Saturday, January 27, 2007

Chess as a Euro-game


Friday evening we went to Nadine's house. Nadine had made a homemade version of the game Hive, because she doesn't like the bugs on the game's pieces.

So instead of beetles and crickets, etc, she had dogs, cats, horses, sheep, and a barn (the queen bee).

We played two games, switching sides, and I won both times. Nadine isn't actually a big fan of abstract games, so I'm not sure why she made it.


I haven't played chess in a number of years. Our non-playing guest after lunch said that he was willing to play a game.

Now, when you come back to chess after playing hundreds of Euro-games, you approach the game quite differently. Instead of seeing the game of chess as "chess", which has its own rules, patterns, and history, you approach the game like you approach any other tactical, area-control game.

Actually, not area-control. I approached the game as a resource game. Each turn I had one action resource, and I had sixteen meeples to play with, each with its own movement actions. The game ends when someone is about to lose their king meeple.

So my approach to the game was from an action point point-of-view. I figured that whenever I had more meeples, and more available actions from which to choose, then I was probably winning. And that meant that I could exchange pieces so long as I kept the upper-hand. Furthermore, when my opponent had less actions available, they were more likely to make bad ones.

That's how I played, and given that my opponent wasn't very strong, it worked quite well. After gaining a few pawns advantage, I swapped at every opportunity. When I couldn't swap, I worked to limit the number of possible moves that my opponent could make, regardless of whether the position was more or less helpful to me.

In the end, I could see his moves to a reasonable depth because he had few available options, so I was easily able to set up more piece swaps.

Once we got to the end game, I was ahead about five pawns and a rook, and then it was simply a matter of forcing his king into a corner while ensuring he couldn't snatch any of my pieces by mistake. A simple checkmate ensued.

(Speaking of chess as a Euro-game, Trabsact continues to put out interesting abstract game variations, by the way, including this one on Alternating Weapon Chess.)

Puerto Rico

At the end of the day, Nadine stuck around after Rachel's shiur on Job and we played a game of Puerto Rico. This time I was first, Rachel second, and Nadine third. Nadine and I discussed alternative starting plantations for three player, such as indigo-sugar-indigo, corn-sugar-indigo, and so on, without coming to any definitive conclusions. The truth is, taking out the Small Market is already a big step toward a solution, but third player still wins often.

Not this time, as between Rachel and I both taking Harbor, the VP supply drained very quickly. Nadine had the only big building, but she wasn't even able to man it.

Nadine was pumping out huge amounts of corn and tobacco, but we kept denying her boat space. I had a coffee monopoly, but the trading house emptied only once during the entire game. So I locked a boat, instead. Rachel still managed to trump me, once again with good Hospice play, taking a few corns and quarries when necessary, and then ending the game tied for me in shipping points (31 each), and 1 point ahead in building points. She won 44 to 43, while Nadine had 32 or so.

Monopoly Madness is an event to benefit the British Columbia Paraplegic Association and Boys & Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria. Saturday, February 24, 2007 at the Victoria Conference Centre, Canada.

Hasbro finally announced that it would be releasing various board games to play online on RealNetworks, including Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Game of Life, and Yahtzee.

Board Game News points us to the world record for Carcassonne playing - 42 hours and 48 minutes - with pictures.

And Slashdot informs us that eBay is delisting all virtual goods from Second Life, due to ownership clarification issues. Which may have an economic impact. On Second Life. Or eBay. Not sure which.


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