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Arimaa

At guild tonight, I played my first game of Arimaa (wikipedia, site rules) with Josh -- two games, actually. First games for him, too. I'd heard of it before, but neither of us knew any strategy for the first game. After that we skimmed wikibooks a bit, and played again. So we know that for the first game I basically stumbled doing a camel hostage on him, where my elephant trapped his elephant and camel. I'd managed to lose my camel earlier, so it should have been even on material, but my horse managed to lead my rabbit to victory. Helped by a final sacrifice (horse into trap, pulling enemy rabbit out of the way so I could advance), which he'd forgotten was possible -- though I think I had a guaranteed win at that point, if he'd played otherwise I'd have won too. I think. Second game I tried for a hostage situation deliberately, sort of pulled it off at a different trap than first planned, but managed to carelessly lose my camel again, and then other pieces. Not helped by my helping lyceum with her second game of Japanese mahjong, so my attention was very split. But still, was fun, would play again.

As the links will tell you, Arimaa is played with chess pieces, but totally different rules. Designed to be hard for computers to brute force, yet simple rules -- simpler than shogi or fairy chess, perhaps. A tricky bit for me was remembering that the pawns are rabbits, not pawns, and can move sideways. And you get four moves at a time, so a single piece can move pretty far.

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Damien Sullivan
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