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Subject: Very simple new bug idea - the parasite rss

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Dave Neale
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UPDATE: June 29, 2018:
As some people may come here from the interview with John Yianni, I thought I would update this post with the latest ruleset I've been testing and using.

CURRENT RULESET FOR THE PARASITE:

The parasite can move to any empty space (and violate freedom to move), as long as it finishes its move adjacent to a different bug of the same type as a bug it began the turn adjacent to. For example, if it begins the turn adjacent to an ant and a spider, it can move anywhere else where it's adjacent to a different ant or different spider.
With stacks, the parasite counts as adjacent to the piece on top of the stack, but it can never move on top of the hive.

Its power does not work on queens, and if it is only adjacent to a queen, it cannot move.

This version is now the most extensively play-tested, and gives rise to some interesting and unique situations - see the second post on the second page of this thread for an example.

Original post (a less 'strict' version):
The parasite can move to any space (and can violate the freedom to move rule) as long it finishes its move in contact with a type of insect it was in contact with at the start of the turn.

E.g., if it begins the turn next to a spider and a grasshopper, it can move anywhere else where it's adjacent to a spider or grasshopper.

The parasite cannot use its ability on a Queen Bee, and if it is only in contact with a Queen Bee, it cannot move.

It cannot violate the one hive rule.

Edit: After some testing I think the exception rule should be extended to "The parasite cannot use its ability on a Queen Bee or any stacked pieces, and if it is only in contact with a Queen Bee and/or a stack, it cannot move."
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Dave Neale
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And for the sake of simplicity, it cannot move onto the hive (I can imagine some interesting scenarios where it latches onto a hive-climbing beetle, but that would require some extra rules/clarifications) See Edit above, I think for the simplest rule-set, the Parasite can simply not interact with any stacked pieces.
 
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Robert Bracey
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That is the first time I have seen a Hive variant and gone wow. The idea is so genuinely elegant and so radically different to the existing pieces. It feels like it really should have legs, though I would imagine as a multi-piece rather than single piece addition.
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Dave Neale
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RobertBr wrote:
That is the first time I have seen a Hive variant and gone wow. The idea is so genuinely elegant and so radically different to the existing pieces. It feels like it really should have legs, though I would imagine as a multi-piece rather than single piece addition.


Thank you! I'll test it more in the next few weeks and see how it goes. The couple of times I tried it so far, it seems to create some interesting movement possibilities.

I have only tried with one parasite, but perhaps more could work. Potentially replacing one of the other insects.
 
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Russ Williams
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whitescar wrote:
I think for the simplest rule-set, the Parasite can simply not interact with any stacked pieces.

Can you clarify? Does this mean that all bugs in a stack (including the top bug) next to a parasite are ignored, and the parasite can only move to a new place next to a non-stacked bug of the same type as a non-stacked bug which it touched at the start of its move?

In particular, a parasite which is adjacent only to one or more stacks cannot move. (Right?)

(Similarly, if it's only adjacent to stacks and queens, then it cannot move, right?)
 
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Dave Neale
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Russ: Yes to all your questions!

There could be ways of saying it can interact with stacks - e.g. it interacts with the bug on top, or even that it could leap up a level to latch onto the top one - but unless rules like that were going to add some particularly interesting strategic options, I think the idea that it can't use its power on stacks or queen bees is cleanest (and opens ways to block a parasite's potential movement by getting a beetle or mosquito onto an adjacent piece).
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Russ Williams
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Cool; it sounds interesting and fun (and more unusual than most new bug ideas) indeed!
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Drake Ramoray
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It would be a very useful piece to block the opponent's insects, good job!
 
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Daniel Laurence

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I like the idea quite a bit. Maybe for clarity and consistency with the rules, it would be better to say that the piece "hops" like a flea rather than saying that it ignores the freedom to move rule, since there are already hopping type bugs like the grasshopper that don't have to follow the freedom to move rule (which I think only applies to sliding pieces). I hate to go suggesting a name change, but I actually like the flea as a name since it captures the parasite nature AND the hopping movement quite nicely.

I also don't think it complicates things too much to allow movement with stacked pieces. Just treat the stacked pieces as whatever piece is on top, which is what the mosquito already does anyway. So if your parasite is next to a stack with a beetle on top, you can just move it next to any other beetle, as long as it moves to the 'ground level' of the hive.

Love the idea. It's simple, but elegant. It has the potential to be a very powerful piece, but it's also limited by only being able to move to another pieces of the same type.
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Cody Kunka
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danielaurence wrote:
So if your parasite is next to a stack with a beetle on top, you can just move it next to any other beetle, as long as it moves to the 'ground level' of the hive.


Why would you have to restrict to the ground level? Why not allow hopping next to a Beetle on top of the Hive? Then, the parasite would have to act as a Beetle until moving down... just like the rule for the Mosquito.
 
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Dave Neale
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danielaurence wrote:
I like the idea quite a bit. Maybe for clarity and consistency with the rules, it would be better to say that the piece "hops" like a flea rather than saying that it ignores the freedom to move rule, since there are already hopping type bugs like the grasshopper that don't have to follow the freedom to move rule


I noted the name the Flea had already been used by at least one other person for a new piece, so I aimed for something different. The movement could be considered hopping, though it is quite different from the grasshopper in that it can go anywhere, not just in straight lines, so any suggested similarity to the grasshopper's movement could actually confuse people.

danielaurence wrote:
I also don't think it complicates things too much to allow movement with stacked pieces. Just treat the stacked pieces as whatever piece is on top, which is what the mosquito already does anyway.


Yes, this is an option. A nice thing about not letting it interact with stacked pieces is that it opens up a way for the opponent to block the parasite's movement by climbing onto an adjacent piece.

danielaurence wrote:

Love the idea. It's simple, but elegant. It has the potential to be a very powerful piece, but it's also limited by only being able to move to another pieces of the same type.


Thanks. I have played quite a few games with it now, and taken photos, so will try to add them to BGG sometime soon to illustrate some of the plays and choices that occur with using it.

Kunkasaurus wrote:
Why would you have to restrict to the ground level? Why not allow hopping next to a Beetle on top of the Hive? Then, the parasite would have to act as a Beetle until moving down... just like the rule for the Mosquito.


Because actually, things more complicated if it can move to the top level. In the situation you describe, if the beetle moved away, the parasite would actually be trapped - it is adjacent to no other piece, so cannot move. Unless it counts as adjacent to pieces on the first level, even if it is on the second level, but then we need a rule that say that. Or we could say it moves like a beetle while on the hive, but that would be a strange rule for a piece that never normally emulates the movement of other pieces and moves in a completely different way.

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whitescar wrote:
Or we could say it moves like a beetle while on the hive, but that would be a strange rule for a piece that never normally emulates the movement of other pieces and moves in a completely different way.


Yes, this is what I was thinking. It's exactly the same rule that the Mosquito has to follow if it mimics the Beetle and moves atop the Hive. On top of the Hive, the Mosquito is considered a Beetle until it moves down to ground level... even if the Mosquito were adjacent to a piece.

Note: I only thought of this notion because of similarity to Mosquito... not because I've playtested.

EDIT: Yes, I get the "mimicking" point though.
 
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Daniel Laurence

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Kunkasaurus wrote:

Why would you have to restrict to the ground level? Why not allow hopping next to a Beetle on top of the Hive? Then, the parasite would have to act as a Beetle until moving down... just like the rule for the Mosquito.


I tend to agree with Dave that it doesn't really fit the nature of the bug for it to be able to mimic a beetle on top of the Hive. And potentially a little overpowered. The simplest and clearest rule in my opinion is to just say that the parasite can move to any empty space next to its target. Moving it on top of another piece wouldn't count as an empty space. After all, the pillbug's ability doesn't allow it to place pieces on top of other pieces. And the ladybug must end its turn on ground level even though it crawls atop The Hive. So it makes logical sense to me for the parasite to be restricted from climbing atop The Hive.
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danielaurence wrote:

I tend to agree with Dave that it doesn't really fit the nature of the bug for it to be able to mimic a beetle on top of the Hive. And potentially a little overpowered. The simplest and clearest rule in my opinion is to just say that the parasite can move to any empty space next to its target. Moving it on top of another piece wouldn't count as an empty space. After all, the pillbug's ability doesn't allow it to place pieces on top of other pieces. And the ladybug must end its turn on ground level even though it crawls atop The Hive. So it makes logical sense to me for the parasite to be restricted from climbing atop The Hive.


I understand now. I like limiting the Parasite by preventing it from interacting with the QB or stacks... especially because Parasite movement is not restricted by the owner of the touched pieces. Thematically, I like the explanation that the parasite does not gain the movement of the touched piece(s) but rather spreads as a disease in the species of the touched piece(s). Also, the parasite is a small, unimposing organism, so I think the ability to move only to unoccupied spaces makes thematic sense.

EDIT: I realized the thematic explanations rationalize why the Parasite cannot go atop the Hive. If the Beetle moved, the Parasite would essentially act as a Beetle without touching a Beetle. However, what thematic rationalization do we have for why the Parasite cannot interact with Beetles atop the stacks? Pehaps the height differnce prevents Parasite from touching the Beetle... Also, what thematic rationalization is there for the Parasite not interacting with bees?

For those who have playtested, could you describe the emerging strategies with the Parasite in play. I imgine the Beeltles became more important. I wonder how the Pillbug would interact.
 
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Dave Neale
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I have realized there are two variants of the parasite - the original version and a strict version. The strict version has to move to a different insect of the same type, i.e., it cannot just move to the other side of a piece it’s already touching. The strict version may be too limited, but on the other hand the parasite’s limitations are part of what makes it interesting. So far, however, I have only play tested the original version, with the rules exactly as written in my original post.

I made a parasite piece using an image of a tick. I made it smaller than the other insects, and colored it pink. You can see the white and black parasite in the image below. It’s white’s move and the white queen is under the white beetle and almost surrounded. White could hop a grasshopper next to the black queen, but if they do, black wins in 2 moves. Can you see how?



The black parasite can move to the empty adjacent space, as it would begin and end its move next to the same type of piece (the other parasite! In this example we have a parasite latching onto another parasite). Note it is the only piece in the game that could make a move like this, i.e., move directly through a gate. Once it has moved, the black grasshopper can hop into the space it was in, winning the game for black.

White could move the ant from next to the black queen to trap the black grasshopper, but that would mean losing a piece by the queen. There is a better way to block black’s 2-move win.



The white parasite moves from adjacent to the white grasshopper to being adjacent to the black grasshopper by the black queen. Again, note that no other piece in the game could make this move. Now the black parasite can no longer move around the white queen to make way for the black grasshopper, and black needs a new plan.

Note another option for white would have been to let the black parasite move, then move the white parasite to block the black grasshopper, though this way would have meant they didn’t get an additional piece next to the black queen.
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Daniel Laurence

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I think I prefer the strict version of the rules. I like that the parasite must move to a different piece of the same type. It's already a powerful piece with the strict rule, but allowing it to move to any other space around a piece it's touching would be a bit too powerful, in my opinion.
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Dave Neale
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Yes, I like the idea of the strict version as it’s more different and requires more ingenuity to use, though in the 8 or so games I have played with the original version it has never yet seemed over-powered.
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danielaurence wrote:
I think I prefer the strict version of the rules. I like that the parasite must move to a different piece of the same type. It's already a powerful piece with the strict rule, but allowing it to move to any other space around a piece it's touching would be a bit too powerful, in my opinion.


I agree. I like that the Strict Version is more novel mechanically. Plus, thematically, I like to think of moving to a new piece as the parasite infecting a different bug. There's no need to infect the same bug.
 
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Dave Neale
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Well in my next games I’ll use the strict version, and check it doesn’t limit the piece too much.
 
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Fred Snertz
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The only thing bothering me is my OCD. A 'parasite' is not specifically a type of bug. I humbly suggest you start calling this piece the 'tick' (or the 'flea', or whatever). Nice job on the design.
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Dave Neale
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Haha, well, yes, it’s not a specific bug I suppose, more a general class of organism. Tick or Flea could work. Personally, I just like parasite for some reason.
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whitescar wrote:
Haha, well, yes, it’s not a specific bug I suppose, more a general class of organism. Tick or Flea could work. Personally, I just like parasite for some reason.


I too like the "Parasite" name, which reminds me of the Superman villain:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasite_(comics)

However, I wonder if you can come up with a more creative icon. If the icon is just an image of a tick of flea, it seems more appropriate to use "tick" or "flea" for the name.
 
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This bug idea is interesting in some respects, but also has issues for me. The biggest of which is that I just don't think the game needs any more great attacking bugs.

It seems to me like it will basically end up being just another bullet for white to shoot, although it would make an interesting first placement as well.

Most games will probably see this placed next to an A or G when there is already an A or G next to an empty spot around the opponent's Q, forcing a pin every time since there is no other way to stop this bug. Indeed, like a properly aimed G (whoever made the comparison to the G was right, both bugs do an instant movement not affected by the 'freedom to move' rule), if one has enough bugs to free this thing it is a guaranteed killshot - the difference is it doesn't have to be aimed, it is a magic bullet that you just put down next to whatever kind of bug you want to move it to.

It is somewhat more interesting to defend against than to use yourself, as it forces you to think about the value of spending moves denying placement next to bugs of a certain type.

I am not sure why the ugly exception for the Q is necessary, as an A can move from one Q to the other, for instance, and this is not OP.

But mainly, as I said at the outset, this game doesn't need more easy attacks, since if anything white is already too good. Even though it can escape a surround (which is nice), so it could be used defensively to some extent, I think the maximum value would always be in using it as a direct attack or to break a pin. So this is more guns to me; I want defense, or like... trickery?

Name is hella bad, 'parasite' is a description of something's behavior, not a bug. Pick an actual thing, even if it has been done before.

Better than many fan made bugs despite my criticisms though. Strict version is better.
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Cody Kunka
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veme wrote:
The biggest of which is that I just don't think the game needs any more great attacking bugs.

This discussion on balance of offense and defense seems quite interesting to me. I wonder what features make a bug more powerful on offense or defense. To help try to figure out what elements make a bug favor offense or defense, I'll provide my non-expert impressions of the official pieces.

- The Ant has huge movement range useful for pinning offensively and defensively. I'd say the defensive pins have been more important in my games. Verdict: Defense.

- The Beetle is very powerful on offense when pinning the opposing Bee but can also be used to defend against advancing Beetles or can be used to jump out of a surrounded space. In my games, I see the Beetle pin the Bee or pieces around the Bee enough to favor offense. Verdict: Offense.

- The Grasshopper has difficulty attacking at the beginning of the game but can be useful for filling hard-to-reach spaces later in the game. One of the major openings of Hive is to start with the Grasshopper just because it may jump out eventually. Verdict: Defense.

- Originally, I thought the Spider particularly weak because of its highly restricted movement. However, I now value it for pin replacements and for my second move of the game (a common opening). Essentially, the Spider is an easy way to increase material. Verdict: Offense.

- I most commonly see that the Mosquito copies the Ant for pins at the beginning and the Beetle for offense late. Verdict: Balanced.

- The Ladybug is similar to the Grasshopper and Beetle for the ability to jump out of spaces that would later be difficult for the opponent to fill. Like the Grasshopper, the Ladybug can quickly fill hard-to-reach spaces too. Unlike the Beetle, the Ladybug cannot so dramatically shift the game to offense by covering the Bee. Verdict: Balanced.

- I am still trying to learn the intracies of the Base+M+LB, so I rarely use the Pillbug. In the games I have played, the Pillbug has been especially useful for saving my own Bee. The shift to defense seems echoed by the community too. Verdict: Defense.

veme wrote:
It is somewhat more interesting to defend against than to use yourself, as it forces you to think about the value of spending moves denying placement next to bugs of a certain type.

I like this puzzle. If defense is difficult, it would initially seem the Parasite is more useful offensively. However, I would argue that adding Ants at the beginning feels similar. I want to input Ants for defensive pinning but don't want my Ants pinned.


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Dave Neale
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veme wrote:
This bug idea is interesting in some respects, but also has issues for me. The biggest of which is that I just don't think the game needs any more great attacking bugs.

It seems to me like it will basically end up being just another bullet for white to shoot, although it would make an interesting first placement as well.

Most games will probably see this placed next to an A or G when there is already an A or G next to an empty spot around the opponent's Q, forcing a pin every time since there is no other way to stop this bug. Indeed, like a properly aimed G (whoever made the comparison to the G was right, both bugs do an instant movement not affected by the 'freedom to move' rule), if one has enough bugs to free this thing it is a guaranteed killshot - the difference is it doesn't have to be aimed, it is a magic bullet that you just put down next to whatever kind of bug you want to move it to.

It is somewhat more interesting to defend against than to use yourself, as it forces you to think about the value of spending moves denying placement next to bugs of a certain type.

I am not sure why the ugly exception for the Q is necessary, as an A can move from one Q to the other, for instance, and this is not OP.

But mainly, as I said at the outset, this game doesn't need more easy attacks, since if anything white is already too good. Even though it can escape a surround (which is nice), so it could be used defensively to some extent, I think the maximum value would always be in using it as a direct attack or to break a pin. So this is more guns to me; I want defense, or like... trickery?

Name is hella bad, 'parasite' is a description of something's behavior, not a bug. Pick an actual thing, even if it has been done before.

Better than many fan made bugs despite my criticisms though. Strict version is better.


Good critique.

I have found in practice that it doesn’t seem to work like that, although I have only been playing Hive for a month so am far from an experienced player. For a start, you would need to get an ant or grasshopper next to the opposing queen first, then play one by the parasite, then move it. Why not just place an ant instead, which can then move directly to the queen?

And once you have placed the parasite, do you want to move it to the queen, or leave it in case your opponent creates a blocked off hole adjacent to the queen? If they do create such a hole, they might also try to surround it with insects your parasite isn’t touching, or move their insects away from your parasite to restrict its movement. You might have to get creative - if there is a spider by the hole, can you move the parasite from this ant to another ant that is adjacent to a spider, and then into the hole? It better be your spider, or your opponent could move it away.

I was faced with just that kind of decision in one recent game - do I trap the queen with my ant or parasite? Both are flexible movers but in different ways. In the end, I went with the ant, because I could see an opportunity for my opponent to create a gate to block the ant later.

The limitation of not using its power on the queen is to prevent it being a boring magic bullet. If it works on queens, you just place it by your queen and have a guaranteed (bar pinning) move next to the opposing queen whenever you like.

The name parasite refers to a type of organism with a certain type of behavior. I think I like it because it thematically captures the unusual movement of the piece. Tick could also work though.
 
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