Andrew Looney vs John Cooper

Binary Homeworlds

Looney Con exhibition team game, July 22, 2016

25 minute timers, sudden death

Andy is north (top) and has the first turn. John is south (bottom). By choosing different colors for their initial ships, the players will delay their competition for large pieces. By putting a large green piece in his home system marker, John may be able to limit Andy's access to additional large green ships (Andy is known for favoring a “green game”).

1

homeworld r2 b1 g3 Wunderland

homeworld g3 r1 b3 Jome

2

build g1 Wunderland

build b1 Jome

3

trade g1 b1 Wunderland

build b2 Jome

4

build b2 Wunderland

trade b2 y2 Jome

5

trade b1 y1 Wunderland

discover b1 Jome

y2 HSOJ

Both players establish blue ships in their advanced systems so they can trade to other technologies.

6

discover b2 Wunderland

g3 Pepperland

build b1 Jome

7

build b2 Pepperland

discover b1 Jome

g2 JOHS

8

trade b2 y2 Pepperland

build b2 JOHS

9

build y1 Wunderland

build b2 Jome

Andy builds another blue ship on Pepperland, and John takes the opportunity to cause a blue catastrophe. John lost more ships, but Andy lost a large ship and all of his blue ships. John can still diversify technology on JOHS (his advanced system), but Andy can only do color trades at his home system.

10

build b3 Pepperland

sacrifice y2 Jome,

move b1 JOHS Pepperland,

move b1 HSOJ Pepperland,

catastrophe Pepperland b

(b1s, b1s, b2n, b3n)

Andy makes blue ships to open color options on Pepperland. He also advances a ship to a system connected to John's homeworld, which could lead to opportunities for attacks or catastrophes there.

John trades for the first red ship of the game. Andy gets a red of his own, but it is smaller than John's and less powerful for sacrificing in back-and-forth attacks.

11

trade y1 b1 Wunderland

build b1 JOHS

12

move b1 Wunderland Pepperland

trade b2 y2 Jome

13

build b2 Pepperland

build b2 Jome

14

discover b2 Pepperland

y2 Narnia

trade b2 r2 Jome

15

trade b1 r1 Pepperland

build b1 Jome

Andy builds more g1 ships to make building larger green ships easier. Both players move ships to new systems in order to avoid overpopulation.

16

build g1 Wunderland

discover b1 Jome

g2 J?

17

build g1 Wunderland

trade b2 g2 JOHS

18

discover g1 Wunderland

y3 Neverland

build b2 JOHS

Andy uses up the last green, but John frees up a g2 by sacrificing to build a large ship.

19

build g1 Neverland

sacrifice g2 JOHS,

build b2 Jome,

build b3 J?

Andy uses his “factory” for the first time to effectively get two build actions on one turn. Since John has no more green ships (and every green piece is in play), Andy can safely keep three green ships in Neverland. The valuable y3 marker will probably not become a ship any time soon.

Just in case Andy wanted to cause a blue catastrophe in Jome, John trades away a blue for more moving power. John still has one blue ship in his home system for future diversification.

20

sacrifice g3 Wunderland,

build g2 Neverland,

build b3 Narnia,

build g3 Wunderland

trade b3 y3 Jome


Andy gains more moving power, but he is forced to sacrifice a yellow when John invades Pepperland. John now has two large ships in a very powerful position one move away from Wunderland.

21

trade b3 y3 Narnia

move y2 Jome J?

22

sacrifice g3 Wunderland,

build g3 Wunderland,

build y1 Wunderland,

build y1 Pepperland

move b3 J? Pepperland

23

sacrifice y2 Pepperland,

discover y1 Pepperland

y2 MiddleEarth,

move r1 Pepperland MiddleEarth

build b3 Pepperland

Andy employs his factory again to gain power a step away from Jome: a second red ship (for a catastrophe) and a second large ship (for a takeover). However, John trades for a large red which will make a takeover of Jome much more difficult. Furthermore, Andy must act preemptively to keep John from winning if he moves the large ships from Pepperland to Wunderland. Red alert!

John could not take control of Wunderland with the b3 ships he had previously because Andy could destroy them both with a blue catastrophe by trading for his g3 for a b3 (a high price, but not defeat).

Andy now has three options to prevent John from taking over his homeworld.

  1. Trade for an r2 on Narnia (which could be sacrificed for a double attack)

  2. Get another large ship to Wunderland (sacrifice y3 on Narnia to move b3 to Wunderland)

  3. Knock out John's ability to double attack by causing a red catastrophe on Jome (sacrifice his y3 to move both r1 to Jome). Andy would have a move action left over, which could be used to move a green ship closer to Jome. He could even move his g1 directly from Wunderland to Jome once Jome's red system marker is gone. Moving green ships toward Jome may eventually allow Andy to cause a game-winning green catastrophe.

24

sacrifice g3 Wunderland,

build g3 Wunderland,

build r1 MiddleEarth,

build b3 Narnia

trade b3 r3 Pepperland

Timers are now low; Andy has a few minutes left and John has less than a minute. Andy appears to have miscalculated, thinking that John needs another large ship before invading Wunderland. Probably to prevent John from building another large, Andy uses the last b3 piece for a system. If John builds an r3 on Pepperland instead, Andy may have expected to sacrifice his y3 to move both r1 to Pepperland for a catastrophe. John would need time to rebuild for a new attack and Andy might win by timeout).

But John already has the ships he needs, and he moves his two large ships to Wunderland. Andy uses most of the rest of his time looking for a way out, but there is no way to fight off the invaders. Just for fun, he makes the most interesting move he can find by causing a catastrophe on Jome.

John then ends the game with seconds left on his clock.

25

discover y1 Wunderland

b3 Pern

sacrifice y2 J?,

move r3 Pepperland Wunderland,

move b3 Pepperland Wunderland

26

sacrifice y3 Narnia,

move r1 MiddleEarth Jome,

move r1 MiddleEarth Jome,

pass,

catastrophe Jome r

(r1n, r1n, r2s, r1marker)

sacrifice r3 Wunderland,

attack g3n Wunderland,

attack y1n Wunderland,

attack g1n Wunderland

(0-1)

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Comment by Joshua Kronengold on September 18, 2017 at 12:07pm

Heh.  I always forget that Ning exists, alas.

This was a fun game (and much longer than I expected from memory!)

The commentary is pretty solid (from Team Josh POV, anyway; John Case is obviously an honorary Josh), but a few comments:

The different starting ships on turn 1 is very much a signature of my play, although I think more advanced players tend to move in that direction, but I have to have a very good reason not to do this.

In general, the first player has a strong advantage in Homeworlds; they are literally always one move ahead, and can use it to win races, force the 2nd player's timing, etc.

However, the second player has one big advantage too, if they choose to use it: They can base their starting setup on the weaknesses in the starting player's setup.  This means ideally starting with a large piece in the color of the starting player's smallest piece in their home system (and often, a large piece in their home system in the same color as the starting player's home ship to not yield a similar advantage)--that makes that color easier to grow, and thus puts the starting player on the defensive from their first move.

We mismanaged our time early on -- we had "plenty" of time, so we used a bit too much to debate moves and had to rush things a bit later (but we also had some good positioning at that point).

The Y3 catastrophe idea is an interesting idea -- another option had Andy opted for the red catastrophe would have been to move a spare yellow (probably from his home system) into Jome.  That way he's threatening a yellow catastrophe (wiping out our large ships at home) and keeping us on the defensive, while he prepares to have enough yellow for a green catastrophe.

But I'll note that this also (ironically) wouldn't work.  Causing a red catastrophe in Jome leaves Jome directly connected to Wunderland, as you mentioned--but that goes both ways and leaves us able to launch an attack without moving the R3.  More, since it means that the Emperor loses access to Red tech outside his home system, it means he can't even launch a credible threat by moving a y or g ship into our home; we can just ignore it and sac the Y2 to leave the b2 and opposing ship safely (ish) in our home system while we engage Wunderland, trusting in tempo to guard our backs.  The only way he can finish this move safely is to move his B3 into our home--since we have only a R3 for (and moving the Y3 would allow a catastrophe, this leaves us with the unenviable choice of either growing a r1 to counter while leaving him free in our home briefly--but since this allows us to retrench by just saccing R for his B, it basically hands us a ship in exchange for red tempo (and I'm not sure that just growing a R1 goes badly for us:

25. ... b r1 pepperland
26 t B3 G3 Jome sac r1 pepperland
a g3 Jome
Leaves us in an even better position to attack.

ANd there's no blue catastrophe approach, of course available to the Emperor, because all the B is on the board. So I think the red catastrophe in Jome ends up being a Bluebird path.
Comment by Joshua Denmeade on September 7, 2016 at 7:13am
This was such a fun game to participate in. The commentary for team Josh (that's John's team for those keeping score at home) is pretty spot on, though I cannot obviously speak for the Emperor's team.

I managed to play both Andy and John later in the convention, and while I managed to beat John, I got cocky when playing Andy and he destroyed me. Someday I'll get that medal! He got in my head by putting it on the table so I'd know it was on the line so to speak.

Homeworlds is just the best.
Comment by Draw5PlayAll on September 6, 2016 at 10:22pm
Very informative. John wins again. Why is it Andy and not John that gives medals? John actually invented the game.

Andy likely old have lived longer if the time was not a pressure factor.
Comment by Jonathan Baker on September 6, 2016 at 9:35pm

Hmm. That's supposed to be the time of the event. I'll change it.

Comment by Draw5PlayAll on September 6, 2016 at 8:14pm
This says you wrote it on July 22...
Comment by Jonathan Baker on September 6, 2016 at 6:52pm

Let me know if you see any mistakes.

No matter what I do, the tables revert to the default formatting with no lines. Sorry.

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