desired an official record). It would be fairly easy using my ship ownership designation suggestion above. Simply write out each system (separated with slashes for readability) with a condensed list of each player's ships there (prefixed with "player#:"). Players with no ships in a system are, of course, omitted from the list in that system. Note: you will also need to indicate the stars remaining in the Homeworld systems in some way (I suggest parentheses or brackets).

At the end of round 7 in the example Andy vs. Russell game, the full game state could be written as such:

H1(G3B1) 1:b3y1r1 / H2(Y2B1) 2:g3b1g1 / B2 1:g1 / G3 2:b2y2

Even at this early point in the game, the full game state is getting rather long and unwieldy!
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Great effort! This might be the best possible system.

I would prefer if the notation gave the full state of the system rather than having to remember if something is G2 or G2' -- though in practice I expect there are few enough duplicate systems in a normal game for it to be an issue. Giving the full state of the system removes any possible ambiguity due to forgetfulness, but at the loss of succintness.

On paper, I'd also be inclined to modify some elements of this notation. For example, I'd prefer a quick modifier to denote size, something like

. _ ▵
B B B


to denote one-pip, two-pip, and three-pip blue stars. This is much quicker to write than numbers, and its "possession" is clearer visually. Actually, I guess B1 doesn't need anything -- maybe something to consider for your notation as well. You could do B, B2, B3.

Similarly, on paper, one would probably use an arrow rather than >.

My inclination for sacrifice actions would be "-g3 : B2 +y , H1 +y+y" as this mimics the traditional use of the punctuation more closely than / does (the sacrifice leads to those three actions, rather than them being somehow alternatives or simultaneous)

I would also suggest an alternative symbol to ! for catastrophes. Maybe * or #? The exclamation mark is used in chess notation as a form of annotation/commentary which would be nice to port over to this system.
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Umjahwa wrote:
Fantastic work! I once contemplated making an algebraic Homeworlds game notation but my initial idea was not nearly as elegant as yours. One minor correction, the catastrophe in round 11 of your example game should read "G2!" not "G3!" (I double checked the linked game history to be sure).
Great catch on my typo! Fixed.

Umjahwa wrote:
As originally written, your system fails to cover all of the (admittedly minor) edge cases and does not scale well for 3+ player games. Below are some of my thoughts and suggestions. Please feel free to disregard them entirely.

Passing - Passing is an uncommon but officially recognized turn option (see previous forum threads). I recommend denoting a pass with either a double dash "--" (with no system indicated) or simply "pass"

Catastrophes - While astronomically rare, it is technically possible for a single system to have more than one overpopulated color. In such an event, I would suggest appending the ! with the color for which the catastrophe is being called (for example, G2!y). In most cases this letter can be omitted but it may be a good practice to always include it since it makes it much easier to see major catastrophes involving stars (which, using your notation, should use a capital letter for the color; e.g. R2!R).

Three or more players - It is possible that, when playing with three or more players, a player executing an attack may choose to target one of two identical ships owned by different players. In cases of potential ambiguity, I would like to propose prefixing the targeted ship with its owner's player number followed by a colon. For example, G3 x2:y1 would indicate capturing player 2's y1 ship in the G3 system. Again, this addition would be needed fairly infrequently but it should still be covered by your notation system. Additionally, in 3+ player games, it is possible to have 4+ systems with identical stars. Therefore you will need to allow the prime designations to continue to ''' and beyond.

Thanks for sharing your idea! I am interested in hearing what the more experienced players think.
Those are great points. I considered for some time if the color of the catastrophe should be included or not. It is usually obvious, since catastrophes tend to follow the move that causes the situation immediately. Only in the (rare) case of a delayed catastrophe the situation could be clarified with it. But as you say, the big advantage is that this is a great way to show when a star is involved in a catastrophe, which is especially useful when the catastrophe destroys half of a homeworld.

Though this raises the question. If we signal star destruction in the notation, shall we also signal star abandonment somehow?

For the player ownership, I was going to suggest something like that. Probably without the colon, since there is no other case of a number being before a color designator. The colon is there for readability, I guess.

Umjahwa wrote:
McForrer wrote:
Optional: If I want to record every turn's state in a third column, one would need to be able to differentiate between player's ships, as those can park at the same planet. Maybe you could extend your notation system for this?
It might get a bit tedious to record the full game state every turn. However I do see how it could be useful if you wanted to put a game "on hold" until a later time and did not want to bother with taking pictures (or desired an official record). It would be fairly easy using my ship ownership designation suggestion above. Simply write out each system (separated with slashes for readability) with a condensed list of each player's ships there (prefixed with "player#:"). Players with no ships in a system are, of course, omitted from the list in that system. Note: you will also need to indicate the stars remaining in the Homeworld systems in some way (I suggest parentheses or brackets).

At the end of round 7 in the example Andy vs. Russell game, the full game state could be written as such:

H1(G3B1) 1:b3y1r1 / H2(Y2B1) 2:g3b1g1 / B2 1:g1 / G3 2:b2y2

Even at this early point in the game, the full game state is getting rather long and unwieldy!
Yes, that is a good way of doing that. It's a normal phenomenon. A Chess position notation usually looks something like this: rnbqkbnr/pp1ppppp/8/2p5/4P3/5N2/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKB1R And that is just after 1. e4 c5 2.Nf3. The difference is that with Chess, there is always the same number of spaces and the number of pieces can only go down, so the notation doesn't explode. A mid-game Homeworlds notation can get quite unwieldy!
 
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UanarchyK wrote:
Great effort! This might be the best possible system.

I would prefer if the notation gave the full state of the system rather than having to remember if something is G2 or G2' -- though in practice I expect there are few enough duplicate systems in a normal game for it to be an issue. Giving the full state of the system removes any possible ambiguity due to forgetfulness, but at the loss of succintness.

On paper, I'd also be inclined to modify some elements of this notation. For example, I'd prefer a quick modifier to denote size, something like

. _ ▵
B B B


to denote one-pip, two-pip, and three-pip blue stars. This is much quicker to write than numbers, and its "possession" is clearer visually. Actually, I guess B1 doesn't need anything -- maybe something to consider for your notation as well. You could do B, B2, B3.

Similarly, on paper, one would probably use an arrow rather than >.

My inclination for sacrifice actions would be "-g3 : B2 +y , H1 +y+y" as this mimics the traditional use of the punctuation more closely than / does (the sacrifice leads to those three actions, rather than them being somehow alternatives or simultaneous)

I would also suggest an alternative symbol to ! for catastrophes. Maybe * or #? The exclamation mark is used in chess notation as a form of annotation/commentary which would be nice to port over to this system.
Interesting points. Yes, in paper, I envisioned using an arrow. I settled on > for typing as the closest symbol readily available.

About using symbols to denote size, you can do that, but the problem is again on portability over the computer. If you want to type it, it's easier and more consistent to type the number size after the color, IMHO. This is not to say that your idea is a bad one, of course. But, for instance, how do you type the triangle?

The part with the slashes, you are right in that it sounds as alternatives. Although alternatives are not usually something you need to account for on a game record. What do others thing? Yours is more succint, maybe, but the colon enters into conflict with Umjahwa's suggestion, hehe.

Catastrophe symbol, again, what do others thing? It's usually obvious whether a ! is indicating a catastrophe or a good move since there is no system indicator, and if we adopt the idea of showing the color of the catastrophe, it becomes even clearer. But I leave the catastrophe symbol open to discussion.
 
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Also, general tip. When playing a game that is being notated, have black and white larges ready, and stack duplicate stars on them for an easy reminder of which of those three medium greens is actually G2'
 
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A serious question, because I'm dense ...

What does such a system provide that, say, the SuperDuperGames notation method does not?

Example of 2 players, alexhouston vs. w00t. In this method, star systems have names... can be called anything. b-build, t=trade, etc. Or you can spell it out:

alexhouston w00t
1: homeworld y2 b3 g3 homeworld g3 b1 y3
2: build g1 alexhouston build y1 w00t
3: build g1 alexhouston build y1 w00t
4: discover g1 alexhouston trade y1 r1 w00t
b1 post
5: Trade g1 y1 alexhouston discover y1 w00t g2 boop
6: build g1 post build r1 w00t
7: trade g1 r1 post move r1 w00t boop
8: build r2 post build r2 boop
9: build g1 post discover r2 boop g3 bop
10: move y1 alexhouston post trade r1 b1 w00t
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orangeblood wrote:
A serious question, because I'm dense ...

What does such a system provide that, say, the SuperDuperGames notation method does not?

Example of 2 players, alexhouston vs. w00t. In this method, star systems have names... can be called anything. b-build, t=trade, etc. Or you can spell it out:

alexhouston w00t
1: homeworld y2 b3 g3 homeworld g3 b1 y3
2: build g1 alexhouston build y1 w00t
3: build g1 alexhouston build y1 w00t
4: discover g1 alexhouston trade y1 r1 w00t
b1 post
5: Trade g1 y1 alexhouston discover y1 w00t g2 boop
6: build g1 post build r1 w00t
7: trade g1 r1 post move r1 w00t boop
8: build r2 post build r2 boop
9: build g1 post discover r2 boop g3 bop
10: move y1 alexhouston post trade r1 b1 w00t
- Density (for printing)
- Brevity (for writing out by hand during a game)

Additionally, the proposed system doesn't require unique metonym for the majority of systems (only repeat systems).
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referee wrote:
About using symbols to denote size, you can do that, but the problem is again on portability over the computer. If you want to type it, it's easier and more consistent to type the number size after the color, IMHO. This is not to say that your idea is a bad one, of course. But, for instance, how do you type the triangle?
Oh, on computer I agree that the numbers make sense. I only meant on paper. Of course, it could be adapted to text too: B, B", B^ -- though the second mark would run naturally run afoul of the tick system.

Incidentally, on the topic of the tick system -- one alternative may be to simply write out the full details of the system. Something like G3 b2 > Y1r1b2 (to distinguish it from, say, Y1g1). This avoids any requirement for memorization (though still requires users to notice that there are more than one system of the same configuration).

On that note, I suppose a longer form notation could write out the full state but only of systems that change as a result of that turn. Maybe you represent a state change with an arrow from start to ending state, multiple stars are separated by semi-colons, new systems are denoted with a *, and opponent ships follow a ^.

For example, building:
G3y1b1 → G3y1b1b1

or

Moving to a new system:
G3y1b1^r2 → G3y1^r2; *R2b1

This is obviously a (much) longer notation, but the repetition of system states should make it more readable.

I still think your's is probably closest to the ideal compromise, but I'm just spit-balling to think around the problem space.
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Basically what Spencer said are the advantages. Also if you want to replay a game with physical pieces, you need to write the star names all over the place. When you are looking at G2' you have to remember between the two (or three G2 stars), but when you try to remember which star is bop you have to look back at its discovery and trace back everything that happens there.

UanarchyK wrote:
On that note, I suppose a longer form notation could write out the full state but only of systems that change as a result of that turn. Maybe you represent a state change with an arrow from start to ending state, multiple stars are separated by semi-colons, new systems are denoted with a *, and opponent ships follow a ^.

For example, building:
G3y1b1 → G3y1b1b1

or

Moving to a new system:
G3y1b1^r2 → G3y1^r2; *R2b1

This is obviously a (much) longer notation, but the repetition of system states should make it more readable.
Yes, that system would give more readable information to the expense of brevity. Both systems could co-exists, just as there is not a single Chess notation system.
 
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UanarchyK wrote:
My inclination for sacrifice actions would be "-g3 : B2 +y , H1 +y+y" as this mimics the traditional use of the punctuation more closely than / does (the sacrifice leads to those three actions, rather than them being somehow alternatives or simultaneous)

I would also suggest an alternative symbol to ! for catastrophes. Maybe * or #? The exclamation mark is used in chess notation as a form of annotation/commentary which would be nice to port over to this system.
While I would be somewhat sad to lose the readability of using colons to note ship ownership, I do like the look of your sacrifice suggestion. We could still use colons as one of the (perhaps many) options for a full state dump. As Moisés mentions, no extra punctuation is actually needed for attacks (just a player number prefix).

Very good point about "!" In this case, I would vote for # to indicate catastrophes. We could also port over the "?" symbol to denote moves of questionable wisdom.


referee wrote:
Though this raises the question. If we signal star destruction in the notation, shall we also signal star abandonment somehow?
You could use <> to indicate star abandonment (think of it as swapping one star for another). Similarly, you could denote star discovery with >>. At that point, if you also noted the size of newly constructed ships (e.g. R2 +g3) it becomes almost possible to follow a game in your head just from reading the log.
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UanarchyK wrote:
Incidentally, on the topic of the tick system -- one alternative may be to simply write out the full details of the system. Something like G3 b2 > Y1r1b2 (to distinguish it from, say, Y1g1). This avoids any requirement for memorization (though still requires users to notice that there are more than one system of the same configuration).
If one was lazy, they could even get away with only writing the largest DIFFERENT ship at each identical system. In your example you could write something like Y1.b2 and Y1.g1 (the dot indicates possibly incomplete details). In this way, no system would ever need more that one ship to distinguish it (assuming you are using your ^ notation for ownership). If two systems are exactly identical, then it doesn't matter which one is operated on and you can use a underscore or something to indicate such (e.g. Y3_).

UanarchyK wrote:
On that note, I suppose a longer form notation could write out the full state but only of systems that change as a result of that turn. Maybe you represent a state change with an arrow from start to ending state, multiple stars are separated by semi-colons, new systems are denoted with a *, and opponent ships follow a ^.

For example, building:
G3y1b1 → G3y1b1b1

or

Moving to a new system:
G3y1b1^r2 → G3y1^r2; *R2b1

This is obviously a (much) longer notation, but the repetition of system states should make it more readable.
I would prefer a long form notation that still records the actual move so I don't have to parse the entire line to try to puzzle out what changed. Something​ like {initial state} {move} {final state} would be easier to read.

Using your examples:

G3y1b1 +b G3y1b1b1
G3y1b1^r2 b1>>R2 G3y1^r2 / R2b1

I would also avoid the use of both colons and semi-colons in the same notation system. Too easy to misread or type.

Your idea to use ^ to separate the different player ships is clever (but maybe a bit dense to read). I would highly recommend enforcing strict rules of "player one's ships on the left of the ^, player two's on the right, and player three (or four) after a second (or third) ^". This would keep the notation consistent regardless who is moving.
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Wow, I was literally coming here to ask an opinion of you guys, concerning a star system naming method I'm working on using a standard deck of cards. But this method here is very dense, good for a lot of things.

Mine is just a method of standardizing star system identification.
Each size of pyramid would assigned a card suit. You wouldn't necessarily need to assign a suit to your Binary Star Homeworlds, since they are kind of unique, but it is easy to assign a suit to the size that will be lined up right in front of your homeworld. If you have a Small/Medium Binary Star, then the Larges your system is connected to, could all be assigned a card from one suit. Assuming your opponent chooses a system of different sizes then you, they would then have the other suit of the same color assigned to the size in front of them. The left over size would be assigned an opposite colored suit. That way all the star systems that are in the same "row" would have the same suit, be the same size, and would be relatively easy to find, which would be much easier to follow in an annotated game.

Here is my question, What do you think would be the best method to assigning individual cards to each star system in one row? All the star systems in a "suit"? Just start the Ace in each row and work up? If we use North and South for the Homeworlds, do we want to use odd numbers to the east and even numbers to the west? (or vice versa, equally valid, but maybe there is a good mnemonic in there somewhere) Maybe start with the 7 in the middle and each star system added to the right, add one, and each start system added to the left, subtract one?

If we can figure out which number assignment method might cause the least confusion, there will be several benefits. You can't move from one star system in a suit, to another in the same row/suit. Finding the right star will become simply a matter of visually scanning the right row. IF we use the Odd/Even (or the add/subtract) idea, then we'll know which side of the play area to look on.

Fancy version: Using the Pyramid Arcade deck of cards we could use the five suits in ROY G. Bi/v order from North to South. Red Hearts = North Homeworld (Just pick your lucky number, or whatever you like) Yellow Stars = Connected to North, Green Clubs = Left over suit, what ever size that is in both your Homeworlds, Blue Diamonds = connected to South, Purple Spades = South Homeworld. With the color differentiation of this deck it would be easier to find the appropriate star.

Smaller universes caused by similar Homeworlds would just invert the same color/opposite color assignments. With a standard deck, four suits and only three sized of pyramids, so a simple solution shouldn't be hard, and it gets even easier with the P.A. deck.
 
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I made the first deck of Homeworlds playing cards a few years back. They work well and are more portable than a set of pyramids, but I've been wanting to revisit them to improve them for some time (I wanna go mini cards, for starters).

Your mention of cards for creating a grid with cards made me realize that if you play with a well-designed deck of Homeworlds cards, this naming problem vanishes: simply assign unique identifiers to each of the cards. Maybe greek letters distinguishing all cards of the same color/shape. The memory problem vanishes. It becomes G2α when you need to distinguish it, based on whatever's printed on the card.

Of course, this is only useful if playing with cards. I guess you could mark up your pyramids, though. Maybe sharpie stripes around the circumference of the middle of every pyramid?
 
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UanarchyK wrote:
I guess you could mark up your pyramids, though. Maybe sharpie stripes around the circumference of the middle of every pyramid?
No thank you.
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Yep, on further thought . . .

The Odd/Even idea will work on another couple levels.

Shouldn't use the Ace, all designations should be "Suit#" Hearts4, Clubs5, etc. If your using the P.A. deck, only refer to the suit, not the color of the suit, don't want to confuse the colors of cards with colors of pyramids, again, just the suit, and number.

North at the top and South at the bottom is a map paradigm we are all used to, so let's not create confusion by working against it. (Though, I do realize that using North/South AT ALL is arbitrary, no particular reason to use it, other then SDG already does to some extent.)

North will be first player, (and/or annotator of the game). As first, odd numbered, player, they will use odd numbered cards on their right. Making the odd cards the "west" cards. South, as Second player, vice versa, even numbered player, uses even numbered cards to denote star systems on their right, making the even numbered cards the "east" cards. Obviously with mutual presence, or taking over a star system, you may end up "star-towing" a card to the other side of the play area.

Also, using cards, a sense of time can be recorded. If my opponent has made it all the way across the universe to my side of the play area, to play their first star system that connects to my Homeworld, they should use the next highest number, beyond the numbers I have already used. So each row of cards will increase in number, regardless of who discovered each individual star, or what order they were discovered. And, you'll be able to tell which player discovered which star just by looking at the odd or even status of the card, even if it gets star towed to a different location.

For instance, if I'm North, and I've already used 3 and 5, my opponents first star system in that row should be "Suit6". This will give a nice idea of the order of star discovery. Maintain a sense of the history of the game. This might require, in a game with a lot of abandonment and discovery that you roll around the end of the suit, back to the beginning. But, that is easy enough. In a game where this happens, using A,J,Q,K, in addition to the numbered cards, will also probably be necessary.

(Edit: I have now converted about 25 SDG game logs to this labeling system. And rarely there are enough star systems created during long games that a player runs out of cards in their half of the assigned suit. It's always in the suit(s) that connects to the homeworlds. I mentioned using (Red) Hearts to represent the North Homeworld, and (Purple) Spades to represent the South Homeworld, and I encourage you to chose a face card and use it to label your Homeworld in the appropriate suit, but save the pip cards to handle overflow of your connection row When your run out of the Stars or Diamonds, move on the Hearts and Spades, respectively. And, If it hasn't become obvious, yes I'm using the Pyramid Arcade playing cards, having five suits is very handy.)

This whole idea started because I was trying to follow an SDG annotated game and the "unique metonym", as Spencer called it, was giving me a headache. Does anybody else think that the visual representations of Homeworlds on SDG don't make any sense? Is there some method to the madness that I'm missing? Particularly I'm talking about the arrangement of star systems. The game that I was recreating was the same one that Looney Labs used to create their sample game video, and as I recreated it with a friend, we realized that game should have been MUCH shorter, and won by the player that eventually lost. I can only assume they missed it because they couldn't sort out the visual noise of the SDG graphics. I thought it might be fun / good to start doing some game commentaries, so we could all learn. But again, that unique metonym (great phrase that, I'm going to have to see if I can work that into a conversation or two) was really going to be a hurdle.

With this system, I'll be able to use a "Find and Replace" function to edit the SDG logs into something more readable and consistent. Recreate it on a table and take pictures, and write the commentary.

(Edit: I went to edit my first SDG log and realized I had North/South first/second player opposite SDG's method, came back to switch it up.)
 
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This thing with using cards seems to be very interesting if you have your cards at hand. Marking stars for the purpose of telling them apart, although in a less specific way, is what I was pointing above when I said to build duplicate stars on a large black or a large white base. I don't know whether the system would break a bit when half of a homeworld is lost by catastrophe.

I'm thinking that the cards would be enough except in the strangest of games, having two suits available for each "front yard" size, which is probably the thing that would change the most.

I also like how the red to purple spectrum also denotes a temperature scale, sort of, which gives us a way of designating the players as Hot and Cold, if North and South are deemed subjective (but that is a matter of establishing a convention, in the same way that the white player is "south" on a Chess board).

On the other topics mentioned, I used ! for a catastrophe a little because that can be used as a sign of "danger", but I agree that it might be good to have the commentary that ! and ? allow, and although it should be obvious what is intended, it's good to avoid the conflict in the first place. Passing is so rare (IME) that I don't feel it warrants a symbol itself. Just use "pass" when it happens.
 
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referee wrote:
This is something I've devised. It is intended to be shorthand for the recording of games during play, not to give an easy view of the position without having the pieces to follow (just like it's not easy to see the position from a chess game notation without some training to do so).

The system works like this: Colors are indicated by their initial letters, with upper case being for stars, and lower case for spaceships. It doesn't bother with planet names. I use G2, G2', G2" to distinguish planets, and no more of those would be needed, for if G2 is emptied / destroyed, the next middle green star can be called G2 again.
Consider that "Y" and "y" may look similar in some folks' handwriting; it would be slightly preferable IMO to pick a notation that didn't rely on distinguishing those two.

In my own notation, I use parentheses to indicate stars: "(y2) r1-b1" indicates an unnamed y2 system containing an r1 owned by North and a b1 owned by South. Of course if you use parentheses, you ought to stop using slashes, for the "some folks' handwriting" reason again.

First major problem (IMO): You're trying to avoid giving human-readable names to the star systems by using the pseudo-algebraic "G2", "G2'", "G2''",... But this just replaces one hypothetical problem ("I don't remember which of these identical systems is named Alpha and which is Beta") with a slight variation on it ("I don't remember which of these identical systems was created first and which was created second"). Given just the state of the pieces and the notation for a move, it would be Very Nice if I could deduce unambiguously what the notated move actually was.

One way to fix this problem is to give names to the systems and encode the systems' names into the notation for a game state. That's what my notation does.

Another way, suggested by Spencer in this thread, would be to use just the "short notation" for a system when the short notation is unambiguous, and then add extra data about its ships only if needed. For example, given the game state

Alice (0,b2y1) g3g1-
Alpha (b3) g1-
Beta (b3) r1-
Bob (1,b2r3) -g3y2

and the move "move g1 from Alice to Beta": you might encode that as "g1>(b3)" or "g1>(b3)r1" or simply "g1>r1", in the same way that you might encode "Queen takes bishop on a3" as "QxB" or "QxBa3" or "Qxa3". (Notice that both "g1>(b3)" and "QxB" are ambiguous. In this example, "g1>r1" happens to be unambiguous. In chess, "QxBa3" is never written because it is always redundant; "Qxa3" is always unambiguous.)

Looking at it from a formal point of view, the system of "G2, G2', G2''" is objectionable because it persists in interjecting information that is not available to an observer just walking up to the board. Chess notation doesn't have anything like that; an observer may not know whether castling or en-passant is a legal move in the current situation, but if it should happen, then he will 100% know how to notate it!

I would agree that "g3: +ggr" is a more natural way to indicate sacrifice than "-g3 +ggr".

Quote:
You can separate them by slashes for readability.
I would be inclined to use "&"; but then, I can draw an ampersand pretty well by hand. ;)

I encourage you to play around with my Homeworlds game-state notation at https://github.com/Quuxplusone/Homeworlds and see if it might be useful in any way.
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The problem with the unique names spans all systems, not only identical ones, so it is an improvement. It's easier to track two systems than it is to track ten of them.

About handwriting, well, cannot be avoided. Especially since people may want to translate the system to their language. I notate Chess games in spanish and it uses C for the knight. I just need to be extra careful when both a knight and a c-file pawn can capture the same piece.

In fact, if I went to use this system in Spanish, blue and yellow both start with A, so I would need to give one of those a second letter (as Chess does with N for the knight, since K is taken by the king).

In any case, capital letters for stars is really for the benefit of the user. It is always clear if a letter should be upper or lower case, except in the suggestion to notate the color of a catastrophe.

If your system works for you, that is OK. But if you want to be sure to remove ambiguity, then the notation will become longer. And my system does include some redundancy, it's not the shortest unambiguous notation. (The first move of the example game I posted would look like this in absoulte minimal notation. 1. + +)
 
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referee wrote:
Especially since people may want to translate the system to their language. I notate Chess games in spanish and it uses C for the knight. I just need to be extra careful when both a knight and a c-file pawn can capture the same piece.
Interesting; I had (mis)assumed that the letters are a sort of international Chess notation standard. (But looking at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algebraic_notation_%28chess%29 I see that they are not.)

(In contrast, non-Japanese Shogi players seem to use the same Latin letters, including N for knight, for piece names regardless of their personal/local language.)
 
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