## Wednesday, August 08, 2007

### The Mathematics of Havoc

Havoc: The Hundred Years War, the card game, that is.

I played two-player with Tal. I took a few moments to look at how the point system of the game works.

Two-player Havoc is zero-sum, like so many other two-player games. The object of the game isn't to win the most points, but only to win more points than the other player. Every point you win is a point not won by your opponent.

In a two-player game, we play that the winner of a round gets the card, and the second player, if involved in the battle, gets the third-place token for that battle.

I counted all of the available points for the game and found that there were 79 points, total. Thus, a victory is 40 points or more. If you play in every battle that has second place points, you're guaranteed at least 13 points.

However, if any battles remain unfought due to the peacekeeper, or if second-place does not score one or more of the battles, the sum total number of points decreases. For each two points lost, the victory requires one less point.

Assuming both players play each battle, each battle is not significant for the number of points won, but for the point differential won between the two players. Thus, the order of significance for the battles is: 7 (9 points), 5 (8 points), 3/8/9 (6 points), 1/6 (5 points), 2/4 (4 points).

Tal wins multi-player Havoc fairly well by passing early battles and winning the last few battles. This doesn't work in two-player, as you can see. You're going to be gaining 8 points in the last two battles even if you lose, so a score of 32 going into the last two battles is already a victory.

That's what happened to me.

(Passing a battle for an extra card, or calling Havoc for an extra card, may be a situationally good play if the draw deck is small and you need a specific card coming up. The entire deck is not that big. You know pretty much what's in your opponent's hand. In our games, practically the entire deck may end up in our hands by mid-game.)

Gin Rummy

After Havoc, we played Gin. I won three rounds in a row, putting the score at 98 points to 0. I suggested that Tal resign, but she didn't. Good move.

She won the next three rounds in a row, putting the score at 98 to 81. Unfortunately for the drama, I won the next round.

Game News

The motley assortment of board game podcasters are handing out their own new board game awards. I've actually known about this for some time, as I'm privy to their discussion group, but Tom finally made the announcement on BGG.

Electronic Arts, following press releases a few weeks ago that they are boring their customers by putting out the same game over and over with different graphics, is exploring games that change in real-time through contextual downloading. E.g. you get to play a real game that is actually going on somewhere, or your flight simulator shows actual weather conditions.

This technology has many other (much better) applications that I can think of.

The Clarion Ledger discusses video game addiction. Not so much news, but they do get both sides of the story, at least. Sort of.

courant.com covers Apples to Apples.

Starcraft: the Board Game is getting buzz. Looks to me a lot like all the other games in FF's product line.

Margaret Robertson on BBC News write an article that could have been written by Raph Koster.

Yehuda

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