Sunday, April 29, 2007

Paradice: Art as a Game

Thought Jugglers

I received an email from Michael Sklaar, president of Thought Juggler. Thought Juggler appears to be a company that does in-house gaming combined with selling games, kind of like what SimplyFun does. In contrast to SimplyFun, I don't think Thought Juggler sells their own games; I couldn't figure out which games they sell.


Anyway, Michael sent me a link to See Through Games, whose game is called Paradice by John O'Neill (BGG).

From the theme, the rules, and the beautiful components, it is obvious that this game is focused very deliberately as being art through the medium of a game. Your job is to either waste the forests and deactivate the forest spirits, or to bring the humans together, literally and figuratively, eye-to-eye. But your roles may reverse at any time, in which case you may suddenly find yourself winning from a formerly losing position.

As far as the game itself goes, there are some mixed reviews on BGG (mostly negative, I'm afraid), and the game is selling for $189 through eBay, which seems kind of excessive even for pretty components. Still, there are other games in the world selling at that price point, usually those aimed at the business market crowd (e.g. Cashflow 101).


Saarya and I got in a game of Zertz after shabbat ended. It was a nice game.

I became concerned as the game began that there might be a readily understood "perfect" play for Zertz, wherein both sides simply avoid any jump opportunities until one person wins the game by virtue of placing the last ball. This is because any move that is good for you is really, in fact, better for your opponent. Therefore, you have to do the least damage on every move.

However, owing to the fact that the last player wins by placing the last ball, somebody has to disrupt this stalemate by sacrificing one of the less desirable balls early on in favor of disrupting this type of play. I think that if such perfect play exists, at least it is probably not going to be readily discerned.

In our game, we made a lot of cautious plays for a while. Eventually, I saw the opportunity to give away a white ball in exchange for isolating two balls, a white and a black, off a corner.

We exchanged another ball here and there, until I figured out a way to give away one ball in exchange for a four ball gain, again through isolation. I thought the game was in the bag for me.

Unfortunately, I left a board where Saarya could take two more white balls while giving me more balls that I didn't really need. Naturally, I hadn't seen that coming, and as a result, Saarya ended up winning.


No comments: