Article Index

  • Phalanx
    early position
    Phalanx is one of my earliest games and an example of 'inside out inventing' long before I coined the term. Other than say Emergo, another early example in which we discovered the organic character and inherent finitude of an already known core behaviour, it was intentionally organic right from the start.

    I asked myself this: "what if an organism would emerge as a single seed on a large plane, capable of growing, moving, splitting, while in the distance similar but hostile organisms were emerging"? That would mean a territorial fight among multiple contestants. It would also imply some form of capture or things would just grow till they got stuck. It all went rather smoothly and the result was very interesting and almost right.
    A difference with the current rules was that one could grow and move a group in the same turn. That's a bit too turbo for sound strategy. And we only played multi-player versions, which led to games full of treaties, treason, alliances and kingmaking, in short collusion festivals. For me it was the first indication that I was more interested in the behaviour of games than in that of people so despite its interesting behaviour I lost interest in playing it. In a reorganisation of mindsports some years ago, it landed as a two-player game in the Pit but it kept the feature of an initial position because we had always used one in the multi-player version. At the time of its invention we had never even heard of the pie rule and later I forgot about applying it. It used the corners as alternating starting points, which wasn't so bad considering it allowed some turn-order balancing by allowing the first player to grow only one seed on his first turn and the second player only two. After that the normal move protocol would kick in. I also restricted a group to either moving or growing in any given turn, but not both.
    Then I trashed it because I don't like initial positions in a territory game all that much. It feels like a concession. I particularly disliked this one because of the distance between the seeds. That was all not so long ago and recently it turned up in a discussion at the BGG abstract games forum and I realised that a simple pie would do away with the initial position. Why didn't I think of it before? Presumably because I had always viewed the game in its historical context. The thought that led to it was "what if an organism would emerge as a single seed on a large plane ...", implying an initial position from the very beginning. That was wrong but now I'm very satisfied with the final result: interesting core behaviour and an interesting game starting, as it should, on an empty board.