Abstract Strategy Games - Definition


The most strict definition of an abstract strategy game requires that it cannot have random elements or hidden information. In practice, however, many games that do not strictly meet these criteria are commonly classified as abstract strategy games. (Games such as Continuo, Octiles, Can't Stop, Sequence, and Mentalis could be considered abstract strategy games, despite having a luck or bluffing element.) A smaller category of non-perfect abstract strategy games manages to incorporate hidden information without using any random elements. (The best known example is Stratego.)

Traditional abstract strategy games are often treated as a separate category of game, hence the term 'abstract games' is often used for competitions that exclude traditional games, and can be thought of as referring to modern abstract strategy games. (Two examples of this were the IAGO World Tour and the Abstract Games World Championship held annually since 2008 as part of the Mind Sports Olympiad.)

Some abstract strategy games have multiple starting positions of which it is required that one be randomly determined. At the very least, in all conventional abstract strategy games, a starting position needs to be chosen by some means extrinsic to the game. Some games, such as Arimaa and DVONN, have the players build the starting position in a separate initial phase which itself conforms strictly to abstract strategy game principles. Most players, however, would consider that although one is then starting each game from a different position, the game itself contains no luck element. Indeed, Bobby Fischer promoted the randomization of the starting position of a game of chess in order to increase the game's dependence on thinking at the board.

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