Replacing the swap rule?!? Hex, Havannah

11 replies. Last post: 2003-11-05

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Replacing the swap rule?!?
  • Tasmanian Devil at 2003-11-03

    New Hex-players are often not familiar with the swap rule and tend to make too strong first moves near the centre. If the second player is also a beginner, (s)he then may not swap it and so the outcome is unfair to both. One could say that it is their own problem that they don’t study the rules before they start, and that the outcome of a match between beginners is not that important anyway (and typically does not depend that much on the first move). On the other hand, might it be better to replace the swap rule by a restriction on the first move, a bit like in gomoku? A committee of strong players could decide which opening moves are weak enough to be acceptable.

    What I have said also applies to TwixT, where it would have the added advantage of removing a kind of situation that I have experienced first hand: Black swaps white’s first move, and then attempts to block white’s second move in horizontal direction (as white would block black’s first move if there was no swap). In both cases where I have done this as black (so far), white has not noticed that something was wrong and blocked in vertical direction!

  • David J Bush ★ at 2003-11-03

    The Gomoku rules that Richard implemented here, did not turn out very well. I refer you to the thread new rules? in which Richard admits the game is still unbalanced.

    You provide all the arguments I would use against this idea: between beginners the advantage of the first move hardly matters, and if you don’t read the rules that’s your problem. But I don’t see you provide any arguments in favor of your position. Why should this be done? You cite an instance where players forget which way they are going. This could happen in Hex as well as Twixt, but it hardly seems sufficient reason to mess with the rules. A player could still forget which way to connect regardless of the opening protocol.

    I find the swap rule to be an elegant way to balance the game. Resticting the first move, on the other hand, seems like an ugly kludge which would be sure to upset more people than please them. I doubt any “committee” would agree on what moves should be left out and which should be left in. Opening theory is still in its infancy here. It is more likely any such committee would unanimously agree the swap rule is preferable.

    Some players have complained about the way the swap rule is implemented here; instead of swapping the first token, players should swap sides instead. It doesn’t matter much to me which way the server does it, but if it were to change now, it would probably do more harm than good.

  • jjjklj at 2003-11-03

    I agree with David. I think the swap rule is best left alone, although a flip board option would be nice so the player with the first stone would always be going vertical, not a big deal, but I use it on playsite all the time.

  • Dvd Avins at 2003-11-03

    I have gotten confused about the orientation several times (including my current game against Martin Bernhardt in the Championship). It’s also frustrating and conducive to confusion that Jtwixt’s swap functionality doesn’t change the color that moves first while Little Golem’s does.

  • Dvd Avins at 2003-11-03

    But don’t take what I said as an endorsement of the move-restriction proposal. I wouldn’t like that.

  • Alan Turing at 2003-11-04

    While on the subject of beginner confusion: people who watch me navigate here on littlegolem invariably comment on one thing, a triviality you might say, but the fact is that not one person has failed to mention it so far.

    They say: "The upper left boxes of the ‘windows’ at lg are blue. However, consequently making these boxes blue is very unintuitive in one case: the box containing information about the Red player. That box really should be coloured red."

    This is said by people who haven’t seen the page before, thus a kind of beginners. Though I’m not bothered by this inconsistency in my everyday gaming experience, I can understand their point, and could even imagine some very fresh players making faulty judgments based on this colour incongruence. The box in the Red player window could really benefit from being red.

    What do the rest of you think?

  • David J Bush ★ at 2003-11-04

    I agree the blue boxes can be confusing. Why not grey? (Maybe this could go in the main forum?)

    A flippable display would be convenient, or rotate the board 30 degrees counterclockwise as an alternate display? That would give both players symmetric perspectives. It’s how players play with a real Hex set. That’s what Aaron Davidson did in his applet that lets you play Queenbee (click on the “software” link.) It’s also how the Ludoteka server shows the board. I find myself tilting my head when I play there. It requires more horizontal and vertical pixels, but most folks have monitors large enough to handle that.

    Sorry Tasmanian, not only did we diss your idea, but we took over the thread for our own purposes... :-)

  • Tasmanian Devil at 2003-11-04

    I don’t mind. ;-)

  • Marius Halsor at 2003-11-04

    I really like the game the way it is, with the swap rule. If anything is to change at all, it would be the possibility to “tilt” the board (or rather, transform it) in such a way that I’m always playing, say, N/S.

    An alternative to play hex with the swap rule could be to play the following, which would be more or less a new game: Same principles as hex, but each player gets to place two stones. Except for the first move, when only one stone can be placed. But like I said, I really love the game the way it is.


  • Tasmanian Devil at 2003-11-04

    Yes, Double-move versions of connectivity games can be worth a try. On the internet I have seen them mentioned for The game of Y (see the 1995 review) and Bridg-It. I think it would be very interesting to see what perfect play is in Double-move Y on the 27 nodes board, if any programmers here are up for the challenge!

  • Bill LeBoeuf ★ at 2003-11-05

    As I have said several times before, I feel strongly that the way to make the Swap Rule simple and unconfusing is to keep the board and colors and orientation all the same.

    If the second play chooses to swap, then the players simply swap colors. And the second player takes over as the first player. The game is noted as a swapped or unswapped game.

    This would totally eliminate all the confusion with the board, with the colors, with the orientation, with the lack of coorespondence with the Jhex database, and with the recording of games.

    Cheers, Bill

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