Bide metarule Hex, Havannah

33 replies. Last post: 2020-05-07

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Bide metarule
  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-02

    Hi guys, I saw that a few people had their interests piqued when I posted an idea for a new meta-rule previously. 

    So, this time I also have a new idea for a meta-rule, this one is arguably much more suited to a game like Hex.

    Imagine that instead of being obliged to place a stone each turn on the board, you were given a stone to hold. 

    Then, on your turn you could place any number of stones in your possession on the board. 

    Play could proceed as usual, or players could choose to “bide” for any number of turns (N), and then later on putting all N stones on the board in a single turn. 

    I recently found out that this idea has been considered in the context of Go, but I wasn’t sure about Hex. 

    I call it Bide, based on how Onyx in Pokemon used to wait... and then release a big attack later. 

    Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts! 






  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-02

    spartacus, doesn’t work that well because delaying would always be favourable in hex until the very last moment.

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-02

    Yes, objectively delay > play

  • ypercube ★ at 2020-05-02

    What lazyplayer said.

    Assuming no swap: size: NxN

    Strategy of the 1st player: hold the first N-1 times, then play all the N stones in the Nth turn.

    The 2nd player has placed 0 to N-1 stones on the board, so there is at least one row / column that the 1st player can place all N stones and form a connection.

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-02

    And as far as I know hex players hate double moves like Connect6. At least me and Arek hate them.

  • ypercube ★ at 2020-05-02

    @lazyplayer I haven’t tried the double move variant and I certainly don’t hate it.

    If there was a site where we could try it, I could give it a go. Maybe I’ll join the hate club then ;)

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-02

    Yes, there needs to be an additional balancing mechanism to this rule.

    I understand. 

    Thanks for the analysis, folks! 

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-02

    ypercure, the first reason to hate double moves is because they ruin all local patterns. Basically you’ve to re-learn the game from scratch if you go from single move to double move. The second reason is that it just makes the game more ugly because, well, we already have the problem that a single stone is too strong, and with double moves, you’ve twice the problem.

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-02

    ypercure, oh, and on top of the two reasons above, the reason why it was introduce in gomoku was to balance the game, but it doesn’t work for that goal: https://littlegolem.net/jsp/forum/topic2.jsp?forum=70&topic=176. It seems going first is still advantageous despite you start with a single stone for the first move.

  • ypercube ★ at 2020-05-02

    It works fine for Connect as far as I know. I don’t see any reason why it would not balance Hex. It is a bit prettier than Hex because it removes the need for the ugly swap rule.

    I agree on one thing. It ruins all local patterns and creates nw ones. It is a very different game than Hex. 

  • HappyHippo at 2020-05-02

    I wonder, would ladders occur with the double move rule? I find ladders one of the most interesting aspects of the game

  • HappyHippo at 2020-05-02

    Also, ypercube, very elegant proof that bide doesn’t work for Hex

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-02

    OK, I understand that double move is unsavory to Hex players, and that the initial formulation of Bide was just game-breaking.

    But what about THIS formulation:


    1. Each turn a player gets a stone to play. They may play it, or choose to hold it (“bide”).

    2. If a player chooses to play a stone held from previous turns, all stones in that players hand must be played (“release”)

    3. If a player releases, the opponent must also release next turn. 


  • ypercube ★ at 2020-05-02

    @spartacus, the new formulation does not exclude the strategy defined above. 1st player still wins.

    Also one lazyplayer ! = all Hex players. 

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-02

    Hi, over on BGG forum I have convinced people that my new formulation does in fact thwart the strategy defined above. 

    So, ypercube, I’m sorry to ask, can you please be a little more specific? 

    If player A tries to hoard, player B can always hold once and then “release”, forcing player A to “release” next turn. 

    After both players released, the number of stones on board is even, and a winning position should not have been reached. 

    The only advantage is that on average, player A has played his stones mostly later in the game.

    Still, there are moves left to play. player B can begin biding first at this point. 

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-02

    @spartacus, delaying is preferred to putting a stone on board so the gameplay would probably: A bide, B bide, A bide, B release (cannot allow hoarding anymore), A release, B bide, A bide, B bide, A release..... And finally just playing 2 stones a turn. There may be exceptions, so this is generally a more interesting game then just playing 2 stones a turn by force.

    @spartscus, @ypercube – I will tell you why I think Hex lovers should tend to hate 2 moves a turn. Each game has a propotion of short term complexity vs long term complexity. Hex is the top 1 game in the world with very little short term complexity and high long term. So any attempt that increase the former is just taking from Hex it’s biggest value.

  • vieuxsac at 2020-05-02

    I’m curious, has this variant ever been considered: First mover places one stone. then the second mover places two. Then players take turns placing two stones. The idea is to counteract the first-mover advantage, an alternative to the swap rule.

    Think of the game as a sequence of pairs of plays. In the variant I suggest, the players take turns on being the first movers of each pair of moves.

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-02

    vieuxsac, we’re just discussing that and saying it’s a bad idea. I’ve listed 3 reasons, see above. It doesn’t work at making the game balanced.

    Swap rule is the least ugly solution and it works. ;)

  • ypercube ★ at 2020-05-03

    vieuxsac, yes we have just been discussing that and lazyplayer keeps saying that it is a bad idea – and insisting that he represents all hex players..

    Me, I think it games the game balanced and removes the need for swap but it is also a very different game that Hex. There have been discussions in the past in this very forum and I remember other players wanting to try it. I don’t know if anyone has tried on a game site or on real life play.

    Alex doesn’t like it as I understand from his comments.

    So we have 2-1 (don’t like vs like) so far ;)

    Not a very representative sample.

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-03

    ypercure, you can try “Master Y” at iggamecenter. I’ve tried it many years ago and I disliked it very much. We can try this evening (CET) if you want.

  • vieuxsac at 2020-05-03

    @ypercube, ah I overlooked the prior discussion. just read it now. yes, I agree it would be a very different game.

  • morphles at 2020-05-04

    I’d like to try 2 move thing, and I think I advocated some time in past for it. I agree that it would likely play quite differently. But I think patterns would become even more interesting, for example take one of smallest things – bridge, impact on it should be quite profound and the resulting patterns should be very interesting. I also think it would lead to more “distant interaction” between patterns. All of that could be quite interesting. And considering hex has “global goal” (that is spanning whole board) as opposed to connect6 much more local (just a row of limited length anywhere) its global effect should be even more far reaching. On the other hand game might resolve much more quickly than say connect6, since global goal of opponent likely could be shut down faster than many potential small goal threats. Still those initial moves should require crazy hard and deep analysis, which is expected – doubled branching factor. All in all, Richard should add such mod to LG :D DoubleHex!

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-04

    morphes, branching factor is squared, not doubled, but in compensation, game length is halved. ;)

    And yes sure there’ll be new local patterns, perhaps beautiful, but the game will be even more unforgiving for any error whatsoever...

  • morphles at 2020-05-04

    And that has some charm no? :)


    Just though of a word of for feature of a game that would be more plentiful in such two stone version – entanglement.

    It happens even in regular hex. (please mind that I’m not top tier player so I feel this more) Like quite often in hex you place stone and it’s impact is set in stone, that is it connects and there is nothing that can be done. But other times, it seems like it almost certainly connects... unless “in this semi distant place” some bad thing happens. (I suspect it is not super clear what I mean...). In any case, due to double moves one would be far less certain about a lot (most?) of patterns since they would have a lot more potential for various kinds of interactions (like you can connect here if you place two stones, but then... you loose connection in other place, so maybe you just place one stone here and another there, but then you do not gain certainty). One thing that might happen, esp for newer players, or players less skilled, like maybe for me also, temptation to play “more local” or adjacent to gain some more certainty. I know I had to fight such quite a bit in both hex and go.

    In any case I would think such game/variant would enrich board games as a whole :)

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-04

    Does it not struck anybody else than me that there are infinite potential variants but only 1 which is the simplest?

    I see no enrichment in formulating new sets of rules. It would enrich board games if someone found a way to further simplify Hex!

  • morphles at 2020-05-05

    I agree that simplicity is very nice, but it is also not everything, and having options is not necessarily bad. Hex is no where near the cheesy stuff you have with say chess variants.  2 moves is fairly simple variant, with potentially very itneresting patterns and interactions. And arguably one could say it is simpler than basic hex – no need to have/describe the pie rule.

    While I like simplicity very much (it is also super relevant to my job – software development) I look at games in more utilitarian – they teach us something about the world one way or another. Maybe it is abstract interaction in some fixed “pattern space” maybe it is supply and demand interactions or whatever. What I do not like is “empty variants” of dubious value (change in rules with little effect in play/what you can learn), in such category I would put likely most of chess variants, granted chess is already decently in elegant game compare to say hex, havannah or go (this one also has some minor kludges).

  • Arek Kulczycki at 2020-05-05

    I don’t mean to criticize the variants themselves, but the very process of formulating more and more variants which I find useless and ugly because one can think of infinite number of variants and it leads nowhere.

    Of the top of my head here is a new one

    A player in his turn either puts a neutral stone or changes an existing neutral one to his color. (no swap needed maybe)

  • morphles at 2020-05-06

    I again kinda agree :) (& as side note I also considered variants similar to what you just came up, with neutral stones, though such have one stronger strike against “elegance” - existing placements start to change which means it is comparatively better for machines than for humans as far as I know, since humans have strong advantage where what is laid down does not change).

    But that said, if no one talks about such stuff it does not get implemented and tested, and we might not see what depths and potential for knowledge (and dare I say entertainment in figuring all new patterns out) is there :)

  • lazyplayer at 2020-05-06

    A “neutral stone” variants of hex is implemented at iggamecenter.com, it’s called “nex”. Go there and play it... :P

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-07

    Hi, I am sorry if my posts on this forum have been controversial.

    I design abstract strategy games.

    My creative process involves first inventing “meta-rules”, or original mechanics with broad applicability. 

    After examining how each meta-rule affects gameplay in various contexts, I try to design a game centered around the mechanic. 

    I did so for Trike, and I have almost finished my new game that employs the Bide protocol. 

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-07

    The comments on this thread have been really helpful and allowed me to tweak it so it makes more practical sense, as seen above. 

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-07

    For your interest, the Bide game involves yet another mechanic that I call “impact”. 


    Stones create an impact: 

    When a stone is placed, all adjacent stones, move radially outward one space.

    This also applies to connected line of stones directly in line of the impact.

    Stones on the outer edge spaces do not move.

    Lines of stones between the impact and the edge do not move. 

  • spartacu5 at 2020-05-07

    sorry for multiple posts in a row, I just forgot to mention that if this movement in response to impact would cause stones to collide head-on, it propagates and those also move. 

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