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Subject: Criterion for abstract strategy game of the year... rss

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Richard Hutnik
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With prior discussions about discontent over various "abstract strategy game of the year", I felt it would be appropriate to start one here to look into this. I will confess here that maybe more than one award would be appropriate, so I will list several, and welcome feedback. My idea is that abstract strategy needs to be more than just combinatorial. It also needs to accomodate the lack of theming. Anyhow, onto categories and criterion:

* Abstract strategy game of the year:
- No luck (all elements under player control outside of maybe randomly determining start player).
- Perfect information.
- Works real well for 2 players only, but can optionally accomodate more than 2. I say this saying that a game need not be two player only, but it MUST play well enough with 2 players only. If a game plays real well with 2, no reason to discount it because it supports more than 2.
- Little or no relevant theming. As part of this, if a game fits into another genre, like Euro or Wargame, it wouldn't belong here. I see 2 player Agricola: All Creates Great and Small was mentioned as a nominee for another award connected to abstract strategy games. Well, I see it as a Euro, so it doesn't fit here. I think an important part of abstract strategy is the irrelevance of theming.

* Combinatorial game of the year:
- Perfect information and no luck.
- Theming is irrelevant in consideration. A game can be strong or weak in theming.
- This award is done to promote combinatorial play mechanics.
- No restriction on number of players.

* Two player abstract game of the year:
- Two player only game.
- Can be given to game that is thematically week or heavily combinatorial.
- Focus on this award is 2 player only games.

Note a game could win multiple of these awards. And some can be discounted. Feedback is welcome here.

Edit: And note that meant to add that NON-COMMERCIAL releases should be allowed also. Idea is to award good games, not just commercial releases. And also note, I had added this as a starting point. Consider that what I wrote is a starting point, and I welcome people to disagree.
 
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Russ Williams
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I agree that the Agricola game does not fit into what I perceive to be the "abstract strategy game" niche. And I wish there was an annual award for such games.

Another fine example: Caylus is a combinatorial game, and a good game, but by no means an "abstract strategy game".

That said, the recent new award to which you refer seems to have (unfortunate) ambiguity about whether it's for "all combinatorial games" (as its title suggests) or for "abstract strategy games in the combinatorial sense" (as its geeklist header suggests, and as it being created as a reaction against Golden Geek "abstract strategy game" candidates which had randomness, hidden information, simultaneous decisions, real time, etc suggests).

===

To me, part of the interest of "these games" is their simple elegant rules which are purely about interesting game play, not at all subservient to any attempt to simulate something. Long fiddly rules with many exceptions to conform to some idea of how things "should" work in the "world" being simulated seem not part of "abstract strategy game", for me. Similarly, various cards with text describing special effects (and resulting language dependency) seem not part of "abstract strategy game", for me.

In some sense, a rule of thumb for identifying an "abstract strategy game" might be "could I imagine beings on another planet quite unlike Earth also inventing and playing this game?" (There is the well-known quote about how if there is intelligent life on other planets, they probably play go. They surely don't play Agricola, which seems too obviously bound to Earth-specific concepts.)

===

The obvious problem, of course, is that (in contrast with "no randomness", "no hidden info", "alternating turns", etc.) the criterion "doesn't simulate anything = has no theme" is quite difficult to objectively determine in many cases, and reasonable people disagree (e.g. even about whether chess & shogi "have a theme" or "simulate battles").
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Leslie Taylor
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I think anything designed by Lopez123 is automatically in the running. His games Capture, Invasion, and New Blocking Game, are some of the finest abstracts I have seen posted by someone named Lopez123 in some time... ever.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Marvin Spellbinder wrote:
Hutnik, no one has ever given a fuck what you think, and they still don't. Abstract game is now the term for what used to be called abstract strategy game. There's no difference between the two, except in your fucked up mind. Why don't you just fucking DIE !!!!

I thought it would be impossible to put me in Richard's corner on one of his narrow definition threads, but you've managed it. I may disagree with him, but I've never seen him say anything remotely that rude.
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Russ Williams
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Sphere wrote:
Marvin Spellbinder wrote:
Hutnik, no one has ever given a fuck what you think, and they still don't. Abstract game is now the term for what used to be called abstract strategy game. There's no difference between the two, except in your fucked up mind. Why don't you just fucking DIE !!!!

I thought it would be impossible to put me in Richard's corner on one of his narrow definition threads, but you've managed it. I may disagree with him, but I've never seen him say anything remotely that rude.

That's MS for you. It looks like a blatant attempt to get himself moderated by an admin, so he can feel unfairly persecuted and complain more about the prudish overly strict BGG moderation.
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Richard Hutnik
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russ wrote:
Sphere wrote:
Marvin Spellbinder wrote:
Hutnik, no one has ever given a fuck what you think, and they still don't. Abstract game is now the term for what used to be called abstract strategy game. There's no difference between the two, except in your fucked up mind. Why don't you just fucking DIE !!!!

I thought it would be impossible to put me in Richard's corner on one of his narrow definition threads, but you've managed it. I may disagree with him, but I've never seen him say anything remotely that rude.


That's MS for you. It looks like a blatant attempt to get himself moderated by an admin, so he can feel unfairly persecuted and complain more about the prudish overly strict BGG moderation.


So, is that Mark Steere? I would say probably, but I may have others ticked off at me.

Anyhow, regarding this definitions thread, I don't necessarily expect people to agree with me on it. But, my hope is that there would be some sort of consensus for what an award could have, so we could start to have an award. I tried to capture what people were saying, with the criterion of an award that would be able to have few who would disagree with it. If you go BGG route for this category, I am sure numbers would disagree with it. You do also have others who have an appeal for abstract games for a number of reasons, or at least seem them that way. My take on BGG is that they are the opposite of thematic games, which is an important element, BUT does not capture the combinatorial nature.

As for Mark Steere, he ends up acting like a jerk, gets himself thrown off forums, and then says he is persecuted. He has multiple reasons for disliking me, from myself trying to do design stuff, to myself moderating a forum. Anyhow, this thread is NOT about Mark Steere, so will leave it at that.

By the way, is "abstract" universally accepted as meaning "combinatorial"? I don't see it. I see places like BGG end up classifying such as "lacking theme" which is closer to its definition.
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Jonathan Harrison
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docreason wrote:
russ wrote:
Sphere wrote:
Marvin Spellbinder wrote:
.
I thought it would be impossible to put me in Richard's corner on one of his narrow definition threads, but you've managed it. I may disagree with him, but I've never seen him say anything remotely that rude.
That's MS for you. It looks like a blatant attempt to get himself moderated by an admin, so he can feel unfairly persecuted and complain more about the prudish overly strict BGG moderation.
So, is that Mark Steere? I would say probably, but I may have others ticked off at me.

And here I was wondering how Russ was so familiar with Marvin Spellbinder's MO. Paint me for a too literal sort. blush
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As I was perusing the list of finalists for the ongoing award, I was pondering whether it was even proper to have annual awards for abstracts. Though I consider myself a fan of the genre, I certainly don't feel qualified enough to vote.

These aren't movies or records, where you can sit down and satisfactorily digest the contents of the contenders within a week or two. It would take a long time to so much as try every worthy game, let alone plumb it's depths and see if it holds up over repeated play. Abstracts, more than any other form of entertainment I can think of, are judged in retrospect.

Maybe we should be holding an award for the best abstract of 2001-2002 instead.
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Matthew M
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Marvin is on permanent vacation.

Remember - if you see something you want to react negatively to, flag it and forget it.

Using the icon serves two functions - first, if enough users flag a post then it will be collapsed from general view. Second, flagging posts helps bring them to the attention of the forum moderators.

Thanks!
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As for classification, I think it would be tiresome to break the genre into (largely overlapping) segments based on multiple definitions of the same thing.

Words aren't ever going to be as precise and unambiguous as the rules to the games themselves. A pragmatic definition such as "an abstract is a game which people who play lots of abstracts would consider to be an abstract" would go a long way toward getting rid of the Agricolas sneaking their way in. Two or three vetoes from the experts here, and it's out.

The Academy Awards would be ground to a halt if they bothered to entertain every notion of whether "motion picture" included animated gifs, lenticular images, and whatever the heck else. And people certainly take the Academy Awards more seriously than the MTV Movie Awards.
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Nick Bentley
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I agree with D Beau. The combinatorial game award for which we now have finalists is "close enough" for me, in terms of constraints. Leaving out thematic requirements also keep the criteria clear and relatively objective, which simplifies everything.
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Richard Hutnik
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HuginnGreiling wrote:
docreason wrote:
russ wrote:
Sphere wrote:
Marvin Spellbinder wrote:
.
I thought it would be impossible to put me in Richard's corner on one of his narrow definition threads, but you've managed it. I may disagree with him, but I've never seen him say anything remotely that rude.
That's MS for you. It looks like a blatant attempt to get himself moderated by an admin, so he can feel unfairly persecuted and complain more about the prudish overly strict BGG moderation.
So, is that Mark Steere? I would say probably, but I may have others ticked off at me.

And here I was wondering how Russ was so familiar with Marvin Spellbinder's MO. Paint me for a too literal sort. blush


Doesn't running multiple accounts on here make you subject to suspension and getting thrown off?
 
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Richard Hutnik
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milomilo122 wrote:
I agree with D Beau. The combinatorial game award for which we now have finalists is "close enough" for me, in terms of constraints. Leaving out thematic requirements also keep the criteria clear and relatively objective, which simplifies everything.


I agree it is a good award. However, I personally feel lack of theming, which marks how this site classifies, is also beneficial to have. Not saying to not have combinatorial, but also honor abstractness to with another award.
 
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Matthew M
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docreason wrote:


Doesn't running multiple accounts on here make you subject to suspension and getting thrown off?


Not unless you're using one to get around a suspension being served by the other. There are many people with multiple accounts for various reasons, and they don't abuse them.

There were no multiple accounts here.

Now stop derailing your own thread.

-MMM
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MaggieSwillworth wrote:
demeatgrinderfines


That's a new word for me.
 
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I agree relevance of theme should be the key. Games like Hive have a theme bolted on but are abstract. I also agree the game should play well with 2 players rather than limit games such as Pacru which plays well with 3 or 4 in addition to its functioning as a 2 player. Not sure you need to divide the award in two though.

I've always wanted a new classic kind of award. Something that is awarded to a game, say five years in print and still great. A lot of awards go to simple, shallow but fun games with a gimmick like Abalone and Pentago by Mensa select award and others. Look at some of the winners and losers. Why don't great games always win, because they are sometime complex and their depth is revealed over years. Why hasn't Arimaa won?

An award that rewarded a game's history.
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David Akenson
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That's my point in response to Richard's post. Abstracts take time to reveal and we should have a hall of fame of contemporary classic award or something that is awarded after 5 years or so.
 
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What ever came out of this? So who won 2012 Abstract Strategy Game of the Year(ASGotY)?

Also why the need for a Combinatorial game of the year and Two player abstract game of the year, that's very redundant. Why not something like...

ASGotY: Combinatorial
ASGotY: Non-Combinatorial (such I call combinatorish like Stratego, Backgammon, Ghosts, Ingenious, Parcheesi, Sorry! and Chinese Checkers)

I believe IAGO defines this as Standard and Non-Standard. So if a game is heavily themed like Navia Dratp, Caylus, or Through the Desert (not sure about Hive as the images on tiles just defines the piece's movement although it does have a bug theme), then it is placed in the Non-Standard category. It is like the Golden Globes where they have a best picture category for Drama (standard) and Comedy/Musical (non-standard).
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Abstracticon wrote:
What ever came out of this? So who won 2012 Abstract Strategy Game of the Year(ASGotY)?

The official BoardGameGeek Golden Geek Award in the categoty "Best Abstract Game" was won by Kingdom Builder.

The inofficial BEST COMBINATORIAL 2-PLAYER GAME OF 2011/2012 award went to Kulami.
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AbStrateGyk
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Thanks for the reply Markus.

I'm confused. So the category of Best Abstract Game went to Kingdom Builder which doesn't seem abstract to me and probably why the "Strategy" part was left out? I was thinking more in line with Richard Hutnik's definition of "Abstract STRATEGY Game". I like his idea of splitting ASG into Standard (combinatorial) and Non-Standard (abstract mechanics but heavily themed and/or played by more than two-players and/or have random elements and/or have hidden information)

So BEST COMBINATORIAL 2-PLAYER GAME to me is actually the Best Standard/Pure Abstract Strategy Game.
 
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