# CheapAss/StarbaseJeff

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A very sweet tile laying game, only slightly marred by having lots of fiddly money and the fact that noone really seems to understand the strategy behind it.

I'd have thought that no one understanding the strategy would be a good thing: it stops people just 'doing the right moves' to win, and makes games more fun, surely?
It got a bit silly when a relatively dumb bot-player beat us 4 games out of 5... -- Senji
Maybe, but having a game with lots of strategies solves that problem in a far better way. --Angoel
This said, a "dumb" MasterMind? player actually appears to be the optimal strategy. If anyone can provide me with an algorithm or person that can outdo random valid guesses (on average, as this is how the game is scored), do let me know - my favourite being 8 colour & 5 peg mastermind. -- ColinT
Um - we had the discussion of random being 'least worst' already elsewhere, didn't we?  Anyhow, MasterMind? you can do a lot better than random - though I suspect that's what you mean by 'valid moves'.  --Vitenka
The algorithm I ran maintained a list of possible solutions (sorry, I meant that rather than valid moves, but if you play this strategy manually, the two become the same), played one at random then reduced the list of possible solutions. IIRC this gave an average number of moves to completion in the order of 6.7. If you have a better strategy, I'd be interested to hear under what definition of "better" it outperforms, and what it is. -- ColinT
PeterTaylor is intrigued. Might have to dig out a load of paper and a pen, and see whether I can apply the information theory I know to improve that.
Hmmm... random that will do very well - but not perfectly.  You want to choose the move which has the best chance of maximally partitioning the available answers.  For example, choosing all of a single colour for your second move (a colour not before seen) doesn't actually rule out many possible results (unless you get lucky and it's the right answer).  It shouldn't be too hard to work out the probability of various results, and try to maximise the information each returns.  I'd have to simulate to be sure that random is not as valid a method - intuition says it is close but not quite.  --Vitenka (Intuition is, sometimes, wrong)
Only, Colin, if you think the aim is to win - rather than, say, to have fun playing. In which case a game where you either play like a robot or lose... well, why not let the robots play and do something more interesting instead?
I disagree, as I enjoy the mental exercise of finding the solution. The same reason I and many other people enjoy logic puzzles and similar problems.
''Um - a good game has no single robotic strategy which is better than any other.  Or, perhaps, has no such strategy tht has yet been discovered.  --Vitenka
On a related note, in RolePlayingGames which are 'system heavy' (or 'GM saying 'Erm... NO!' light', more accurately), it is generally possible to twist or abuse the system to produce mechanically effective characters. This is often called 'powergaming' (and less accurately 'munchkining' - which refers to something with similar symptoms), and is something I regard as an interesting intellectual exercise. It's rather dull to actually use characters so-produced in a game, however. Solving games is fun, playing solved games is much less so. -- TheInquisitor
Which is in turn reminiscent of two styles of MagicTheGathering deck: those where the designer obviously enjoyed building it, but which are very little fun to play (or very little fun to play against); and those designed to be fun for both the player and opponent, with possibly a slight decrease in probability of winning...  --AlexChurchill
But where or how can one draw the line between fun, and the other kind of gaming? Take MagicTheGathering as an example, beating someone down with a big creature can be interpreted as fun eg MTG: Crag Saurian or not fun eg MTG: Verdant Force (well, a first turn one anyway). Sorry this is a bad example, (beating down is always fun) but you know what I mean. But is it possible to build a fun deck that's powerful? ie people wouldn't mind playing against it while being quite efficient (wins alot). ColinLeung
Oh, there is no line between them.  It's all subjective anyway - people's opinions will differ on what decks are fun to build, what decks are fun to play, and what decks are fun to play against.  And for that matter on whether it's more fun to play or to win.  Decks can be fun, powerful, both, or neither - and opinions will vary on which of these, if any, any given deck is. --AC

Anyone care to post a summary of the rules? - a curious MoonShadow

StarbaseJeff? is a pipe laying game.  Each player has their own set of square cards, each card having certain connections on the edges.  Cards with more than one connection have a building cost of 1 - #connections, and cards with only one connection pay you one.  When building a new piece, you have to pay the people whose cards are placed between where you are building and one of your cards.  The person who completes the starbase gets the pool of money that people have paid when building stuff.  Building is done by simultaneous choice from a hand of about three cards; cards are then deferred if more than one person tried to build the same type of card, and otherwise done in order of connections, with most connections going first.

Basic strategies are to build long spindly bits, then force everyone to pay connection charges through said spindly bit (especially good if you can sabotage the bits they've just built, and force them to pay the connection charges a second time, and to close the spacebase off before anyone else can (which is basically a lot of bluffing with the simultaneous bidding bit). --Angoel

CategoryGames

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