January 30, 2008

A few entries ago I tried to compare multitabling to video and computer games. While I was working on it something clicking in the back of my mind but I didn’t quite have access to it at the time. Now I remember what it was.

There was a very simple DOS game that I played, and played a lot. It was a shareware game called Islewars. Something like a simple Risk game, you had to try to take over control of countries on various continents and islands. To do so, you would wage war against neighboring countries using the armies you had in that country against how ever many your opponent had in the defending country. The defenders always had a slight mathematical advantage, and each round you received bonus armies for the total number of countries you controlled plus extra for any entire continents or islands that you controlled.

The startup options included 1) how many randomly placed countries you would control at the beginning, and 2) how many armies might be on any country. In other words, you could say you wanted 11 countries and the range of starting armies would be 1-5 per country. The number of countries any of your three computer opponents would have and the exact number of armies on any one country was random so you might start out in good shape, or one of the computer players might start out very strong.

It was fun, and I played a lot of games of it. There was strategy involved, adapting to various situations, adapting to changing situations, planning, attacking, shoring up defences, anticipating the other players moves, looking for vulnerable points, keeping an eye on the strengths and battles of the opponents and trying to keep the overall balance of power even between the computer opponents which would allow me to slowly build up my resources until I was ready to challenge. Because of the level I chose to play at, I almost always started out with the fewest starting countries and armies so I needed to target takeovers of small islands to be able to collect more bonus armies and gradually catch up.

There were a few aspects of it that made it fun for me. One is that because of the level that I played at I always started at a disadvantage. However, because I could understand the computer opponent’s choices I could often keep them under control while I made faster progress by knowing how to target appropriate islands. The predictability of the programming made it possible for me to win 60% of the games even after starting at a disadvantage and that combination of winning percentage combined with always starting at a disadvantage made me feel like I knew what I was doing.

Now, if I could only do this at poker!

Mind you, if I play at low enough levels, I probably could. The $1 STTs still pay me more than the rake, but I want to be doing this at $25NL.


Later Edit: People seem to still search for “Islewars”. If you’ve played this, let me know. I’d love to hear from other Islewars players!


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