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Subject: Go Pente, Go! : A Pente Review rss

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Michael Coene
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Maryland
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Oh yeah, this is the good stuff. Abstract Strategy fans everywhere should be tingling all over at the sight of this game, it's so up our alley it's stuck there. However, those of you who don't like games that are too brutal, or are too frustrating (there will be times when it seems like no matter WHAT you do, you just can't get five), you may need to avoid that alley.

Pente, for all intents and purposes, is a Go variant. That right there should make any Abstract Strategy fan excited. The difference is that you need five little pieces in a row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally) to win the game, and that you can capture tokens to remove them from play and give them back to the player. You capture tokens simply by surrounding them on either side with two of yours.

Just like with Go, the simplicity to that explanation is remarkable given just how deep this game ends up going. I have found, in every play, that we end up having almost two or three different games going at once. There will be a skirmish in one corner, another skirmish in another, maybe one in the middle. We end up going at it at one for a while, and then all of the sudden a player will place a piece in a different corner and the focus of the game completely changes (not to mention whatever it was you were just trying to set-up).

The challenge level in trying to get five in a row is so high, you're going to surprise yourself at how close you'll come. Because think about it, if you have three in a row, your opponent's going to see it and place a token on one end of that. So now what? There's no point in placing a fourth because your opponent is simply going to capture them. Herein lies the depth: finding ways to set things up so that, even if they capture one, you have another option to complete five available. If you're playing against a particularly good player, this is remarkably difficult to accomplish. Oh, and you have to thwart their attempts to do the same.

I love, love, love, love this game. But as I always say, a board game review shouldn't be about how much the reviewer himself loves it (afterall, I'm an abstract strategy addict), but about how much the world CAN love it. And that's where the tone of this little review shifts a little bit.

Pente is not for the faint of heart. If you don't like playing Chess, if you don't enjoy Go, but you're down for some Checkers, you may as well walk away when someone tries to break out a Pente board. It's very brutal, you have to plan very, very carefully in order to actually get five pieces in a row. If you're playing someone good, you won't. Plain and simple.

If you're the type of person that doesn't get-off on coming so close to getting five, and having it taken away from you by the one move you didn't see, stay away from this game. I love that, personally. I love thinking I've got my opponent in a corner, and the two of us sit there and analyze every possible situation until we find the one, THE ONE, that I missed and the game goes on. It's what makes an Abstract fan's heart beat.

So there you have it. Abstract Strategy fans: you have to have a copy of this. Everyone else? I reccommend giving it shot. Play 3 or 4 sessions before making your opinion on it, you might surprise yourself. If, by the 4th play you still can't stand the frustration, then I reccommend Hive.

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Billy McBoatface
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Lexington
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Focuscoene wrote:
Pente, for all intents and purposes, is a Go variant.
Pente is not a go variant. They are about as different as abstract strategy games can be - yes, they can be played on the same equipment, but that's like calling othello a chess variant because they both use an 8x8 board.

Go variant or not, though, Pente is a very good game. We agree there.
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Michael Coene
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I dunno, it seems like it could be interpreted as a Go variant. Same equipment, and the idea of surround and capture is present, it's just your victory condition has changed which results in your play style changing.

But the two play styles are DRASTICALLY different, yes.
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Moshe Callen
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Focuscoene wrote:
I dunno, it seems like it could be interpreted as a Go variant. Same equipment, and the idea of surround and capture is present, it's just your victory condition has changed which results in your play style changing.

But the two play styles are DRASTICALLY different, yes.
No, the style of captre is very different.

Good review otherwise!
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Anton Dovydaitis
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Carmichael
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Pente is to Go what Tic-Tac-Toe is to Chess, or much worse actually. Mathematically, Pente is a forced win for the first player. You'll never see a serious Pente tournament.

Renju is the professional version of Go-Moku, or 5-in-a-row, and it evens out the first and second player by forbidding certain moves by the first player (double 4 and 4/3 split). It is also played on a 15 line board.

Pente is okay for children or non-serious gamers.

Smeelbo
 
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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smeelbo wrote:
Pente is to Go what Tic-Tac-Toe is to Chess, or much worse actually. Mathematically, Pente is a forced win for the first player. You'll never see a serious Pente tournament.

Renju is the professional version of Go-Moku, or 5-in-a-row, and it evens out the first and second player by forbidding certain moves by the first player (double 4 and 4/3 split). It is also played on a 15 line board.

Pente is okay for children or non-serious gamers.

Smeelbo
I've heard that before but must disagree. I've been playing Pente for somewhere between 20 and 30 years. Yes, it is a variant of Renju in most respects but it remains a compelling game, snobbishness aside.
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Michael Howe
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Cromwell
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smeelbo wrote:
Mathematically, Pente is a forced win for the first player.

Smeelbo


Hmmmm, doubt it, when the tournament rule restricting the first player's second move, is used. Or when a version of the pie rule is used.

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P.D. Magnus
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smeelbo wrote:
Pente is to Go what Tic-Tac-Toe is to Chess, or much worse actually. Mathematically, Pente is a forced win for the first player.


The "much worse" confuses me. If the point is that Pente is solved, that puts it on even footing with Tic-Tac-Toe. But there is the important different that everyone knows - or can quickly work out - the solution to Tic-Tac-Toe. A game of Pente is complex enough that one can't crack it by simply memorizing the winning possibilities. In most games between actual people, the better player will win regardless of who went first.

Also, Pente is a good game with more three or four players.
 
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William Bekking
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smeelbo wrote:
You'll never see a serious Pente tournament.



Actually, there are serious pente tournaments that take place at http://www.gamerz.net/pbmserv/ regularly. They also have rankings. There is no second player advantage if you play by tournament rules (as stated above).

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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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pmagnus wrote:


Also, Pente is a good game with more three or four players.


Pente is one of my all-time favourite games, but I do find it a bit of a bore with more than two players.
 
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Richard Rutten
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Focuscoene wrote:
... You capture tokens simply by surrounding them on either side with two of yours.

...

Because think about it, if you have three in a row, your opponent's going to see it and place a token on one end of that. So now what? There's no point in placing a fourth because your opponent is simply going to capture them. ...

Seems you are playing this wrong! You can only capture sets of two stones. Nothing else.
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