Lately I've been thinking about multi-discipline sports... triathlons, pentathlons, decathlons.  The idea is to combine contests in a way that challenges the whole person, to find the most well-rounded competitor rather than just the most specialized one.  (For example, a triathlete must run, bike and swim.)

I want the pyramid-athlon to measure the player's ability to think in all directions.  It should include perfect information strategy, risk-vs-reward management, inter-player diplomacy, turnless speed thinking, and creativity.

If you were going to make a pyramid triathlon, which three games would you pick?  (My vote is for Homeworlds, Zark City, and Martian Coasters).

How about a pyramid pentathlon? Which five would you pick?  (I'd add IceDice and IceTowers to the triathlon.)

Let's go for a whole decathlon.  Pick ten.  (Pentathlon plus World War 5, Caldera, Pikemen, Martian Chess, and either Zendo or RAMbots.)

But I want to hear from you.  I challenge you to condense the gamut of pyramid gaming experiences into the 3/5/10 most diverse and challenging representatives.

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I've actually put lots of thought into this, and honestly the biggest problem I see with these types of events is scoring. I have spent many hours attempting to figure out how I would score games put into these competitions. While games such as IceTowers, Icehouse, and Martian Chess have actual scoring mechanisms, how would you score a game of World War 5? Or more interestingly how would you score a game of Homeworlds?

If I could find an interesting solution to this conundrum I think I might actually run a decathlon at AnCon in Hudson, OH this year.

I'd just score rank results from each game and combine them, ignoring specific scores. I.e. who was 1st place, who was 2nd place, etc.

(E.g. see )

For a good hardcore triathalon :) I'd probably say Homeworlds, Zendo, and Gnostica.

To bring it to 5, perhaps add IceTowers (for realtime) and Tic Tac Doh (for tiny/minimalist abstract).

To bring it to 10, add Martian Coasters (for silly random game), Pikemen (for classic style abstract), World War 5 (for dice-rolling ameritrash), RAMbots (for simultaneous programming), Volcano (popular abstract).

But tomorrow I might give other answers. Many choices... :)

See the only problem with this, for me personally, is that some games, being only 2 player, might pose a difficulty in actually scoring that way. For example, while Homeworlds can be played with multiple players, most players will agree that the purity of Binary Homeworlds is far superior. So, without having to get into a complicated tournament (I say this because a single game of Homeworlds could take hours), how would you score a game of Binary Homeworlds in which there is one winner and one loser?

Just asking out of curiosity, because I really love Binary Homeworlds and I would honestly put it in any kind of competition for a true Master of Pyramids.

I don't see the problem. Many 2-player games (e.g. Go, Chess, Pentago, etc) have tournaments with the simple system of giving 1 tournament point for each win and 0 for a loss.

Or using my "devil points" system (linked earlier), +1 for win and -1 for loss (a point for each player you beat and -1 point for each player who beat you).

I don't see a need for having "scores" from each game. (Especially since indeed many games, not just 2-player games, don't end with "scores" but only with a winner.)

Just note who won, or note final ranks if desired.

Hmmm.... I didn't approach this from the "how to run a tournament" perspective, but you guys make a good point.

I see two obvious approaches.

One solution is to have all the games in the pyramid-athlon be 2-player games, so you can use an existing FIDE-like method for scoring tournaments.  This cuts out most of the diplomacy and player interaction games, and limits the ability to test the full athletic range.

The other solution is to only include games have objective scoring built-in, so that you can compare relative scores and performance between multiple players across many games.  IceTowers, Gnostica, Dectana, Volcano, Martian Chess, etc.  There aren't that many of these, and they all play with the same part of the brain.  So much for well-roundedness.

Most pyramid games I've played, especially more of the recent designs, simplify the endgame into a "get there first" race.  Perhaps just extending two-player formats into multi-player dimensions would be adequate.

I would probably build the Triathlon with an eye towards getting each of the various main styles of game.  This is more fFlexible, allowing you to pick the games based on length and available time.  I'll give a more concise answer next.  =)

  1. A Chessboard Style Game, probably Pikemen or Martian Chess or Extinction
  2. A Random Luck Game, almost certainly IceDice, possibly Martian Coasters or maybe World War 5
  3. A Complex Game with a Theme, like Homeworlds, Alien City, or Nile.

The next couple would be perfect abstracts, and would be sorely missed in their absence.

  1. Volcano (I would enjoy a tournament of just this alone, but I suspect not everyone shares my opinion)
  2. Zendo (although it seems to me a Zendo Koan, or a series of them, might not make the fFairest Tournament game)

Rounding out the Decathlon would be any of the things mentioned above we didn't include, plus:

  1. A Zarc game, probably Zark City, but maybe Zarcana, or even Decktana.  Emperor's Garden if you fFeel exotic.
  2. A turnless game like Icehouse or Icetowers
  3. Probably should get in something in the Tiny Games category, like Pink Hijinks, Pharoah, or Launchpad 23.  These might be too light to be a valid game in a grand tournament, but also there are some good fFun games in that toybox.
  4. If possible, something in the "Experimental" category which Andy hasn't even published yet like Petri Dish or Sandships

Here is a more precise answer to what I think you are asking:  What are the 3 games that we can measure a person by, and decide conclusively that they are The Master of The Pyramids?

The three I have chosen each display properties which are completely unique to a Pyramid game, and are all unique fFrom each other.  They eschew conventional materials, and tend to highlight the defining fFeatures of a Pyramid game.  I probably sound a bit presumptuous here, but I think it's a pretty good basis.

  1. Volcano (My fFavorite game, I'm going to be honest)
  2. Icehouse (The classic; even if noone plays it, I maintain it is a keystone of the fFamily)
  3. Dectana or Zark City, depending on if you own a Decktet

I would round that out to a pentathlon with:

  1. Alien City or Homeworlds, depending on if you own a Piecepack
  2. ...undecided actually.  Ice Palace or Sprawl are both very good choices, due to their unconventional usage of a checkerboard grid.  But i am yet to play a game of either where I explained the rules, or got the rules explained to me correctly, which suggests to me maybe they are not the best games.
  3. An alternate here, due if only to its popularity:  Zendo.

I named a bunch of other great choices to make a Decathlon in my previous post, and those all stand.  It's probably cheating to wave my hands and say "...and some of these, too."  But I also think if you're going to do such an event, it would be wise to consider the audience.  If you anticipate new or easily confused new players, maybe use this Triathlon instead:

  1. IceDice
  2. Martian Coasters
  3. Pikemen

Well, I wouldn't expect "new or easily confused players" to be a "Master of The Pyramids" in any case. :)

True, good point.

So... a Sharp Point Olympiad?  (groans)

Anyway, I would love to see (and participate) in an event around this topic.  It would be fun to see it organized along various levels of participation and pyramidal experience, each corresponding to the triathlon, pentathlon, and decathlon.  That is, rather than trying to focus on diversity at the 3 and 5-game levels, I'd rather see a focus on getting people who might have never played before up and running and competing.

That said, my entries are as follows.

# Triathlon

1. Zark City

2. IceDice

3. IceTowers

My thought here is that each is simple enough to learn fairly quickly and represent a nice survey of pyramidness.  As an additional bonus each can play 2-4 players allowing some flexibility in matching players and also in helping to host a large group.

# Pentathlon

4. Pink Hijinks

5. Volcano

The pentathlon would still focus on newcomers to the games in that it still has games that are quick to explain.  However, more so than the triathlon games, the pentathlon games offer more change for strategic thinking and perhaps a way of segmenting awards amongst the newcomers to the games and the veterans.

# Decathlon

Now we get into the hardcore events, for the players who might already know many pyramid games.

6. Martian Chess OR Pikepersons

7. Homeworlds

8. World War 5 OR Icehouse

9. Gnostica OR Zarcana

10. Zendo

Rounding out with the cream of the crop (IMO).  You could choose the game to the right or the left of the ORs to make the event more or less intense.

It would be a blast to participate even if I'd probably be one of the worst players.  In any case I could shoot for a Cool As Ice award.  ;-)



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