How important is the opening? Amazons forum

8 replies. Last post: 2020-08-07

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How important is the opening?
  • add3993 at 2020-07-24

    I am a beginner, and my observations are almost worthless.  But I have felt in the few games I’ve played that the opening is somewhat slow and boring, and that (as long as you avoid getting fenced in tightly) it is hard for either player to build a considerable advantage until mid-game.  

    I wanted to ask for your opinions, and possibly for played examples of building a lead early on in a non-obvious way.  Also, if you happen to have access to a strong bot, its evaluations could shed considerable light.  Thank you.

  • testingqwerty at 2020-07-30

    The opening, in my view, is incredibly important. The reason for this is that good middle-game positions are often dependent on 'quadrant control, i.e., having each queen positioned such that no area of the board is untouched. If you develop your queens ‘lazily’ in the opening, then it can be difficult to reposition them later.

    A good example of this is my game against Bernhard Herwig. By move #9, my D10 queen was not trapped, but I was unable to move it without sacrificing influence over an important quadrant in the board. Consequently, I was fighting from behind throughout most of the game. Perhaps my middle game play could have been stronger, but my opening was so poor that I’m not sure I stood much of a chance.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here is the link to the game: https://www.littlegolem.net/jsp/game/game.jsp?gid=2166605&nmove=9

  • David Ploog ★ at 2020-08-06

    I agree that the opening is crucial. Because of Amazon’s double-action moves, it is also really hard. When I wrote my Amazons guide (find the link on my LG profile), I realised I can say almost nothing about the opening. It’s really hard. If anyone can contribute a little to that section: any input is appreciated. (If you want the most current version of the guide, please email me.)

    testingqwerty: In the game you’ve linked, in turn 5 or so, you make a move with a queen that has already been moved. While there are still two queens on their initial positions. I’ve found that such early re-positionings (of a queen already moved off the edge) are costly because you neglect the positioning of other ones. I am sure there are situations where it’s worth doing that, though.

  • Clark94 at 2020-08-06

    The opening in amazons is extremely important. So much so that I have discussed a first move rule to mitigate first move advantage. https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2355686/mitigating-first-move-advantage.

    Here are some keys.

    #1 Move your amazons off of the starting rank/file as soon as you can. Movement and freedom is vital. Just like in chess “A knight on the rim is grim” or “a knight in the corner is a mourner” so is true for amazons.  Amazons have 8 directions of movement. If an amazon is on the edge 3 of these movement lines are already blocked by the edge itself. (5 blocked lines if on a corner square). It may seem that 5 lines of movement is sufficient, because only two movement lines can be blocked at a time, however as often the case the only remaining movement lines could be the ones along the edge of the board or even worse leading you into the corner.

    2# For a more open game move your amazons towards the center of the board but make sure to keep access to each corner quadrant (the 4x4 section in each corner).  The center of the board is the best way to have access to the 4 different quadrants.  Quadrants are important because they are the easiest areas to build territory around.

    #3 For a more aggressive game move your amazons directly infront of your opponents amazons and shoot a blocking arrow next to it ( a screen). This doesn’t give you access to the corner quadrants as it would if you were in the center but it severely limits your opponents movement and gives you tempo. You opponent is either forced to move the blocked amazon or to counter by performing a blocking move of his one. If your opponent tries to move his amazon out of the trap its often unable to reach the center of the board. This type of move tends to work best on newer players.

    #4 Don’t move the same amazon twice. This strongly relates to key #1. Tempo is lost when moving the same amazon twice.  An exception would be if moving an amazon twice can trap your opponents amazon. (always trap your opponents pieces if they can be trapped)

    #5 If your amazon is on the initial square and an opponent shoots an arrow next to it, move that amazon on the next move. This just avoids it becoming a target.

    #6 Don’t be “random” with your arrows, always shoot them to block your opponent. Look for intersecting lines of movement of your opponents amazons, Shoot an arrow at these intersections to limit two or more amazons for the price of one arrow.

    7# Don’t bunch your amazons together. Keep them spread out. Ideally in the middle and endgame you want 1 amazon in each territory. Having multiple amazons in the same territory is a waste of potential. Also friendly amazons in close proximity can create targets for your opponent.  It can be hard to move them both out of harms way. 


    P.S. My life has gotten back to “normal” I’m going to start getting back into the ring!

  • David Ploog ★ at 2020-08-06

    Hey Corey, great to see you! Thanks for the list, I’ve made a copy, of course :)

  • Clark94 at 2020-08-06

    Corey? I know which Corey you are referring to lol. My first name is Hunter.

  • David Ploog ★ at 2020-08-06

    Hunter: Oh, I am so sorry. I’ve been confusing you — I apologise! There’s Corey Clark who invented Slither. Anyway, many thanks for the list, it will improve the Amazons guide when I touch it again. Cheers!

  • testingqwerty at 2020-08-07

    David: Yes, after looking back on the game and another like it, I’ve come up with a better approach to that opening. Moreover, I’ve adjusted my playing style to prioritize early piece mobility, and specifically the movement of all Amazons away from their initial squares — barring some exceptions. 

    That said, I think the largest improvements in my game recently have come from the middle game, not the opening — the reason being that the opening is just too complicated. I’ve tried learning from the computer, but I still don’t understand all its decisions. 

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