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Subject: New Game: Arrello rss

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Nick Bentley
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Reposted from Blog: http://nickbentley.posterous.com/33653960

Below is a new game, a cousin of Othello (also known as Reversi), which I may or may not submit to the abstract game design contest over at Recre.Games.Combinatorial (depending on if I think of anything better before the contest deadline).

Recre.Games.Combinatorial:
http://groups.google.com/group/recregamescombinatorial?hl=en

Abstract Game Design Contest:
http://groups.google.com/group/recregamescombinatorial/brows...

I haven't played it enough to be confident that it's bug free, and as I play it I may find ways to improve it. So the rules may change.

The game emerged from issues I have with Othello, chiefly:

* It's too tactical / not strategic enough.
* Players have limited options as to how to place their stones.

Arrello is an attempt to avoid these problems.

The Game's name is a combination of the words "Arrow" and "Othello". I chose this name because the relationship between the stone you place and the stones you flip is similar to the relationship between an Amazon and an Arrow in the classic abstract game Amazons.

As always, feedback, especially constructive criticism, is welcome.

Arrello is a 2-player game played with two-sided stones (green on one side, red on the other), on a square grid with an odd number of cells. I recommend a 9x9 grid.

Rules

1. Players take turns. One player plays stones red-side up, the other plays stones green-side up.
2. On your turn, you must place a stone of your color onto any empty space. If you place it (diagonally or orthogonally) adjacent to a same-color color stone, you may optionally flip opponent stone(s). Here are the rules for flipping:

*You may flip any opponent stone or row of opponent stones which are in an unobstructed straight-line path (diagonal or orthogonal) from the stone that you just placed. See examples below for clarity.
*If your opponent placed a stone non-adjacent to any same-color stones on his most recent turn, you may not flip it on your current turn (though you may flip it on later turns)

3. The game ends when the board is full; the player with the majority of stones on the board wins.

Example Moves

Example 1: it’s Green’s turn. She places a stone adjacent to another green stone and flips 2 red stones


Example 2: it’s Green’s turn. She places a stone adjacent to another green stone and flips 1 red stone


Example 3: It’s Green’s turn. Green can’t flip because a green stone from a previous turn blocks the path


Example 4: It’s Green’s turn. She can’t flip because she didn’t place her stone next to any same-color stones


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Dave Nicholson
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milomilo122 wrote:
The game emerged from issues I have with Othello, chiefly:

* It's too tactical / not strategic enough.
* Players have limited options as to how to place their stones.

Arrello is an attempt to avoid these problems.


I find it ironic that you have gotten rid of what I consider the most elegant strategy of Othello. I have always been awed by how strong the strategy in Othello of minimizing your number of pieces on the board. That strategy becomes awful in Arrello.
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Nick Bentley
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That was intentional. I'm not fond of the "minimization" dynamic. Different strokes!
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Michael Howe
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Seems like an expansion of my prior game of Keel, which did not allow for either diagonal flipping nor long range flipping.

Please read
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/550720/a-new-game-keel-f...-
and acknowledege.

The original name of the game was Eclipse, but was changed to Umbra then Keel when I discovered conflicts with existing games.

Thanks
 
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Harald Korneliussen
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Doesn't seem overly similar to Keel to me (despite that you can get quite a variety of different games from various X and Y). That it's your choice where the "arrow" points, and that the "arrow" can shoot over empty squares, make it very different from either Keel or the original Reversi.
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Corey Clark
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mhowe wrote:
Seems like an expansion of my prior game of Keel, which did not allow for either diagonal flipping nor long range flipping.

Please read
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/550720/a-new-game-keel-f...-
and acknowledege.

The original name of the game was Eclipse, but was changed to Umbra then Keel when I discovered conflicts with existing games.

Thanks


yeah well as Harald pointed out, Keel was pretty vaguely defined to begin with. I mean what if I claimed I had designed a new game and the description sounded like this, "Oh yeah, I got this new game called Wawawiwa. You place stones on a square board. There are some variants that I messed around with. If you think of a variant please give me credit."
 
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Nick Bentley
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Cool. I wasn't aware of keel. Playing it and comparing it to Arrello will be instructive. Is there any chance I can interest you in zillionizing Arrello (since it sounds like you probably wouldn't have too much code to change). No prob if you're not up for it.

A design note. In Arrello there's this rule that you can't flip a singleton that your opponent placed on his most recent turn. Without this rule, it's useless to play a singleton, because you can't put one anywhere useful without it being flipped by the opponent. This same dynamic also leads to a large player 1 advantage. So the " singleton protection" rule both prevents the game from being broken and expands the scope of choice for the players. I assume Keel manages to avoid these problems? since it doesn't have the singleton protection rule I'm interested in understanding the dynamics that allow it to work without it. Is it the smaller attack range in Keel? What's the incentive to play singletons? I'll find these things out on my own when I play it, but I'm interested in getting your take.
 
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Dave Nicholson
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On a 9X9 grid I dont see how the second player would ever get more than one stone on the board since the first player can capture him whereever the second player places? Or do you intend the Pie rule to get rid of this major first player advantage.
 
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Nick Bentley
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SkarfBoy wrote:
On a 9X9 grid I dont see how the second player would ever get more than one stone on the board since the first player can capture him whereever the second player places? Or do you intend the Pie rule to get rid of this major first player advantage.


Note the second part of the flipping rule: when you place a singleton, your opponent can't flip it on his next turn.
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Michael Howe
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milomilo122 wrote:
Cool. I wasn't aware of keel. Playing it and comparing it to Arrello will be instructive. Is there any chance I can interest you in zillionizing Arrello (since it sounds like you probably wouldn't have too much code to change). No prob if you're not up for it.

A design note. In Arrello there's this rule that you can't flip a singleton that your opponent placed on his most recent turn. Without this rule, it's useless to play a singleton, because you can't put one anywhere useful without it being flipped by the opponent. This same dynamic also leads to a large player 1 advantage. So the " singleton protection" rule both prevents the game from being broken and expands the scope of choice for the players. I assume Keel manages to avoid these problems? since it doesn't have the singleton protection rule I'm interested in understanding the dynamics that allow it to work without it. Is it the smaller attack range in Keel? What's the incentive to play singletons? I'll find these things out on my own when I play it, but I'm interested in getting your take.


In Keel, because you can only flip adjacent pieces, or rows with one end adjacent to the new piece, it is often possible to play a singleton that cannot be flipped, especially early in the game, and sometimes even later in the game behind enemy lines, giving it a "invasion" feel. Arrello certainly looks to have a larger branching factor and sharper tactics than even the sharpest version of Keel; this might mean it suffers in the clarity department, as some have cogently argued in the case of Keel. This tends to be true of most games that descend from Reversi.

I think it should be possible to implement Arrello without too much trouble, although I'll have to think about how to do the rule about not flipping the most recent piece. I also can't say when I'll have time to do it, since I'm pretty swamped right now by all things non-game-related. But I would like to do it when I have the time. If you want the Zillions code for Keel, geekmail me and provide me an email address I can attach it to.
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Nick Bentley
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mhowe wrote:

In Keel, because you can only flip adjacent pieces, or rows with one end adjacent to the new piece, it is often possible to play a singleton that cannot be flipped, especially early in the game, and sometimes even later in the game behind enemy lines, giving it a "invasion" feel. Arrello certainly looks to have a larger branching factor and sharper tactics than even the sharpest version of Keel; this might mean it suffers in the clarity department, as some have cogently argued in the case of Keel. This tends to be true of most games that descend from Reversi.


I got the chance to play Keel last night, and everything you've said is right on target. Keel (which I loved) feels stately, Arrello feels wild.


mhowe wrote:
geekmail me and provide me an email address I can attach it to.


Thanks! Will do.
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Dave Dyer
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It's hard to beat YINSH as a strategic improvement on othello.
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Corey Clark
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ddyer wrote:
It's hard to beat YINSH as a strategic improvement on othello.


I don't think so laugh
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Harald Korneliussen
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Corey, once one of your games touch #1 on BGG's abstract rating, or is ever studied in-depth by a player of Michael Reitz' calibre, then you may laugh.
 
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Corey Clark
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vintermann wrote:
Corey, once one of your games touch #1 on BGG's abstract rating, or is ever studied in-depth by a player of Michael Reitz' calibre, then you may laugh.


whoops, sorry, I forgot that Yinsh was part of the Gipf series. Sorry for forming an opinion of my own there. I mean Dave Dyer came in here effectively highjacking Nick Bentley's topic about his new game to proclaim his infatuation with the Gipf series, -"Gipf I love you and imma treat you right this time baby."- as if this wasn't made clear enough on his website, www.burmspace.net. Anyone could plainly see that this is not a valuable contribution to the discussion, even an avid fan of Yinsh. All such a remark could possibly do is make the designer feel humiliated and irrelevant if it were noticed. We designers don't design games just to pale into insignificance in the presence of the almighty Gipf.

Then the sheer absurdity of the statement itself has to be analyzed. Comparing the two games, Yinsh takes Othello a territory game with a global strategy and turns it into an n-in-a-row game, a family of games which are notorious for being purely tactical. And your reasoning is even more absurd! If Yinsh is popular, Othello is at least 10 times more popular. I have yet to find Yinsh in somebody's household.

and what's all this noise about how I haven't earned the right to laugh? What gives you the right to say any of the above? After all you haven't even designed a game! The reason is because this place is at least somewhat democratic, tyranny of the majority aside. Free speech is an unassailable right, not a privilege you have to earn. I can laugh at Dyer's tactless comment and you can write the above statement apparently in an effort to force your own opinion of Yinsh on me, while knocking me down a peg. I would recommend you discontinue this campaign immediately however because it's not worth the investment of time and effort for something so fruitless.

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Nick Bentley
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Yeah, this game isn't as good as Yinsh. Designing a game that good is haaaaaaaaaaaaaard.
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Harald Korneliussen
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Corey Clark, I won't stop you from saying whatever you want. Laugh then, if you want, but know that it sounds a little shrill to me (and, I suspect, most of the 400+ people who rate Yinsh as an 8 or above)

It's true I haven't designed a game (or at least, none I've shown the world). The advantage of not being a designer is that I feel no need to denigrate competitor's games in order to promote my own.

If you didn't have a pretty large stake in this, I wouldn't raise any eyebrows at criticism of Yinsh or other popular abstracts.

Popularity, as measured in some community where you can't arbitrarily exclude individuals you disagree with, is a designer's contact with the real world. I wouldn't dismiss that so lightly if I were you - I've seen a couple of designers motivated by pure ego (as have you), and it isn't exactly appealing.
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Corey Clark
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vintermann wrote:
Corey Clark, I won't stop you from saying whatever you want. Laugh then, if you want, but know that it sounds a little shrill to me (and, I suspect, most of the 400+ people who rate Yinsh as an 8 or above)

It's true I haven't designed a game (or at least, none I've shown the world). The advantage of not being a designer is that I feel no need to denigrate competitor's games in order to promote my own.

If you didn't have a pretty large stake in this, I wouldn't raise any eyebrows at criticism of Yinsh or other popular abstracts.

Popularity, as measured in some community where you can't arbitrarily exclude individuals you disagree with, is a designer's contact with the real world. I wouldn't dismiss that so lightly if I were you - I've seen a couple of designers motivated by pure ego (as have you), and it isn't exactly appealing.


As I made quite clear it isn't Yinsh itself that's the problem here it's the irrelevance and tactlessness of Dyer's comment. The guy may as well have said "I like turtles" at least that wouldn't have been insulting. I mean this is a forum not a chat room and you're supposed to weigh your words. As a designer I can honestly say that if I made a topic showcasing a new game I had designed and somebody came in and talked about how great some other game was, especially a popular one like Yinsh amongst generally negative feedback, this would be like them spitting in my face.
It's rude and discourteous and I don't know how anyone can defend it.
 
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CoreyClark wrote:
vintermann wrote:
Corey Clark, I won't stop you from saying whatever you want. Laugh then, if you want, but know that it sounds a little shrill to me (and, I suspect, most of the 400+ people who rate Yinsh as an 8 or above)

It's true I haven't designed a game (or at least, none I've shown the world). The advantage of not being a designer is that I feel no need to denigrate competitor's games in order to promote my own.

If you didn't have a pretty large stake in this, I wouldn't raise any eyebrows at criticism of Yinsh or other popular abstracts.

Popularity, as measured in some community where you can't arbitrarily exclude individuals you disagree with, is a designer's contact with the real world. I wouldn't dismiss that so lightly if I were you - I've seen a couple of designers motivated by pure ego (as have you), and it isn't exactly appealing.


As I made quite clear it isn't Yinsh itself that's the problem here it's the irrelevance and tactlessness of Dyer's comment. The guy may as well have said "I like turtles" at least that wouldn't have been insulting. I mean this is a forum not a chat room and you're supposed to weigh your words. As a designer I can honestly say that if I made a topic showcasing a new game I had designed and somebody came in and talked about how great some other game was, especially a popular one like Yinsh amongst generally negative feedback, this would be like them spitting in my face.
It's rude and discourteous and I don't know how anyone can defend it.


Complaining about a thread being derailed by derailing it even further is a bit counterproductive, isn't it? As Yinsh is a similar game to Othello, and therefore Arrello, I'd say it's perfectly appropriate to bring it in. People talk about games in terms of other games. What's the big deal?

Back to the game in question: Arrello looks interesting. While it's really premature to talk about strategy for a game I haven't played yet it seems to me that 'minimization' would actually play a big role in the game. Not one as it is found in Othello, but more like it is done in Ataxx, where clusters of stones that have a minimized perimeter are the most defensive and ones with a maximized perimeter are the most mobile, but also the most vulnerable.
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Dave Dyer
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I wasn't my intention to dis this new game, which I haven't investigated,
or start a flame war. Arrello claims to be a realtive of Othello; I was
just pointing out another favorite relative.

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CoreyClark wrote:
I mean this is a forum not a chat room and you're supposed to weigh your words. As a designer I can honestly say that if I made a topic showcasing a new game I had designed and somebody came in and talked about how great some other game was, especially a popular one like Yinsh amongst generally negative feedback, this would be like them spitting in my face.

Corey, you seem to be a person who takes offense quickly and has far more extreme reactions of offense and anger to things which seem unremarkable to many people.

I agree that the mention of YINSH was about as useful as "I like turtles", but such comments seem quite normal and inoffensive at a website devoted to talking about boardgames. The idea that it was like spitting in Nick's face is a blatantly absurd exaggeration. You seem to be far more upset by it than anyone else, including Nick himself.

I'm trying to imagine an analogy from another field. E.g. if I were writing a play, and was critiquing my work in progress with other people, and someone said something like "It's hard to top Hamlet for tragedy", I would not take that as spitting in my face. (Would you?) Heck, I used to be in a writing critique group that met twice a month, and it was quite normal that people would bring up existing examples of the type of work under discussion, sometimes to make some point, but sometimes simply because it's normal for fans to be reminded of similar things and to remember other favorites fondly and enjoy mentioning them. No one felt insulted, and the process would grind to a halt if someone got reproached for doing it every time that happened.



Anyway, given a choice between:

1. An irrelevant comment by someone briefly expressing positive enthusiasm for a game only barely related to the current discussion

and

2. An irrelevant comment by someone ranting against a game and against people who like it

I would guess that derailments of type 1 are less disruptive and less negative than derailments of type 2.
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jfpierce wrote:

Back to the game in question: Arrello looks interesting. While it's really premature to talk about strategy for a game I haven't played yet it seems to me that 'minimization' would actually play a big role in the game. Not one as it is found in Othello, but more like it is done in Ataxx, where clusters of stones that have a minimized perimeter are the most defensive and ones with a maximized perimeter are the most mobile, but also the most vulnerable.


Wow. Let me catch myself here before someone else does. A square, which is what I was thinking of as the shape with the most minimized perimeter, is actually a fairly vulnerable position.

. . . . .
. X X X .
. X X X .
. X X X .
. . . . .

A position like this is strong against flips coming from the vertical or horizontal, as they could be reversed in one move, but is weak against diagonal attacks. A stronger formation would be:

. . . . .
. X X X .
. X . X .
. X X X .
. . . . .

In this formation, the opponent could flip one, two or three pieces, but as long as the opponents pieces weren't touching the formation, that could be undone with the next move.

This seems like a good formation to make for Arrello:

. . . . .
. . X . .
. X . X .
. . X . .
. . . . .

(I'm guessing Go players have a name for this shape)

From here, one could fill in the four corners, 'firing' at enemy pieces every time while at the same time improving the defensive capabilities of the formation.

edit: properly formatted the diagrams. Thanks Harald.
 
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Harald Korneliussen
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jfpierce wrote:


..X..
.X.X.
..X..

(I'm guessing Go players have a name for this shape)


Yup, it's called ponnuki. Tip: The code tag is good for getting proportional font
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milomilo122 wrote:
The game emerged from issues I have with Othello, chiefly:

* It's too tactical / not strategic enough.
* Players have limited options as to how to place their stones.

I have mixed feelings about these statements.

As stated, a basic idea in Othello is to have fewer stones than the opponent. The reason for this is that you have more options to move, i.e. place stones that capture, often called higher mobility. So, having fewer stones is a shortcut for a higher goal, and that higher goal depends on the placement of stones, too. The limited choice mentioned is an intrinsic factor of gameplay. The approach of having less stones may backfire, by the way. You can have too few moves in a round, and the opponent may use it to steer you into a capture of all your stones, for instance. I'd say it is a tight rope walk. Other important strategic aspects are corner play and parity. Corner play means that you want to take the corners. Parity means that you want to be the one who makes the last move in an area, a tricky thing in itself. Othello can be a cold game there. The effects of parity can be used to offset corner play to a degree. However, you can use parity, if and only if your stones are placed in a way that allows capture in that area. This is another situation where having (too) few stones can backfire. Overall, strategy and tactics interact in an intricate manner and make Othello a surprisingly deep game.

This has been contrasted with Yinsh which is said to be a strategic improvement on Othello. No base for this claim has been provided, and I doubt it exists. Corey has given some points which make me suspect the opposite. Yes, n-in-a-row games are mostly tactical. Yinsh has negative feedback built into the rules - as opposed to Othello where negative feedback emerges from gameplay -, and if there is a source of strategic depth, it is likely going to be that rule. However, I wait for the evidence, and I guess it will take many years to see stable strategies whose depth can judged. Although Yinsh is one of the most played newer abstracts, it is still too new.


As I said, I have mixed feelings about the statements above. The good thing about them is that they show a clear design goal. You have an idea what you get when you play the game. Further, you can judge the game by the goal set. Does it achieve what it is supposed to do or does it not?

Too many games just consist of a clever mechanic. Here, we know more.
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jfpierce wrote:


Wow. Let me catch myself here before someone else does. A square, which is what I was thinking of as the shape with the most minimized perimeter, is actually a fairly vulnerable position.

. X X X .
. X X X .
. X X X .

A position like this is strong against flips coming from the vertical or horizontal, as they could be reversed in one move, but is weak against diagonal attacks. A stronger formation would be:

. X X X .
. X . X .
. X X X .

In this formation, the opponent could flip one, two or three pieces, but as long as the opponents pieces weren't touching the formation, that could be undone with the next move.

This seems like a good formation to make for Arrello:

. . X . .
. X . X .
. . X . .
(I'm guessing Go players have a name for this shape)

From here, one could fill in the four corners, 'firing' at enemy pieces every time while at the same time improving the defensive capabilities of the formation.


My conclusions so far are similar. Except so far the corners don't seem very protected, as you can easily fire at the corners from the middle or the walls.

One defensively important concept is to be walled in by your opponents stones, so that they interfere with his attacks. This is related to your comment about minimization: it does appear that the minimization dynamic is important in Arrello (though I was trying to design a game where it wasn't!)

Also, despite my desire for a strategic game, on further study, Arrello seems tactically insane, and strategy slips through my fingers. I keep thinking I'm on the verge of understanding some strategy, and then it turns out I don't. hmmmm.

 
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