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Subject: Balanced asymmetric games other than hnefatafl? rss

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David Buckley
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Like the title implies, I'm looking for asymmetric games that aren't hnefatafl variants. I'm looking specifically for abstract (but not necessarily combinatorial) games. I don't mean games like Unlur, neat though it is, where the sides aren't assigned at the beginning of the game. I like the feel of Bagh Chal but unfortunately it seems that the goats should win every time. Any ideas?

Edit: I'm also not looking for guessing games like Scotland Yard
 
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Joseph DiMuro
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Chess With Different Armies
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Quinn Swanger
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You might enjoy Raptor
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Stephen Tavener
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Stephen Tavener
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This list might help:
Unequal Forces Abstracts
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Russ Williams
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The asymmetry may be more subtle than you're intending, but:
Linkage (one player wants many groups to exist and one wants few groups to exist)
Odd (one player wants an odd number of groups to exist and one wants an even number of groups to exist)
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christian freeling
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russ wrote:
Odd (one player wants an odd number of groups to exist and one wants an even number of groups to exist)

The 'asymmetry' in this case looks rather theoretical to me, without much bearing on game play.
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Richard Moxham
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I've never understood why one never seems to hear any sort of reference made to Spartan Chess, let alone discussion of it, when my instinct from first reading of the rules suggested that it might be a masterpiece. I note that clark94 is similarly baffled.



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Stefan
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Buckersuk wrote:
Edit: I'm also not looking for guessing games like Scotland Yard


NOT a 'guessing' game. Deduction.

But, you asked for asymmetric abstracts so here are a few:

For the Crown (Second edition). Chess meets deck building.

Carapace. Based on Fox & Geese it's got a rather 'funky' 70's vibe to it.



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Russ Williams
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christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
Odd (one player wants an odd number of groups to exist and one wants an even number of groups to exist)

The 'asymmetry' in this case looks rather theoretical to me, without much bearing on game play.

It's an interesting conundrum: on the one hand, I see what you mean, yet on the other hand, how can the victory conditions themselves not have much bearing on game play?

It makes me ponder that "asymmetric game" could be subcategorized according to whether the types of available moves (and/or available forces) which players have are different, and whether the players' goals are different.

Linkage and Odd are asymmetrical in terms of goals, but not in terms of moves.

Many "faction vs faction" or "army vs army" type games are asymmetrical in terms of moves, but not in terms of goals (e.g. both players want to kill the enemy HQ, or score more hits, or whatever).

And then there are the games which are asymmetrical move-wise and goal-wise, e.g. the tafl games.
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christian freeling
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russ wrote:
christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
Odd (one player wants an odd number of groups to exist and one wants an even number of groups to exist)

The 'asymmetry' in this case looks rather theoretical to me, without much bearing on game play.

It's an interesting conundrum: on the one hand, I see what you mean, yet on the other hand, how can the victory conditions themselves not have much bearing on game play?

It makes me ponder that "asymmetric game" could be subcategorized according to whether the types of available moves (and/or available forces) which players have are different, and whether the players' goals are different.

Linkage and Odd are asymmetrical in terms of goals, but not in terms of moves.

Many "faction vs faction" or "army vs army" type games are asymmetrical in terms of moves, but not in terms of goals (e.g. both players want to kill the enemy HQ, or score more hits, or whatever).

And then there are the games which are asymmetrical move-wise and goal-wise, e.g. the tafl games.

I don't know if it is applicable to this discussion but Emergo is symmetrical in terms of goal and moves, but it has an entering stage in which strategies are different for both players. Admittedly it is asymmetry regarding a sub-goal but I'm almost sure that there are more games with this particular feature (although I can't think of any right now) so it may or may not be of interest.
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Nick Bentley
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christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
Odd (one player wants an odd number of groups to exist and one wants an even number of groups to exist)

The 'asymmetry' in this case looks rather theoretical to me, without much bearing on game play.


Christian is correct. "asymmetry" is not a whole mathematical or structural thing. It's also a deeply psychological thing. When you play odd, you feel like you're doing the "same thing" from either side.
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Nick Bentley
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Also, I don't necessarily recommend it unless you're insanely devoted to combinatorial games, but Mind Ninja. The whole thing is an exercise in how to create balance from asymmetric goals.

There are designer notes at the end of this pdf discussing the theory behind it.
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Stephen Tavener
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milomilo122 wrote:
When you play odd, you feel like you're doing the "same thing" from either side.

This reminds me of Char; the only asymmetry is in the turn order, yet white and black must play very differently.
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Nick Bentley
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...and one more:

My favorite of my own asymmetrical games to actually play (not counting Odd, which I don't think of as particularly asymmetrical): Coil

It was inspired by Unlur and Havannah: I love Havannah's loop goal and I wanted to make a game just about that, and I realized Unlur's chicken ballot is a great way to allow for that.
 
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Nick Bentley
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mrraow wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
When you play odd, you feel like you're doing the "same thing" from either side.

This reminds me of Char; the only asymmetry is in the turn order, yet white and black must play very differently.


I wasn't aware of that. However, when two sides require different strategies: it *is* a structural thing, not a psychological thing.

Another, more theoretical point to make about this subject as a whole is that every turn-based game is asymmetrical in the sense it has some asymmetry in its starting conditions. Such games wouldn't be games without such asymmetries, I don't think.
 
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Herb
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mrraow wrote:
This list might help:
Unequal Forces Abstracts


And that geeklist has a comment that points to two others:
Asymmetry for two
Asymmetric Abstract Games

Also the geeklist Asymmetric Abstract Games has a comment that points to two others:
A Dying Breed? - Modern Asymmetrical Strategy Games
Asymmetrical Games with Few Pieces and Short, Simple Rules

----

Also as always in these discussions the posts disagree as to what a asymmetric game is since the OP didn't define his notion of that game type explicitly.
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Herb
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"Balanced asymmetric games" seems like a oxymoron. I don't have a source that I can recall, but my notion is that an asymmetric game is by its nature unbalanced. So such a game isn't "fair" and one side ought to win.

Thus "balanced" in this context would mean that the game is so "complex" that the theoretical winner can't formulate an effective strategy which always wins.
 
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Craig Duncan
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Bill Taylor and I recently devised and played a very simple asymmetric square grid connection game that we call Cut and Thrust

We played two games of it, and black won one and white the other. So perhaps it is balanced. Dilettantes that we are, though, Bill and I moved on to other games and so there has not yet been much play-testing at all of the game. But anyone who has a 13x13 Go board and stones can give it a try themselves, of course. (If you do try it, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts of it.)

The game is far more tactical than strategic, and I fear that frequent play may reveal that most games of Cut and Thrust have a "samey" feel to them. But for what it's worth, here are the rules and a sample game (played via email).

CUT AND THRUST
==============

Cut and Thrust is played on a 13x13 square grid between a player playing black stones and a player playing white stones.

A stone is considered adjacent to its orthogonal AND diagonal neighbors.

White plays first to the board. White plays one stone per turn. Black plays two stones per turn. Black's second stone cannot be placed such that it belongs to the same group as the first stone (i.e. cannot be connected to the first stone by a chain of adjacent black stones).

White wins by by connecting two opposite sides of the board. Black wins by preventing this. Draws are impossible.


(In practice this means that Black wins by creating a chain of orthogonally adjacent black stones that connects all four sides of the board.)


>>> |""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
>>> | a b c d e f g h i j k l m O-white X-black
>>> | . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. g7 f6 h8
>>> | . . x o x x x x x x x x . 2. h6 g5 i2
>>> | . . . . . . . o o x o . . 3. i5 c9 j3
>>> | . . . . x x o x x o . . X 4. h3 h2 h4
>>> | x . . o x o x x o . . . . 5. e8 f8 i4
>>> | . . o x x x . o . . . . . 6. f7 a7 c8
>>> | x . . x . o o . . . . . . 7. d10 d9 a11
>>> | x . x . o x . x . . . . . 8. e9 c11 a9
>>> | x . x x o . . . . . . . . 9. c10 a10 a13
>>> | x . o o . . . . . . . . . 10. c6 d7 a5
>>> | x o x x . . . . . . . . . 11. j4 g2 k2
>>> | x . o . . . . . . . . . . 12. k3 d13 f13
>>> | x o x x . x . . . . . . . 13. c12 c13 d11
>>> | a b c d e f g h i j k l m 14. b11 j2 a12
>>> | 15. b13 l2 d6
>>> | 16. d5 e4 e6
>>> | 17. g4 e2 h5
>>> | 18. i3 c2 f2
>>> | 19. d2 a8 f4
>>> | 20. f5 e5 m4
>>> | 21. resign
>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------

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Nick Bentley
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herace wrote:
"Balanced asymmetric games" seems like a oxymoron. I don't have a source that I can recall, but my notion is that an asymmetric game is by its nature unbalanced.


If you mean "unbalanced" in the sense that *any* decisive game is a theoretical win for one player or another, then I agree.

But if you mean "unbalanced" in the more general sense, I vehemently disagree. Games with completely asymmetrical goals can be structured so human players have chances to win which are just as equal as for any "symmetrical" game (which isn't really symmetric if it's turn-based). The chicken ballots used in Unlur and Coil are examples of this kind of structuring.

Those ballots are examples of a more general principle: bidding, which can be used to balance all kinds of asymmetrical things.
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Stephen Tavener
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milomilo122 wrote:
Those ballots are examples of a more general principle: bidding, which can be used to balance all kinds of asymmetrical things.

Although, I'd argue that the bidding is only effective because of hidden information - the ignorance of the players about the theoretical value of whatever it is that they are bidding for.
 
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mrraow wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Those ballots are examples of a more general principle: bidding, which can be used to balance all kinds of asymmetrical things.

Although, I'd argue that the bidding is only effective because of hidden information - the ignorance of the players about the theoretical value of whatever it is that they are bidding for.


Isn't that just hidden in the same sense that all combinatorial games have hidden information? I lose at Go constantly because I don't understand the theoretical value of my moves, after all. If so, I'm not sure what useful meaning "hidden" has here.
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Herb
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milomilo122 wrote:
herace wrote:
"Balanced asymmetric games" seems like a oxymoron. I don't have a source that I can recall, but my notion is that an asymmetric game is by its nature unbalanced.


If you mean "unbalanced" in the sense that *any* decisive game is a theoretical win for one player or another, then I agree.

But if you mean "unbalanced" in the more general sense, I vehemently disagree. Games with completely asymmetrical goals can be structured so human players have chances to win which are just as equal as for any symmetrical game. The chicken ballots used in Unlur and Coil are examples of this kind of structuring.

Those ballots are examples of a more general principle: bidding, which can be used to balance all kinds of asymmetrical things.


I don't understand what you mean by "in the more general sense."

My recollection is that an asymmetric game should either be a first player or a second player win. The gist would be that such a game could still be fun to play if the game were "complex" enough so that the theoretical winner couldn't formulate a strategy to win a "majority" of the time.
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Herb
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milomilo122 wrote:
mrraow wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Those ballots are examples of a more general principle: bidding, which can be used to balance all kinds of asymmetrical things.

Although, I'd argue that the bidding is only effective because of hidden information - the ignorance of the players about the theoretical value of whatever it is that they are bidding for.


Isn't that just hidden in the same sense that all combinatorial games have hidden information? I lose at Go constantly because I don't understand the theoretical value of my moves, after all. If so, I'm not sure what useful meaning "hidden" has here.


I'm confused as to what you mean about hidden information. My perception is that hidden information implies that the players don't know the same information about the state of the game.
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Russ Williams
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herace wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
Those ballots are examples of a more general principle: bidding, which can be used to balance all kinds of asymmetrical things.


I don't understand what you mean by "in the more general sense."

My recollection is that an asymmetric game should either be a first player or a second player win. The gist would be that such a game could still be fun to play if the game were "complex" enough so that the theoretical winner couldn't formulate a strategy to win a "majority" of the time.

EVERY combinatorial game (for which ties are impossible) is either a first player win or a second player win, assuming optimal play.

This has nothing to do with asymmetry; it's simply a fundamental fact about combinatorial games. It's equally true of symmetrical combinatorial games like Go, Bug, Catchup, Xodd, Breakthrough, whatever.
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