The word "abstract" might make you think of swirling colors, randomization and whatever else the hipsters in the Village are in to, but in the gaming world it connotes the opposite—abstract games minimize luck in favor of set rules and pure logic. Chess and Go are the most famous abstract games, and arguably the best games in the entire universe (if you want to get technical).
In an abstract game you have no hidden information, no non-deterministic elements (dice-rolling, card-shuffling), and a finite number of alternating turns between (usually) two players. There's no theme, just pieces and a board and your mind, with which you are to demonstrate your superior skill and intelligence locked in intellectual combat against whoever wants to lose to your extreme braininess.
J. Mark Thompson wrote that "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."
Okay, Mr. Thompson, we know you'd beat us all in Mancala, but we'd have more fun than you.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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