Games with simple rules and mathematical underpinnings are the most intimidating to me, because I know that a computer has an advantage over my clumsy organic brain. I’m much more comfortable whacking gnolls than trying to orchestrate a checkmate. I can handle the former.
gnugo is a workup of the classic East Asian board game go, and it looks and plays a lot like its gnuchess sibling.
gnugo is a little more forgiving than its cousin though. The board image is refreshed at each turn in a scrolling fashion, with the most recent move highlighted in brackets. Black is shown as an X, and white as an O. Grid coordinates are used to place markers, and the status updates with the number of captures and the last move made.
I played a few games with gnugo, and it thrashed me each time. But I expected that, partly because I am a go novice, but also because the speed and algorithms of the program outstrip the best this carbon-based unit can muster.
I don’t think I would be likely to tangle with gnugo again in the future, and it’s not because I am a sore loser. Personally, I think the board becomes difficult to read as the game progresses.
Traditional real-world go boards are quite beautiful, and the arrangement of tokens is easy to read at a glance. With gnugo I find myself staring at combinations of Xs and Os and trying to find free edges somewhere in the swirl of pixels.
If that sounds like an excuse not to get thrashed by gnugo again … well, it probably is. 😦