Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Shotgunning

  • FromJoseph Pate <jpate@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateWed, 18 Jul 2007 17:53:45 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Icehouse Players:

As a not-yet-Icehouse player, I really appreciate all the strategy
detail you folks are disclosing.  I can see clearly that Icehouse is 
a pretty complex game, and I will have a lot of work to do when I 
finally decide to figure out how to play.


> Timothy Hunt wrote:
> > I'm also not sure *how* Jake Davenport came up with the shotgunning
> > strategy, and I would love to know how it came about.
> OK.  I came up with it after playing the snowball strategy in 1994 and 
> being unsatisfied with it.  Really, the strength of the game is 
> overicing, and I don't know if John just added that rule to stop people 
> from just attacking one piece over and over, but it has this really cool 
> consequence.
> I played around with the game on my own and figured out I could use 
> overicing, as long as I had a large prisoner, to make all my pieces 
> safe.  I have two talents that make Icehouse easier for me, namely very 
> good spacial relationship ability, and quick decision making.  I like to 
> restructure attacks, and do it quickly.
> But I could only do this if I had enough space around my defenders, so I 
> didn't want them in the snowball.  I assumed that other players would 
> imitate this, and thus my attackers were at risk, but not my defenders, 
> so I made three strategy decisions.  One, don't attack anything, two, 
> get a prisoner, and three, don't snowball.  I played this strategy in 
> 1996.  In the first few games, people traded prisoners with me and I was 
> able to get near-perfect scores, wasting lots of people's attackers.  
> People were used to a prisoner just making one attack restructured, but 
> not all of them.  As such, in later games, people were afraid to attack 
> me at all.
> In 1998, I realized that nobody will give me a prisoner, so I went on a 
> rampage to put someone in the Icehouse, which is a hard way to get 
> prisoners.  My favorite game of all time was the one where I put all 
> four players, including myself, into the Icehouse.  Whee!
> When I teach people how to play better, which seems to happen every year 
> I'm at Origins, I suggest this exercise.  First, play eight yellow 
> defenders  (four medium and four large) scattered with about four inches 
> between them.  Then take a stash of red pieces and quickly ice them 
> all.  Ice them without crashing, with the tips nice and close, and 
> minimally (no extra attacker points, you should have a medium left 
> over).  This practices moving fast and precisely on an attack, a skill 
> that is always valuable.  Then take exactly one large green piece and 
> use it to restructure all the attacks, ending with the green piece 
> successful.  This practices restructuring attacks, and assumes that the 
> green player gave you the prisoner on the agreement that you'd not 
> squander it.
> Now, how to restructure all those attacks is the fun part.  I already 
> knew about the 2-for-1 exchange, the ice trap, tip blocking, and the 
> forced retreat.  I use all of these in combination.  Regularly I force 
> retreats so that the retreater tip blocks a previous retreater, which 
> sets up a nice ice trap.  Retreat the right pieces in the right way, and 
> you can do a 2-for-1 exchange or even better.  If you have two large 
> defenders near each other, both iced, you may be able to point all four 
> of the attackers with their attacking lines intersecting at one point, 
> and then just pop one of your small pieces in front of all of them, 
> collecting the three new prisoners in a 4-for-1 deal.
> Speaking of which, because of the 2-for-1 exchange, I don't play my 
> small pieces down as defenders until near the end, because they are so 
> important for the 2-for-1 deal.  My initial defenders, as in the 
> practice session above, are all mediums and larges.  This is another 
> reason to avoid the snowball: people tend to put their small pieces into 
> the snowball, and I would rather save them.  Yeah, if you set up a 
> fortress, I might pop mine inside it, but usually it will pay better on 
> the outside.
> Of course, the 2-for-1 deal only works if done quickly, because somebody 
> will try to pop their own small piece in front and pick up the 
> prisoners.  The best way to do it is to have attackers of several 
> colors.  If I'm doing a 2-for-1 with two large pieces, one red and one 
> green, neither the red nor green player will benefit from putting a 
> small in front of those two pieces.  I just need to be faster than the 
> blue player.
> So all of my restructuring ideas came from extending the strategies I 
> already knew about and practicing them.  Icehouse is not as deep as 
> chess, and I'd be surprised if anyone found strategies at this point 
> that were previously unknown.  But that would be fun if it happened.
> Questions?
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