Comments on Overwhelming Gearwheels 2019-01


-- Anonymous 2019-01-02 02:55 UTC

Well, those are some overwhelming gearwheels, all right: a functioning replica of the Antikythera Mechanism made from LEGO. Pretty cool!

What anonymous memetic pollinator left that link?

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-02 05:39 UTC

Sorry, it was me! Spiny Mel!

-- Anonymous 2019-01-05 01:43 UTC

I'm probably an easily crushed newb for most of these games and won't have any spare bandwidth for the first few months of this year but I could probably be persuaded later in the year to play Alien City, Cosmic Encounter, Tak, Ultima, and/or Zendo online. It might be fun to play the piecepack compatible games (Alien City, Tak (smaller variants), and Ultima) "play by (e)mail" where on my moves I also send back a piecepackr diagram of the current state of the game and at the end of the game make an animation of the entire game to post on the piecepack wiki -- those three games involve placing or moving pieces on a rectangular grid (initially random in the case of Alien City) so shouldn't be crazy difficult to communicate one's moves in such a fashion.

-- TrevorLDavis 2019-01-05 10:46 UTC

Trevor, the experiment you suggest could be really fun and would be a good test of piecepackr. Actually, if we have a good place to host the graphics (I'm thinking GitHub), we could play some demo games on the Piecepack Wiki.

Ultima moves can be communicated with something like standard Chess notation. It would be cool if piecepackr could ingest games of several kinds in algebraic notation and emit animations.

Zendo can be played with a piecepack. It might be a good stress test of piecepackr.

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-05 16:40 UTC

Rereading the rules to Piecepack Cooking, it seems they could really benefit from some piecepackr diagrams.

Also, would we be playing Alien City with a virtual StackPack?

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-05 16:48 UTC

-- TrevorLDavis 2019-01-05 19:47 UTC

I'm psyched by this ferment! However, let's not invent new, non-standard notations. For example, SuperDuperGames already uses a PGN for Alien City. See

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-05 21:43 UTC

Too late! I think I've already invented a new, non-standard general human-readable piecepack game notation very loosely based on PGN that could support the generation of piecepackr diagrams/animations of games like Alien City, all kinds of chess variants, backgammon, Tâblut, ChangeChange, etc. The biggest constraint is that you need to know how big a playing surface you will be using beforehand (not a big constrain for the majority of piecepack games). But it would be nice to eventually write a converter for more common game notations to it since more specialized game notations are more concise and more widely grokked. Obviously for a game on the wiki I could just mentally convert from one format to another.

-- TrevorLDavis 2019-01-06 01:21 UTC

Fantastic! Don't let me or anyone else naysay. Can you share details at this point, maybe on the Piecepack Wiki?

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-06 02:08 UTC

I'll share details later when I'm not in the middle of PhD defense madness -- maybe via an R 'vignette'.

-- TrevorLDavis 2019-01-06 11:08 UTC

OK. Break a leg, Trevor!

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-06 18:23 UTC

Interesting. I got a Tak set about 8 months ago, but sadly haven't been able to play it yet.

-- MichaelFrink 2019-01-10 01:20 UTC

You should try the Solo System! That's how I first got to play Tak. I converted/created a free percentile dice-based version here:

This page should make it easy for you to try Tak. Let me know if you have any problems.

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-10 01:50 UTC

Nice write-up of our Tak game, Ron. One detail that I found interesting is that earlier in the game, I had a largish stack similar to your large one in the picture. After you failed to notice your instant win, the only way I could block it for your next move was to move my large stack all the way across the board, dropping your pieces along the way. Before that, I thought I had a pretty strong position (except for your instant win), and after that, you had a pretty strong position. So although your capstone was pinned, it had a lot of reach, and could have turned out to be an asset rather than a liability.

-- Karl 2019-01-15 23:05 UTC

So given the info here, we can determine just how slow molasses in January is. And in sufficient quantities, not that slow at all! In fact, lethally fast.

-- Marty 2019-01-16 01:27 UTC

What do you think about this as either a topical or perennial interjection?

Great galloping molasses!

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-16 04:38 UTC

Karl, I'm not sure I follow. My capstone may have had reach, but only at the cost of releasing all that potential energy underneath. Are you suggesting I could have used my capstone somehow without relinquishing control over that giant stack?

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-16 05:43 UTC

Relinquishing control of the giant stack (and worse, distributing it across the board) would be a huge sacrifice, but if it were well positioned, it could block or achieve a win, making the sacrifice worth it.

-- Karl 2019-01-16 14:47 UTC

Karl, so we've identified a formation of pieces for either player that could be useful or less than worthless depending on circumstances and how the pieces are played. The first chapter of the Mastering Tak book I mentioned contains many patterns like that. It calls them "shapes", which I think is a term of art from Go.

-- RonHaleEvans 2019-01-16 20:35 UTC

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