Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] XVIIIth IIT discussion

  • From"Timothy Hunt" <games@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 13 Jul 2007 10:49:43 -0400
OK, I was rather hoping someone else would start some
discussion/feedback on the 18th IIT, but no-one has, so I'm going to.

A little background to my entry into the tournament.  After getting an
IceTowers boxed set as a cheap-ish way to get most of my Xeno stashes,
I read The Empty City that came with it, which was thoroughly
enjoyable.  I felt I *had* to learn this fascinating game that was the
first pyramid game.  So, I read the rules, read them again, and then
found two other players (after all, the rules said it was fine with
three... I didn't know there was a very definite sweet spot with
four), and taught them the rules.  We played.  Twice.  Our feeling?
Meh.  The thing was, we understood the mechanics, but none of the
strategy.  But I knew, deep down, with the following it had, that
there must be something more to the game.

Then, on one of the lists, there was talk of having Icehouse 101 and
201 classes at Origins, at the Big Experiment.  I was going to Origins
anyway, so I was all for that.  I even piped up that the 101 class
really should be before the 201 class, for anyone that wanted to do
both (I think at one point it was suggested that the 201 class come

Moving on to Origins, and the classes...

Thank you Eeyore for some fine presentations in the classes.  The
helped my understanding a lot, both in some mechanics and a lot in
strategy.  I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I really hope they are back
next year, as this really is a fun game.  I would love to be able to
encourage some of my friends to attend those classes (though I will
probably be doing some teaching of my own, once I have suitably
weighty pieces).

So, it comes to the day of the tournament.  I've been spending a lot
of time in the Lab.  I also have a Boardroom ribbon.  I've not been
spending nearly as much time in the Boardroom as I could and should
have.  My wife (who is a gamer, but not quite as uh... dedicated as I
am) had spent significantly more time in there than I had! So, instead
of entering the tournament, I decided to spend the evening in the
Boardroom.  This also meant we could eat when we felt hungry, rather
than having to eat early because of the tournament starting at 6.

5:30 rolled around.  We'd just finished a game.  I was feeling antsy,
so I told Karyn that in fact, I would go get some food and try out
this tournament.  It would be a good way to get a little experience
against some really good players.  So, with not a lot of time left,
and approaching peak time for the food court, I walked all the way
from the boardroom to the food court, based my dining decision on the
"Shortest Line" principle, and then came all the way back to the Lab,
just in time for the official start time of the tournament.

The tournament prelims

My overriding sense of the event was *fun*.  I can honestly say I
would have had a good time, even if I hadn't done so well.  A few
notable points about the prelims.

1) My entry into the finals included a lot of luck.  First of all, I
had a win and two half wins.  If either one of those half-wins had
been an outright win for the other party in either of those games, I'm
fairly sure I wouldn't have made it into the final.  Not just that,
but the first game, my table had two of the people whose scores didn't
count!  I'd had a 50/50 chance of that half-win being worth nothing

2) I'd learnt a lot about snowballing and shotgunning in the classes,
but something Joshua did in one of the games surprised me.  He had 14
pieces as defenders, and one as an attacker.  His defenders were all
huddled together (for warmth in the snowball? ;) ), several of them
well fortressed in.  If I remember rightly, he scored 28 and a win for
this game.  I certainly want to make sure I take pictures of scoring
positions at the end of a game, for posterity's sake, if nothing else.
I'm disappointed with myself for not having done so.

3) Several times (at least twice) during the prelims, I heard people
say of me "He's better than I thought, perhaps we should do something
about him".. and then they didn't.  I'm guessing something else
happened that they felt was more pressing.  They should, perhaps, have
listened to themselves.

4) The last round in the prelims was my bye.  I didn't pay too much
attention to the games for a couple of reasons.  I was already done
and nothing I could do could improve my score, and I also didn't want
to distract the other players.   However, one thing I noticed about
one of the games that I would like to learn a bit more about is some
of the play by Ross Andrews.  I noticed mid-game that he had played
two Large pieces to one side, as if a mini shotgun.  At the end, I saw
that there were two attackers, which, if I recall correctly, were
attacking one of the Larges, thus icing it, but they had been played
with slanted attacks, creating a fortress in which Ross had a small.
I'm intrigued as to how this came about.  If Ross had played prisoners
there to create the fortress, my question would be why didn't he play
them so one was attacking one, and one attacking the other, thus
squandering them both? If someone *else* had played them, why did they
play them slanted, to allow the fortress to be built?  My suspicion is
that Ross played them, and had he played them opposing and squandered,
each would have only required a Small to Ice his Large, whereas by
Icing one Large with two Larges, it would have required more
commitment from his opponents to ice the second one, and because of
how open it was, would have left them vulnerable to restructuring had
Ross captured another prisoner.  In any case, as I didn't fully see
what happened, I'd love for more commentary on this particular game.

Also, as my last round was my bye, with the Ref's permission, I went
and participated as a judge in the Nanofictionary final.  It gave me
something to keep my mind occupied as I waited for the last round to
be played out and scored.

So, we're called back to order, and told about the Cooler than Ice
nominations.  I'd forgotten completely that it was happening.  Sure,
I'd read about it in some of my reading about the game, but I don't
recall anything having been mentioned about being Cool until that
point.  (Perhaps that's something that could be added to Icehouse 201,
Eeyore?  Unless it already is, and I forgot...)

So, we're nominating, the ref is figuring out the scores, and tension
is in the air.  I'd really had no concept of where I'd placed.
Several people had commented that with 2 wins I really had little to
worry about.  I was surprised, though, to be the second highest in
ranking.  Still, with Joshua choosing Red I was glad to be able to
choose Blue.

I was even more surprised to have been voted Cooler than Ice.  I'm
still not sure what I did to deserve it.  I just played to the best of
my (I thought limited) ability, putting into practice the lessons I'd
learned from the classes and previous games.  In any case, thank you
once again for that award.

The finals.

Things are a little fuzzy for me, so I may be getting things out of
order for which final game was which.  Please comment and correct me,
and that may jog my memory for other things.

Joshua, you are a master at table talk and diplomacy.  Somehow, you
convinced everyone that we were running short of time in that first
game.  I hadn't felt that at all. Eric confirmed once the game was
over that there was still *plenty* of time on the timer.  Now, being
last to play, had I taken some more time, I could have relieved
someone of a point (I forget who, but it may well have been Joshua),
by Icing a small piece instead of playing out my pieces as defenders.
However, if he'd not convinced the other two that there was a time
shortage, they may have played differently, allowing for other options
too.  In any case, I believe I won that one.

I don't remember much of the second game, other than Eeyore winning
it.  I know that because of the analysis about the situation in the
third game.

If I remember correctly, after the situation was that Eeyore was one
point behind me in the score sum.  That meant for him to win the
tournament, he had to beat me by 2 points in the final game.  Josh and
Ross were maybe 8-10 points behind me, so both had significant work to
do to catch up, but they were certainly still in the running.
However, going into that third game, I realised I had a strong
position, and I was going to do my best to take advantage of it.
Eeyore was my nearest threat, so my attention was going to be on him,
mostly, but I knew I had to watch out for the others too.  I also knew
I would be a target of all three of the others.  Early on in that
game, I had three walls of a strong fortress, with a defender in the
middle.  I was reaching for my large, and I heard Joshua and Eeyore
discussing which of them would Ice that as yet unfortressed defender.
Eeyore took the plunge, before I could get my large defender there.
However, he noticed that he was in Meltdown!  He hadn't played a
single defender, let alone two. He took his piece back, and I was able
to get my defender to close off the fortress wall in, before Joshua
realised what was happening.  The outcome of that game could have been
so completely different if it had been Joshua who had attempted to Ice
me.  Yet again, a small piece of luck was in my favour.  Later on in
that game, a couple of people are attacking a piece of Eeyore's.  He's
hanging back, just watching.  He calls Icehouse, fractionally before
Joshua does.   I'm surprised!  OK, I'm still fairly new at the game,
and I know what it means to be put in the Icehouse, but almost all of
the play I'd seen so far included fortressing a piece.  Indeed, up
until that point, all of my play had included successful fortressing,
so that I didn't have to be worried about it for myself.  So, it
didn't even occur to me to be at least on the look out for the
possibility in someone else.  Lesson learnt.  Eeyore obviously called
it on himself once he'd realised it was inevitable, to prevent someone
else getting his pieces, but it would also guarantee his not winning
the tournament, as even if I too had a score of 0, I would have beaten
him in the final rankings.

Once again, the final outcome of this game was heavily influenced by
Josh's Cool table talk.  If I recall correctly, Josh, Eeyore and I had
all played out.  Ross had two prisoners left.  Josh's comment "Oh no,
we're screwed, he can restructure".  And that's exactly what Ross
starts to do.  He places one piece, then places the second, at which
point Josh calls out "Last piece played, game over!"  And thus, Josh
won that game, but unfortunately for him, not by enough to win the
tournament. Final scores suggested that if Ross had had I think maybe
two or three more points and brought down Josh by a point or two, he
would have got a win for the both the game and the tournament. Again,
memory is a little fuzzy, but I think that one of Ross's defenders was
more heavily iced that the one he started his restructure with, which
would have allowed him to use just one of his two prisoners to start
restructuring.  Had he restructured around this piece first, I'm
pretty sure he would have been able to meet that scoring objective and
win the tournament.  It really was  that close, but spotting the right
thing to do under pressure can be very hard.  After all, what Ross was
doing would have been absolutely fine, had there been other pieces
available to play.

All in all, it was a great tournament.  As I say, I had a lot of fun,
even without the winning bit :)  Though that added to it!  I really
enjoyed playing against everyone, and look forward to next year's
tournament.  I'm already thinking about pieceniking so that I have
weightier pieces to teach the game with and practise with.

One final thing.  There was a little discussion afterwards about
Overicing in a tip-blocked situation.  Looking back, yes, I'd had a
bit of a fuzzy understanding of that, though fortunately it didn't
come up in play.  I said that it had come up in one of the classes,
and the others there were surprised that Eeyore would have made that
mistake.  However, looking back and trying to remember exactly what
happened, I'm pretty sure it was this:  During an example game after
the class, Eeyore was concentrating on something else, someone removed
a large that had been tip-blocking another large.  This was queried,
and the person removing it said "but my piece is still iced", and I
think that perhaps being a little distracted with what was going on
elsewhere meant that Eeyore didn't fully appreciate what had happened.
When playing in the tournament, I think I had a *gut* feel that that
wasn't right, which is why it didn't come up.  I mean, if that was
legal, tip-blocking would be largely worthless, as it could just be
removed by the defending player could simply capture it.  All that
said, I *really like* Josh's way of describing how to determine if a
piece is over iced, and if the piece you want to capture really can
be.  He described it essentially as "Imagine the piece you wish to
capture had an attack strength of zero.  Is your defender still Iced?
If so, you can capture that piece."  This is different from "if that
piece wasn't there..." as it leaves its physical attributes the same,
potentially blocking other attacks.  I think that the "attack strength
zero" phrasing is wonderfully unambiguous, and I will be using it when
I teach the game.

So, I've had my rather long say.  Further discussion on the tournament
by players, the ref, and observers welcome.


Current Thread