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Subject: Spider's Lair : My take on the Asian Leopard Games rss

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Rey Alicea
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You can get a larger board here http://reyaliceagames.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/spiderslai...

Here is my take on the Asian Leopard Games with a couple of added wrinkles.

In some of the the classic Leopard Games you have a single tiger and 15 or more leopards. In my variant you have 1 spider and 15 flies.

My first objective for this experiment was to extend the triangular board of these games and what I came up with as you can see was this Iron cross configuration.

This allows greater mobility for the spider as well as the flies but this created a new problem.

You see the triangular shape of the traditional board constrains the players movement allowing the game to finish sooner in some cases, so now I needed another way to constrain their movement.

My solution was to convert the flies to cocooned flies after being captured.

The cocooned flies now are imobile and become barriers for the spider as well as for the flies that are left.

Parts:

1 red stone

15 Reversi Chips would be ideal if you have them if not you'll need 15 black stones and 6 white stones

The rules are pretty much the same as in all Leopard Games here they are with slight modifications.

Objective:

The objective is for the Spider to capture(cocoon) 6 flies and for the Flies the objective is to trap the spider in it's own web by surrounding it.

Game Play:

Players decide what animal to play. Players take turns. The board is empty in the beginning with the exception of the Spider red piece which is placed at the center of the board.

The Flies move first. All 15 Fly stones must be dropped first before any of them can be moved. Only one Fly stone can be dropped per turn and they are dropped onto any vacant point at the intersecting lines of the board during the Flies turn.

After all the Flies have been dropped, a Fly can move one space per turn onto a vacant point following the pattern on the board. Only one fly may be moved per turn. Flies can not capture.

The Spider on its turn may either moves the Spider stone one space onto a vacant point following the pattern on the board or use it to capture a Fly stone.

The Spider captures a Fly by a short hop as Draughts . The Spider must be adjacent to the Fly and hop over it onto a vacant point on the other side of the fly following the pattern on the board. Only one capture is allowed per turn.

Captures are not compulsory.

Captured Flies are removed and replaced with a white stone (If you have Reversi pieces you would then simply flip it over from dark to light) .

The white stones represent cocooned flies, cocooned flies are wall like objects they can not be passed over or captured.

End Game:

Flies win if they surround and immobilize the spider.

The Spider wins if it captures(cocoons) 6 Flies.
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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That's a really nice board design.
 
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Rey Alicea
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Thank you sir.
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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How did you decide upon 15 vs. 1 for the ratio of pieces? With 61 points on your board, it gives a piece density of just more than 1/4, which is a bit lower than many hunt games, but it's fixed due to the non-removal of captured (cocooned) pieces. If the piece count was determined by play testing (which I hope is true), do you have it to a point where the likelihood of winning between two evenly matched players is reasonably close to equal for both sides? Just curious. If it is pretty evenly matched, then this sounds like a game I'd like to play.
 
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Rey Alicea
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Hi Clark I found from play testing that more flies would gain an advantage over the spider simply by using the cocooned flies as an entrapment mechanism . The spiders only advantage is the size of the board or adding more spiders.

Also I toyed with the idea of having the flies be able to free a cocooned fly this led to an advantage over the spider and if you have to many cocooned flies, the game tilts to the spiders advantage.

What surprises me is how the ancient game designers realized intuitively that constraining the board in this way would alter play dramatically.
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Christian K
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it seems like you easily could place your flies such that the spider could never capture anything (thus forcing a draw). Have you investigated this? It is just a quick thought on my part, so it may not be true.

edit: sorry, I thought capture had to follow a straight line, so my concern may not be valid
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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If anyone would like to test play Spider's Lair, I took the liberty of adding a page for it to Scientific Click's HexHex4 Google Presentation, along with a link back to this thread for the rules.
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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Spider's Lair got to the table for four games at my 2012 abstract strategy games tournament at U-Con in Ypsilanti, Michigan on 10/27/2012. I played a pair of games with my oldest daughter, and another couple of competitors played another pair of games. Each pair swapped roles as spider and flies.

You say that the spider may jump over flies to an open space beyond along the pattern of the board. I presume this means that a fly in one of the corners of the iron cross can be jumped "around the corner" to the next point on the diagram. Is this true? If so, is it also possible to make a short jump with a turn if there are points beyond in other directions besides a straight line (one of the many crossing intersections)? If yes, this seems to give the spider quite a lot more mobility and power. We played that the corner jumps are only allowed when there are no "straight line" points beyond, whether occupied or not.

I think there were a couple of other questions, too, but I'll have to ask the players what they remember.
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David Lame
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We also added a "no repeat position" rule. There were circumstances where it just made sense for the spider to go back where he came from, and for the flies to follow. By adding a no repeat position rule the flies were forced to open up a bit.

I can't say this game was my favorite, but I'm not a great fan of asymmentric games in the first place. It seems to me that if the flies are patient, they can win every time. I won as the spider, but I think my opponent just made a couple of significant blunders during game setup that allowed a couple of quick and easy cocoons, tippling the balance in the spider's favor. Also, we both made one mistake when playing with the spider. We jumped over a fly in the center square. The really hurts in the long run.
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Rey Alicea
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Quote:
You say that the spider may jump over flies to an open space beyond along the pattern of the board. I presume this means that a fly in one of the corners of the iron cross can be jumped "around the corner" to the next point on the diagram. Is this true? If so, is it also possible to make a short jump with a turn if there are points beyond in other directions besides a straight line (one of the many crossing intersections)?


Hi Clark the answer to both your questions is no. Unfortunately when I designed the look of the board I used to much artistic liberty. The right angles that connect the iron cross should be perceived as straight lines that you are allowed to move across but cannot capture across. Capture should only occur along the lines of the iron cross. I'm posting a board redesign that has the corners(right angles)removed and replaced with dotted lines. The dotted lines should remind the players that they may cross but not capture.

Click image to enlarge

 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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To clarify, in this playable diagram, can the spider (red) capture the fly (black) by following the pattern of the board?
 
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Rey Alicea
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Hi Clark, I would have responded sooner but hurricane Sandy took out our power. Just got it back. The answer is no.
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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Thanks for the clarifications. I wonder if removing the corners from the square parts of the iron cross reduces the play area too much? The spider can move more quickly from one arm of the cross to another, but the flies may be able to put the squeeze on the spider more quickly anyway. If it hasn't been already, this game needs to be added to the database so I can record my plays.
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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Meadmaker wrote:
We also added a "no repeat position" rule. There were circumstances where it just made sense for the spider to go back where he came from, and for the flies to follow. By adding a no repeat position rule the flies were forced to open up a bit.

I can't say this game was my favorite, but I'm not a great fan of asymmentric games in the first place. It seems to me that if the flies are patient, they can win every time. I won as the spider, but I think my opponent just made a couple of significant blunders during game setup that allowed a couple of quick and easy cocoons, tippling the balance in the spider's favor. Also, we both made one mistake when playing with the spider. We jumped over a fly in the center square. The really hurts in the long run.


I just played with my older son, and the flies had a very easy time hemming in the spider after the spider jumped a fly on the center space on the second move of the game. The anchor a central cocoon provides for a ring of flies around it is probably unstoppable, but not jumping the central fly makes it just as strong an anchor once the ring starts to form. I think the flies have a huge advantage with the game as it is.
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Rey Alicea
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Question Clark how many flies where you able to cocoon before this happend?
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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reyalicea wrote:
Question Clark how many flies where you able to cocoon before this happend?

I placed a fly in the back row, the spider moved off, and I placed a fly on the center point. I simply think that spot is too powerful for the flies. Maybe make it off limits as in several of the Tafl family games?
 
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Rey Alicea
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CDRodeffer wrote:
reyalicea wrote:
Question Clark how many flies where you able to cocoon before this happend?

I placed a fly in the back row, the spider moved off, and I placed a fly on the center point. I simply think that spot is too powerful for the flies. Maybe make it off limits as in several of the Tafl family games?


I agree with you Clark.

My question is then how did the players of Tigers and Leopards resolve this? Unless they used an unspoken rule not to place a leopard on the tiger's origin point perhaps.
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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reyalicea wrote:
CDRodeffer wrote:
I placed a fly in the back row, the spider moved off, and I placed a fly on the center point. I simply think that spot is too powerful for the flies. Maybe make it off limits as in several of the Tafl family games?
I agree with you Clark. My question is then how did the players of Tigers and Leopards resolve this? Unless they used an unspoken rule not to place a leopard on the tiger's origin point perhaps.

I'm not sure, but I'll try a few more games with the kids as I'm able. For starters, I think that immediately reversing the position (Dave Lame's suggestion to avoid repetition) is essential, and simply not allow any flies to enter the center might help. Returning to the original board with its points off the square corners of the iron cross may also help because it would add lots more spaces to which the spider might move and capture, but I think changing one thing at a time and seeing how it works might be good. If none of these are enough, then perhaps trying the game again with captures along the board paths, even through open corners (the illegal captures from the playable board), might be worth exploring.
 
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Rey Alicea
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CDRodeffer wrote:
reyalicea wrote:
CDRodeffer wrote:
I placed a fly in the back row, the spider moved off, and I placed a fly on the center point. I simply think that spot is too powerful for the flies. Maybe make it off limits as in several of the Tafl family games?
I agree with you Clark. My question is then how did the players of Tigers and Leopards resolve this? Unless they used an unspoken rule not to place a leopard on the tiger's origin point perhaps.

I'm not sure, but I'll try a few more games with the kids as I'm able. For starters, I think that immediately reversing the position (Dave Lame's suggestion to avoid repetition) is essential, and simply not allow any flies to enter the center might help. Returning to the original board with its points off the square corners of the iron cross may also help because it would add lots more spaces to which the spider might move and capture, but I think changing one thing at a time and seeing how it works might be good. If none of these are enough, then perhaps trying the game again with captures along the board paths, even through open corners (the illegal captures from the playable board), might be worth exploring.


That's great. I will be testing out two possible rule additions, they are as follows:

1) The spider may capture a cocooned fly by jumping over it under one condition, that the spider take an alternate path in doing so.

2) The second possible rule would be that the flies may try to free a cocooned fly by custodial(sandwiching the cocoon)
 
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what if when the spider captured a fly in the central pt. the fly was removed (eaten perhaps?) rather than cocooned? Just a suggestion have not yet played it but looking forward to it.
 
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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sundaysilence wrote:
what if when the spider captured a fly in the central pt. the fly was removed (eaten perhaps?) rather than cocooned? Just a suggestion have not yet played it but looking forward to it.

I don't think this would be enough. If a fly moves to the center while the spider is more than one space away from the center, then interposes another fly between the spider and the center, that fly in the center is an anchor that would be nearly impossible to displace, and any flies around it would be very difficult to capture because of it. Yes, there is a ring around the center around which the spider can capture, but if that becomes a ring of flies, they can almost certainly push out and trap the spider. In my opinion, the ring needs the additional four corner spaces to give the spider some room to capture and to give the flies more territory they need to cover and to slow them down when trying to trap the spider down one of the arms.

My vote for the first thing to try would be simply not allowing a fly to enter the central point, ever, like the thrown in Tafl games or Agon.
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thanks for your comments, CLark. WHen you say "ring" you mean the innermost concentric circle or ring or whatever that is? That you would eliminate the dotted lines in that area?


I read the rules but I am unclear as to when the flies are dropped. Are all 15 dropped before any of them move?

Another idea would be that the flies can only move in one direction, like say they can only move toward the center or something. Again have not yet played.

THanks for comments.
 
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It seems as if the official rules to the game are in the first post although it would be appreciated if that were explicitly stated, not sure if here is another site to go to for this.

So some questions. Is capturing mandatory? This is not explicitly stated in those rules above; although it might be inferred from what is written because it says a player does one of two things; Capture or move. Even so, if capturing was mandatory, then the rule as written does not contradict such possibility. It says a player does one of two things, it does not list those times when one of those things cannot be done because the other is mandatory and only one can be done on a turn.

Although for normal rules reading; one would think if capturing were mandatory it would have explicitly stated. I like brevity but there's also conciseness to be had.

More questions:

What is the purpose of leaving the cocoons on the board? It tilts the game towards the flies, or so it seems. But also it reduces the decision space and hence strategies and choices are reduced. No?

It is not clear in the rules, if the spider is supposed to move in between drops, during the initial placement stage. This should be clarified.

Depending on how one interprets the placement rule, it seems the flies build up a powerful advantage by bunching near the center, but I guess the periphery is also rather safe for them.

What is the purpose of the dotted lines being off limits for capturing? Suggestion/question: What happens if the spider is allowed to capture over the dotted line and the flies are not allowed to move over it?

The placement stage seems tedious. have you tried a fixed set up? This might speed the game up quite a bit.

It seems the center point is very useful to the flies and getting rid of it might be greatly slow down the flies mobility. this might also limit strategies of the flies...

Have you experimented with alternate winning conditions for the fly?

I have noticed, in spending a few minutes with this that the spider might do well if he can sort of outflank the flies by running around the periphery and then cutting into the interior section and dissecting the fly's overall formation.

ALso if the spider can kill 3 or 4 flies, he has a good chance of winning, that is if you remove dead flies.

EDIT:changed spiders to flies in para. 6.
 
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