ec2-34-229-63-28.compute-1.amazonaws.com | ToothyWiki | RecentChanges | Login | Advent calendar | Webcomic
[Cat chess] - a BoardGame
Hmm, I don't think enough is specified in the rules about the board...
Presumably it must be at minimum the sum of three radius-6 hexagon-hills, with a ring of every height from 1 to 6?
Some cats have a wider observation arc - is this three hex-sides or four? (I'm infering 2 is standard from the diagram in the rules)
I think there's also insufficient information about what should be on the character sheets... :(
(PeterTaylor) MoonShadow has clarified a few ambiguities in the rules, including an initial proposal for the board size. Presumably just hasn't updated the page. To all those awaiting my implementation, since term is coming to an end, I'll be less busy in the evenings and will be able to continue expanding it. Presently I can generate a map and display it with a few visual glitches; I've also done some work on cats and character sheets, and thought a bit about networking protocols.
MoonShadow: gomen.. hangs head in shame I'll do it, I'll do it yet. Maybe I'll even move the rules to the wiki..
- (PeterTaylor) Eep. Please don't - I hate chasing a moving specification.
- MoonShadow: Oh, OK. ^^;;
It looks as though it would be possible to fill one column of the interaction grid with Style, and one row (but for the one already filled) with Presence, and become an almost invincible catfighter. Have I missed something? -- NickTaylor
- MoonShadow: you can't do that at once for a single cat - you could fill one row or one column, but not both at once, and you'd use up most or all of your counters doing so, meaning that your other cats will get easily removed from the board. At least, that's the idea. Also, some of the grid spaces on each character sheet start out blocked up, so you can't put counters there - the exact number and layout is intended to be a balancing mechanism for the character abilities and will need to be decided through gameplay.
- Oh - the five Presence and five Style aren't per cat, then? That fixes that, then. This looks like quite an interesting game. -- NT
-- Not to be confused with [Cheshire cat chess]
- ChrisHowlett is appreciative, for reasons known to at least TheInquisitor, StuartFraser and Sally
Interesting. I love the idea and the execution seems pretty good, except for...
The board (I'd be inclined to make it a lot less abstract)
The fighting (I'd be inclined to make it a lot more abstract - currently it's just too random and is very punative on the looser, and it's impossible to play vaguly tactically without squinting at everybody elses grids, which slows the game down horribly.)
The end condition (I dislike end conditions of this sort, because they invariably only occur because people overlooked the possibility of someone winning rather than any particularly brilliant move made by the winner. This is the main reason why I dislike Illuminati - the victor is usually the one who's sat quietly in the corner moaning that he's going to loose during the entire game.)
I have a nice vision of how I think the game should work in my head at the moment. I'd better stop thinking about this quickly, or I'll end up doing the design myself. --Angoel
- Go for it ^-^ - MoonShadow, curious
- I may do at some point. There are currently two concerns:
- The first is political. I like designing games, and I like playtesting other designs and suggesting improvements. If I start taking over other peoples games, then I'm going to be less likely to get to see the next game, as the fustrated designer decides that they aren't up to the job of doing the designing, or thinking he'll just take over that one too. And I don't really want that to happen. Basically, other people designing games is a good thing, and to be encourarged (if only for the reason that it makes me a bit less of a freak for doing so ;).
- The second is the board. Getting the right connectivitiy in the board is important, and could take up a good bit of playtesting time to tune. And playtesters are something that I'm short of at the moment (I still haven't tested Underground with 5 players, mutter).
- BlastIt. You've made me start to think about it again. I've got an idea of how to deal with the line of sight issue, now, *sigh*. Maybe it will appear. In some suitably modified form. --Angoel
- Curiosity killed the CatChess? --Vitenka
An initial game of this was played at GamesEvening on Tuesday 9th December, by AlexChurchill, DouglasReay and qqzm. Our thoughts follow.
- The combat system ended up being completely deterministic. *Unless* someone uses all five blue or green counters on a single cat, upon looking at the sheets the defender is guaranteed to be able to choose a column avoiding attacker's Presence, and attacker guaranteed to be able to avoid defender's Style. So it always comes down to self-esteem, initially modified by number of enemy cats observing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but renders the whole grid/style/presence system rather superfluous; also the proposition that some character sheets start off with some cells blocked up. Now starting off with some Style or Presence in fixed locations might make things more interesting.
- There's a contradiction in the [current rules] about challenging. The section on "Challenging" gives outcome if "the defender and challenger are on the same height", but under "Actions" a cat can only challenge "a cat within line of sight and at a higher height than the challenger".
- Observation is slightly misworded. If A and B could only see each other if no space on a line between their spaces were higher than either cat, then only cats on the exact same level could ever observe each other. We played as if the third criterion under "Line of Sight" required no space on the line of sight higher than both cats.
- For three players, we used a hexagonal grid of hexes which was four hexes at each edge (so seven hexes on each diameter). After the game we concluded this was the right size for three players. The initial high points were one step in from each of three nonadjacent corners. The heights (from 0 thru 5) we ended up with ere as follows:
Each peak at 5 is accessible from precisely 1 hex (of height 4 or 3), since max vertical distance is 2 per 1 horizontal distance. I doubt we'd construct exactly the same board again, but it worked reasonably well. I'd probably get us to add more tiles than the amount we did.
0 5 1
0 1 2 0
0 3 1
0 2 0 0
3 1 3
0 4 2 1
5 0 5
0 1 1 0
0 0 0
- The rules currently don't allow a cat to challenge a cat which it can't see at the start of its turn. So several moves were taken consisting of nothing but rotating a cat (which of course prohibits preening too), preparatory to challenging next turn.
- Observation is key. In particular, being unable to move through or into a space observed by a (assumed opponent's) cat height or higher than that space means that there are often few moves a cat can make; occasionally none. At one point cat Ispex (range of sight 3 not 2) got on top of one of the high-points and just spent turns looking out across the field, prohibiting movement through most of the centre. Observation is also key for combat: the way to topple a strong opposing cat is to get lots of its enemies to watch it, while a challenger attacks from a hidden space somewhere unobserved. Neither of these is necessarily a problem, just an emergent property worth noting and bearing in mind.
- Cat abilities: the extra angle ("Vision") and extra space (Ispex) of vision are very strong. The extra movement points (Tigger and "Speed") are useful, but could do with clarification, since every move will involve horizontal movement and nigh-on every move involves vertical movement. The preening bonuses (Kiryuu and Hotohori) are fair, balanced, and occasionally useful. Darth is very strong but not broken. We didn't end up playing with Lina or Sham but suspected afterwards that both might be broken: if Sham takes a high spot and faces off into a corner he's unchallengable (since no cat may move into his vision range, and nobody can challenge him who he can't see); while Lina could spend several turns accumulating self-esteem and then stalk around making near-unstoppable challenges. AIR Rum Tum Tugger's and Lucky's abilities were never relevant. Setzer is useful and fair. The re-enter play abilities (Kero and Mr Mistoffeles) seem weak but weren't played in our game.
- The end condition may end up being as Angoel describes above: only achievable by oversight of all the opponents. We discussed that this was partly due to the shortage of high spots... with four players it might be worth expanding the board not just in size but also to have a 4th (maybe 5th?) high spot.
- The game was fun and intriguing. It did take a long time to set up, and to figure out the rules (a group playing beside us had played 2 1/2 different games by the time we took our first move), but that's to be expected with a new game. It has definite potential and AlexChurchill for one would definitely like to play again.
Add extra comments here (including any thoughts DouglasReay or qqzm have that AC's not included yet):
- We considered some variations on the resolution of challenges. Perhaps the challenger should need to win the self-esteem-minus-watchers count by at least as much as the difference in height between them and the defender. Perhaps cats watching should only count if they're within a certain height range of the contest. None of these were unanimously agreed to be a good idea.
- We also discussed variations on the "get dealt 3 characters randomly" theme... something like the different skills are worth points (from 1 to 5, say), and each player gets 10 points to spend between their cats. So Defiance or X-ray would cost 4 or 5 points, while Luck might cost 1. The disadvantage here is that once prevailing strategies become obvious, if duplicates are allowed then everyone takes the currently-viewed-as-"best" skill, while if they're not then it goes to whoever wins the die roll to go first.
- The best solution may well be to fix the cats available to each team. Perhaps have two cats of each type, and players take it in turns to pick a cat - which then goes to both teams? --Vitenka
- This sort of balancing is what the RPS subgame was meant for. The cats with the weaker abilities are supposed to have much more space in their challenge grids for counters than the stronger ones. - MoonShadow
- Whilst perfect balance between each cat is possibly a nice goal, it is probably impossible to acheive. A long period of tweaking may work, but it would only balance the cats to a single metagame - opening the doors to a nother group of players picking a different favorite strategy and finding a new utterly overpowering cat. (And that's a sentence fragment to be taken out of context: "Quick men! We need a replacement overpowering cat!") Aaanyway - some RunTime? way of fixing the balance seems advisable, and something with a built in mirror seems simplest. Oooh - perhaps players could take it in turns to fill in a space on an opposing grid, with reciprocation, until both pass. That way if the players think a given cat is overpowered, they will neuter (spay?) it at the cost of one of their own cats usefulnesses. Though this would become a whole pre-game game and that may not be desired. Far simpler to give all players a roughly-balanced set of cats at the outset. --Vitenka
MoonShadow's thoughts (apologies for not being able to make it after all; thank you for the excellent criticism!)
- The combat system ended up being completely deterministic.
- Hm. Well, the effect of style and presence was meant to be subtle, not overwhelming. Still, no effect at all might signal a need for some tweaking.. What would happen if players got a few more counters, the grids were 4x4 or even 3x3 and started with at least one cell in each row and column blocked (so you couldn't get undefeatable cats)?
- Interesting. My initial thoughts are that this would turn some/most combats into a 50/50 guessing game - eg attacker has a column (A) of all-but-one blue, and in the nonblue (blocked) row (R) has a blue spot in a different column (B): attacker wants either col-A and any non-R row, or col-B and row-R; defender wants the reverse. Turning the previously deterministic combat system to something approaching RockScissorsPaper (generously; more likely, a 50/50 guess) doesn't seem ideal to me. I guess I'm known for preferring deterministic combats (a la Go or Diplomacy?) to random ones (a la Risk or DotHack Enemy's destiny), though. --AlexChurchill
- That depends. If a player gets just enough counters to fill *one* grid completely, they have control over how deterministic they want things to be. During the game, if you want randomness, attack cats with nearly-full grids. If you want determinism, attack cats with nearly-empty ones. That sort of thing. But yes, it'd need to be very carefully balanced to avoid degenerating into randomness. - MoonShadow
- Not having seen this game, I am a bad person to comment - but I feel bound to point out that RockScissorsPaper is something a bit different from random. Especially if the cats are known in advance to have bonuses in certain rows or columns. A 3x3 grid seems to bring anticipating your opponents skill into things more heavily than a 5x5 grid. --Vitenka
- I have too much to say here at 5 indentation levels in ;) See /ChallengeGridDiscussion. --AC
- I'd add, though, that it sounds like having the combat game be subservient to the main game is desirable. The better player should win an even contest, but a non-even contest should be easy to set up by having the more observers. I'm not sure exactly how the game works, but that sounds like a good thing to aim for. --Vitenka
- I think the grid system might work better if the grids were hidden. We worked out a non-dice challenge method, involving holding out a fist containing between 1 and 5 counters, then simultaneously revealing them, indicating the row or column chosen. So Ispex could challenge Tigger; the reveald attack and defence would be Hiss, and Ignore. The players would then declare what those cats have on that spot. (Green, Blue, Nothing). At the end of the game the full grids would be revealed.
- That's pretty much what I was going for :)
- The rules currently don't allow a cat to challenge a cat which it can't see at the start of its turn.
- Indeed. This ties into "observation is key". The idea is to make people put lots of thought into which way to face at the end of a turn.
- Those don't actually contradict, it's merely that one is superfluous :) IIRC, we hadn't decided whether to allow challenging on the same height or not. I'll drop the rules for same-height resolution unless ppl want to change the other way ^^;
- Observation is slightly misworded.
- Yes, that was intended to be "..than the highest cat", I suspect. Will change.
[Proposed new rule revision] - [diff]
CategoryGames | CategoryCat