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Subject: New game - Heisenberg rss

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Nathan James
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Heisenberg is connection game played on a square grid. Two players, Black and White, alternate placing stones on the intersections of the grid until one player connects his two sides of the board and wins the game.

Equipment
A board with a square grid. Two opposite edges are black, while the other two are white.
A sufficient number of stones in both colors.

Object of the game
A player wins when he forms a chain of his own stones which connect his two edges of the board. The chain can be connected orthogonally and diagonally.

How to play

Play begins with Black.

On a normal turn, a player places one stone of his own color on an empty intersection of the board. The stone must have orthogonal access to both of that player's board edges. That is, it must be possible to trace a route from that intersection to each of the player's own board edges without moving diagonally or passing through an opposite-colored stone.

If at the beginning of a player's turn any of his stones do not have access to both of that player's board edges, he must pick up all such stones and redeploy them. The stone(s) may be placed on any empty intersection(s) of the board where they have access. He does this instead of his normal placement.

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christian freeling
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NJames wrote:


On a normal turn, a player places one stone of his own color on an empty intersection of the board. The stone must have orthogonal access to both of that player's board edges. That is, it must be possible to trace a route from that intersection to each of the player's own board edges without moving diagonally or passing through an opposite-colored stone.

If at the beginning of a player's turn any of his stones do not have access to both of that player's board edges, he must pick up all such stones and redeploy them. The stone(s) may be placed on any empty intersection(s) of the board where they have access.


It's late but I can't resist because this seems a very clever restriction and a very clever attempt to solve the old orthogonal/diagonal problem in a new way.

I understand the opponent may make a move that blocks the path of one or more a player's stones, right? Do I understand correctly that he may redeploy this stone or these stones in the same turn? And what if he cannot legally redeploy them all?

 
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Nathan James
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Heisenberg is interesting for a number of reasons.

It is probably best described as a connection game, but the object could be formulated as connection, territory, elimination or last move wins. When the connection is established, the opponent doesn't have access to his edges from any position.

As a connection game, it has similarities to Hex, but while Hex is not a race, Heisenberg most certainly is. Players are constantly concerned with the time needed to establish connections, either the winning connection, or intermediate ones that isolate territory and force redeployment.

Redeployment as opposed to simple capture means that isolating territory is worth only a single tempo, unless other stones are made useless without being isolated. The flexibility provided to the "loser" in redeployment can often be decisive. Isolating large groups must sometimes be avoided in order to win.

The game should theoretically be a win for the first player, but if anything, I tend to see a second player advantage in practice. This may change as players improve, but finding good play for the first player is tricky and surprising even on a 5x5 board.

Speaking of board sizes, 11x11 seems to be pretty good. It gives enough space to "try again" if you fail to stop the opponent in the first local battle.

What is a strong first move anyway? Unlike many connection games, the center isn't obviously strong. Playing closer to the edge makes isolation threats much faster. On the other hand, play too close, and you may just be isolated yourself.
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Nathan James
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christianF wrote:

I understand the opponent may make a move that blocks the path of one or more a player's stones, right? Do I understand correctly that he may redeploy this stone or these stones in the same turn? And what if he cannot legally redeploy them all?


A player may cut off his opponent's stones. The opponent then redeploys them on the opponent's next turn in lieu of taking a normal turn.

I must confess it has not occurred to me that there might not be room to redeploy all the stones. I wonder if it is possible? Certainly, if one can win by deploying fewer, I wouldn't be troubled about the rest.
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Bill Cook
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Sounds interesting, but I'm uncertain if I'd like it.
 
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christian freeling
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NJames wrote:
Redeployment as opposed to simple capture means that isolating territory is worth only a single tempo, unless other stones are made useless without being isolated. The flexibility provided to the "loser" in redeployment can often be decisive. Isolating large groups must sometimes be avoided in order to win.

That's the unusual twist that got my attention in the first place. Did you discuss this with Luis? (You're fishing in his pond, lol)
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Luis Bolaños Mures
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christianF wrote:
NJames wrote:
Redeployment as opposed to simple capture means that isolating territory is worth only a single tempo, unless other stones are made useless without being isolated. The flexibility provided to the "loser" in redeployment can often be decisive. Isolating large groups must sometimes be avoided in order to win.

That's the unusual twist that got my attention in the first place. Did you discuss this with Luis? (You're fishing in his pond, lol)

We played it a couple of times. I think it's fair to say that we were both unsure at first whether it was a functional game, but I'm confident it is now, after he showed me some of the complexities that emerge from the redeployment rule. It totally makes the game and was a brilliant intuition by him.
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Nathan James
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christianF wrote:
Did you discuss this with Luis? (You're fishing in his pond, lol)

I have been, yes. He was one of the first to help me test the concept. by the way, I initially chose the name Heisenberg as a double-entendre. Both the "uncertain" location of the stones, and the uncertain viability of the game!

...

I'm not sure which "pond" you're referring to, actually- square grid connection games, or something else? I've enjoyed Rhode because of how important tempo is there. Maybe there's some similarity here?
 
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Nathan James
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The complexities that Luis is referring to convinced me as well. I'll present them here.

Let's consider a simple response to an opening in the corner. A pattern quickly emerges that we can use to predict the winner, if no one deviates.


(I haven't added the colored edges, but Black is attempting to connect top-to-bottom)

Here Black opens with A1, and White blocks with A2. Black can, of course, continue with a diagonal connection, and he does at B2.

White plays B1, removing the Black stone at A1. Note that for single captures, the opponent gets no compensation, since he would have added a single stone in a normal turn.

Black returns the favor, playing at C1. This blocks straight line progress towards White's other edge, and simultaneously threatens to isolate the White stones in the corner.

White can delay being isolated only by playing at A3. However, this invites building a ladder which would connect and win for Black. Instead, White plays at C2. This threatens to isolate C1.

The immediate threat provokes an immediate response, Black plays A3. White redeploys the two stones from the corner, threatening to retake the corner again.

This pattern can continue until, finally, Black wins with a line stretching from A11 to K1. With each successive isolation, the roles are exactly reversed, but the game progresses to a conclusion.

Since White loses in the scenario above, he obviously wants to deviate. (Note that in each cycle, the threatened player has one move with which to respond.) Here's one early deviation:



Here white does begin the ladder towards Black's second edge. Obviously, White can't continue that ladder forever. But beginning it allows White to (approximately) switch places with Black! In the first pattern, Black would have had the odd-number redeployment opportunities, but now White has them.

So here we have a rather naive corner pattern and one of the simplest deviations from it. It begins to suggest the complexities involved in the game.
 
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christian freeling
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NJames wrote:
christianF wrote:
Did you discuss this with Luis? (You're fishing in his pond, lol)

I have been, yes. He was one of the first to help me test the concept. by the way, I initially chose the name Heisenberg as a double-entendre. Both the "uncertain" location of the stones, and the uncertain viability of the game!

...

I'm not sure which "pond" you're referring to, actually- square grid connection games, or something else? I've enjoyed Rhode because of how important tempo is there. Maybe there's some similarity here?

I like the name although for some it may have some questionable connotations to it. As to Luis 'pond', I'm not quite sure how many others he has, but 'square connection' is a most prominent one at BGG indeed.
 
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Luis Bolaños Mures
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christianF wrote:
I like the name although for some it may have some questionable connotations to it.

It doesn't feel right to me to name games after people, especially if you're using a last name.

Case in point: I used first names in Quentin and Morpheus and, even though they're supposed to be plays on words, I'm not quite happy with them.
 
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christian freeling
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luigi87 wrote:
christianF wrote:
I like the name although for some it may have some questionable connotations to it.

It doesn't feel right to me to name games after people, especially if you're using a last name.

That may sometimes be hard to avoid though.

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Craig Duncan
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christianF wrote:

That may sometimes be hard to avoid though.



Good point, Christian.
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christian freeling
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cdunc123 wrote:
christianF wrote:

That may sometimes be hard to avoid though.



Good point, Christian.

And then to think that I named it after Kate Bush! Oh Hammer Horror!
 
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Nathan James
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luigi87 wrote:
christianF wrote:
I like the name although for some it may have some questionable connotations to it.

It doesn't feel right to me to name games after people, especially if you're using a last name.


Perhaps you two have something in mind that hasn't occurred to me. I would say I've named the game after the Heisenberg Uncertantiy Principle, rather than the man. I know even less about the man than I do about the principle, which is saying something.
 
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christian freeling
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NJames wrote:
luigi87 wrote:
christianF wrote:
I like the name although for some it may have some questionable connotations to it.

It doesn't feel right to me to name games after people, especially if you're using a last name.


Perhaps you two have something in mind that hasn't occurred to me. I would say I've named the game after the Heisenberg Uncertantiy Principle, rather than the man. I know even less about the man than I do about the principle, which is saying something.

I like mysterious things, like the fact that you can know the position or the momentum of a particle, but not both at the same time. The concensus is that the man was brilliant and contributed much to our understanding of reality. The concensus is too that he was at least 'morally bendable' to a questionable degree in the late thirties during the nazi regime. I just watched 'Genius' about Albert Einstein.
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