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Advent XX

Behind window 20: Abstract Strategy Board Games.

Though I have always loved playing board games, I often wondered why I prefer those games that minimise the element of ‘luck’. This found thought perhaps explains:

There is an intimate relationship between such games and puzzles: every board position presents the player with the puzzle, What is the best move?, which in theory could be solved by logic alone. A good abstract game can therefore be thought of as a “family” of potentially interesting logic puzzles, and the play consists of each player posing such a puzzle to the other. Good players are the ones who find the most difficult puzzles to present to their opponents.

Thompson, J. Mark. (2000, July) Defining the Abstract. The Games Journal.

I am constantly on the lookout for new games. One of the curses of life though is having multiple interests. As even if I was only interested in board games, each on its own would require a lifetime of study to master [think Chess, Go etc].


A very interesting game that is almost unknown to all these days, but was in medieval times even more ‘popular’ than Chess, is called Rithmomachia. A strategy game for two players in which black and white parties of numbers on different shaped pieces face each other, similar to chess.  But in Rithmomachia the aim is not to fight against each other with armies of numbers, rather to take part in a contest, where the players must bring some of their pieces into a harmonious order.

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