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Subject: New Game - Aggression rss

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Chris Huntoon
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Most abstract strategy games are played with a single, central goal in mind, or sometimes a secondary goal. For example, in Chess it is to checkmate the King, in Checkers it is to elminate all of the opponent's pieces or force a stalemate. Aggression is different in that it has several possible goals in play simultaneously. All the pieces move and capture the same as one another. Complexity of play is achieved by having a unique win/loss condition tied to each separate piece type. Players must juggle the demands of multiple goals and adjust strategies throughout play.

Pieces have two kinds of movement, a March or a Lunge. A March is a sliding move in a straight line any number of empty squares, like a Chess Queen. A Lunge is a capturing move. The piece jumps over an adjacent enemy piece to a vacant square on the other side. Only one piece can be captured on a turn. Multiple jumps are not allowed.

The game is played on a 7x8 board. On each player's back row, the central space is marked with a flag. Below is a picture of an empty board:



And this is the initial board set up of pieces for play:



The Blue player goes first. Each player begins with a Scout in hand. On their first turn, a player moves forward one of his Infantry pieces. Then he drops his Scout on any empty square on the board, as long as it is not under attack. After that, each player makes two moves per turn. First moving one of his regular pieces, then moving his Scout.

The Scout and the General are both defensive pieces and have the further restriction of not being allowed to move to a space where they can be attacked. Since there are two moves involved each turn, it is permitted to move the General to a space where it may be jumped by an enemy piece, as long as the Scout immediately moves behind the General to guard it.

The piece types and their winning conditions are:

Scout: [Blockade] A Scout requires freedom of movement to do its job. If a player is able to trap or capture the opponent's Scout so that it has no legal move on its turn, the player wins.

Infantry: [Elimination] If all seven units of the opponent's Infantry are captured, the player wins.

Sapper: [Arrangement] Sappers seek to construct a fortification within enemy territory. 'Enemy territory' is definied as the four rows on the opponent's side of the board. A 'fortification' is three Sappers connected in a row, horizontally or vertically. Diagonally does not count.

Saboteur: [Traversal] A Saboteur seeks to blow up the enemy's Regimental Headquaters. The HQ is the central space located on a player's back row, and is marked with a flag. The player wins if he is able to move the Saboteur safely across the board and on to the opponent's Regimental Headquarter's square.

General: [Checkmate] The player wins if they are able to checkmate the opponent's General. As in Chess, if the player's General is in Check, then the player on their next move must get their General out of check, if possible.

This shows a completed game. Blue has managed to move their Saboteur onto Red's Regimental Headquater's space.

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Clark D. Rodeffer
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I like that there are a variety of different goals combined into one game. It gives lots of offensive options. But blocking all those, or whatever happens to be the most pressing threat at the moment, seems pretty complicated. Yet another to add to my list of abstracts to attempt with the kids....
 
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Nick Bentley
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This concept strikes me as completely awesome.
 
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Christian K
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sounds like fun. It reminds me of Sleepers
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Chris Huntoon
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A major concern when I was first developing this game was that one of the goals might be much easier to obtain than all the others. However, I invented "Aggression" back in 2011 and have had numerous chances to play test it since then. I'm glad to say in practice all the different goals seem more less equal to one another. One game might end with a player's entire Infantry getting wiped out, the next game might be resolved with three Sappers working together to form a fortification, the game after that with one of the General's becoming trapped, and so on. There's alot of variety and unexpected outcomes.
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Calvin Daniels
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this sounds great although I fear defencing so many win conditions might mean missing things and losing in what makes you go 'oops' situation.

that might be simplified by eliminating the infantry condition, as an example.
 
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Calvin Daniels
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somebody able to post the piece graphics in black and white. I'd make a set on an extra backgammon game
 
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Calvin Daniels
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one other thing, have you ever played it with the pieces having varying movements?
 
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Chris Huntoon
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Talisinbear wrote:
this sounds great although I fear defencing so many win conditions might mean missing things and losing in what makes you go 'oops' situation.

that might be simplified by eliminating the infantry condition, as an example.


This is meant to part of the challenge. When I was designing Aggression the idea was to create a gaming experiece that would be the mental equivalent of a juggler keeping several spinning plates up in the air at the same time.

If you want to simplify things a bit, the first idea that comes to mind is to maybe replace the General with a sixth Sapper. In my experience, most the time the General hangs back and acts defensively anyway.
 
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Chris Huntoon
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Talisinbear wrote:
somebody able to post the piece graphics in black and white. I'd make a set on an extra backgammon game


Here you go. They are a bit crude, considering that I just threw the graphics together to post them here for you, but they should still be perfectly functional nonetheless.
 
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Chris Huntoon
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Talisinbear wrote:
one other thing, have you ever played it with the pieces having varying movements?



Giving the different pieces varying movements just seemed to make the game overly complicated. Plus, it made it feel needlessly like Chess.

One change I did experiment with and play test extensively was to change the movements of the Scout. The Scout is the only piece that moves every single round. So I tried reduce it's movements, either to just a space per turn, or limit it to just orthogonal directons. But the changes made the game less dynamic and the Scout far more easier to trap and catch.
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Calvin Daniels
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Recognizing I have yet to play it as is, there is a part of me that wonders if you gave the pieces some variant movements, and then added a Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanic to capture, with the variant win options it might be something quite deep.
 
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Chris Huntoon
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Talisinbear wrote:
Recognizing I have yet to play it as is, there is a part of me that wonders if you gave the pieces some variant movements, and then added a Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanic to capture, with the variant win options it might be something quite deep.


In Chess, pieces have several different kinds of movement in service to a single goal. In Aggression, pieces have a single kind of movement in service to different types of goals. (I hope that makes some sort of sense. I just woke up and am still half-asleep as I type this.) Still, I made sure that that single movement gives alot of flexibility and options.

Basically, in Aggression, because of it's multiple goals, when its your turn, you'll want to do several different things, but are limited to only one. So you are faced with making a choice of priorties.

In all honesty, I was trying to do my best to make this game as little like Chess as much as I could. It already has a couple of elements that resemble Chess: a General that can be checkmated, and a front row of Infantry that are reminscent of Pawns. The problem is when other people see a new game that shares many qualities with Chess they immediately dismiss it as Yet Another Chess Knock-off.
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Richard Moxham
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hartunga wrote:
The problem is when other people see a new game that shares many qualities with Chess they immediately dismiss it as Yet Another Chess Knock-off.


An interesting observation, Chris. I guess my own impression - of BGG, anyway, if not of "people" in the wider sense - has been rather the opposite: that recognisable variants somehow reassure, whereas radical innovation (radical in its 'root' sense, here ) elicits ... what? I'm not sure what, exactly, but something different, I think.

I hope this doesn't come across as aggression or special pleading, because it's not meant as either, but I do think, as a relative newcomer, that there's food for thought at least.
 
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Chris Huntoon
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mocko wrote:
hartunga wrote:
The problem is when other people see a new game that shares many qualities with Chess they immediately dismiss it as Yet Another Chess Knock-off.


An interesting observation, Chris. I guess my own impression - of BGG, anyway, if not of "people" in the wider sense - has been rather the opposite: that recognisable variants somehow reassure, whereas radical innovation (radical in its 'root' sense, here ) elicits ... what? I'm not sure what, exactly, but something different, I think.

I hope this doesn't come across as aggression or special pleading, because it's not meant as either, but I do think, as a relative newcomer, that there's food for thought at least.


The trouble is that since Chess is by far the most well-known abstract strategy game - there are literally thousands upon thousands of Chess wannabes already in existence. As D. B. Pritchard said in his introduction of "The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants" - "Anyone can invent a new Chess variant in ten seconds (try it) and unfortunately some people do." On top of all the Chess variants out there you have the scores of propriety games that are published each year that are obviously based on Chess but are heavily disguised so as to give the semblance of an unearned orginality. Then there are those games that have no connection to Chess in the least but mention it on the box blurb in an attempt to gain some spurious sense of worthiness. That's what I mean by Yet Another Chess Knock-off.

Now, that isn't to say good Chess variants don't exist. Actually, there are quite a number out there. I've designed several different Chess variants myself. But when developing a variant, there are two things to keep in mind. One, keeping true to the essence of the original, source game. And two, does the variant actually add anything of merit?

Having said all that, Aggression is not Chess. The two games are very different from one another on a fundamental level. Trying to make Aggression more like Chess turns it into Yet Another Chess Knock-off.
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Calvin Daniels
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I can see the creation conundrum.

but the singular movement leaves the pieces all seeing over similar too me.

not that I expect knight moves and bishops.

that said I could see a few options which might not make it too chess like yet add some in play differences.

1) the general restricted to his home half of board, since generals rarely get into forward battles.

2) the bomber is not allowed to capture unless in doing so he lands on his intended target. The reasoning is a bomber relies on speed to get to objective and so does not capture.

3) Sappers can only move forward or sideways on home half of board, again their goal is to establish a beach head in enemy territory, so they push only forward til achieving the basic goal.

4) the scout, I might make more powerful, allowing it to make a chain of captures ala checkers.

random thoughts, hope to play test soon
 
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Calvin Daniels
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loved it as we played today

three games, one a bad moved sacrificed scout for a loss

2nd a sapper line

3rd I captured his general.

The scout having to be moved each turn is a devilish mechanic.

the bomber has a hard time if you leave the home square guarded by side-by-side pieces.

I suspect a soldier elimination win is rare.

It did happen that one player of other lost win options, bomber captured, or down to less than 3 sappers.

I had suggested some possible tweaks in an earlier post.

A no capture restriction on the bomber would not likely impact play greatly. I could see the bomber being allowed to jump an own piece as a useful addition to its arsenal.

having the sappers not able to treat on home have would influence defensive strategy greatly and might too greatly change game.

the scout being afforded multiple captures would change the offence of the game, and at times likely open board more.
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Brian Train
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Any reason why you went with a 7x8 board and not 8x8?
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Chris Huntoon
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Talisinbear wrote:
I can see the creation conundrum.

but the singular movement leaves the pieces all seeing over similar too me.

not that I expect knight moves and bishops.

that said I could see a few options which might not make it too chess like yet add some in play differences.

1) the general restricted to his home half of board, since generals rarely get into forward battles.

2) the bomber is not allowed to capture unless in doing so he lands on his intended target. The reasoning is a bomber relies on speed to get to objective and so does not capture.

3) Sappers can only move forward or sideways on home half of board, again their goal is to establish a beach head in enemy territory, so they push only forward til achieving the basic goal.

4) the scout, I might make more powerful, allowing it to make a chain of captures ala checkers.

random thoughts, hope to play test soon


I'm interested to here your experiences and thoughts, both with and without your suggested changes.

I did give the game a military theme to help provide some context and better understanding of the game mechanics. However, I didn't intend to use the theme to define the piece movements.

To address your different points (given that I haven't actually had a chance to play themselves, just basing on my previous experiences with the game):

1. The General normally does tend to stay back on its own anyway. Nevertheless, it is when the General does get drawn out to the center or the opponent's side of the board that it becomes very exposed and open to checkmate.

2. It is usually necessary to coordinate with two or more of your own pieces to threaten/ capture an opponent. Preventing the Saboteur from capturing would reduce your opportunites for that. Granted, it is only 1 piece out of 14 - but given that the other 13 could still capture, denying captures for just a single piece doesn't seem to give much overall in exchange.

3. The Sappers normally require a bit a flexibility to be able to arrange a line of 3. Forbidding them from backwards movement I suspect would severly hamper their abilities.

4. The Scout tends to be quite powerful as it is. Making him superpowerful, I fear, would imbalance the game and introduce a volatile element to game play.

The sense I tend to get from these changes is that would weaken the possibility of some of the goals. And I tried to make all the different goals more or less equal to one another as far as their potential. The heart and soul of the game is prioritizing and juggling all the various goals. And I think these changes might take away from that instead of enhancing it.

But, again, these are just my impressions without having actually tried these myself yet. Thanks alot for your feedback. It is much appreciated.

 
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Chris Huntoon
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Talisinbear wrote:

the bomber has a hard time if you leave the home square guarded by side-by-side pieces.

I suspect a soldier elimination win is rare.

It did happen that one player of other lost win options, bomber captured, or down to less than 3 sappers.


These are the sort of circumstances that effect and change gameplay. Consider, if you capture your opponent's Saboteur, it is no longer nessary to keep pieces back to defend your Regimental HQ. If you reduce your opponent's number of Sappers to less than 3, you no longer have to defend your half of the board. However, it does free your opponent up to freely sacrifice his remaining Sappers.

Actually, elimination of the Infantry occured pretty much almost as much as any of the other goals, from my experience with playtesting. It happened alot under the above circumstances, where a player no longer had to play so defensively and could aggressively go after their opponents (usually) few remaining Infantry men.

Thanks again for all your comments and feedback
 
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Chris Huntoon
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ltmurnau wrote:
Any reason why you went with a 7x8 board and not 8x8?


Actually, the game originally did start off as 8x8. But through playtesting I found that 1) eliminating 8 Infanty was a bit too difficult, and 2) having that additional open space and 6 Sappers gave the Sappers too free a reign to arrange a line.

When I reduced it all down a column to 7x8, I found the game was more balanced and played better.
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