Talk:Abstract strategy game

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We have so many of these, wouldn't it be worth making a subcategory of Category:Board games called Category:Abstract strategy games? Especially since some of them such as Connect Four are currently in no categories at all. —Blotwell 07:33, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Yes, I think this makes sense. Andreas Kaufmann 15:20, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Hi I suggest Icehouse as an abstract strategy game, also treehouse and the many variants —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:28, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Renaming proposal[edit]

As the lead section itself bolds abstact strategy game and the article mainly discusses abstract strategy games (as in "what counts as an abstract strategy game"), the title of this article, IMO, would be much more accurate as Abstract_strategy_game. What do you think? Fetofs Hello! 14:20, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I agree. Current name "Abstract strategy" doesn't have much sense. Andreas Kaufmann 20:25, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I have moved the page. Fetofs Hello! 11:20, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

I would propose renaming the entire page to Complete Information Strategy Games, as a long time board gamer the term abstract has always been associated with how well theme and mechanics mesh. The more abstract the game, the less theme is necessary. This certainly fits better with the definition of abstract paraphrased here from Merriam Webster[1]
1 a: disassociated from any specific instance
b: difficult to understand
c: insufficiently factual
2: expressing a quality apart from an object
3 a: dealing with a subject in its abstract aspects
b: impersonal, detached
4: having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content

Note definitions 2 and 4 fit well with the theme theory of abstract and definition 1c directly contradicts the perfect information theory. Waykewl (talk) 02:04, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

This is the definition used in the sv:wp article! I also suggest a renaming to Complete Information Strategy Game. Moberg (talk) 23:52, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
(see Perfect information and leave a comment) Moberg (talk) 23:55, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Three man something[edit]

I don't even remember clearly it's name, I played it a long time ago... But it's a nice game... If anyone knows it, it'd be good to make an article... There was 3 squares in center of each other, and four radial lines making a cross, linking them... But the middle lines didn't went inside the inside-most square... Each player start with three 'pawns' in opposite sides... And moved it one line per turn... The objective being reaching the other side with all three pawns... If you never remove one of your pawns from the starting position, your opponent will never win, but so won't you... There's no capture nor stuff... Only moving and trying to get past the opponents...

You're probably thinking of Nine Men's Morris.

Markwpalko 20:44, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Favorite abstract strategy games[edit]

The section listing favorite games is a bit odd. Obviously, chess is far mor popular than most (probably all) games on the list; most chess players just haven't rated the game on those internet sites. If the lists are relevant at all, I think they should be presented with more reservations about what they really mean.--Niels Ø (noe) 19:09, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

The list should be deleted. It contains too many games that are not abstract strategy games at all, using rankings that are of questionable relevance and accuracy. AldaronT/C 22:00, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Delete "what counts..." and "favorite.." sections?[edit]

The two sections "what counts as an abstract strategy game" and "favorite abstract strategy games" are pure original research and should be deleted. Any arguments in favor of preserving them? AldaronT/C 19:56, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

The Laskers[edit]

The articles stated in a comparison: Emanuel Lasker, world chess champion from 1894 to 1921 and inventor of the game Lasca, once said that "If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go". His namesake, Edward Lasker clarified this thought later in a book he wrote about Go called The Game of Go:

"While the Baroque rules of chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play go."[2]...


It is hardly relevant to the article in the first place. A reference for supposed Emanuel Lasker quote is missing. Apparently, Emanuel Lasker never said so, it was just attributed to him by people who confused the two Laskers. -- Zz (talk) 14:00, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

They were relatives and Edward was master strength if I correctly recall, The quote seems very relevant in that it helps illustrate the definition of abstract in regard to games. --I (talk) 11:51, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Edits in Comparison of abstract strategy games[edit]

  1. A comment in that section describes Go as "strategic" and chess as "tactical." These are, in this sense, technical terms that someone needs to define in the article before using them.
  2. Who says that checkers, chess, and Go are the "top 3 contenders" for anything? That statement needs to be sourced.
  3. Most importantly, all the refs given in that section (and, indeed, the only refs in the entire article) are references to other Wikipedia articles. That is entirely unacceptable. Other Wikipedia articles may never be used as sources; see WP:SPS. If you want to cite something, go to those articles and find the sources they cited; don't cite the Wikipedia article itself.

It has already been suggested above that some sections be deleted, and if this section isn't cleaned up soon it will have to at least be commented out. —Politizertalk • contribs ) 16:39, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

There also seems to be confusion about game-tree complexity, which can be measured in two different ways: number of positions and number of games. Just a quick calculation of an upper bound the number of positions tells me that it's much less than 10^123 (a maximum of 32 pieces on the board, each of which can go in 64 places, so the number must be less than 32^64 ≈ 2 × 10^96), and this doesn't include piece degeneracy (ie double counting positions because identical pieces are swapped around) or the fact that pieces can't share the same square. I'm guessing 10^123 is the number of possible games. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:00, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

The second paragraph suggests that chess programs surpass human abilities with the help of brute force calculation, whereas they fail to beat trained humans in Go, due to the higher complexity. This is certainly a major difference in the development of such programs, however, the existing ones do not work with brute force, neither for chess nor for Go. Further chess computers play therefore not perfectly, merely better than any human player. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:59, 28 December 2014 (UTC)


I moved the giant list to List of abstract strategy games. —Politizer talk/contribs 17:24, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Definition Abstract Strategy Games[edit]

Having just had an attempt to correct this page completely rolled back, I am going to start a discussion point. The main problem with this page is that the opening sentences defining abstract strategy games is wrong! It is paraphrasing the opinion piece by Mark Thompson and it takes the second sentence of paragraph 6 which is a non-sequeter from his earlier definition. Perfect information is a subset of Abstract strategy games, not a requirement. This is made clear by the second paragraph on the wikipage: what counts as an Abstract strategy game.

I proposed using the definition from the international abstract games organisation: While IAGO are not note-worthy on their own, they are an international organisation that have attempted to define the term which is clearly more suitable than Mark Thompson's quote out of context that contradicts this wikipedia article.

The board game categories on wikipedia are not comprehensive but where a distinction is used it would be useful if the categories included are accurate. This is especially important on under-referenced topics. Tetron76 (talk) 17:19, 7 September 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tetron76 (talkcontribs) 16:57, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

How is the sentence "It is essential to their definition that such games have perfect information" a non-sequeter? AldaronT/C 19:04, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
There could be some colloquial terms that have nuanced meaning. I use these terms as follows:
  • Hidden information - information that is not directly observable to a player.
  • Known information - the information for which a player has complete information (has / can observed).
  • Perfect information - there are no undetermined probabilistic events and all possible outcomes can be extrapolated from the perspective of a player.
  • complete Information - all of the possible outcomes are known. This can include rolling a fair die where it is known the only possible outcomes are the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 or 6 and they happen with equal probability.
  • imperfect information - a player is not aware of all of the knowable information
Perfect information as defined on the wikipedia page is incomplete as in card game such as bridge all of the previous moves are known to all players but the location of all of the unseen cards is not.
There are many categories of games and these are not mutually exclusive where there can be an overlap where some games can fall into more than one category.
Strategy game is one such example - a strategy game can involve a luck element. This allows for the potential where a game could be both a game of chance and a strategy game at the same time.
This is the crux of the problem - that none of the terms in the phrase abstract strategy game excludes the possibility of incomplete information or that prevents a probabilistic event can be part of the game.
  • The term abstract game can clearly be contrasted with the idea of a themed game.
  • The term strategy game implies that the decisions that are made can influence the outcome, therefore, there is skill in the game.
  • The term game - is usually used as a distinction from a sport or a puzzle, Players have turns and both players actions influence the outcome of the game.
When this is coupled with common usage including games that have probabilistic events or hidden information the question is not whether the common usage defines the term wrongly but if it is appropriate to use an individual's definition that contradicts common usage.
By stating that "Abstract Strategy games furthermore minimize the element of chance" is not the same as saying that there cannot be a probabilistic event. Nor does it make any assertion about there being hidden information. This is what I meant by non-sequitur (This time spelt correctly)
Here are two theorectical examples that illustrate that the broader definition is needed:
1 - roll a die to decide who plays white and who plays black and then play a game of Go as normal.
2 - a game combined into two movement phases. The first phase lets a player determine imperfect hidden information converting it to complete information.
Mastermind is an example of a game where hidden information can be extracted. Another example is if a player has a single playing card face down, by examining the other 51 cards in the deck without seeing the card the information can become known.
Bughouse chess (exchange chess) is an example where it may be unknown whether you will have a knight to place on the board on your next turn as it depends on your partner's choice of move. Here, the hidden information is the decision process of your team mate. There always exists hidden information and games can contain intractable problems and so the idea that any game is purely a collection of puzzles lacks credibility.
Wikipedia is in danger of redefining a term by referring to a single person's opinion at a fixed point in time. What has actually been defined here is a "pure abstract strategy game", but this is again a term that has varied usuage. One of the purest games is "rock, paper, scissors" which would not fall under board and table games remit.
It is surely, better to use the definition from a body set-up to represent abstract strategy games that is capable of revising their opinion with respect to future development in games and categories than an article that contains opinion at one point in time and is focused on what the author wishes to see in a game. Especially, as the former complies to existing usage without qualifiers.
Finally, I had added the competitions section to try to allude to the fact that games described as Abstract (Strategy) Games go beyond the narrow scope of the "pure" game as the Mind Sports Olympiad, boardgamegeek and IAGO all contain games described as abstract that contain either luck or hidden information. What is often the case is that a game such as backgammon fits better into other categories such as dice or race games. So the definition could be limited for the list of abstract games, in the way that traditional abstract games are often excluded from competition. --Tetron76 (talk) 14:16, 8 September 2010 (UTC)
Remarkably, none of this answers my simple question above: How is the sentence "It is essential to their definition that such games have perfect information" a non-sequeter? Remember, we're not doing original research or promote the views of our favorite organizations, and the available resoruces abundantly agree on the definition of ASG, which is pretty much reflected in the article as written. AldaronT/C 14:59, 8 September 2010 (UTC)
The "non-sequitur" point that I did not express well before:
The flaw logic is as follows:
If B is true then A must be true
does not mean that:
if A is true B must be true.
It is the second statement by using the phrase "it is essential that" that becomes the "non-sequitur" there is no evidence given in the text to justify this assertion.
While it is true that a game that has complete information as is his usage of the phrase "perfect information", no element of luck, no theme and no hidden information would be an abstract strategy game, it does not mean that all abstract games share these properties.
There are clear counter examples to Thompson's definition from games that are included in list of abstract strategy games:
Containing the game Continuo which has both hidden information and a shuffled deck
Contains bridge again with hidden information and probabilistic events
While some organisations occasionally use "Abstract Game" including the above with the word strategy omitted it is implied, This is equivalent to using tile game as opposed to tile-based game.
Then if you look for a more formal definition from scientific papers, there are very few and on google scholar:
Some papers define a particular game as an ASG but without defining the term further. One gives the broader definition and others use the narrower definition with qualifiers. I.E. ASG "generally implies".
There is one paper that copies verbatim from the J. Mark Thompson article. There are no works of note that explicitly support the narrower definition currently present in this wikipedia article.
If you look at the talk pages for game classification a criticism is raised that the categories are not arranged hierachically and to use a definition that redefines a category to one of its subcategories is not constructive. Effectively, it is as if wikipedia was to define a bird as "an animal with white feathers that flies" as well as not covering flightless birds, the presence of white feathers is clearly not fundamental to an animal being a bird.
Furthermore, the suitability of the Thompson article for providing an original definition is highly questionable, the wiki page redirects to perfect information, yet Thompson is clearly using the term differently in the paragraph that has been paraphrased. As stated in game theory the usage is different. The declaration of no element of chance is stated not to be possible in the Thompson article itself. It is not possible for me to discuss the perfect information issue from the wiki definition as it would suggest that games could have perfect information and imperfect information simultaneously and it does not appear to exclude stratego in the manner that the author intends in the article.
The Thompson article while valuable is clearly insufficient to form the basis of the definition when it contradicts the basic semantic information from being an abstract "strategy game". Therefore, I looked for a better source for defining the term ASG. I have no connection with the International Abstract Games Organisation, I was looking for a more comprehensive definition from a citeable source. While, I did have prior knowledge of IAGO I have never even posted on their forums. I first encountered their organisation via a conversation to define the criteria of what is an abstract game which is where I first encountered the Thompson article. The current wikipedia definition of ASG constitutes orginal research and needs to be improved. Perhaps, I should have started by editing Strategy game and include the idea of "pure strategy game". But I would need to do some research for the references. The definition of ASG needs to be comprehensive of all games that counts as ASG or wikipedia risks creating a definition rather than reporting it. From the talk higher on the talk page and the sections within this page and on strategy game it is clear that the current definition is inadequate especially when placed as a link from board games. -- Tetron76 (talk) 15:22, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
See what you think of my latest edit. Does that help? AldaronT/C 18:24, 9 September 2010 (UTC)
The definition is much more precise which is an improvement but I will try to expand using brackets to show how words are semantically grouped.
The problem is that ASG is still predominantly used as (abstract)(strategy game) and hence there is the possibility that there can be a small amount of luck or hidden information.
In the renaming proposal thread on this talk page, the point is touched upon that the class of games that is being currently described would be for a (pure) (strategy game) such as used in (edit: cannot give link as it is on hubpages Intro2Games did not realise that it was banned) but the (pure strategy) usage from game theory has provided an ambiguity but although the vast majority of ASG would be (pure) (strategy games) not all are.
So I would like to see something that is closer to:
"An ASG is a strategy game, aiming to minimise luck, and without a theme. Usually an ASG will conform to the strictest definition of" ...
Then continue with the ... "a board or card game in which there is no hidden" ...
An alternative term to "usually an" such as "almost all" you might deem more appropriate. This still enables the inclusion criteria for the list page to be clear.
This provides a cleaner taxonomy and contradicts neither the rest of the page nor other common usage.
It should then be possible to get a broader base of references and later improve the "What is considered" section.
Tetron76 (talk) 11:19, 10 September 2010 (UTC)
Try that with "almost all" an see how it looks. AldaronT/C 14:36, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Definition still problematic[edit]

The above discussion is old and unwieldy enough that I'm making a new subsection to revive it, but IMO the issues it deals with are still problematic. As it stands, the article's definition of "abstract strategy game", particularly its insistence on no non-deterministic elements or hidden information, 1) does not align with the underlying meaning of the component words, 2) rests primarily on a single essay written by an individual (J. Mark Thompson) as source for the general usage of the term, and 3) does not even interpret that source correctly (if you read the article carefully, you will see that he links the "perfect information" component specifically to the word strategy, whereas this Wikipedia article links it to the word abstract.

Furthermore, some of the other pages used as sources for this article (some of which are now defunct, though still accessible through admit much more disagreement and debate over this term's usage than this article allows. For all of these reasons, I believe the article should be revised to clearly reference its sources (e.g. "J. Mark Thompson proposes" rather than "[It is generally agreed") and not go beyond what they say (e.g. suggesting that "abstract strategy games" differ from other "strategy games" in having perfect information). JudahH (talk) 10:58, 16 March 2016 (UTC)

What is condsidered an abstract game[edit]

1)This section is still lacking in references added a paragraph on reference in competitive usage. 2)Moved computer theory paragraph into complexity section as it was closer to complexity than what is considered an ASG 3)I have changed backgammon to continuo because I could not find a reference that categorises backgammon played with dice as an ASG, continuo uses a shuffled deck and there are places that count continuo as an ASG. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tetron76 (talkcontribs) 19:58, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

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