Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why I Log On-Line Plays

Towards the end of last year my monthly Games Played numbers went up from 40-50 games per month to more like 60. Over December and January, when I had leave, they were over 100. The reason was that I started playing Scrabble on-line (on Facebook) and started logging those on-line plays. I never used to log on-line plays, despite the fact that I learnt Cartagena at BrettSpielWelt from a German speaker, and played Diamant on-line before I ever saw a real copy. I thought it was cheating. However since I've been running the extended stats and wondering exactly why I bother to keep those numbers, I've changed my mind.

Consider the potential restrictions one might place on oneself for logging plays:
* Only face-to-face
* Only against human opponents
* No restriction at all.

I've been logging solitaire plays of Runebound and Roads and Boats for a long time, as to me those games lose very little by not having opponents. So the face-to-face thing doesn't worry me much. In particular, I have had situations where Scrabblette and I have played Scrabble on-line while we're both in the same house. Not logging that play would be discriminating only on whether I could get her to a physical board or not. My Games Played log is definitely not a record of my ability to organise people to get to the same place at the same time. If it was, my regular Scrabble opponents in London, Beijing and Townsville wouldn't contribute to my statistics at all.

I figure the best thing I want the Games Played log to be is a record of how many times I have played a game. Now I find games against computer opponents to often be very different to games against a real person, because against a computer opponent I can't bank on their fallibility. Playing Hex on-line I often think "I hope if I go here he won't see that counter-move", and that's often the case, whereas Hexy just hammers me every time. I enjoy taking the chance my opponent won't see something, and am pleasantly surprised when they do. To me, the games I play are not just about making the best move, they are also about making the best move AGAINST THAT OPPONENT. Consequently, I don't log plays against AIs.

Still though, there is something to be said for that too. If I play 100 times against an AI I'll probably defeat a complete newbie, so plays against AIs definitely give you some of the skills of the game. I think if I was just a bit more friendless I would do that.


Iain Cheyne said...

Thanks (I think) for introducing me to Hexy. I cannot even beat it on a 6x6 board at beginner level.

Maria said...

I never log on-line plays against the computer at Scrabble because it makes me feel terrible.

Maria said...

Actually, I'm felling terrible enough just plain scoring when I'm playing games against human players. I'm on a losing streak and it's NOT GOOD.

Friendless said...

Maria, if only you were on Facebook I could beat you too! Playing Scrabble against the computer can be depressing, so I don't do it much.