Disinfect the Core

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4.6/5 (26 votes)
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Similar to games like Go and Othello, this Shockwave game is all about turning the tiles (or I suppose 'nodes' in this case) to your color. It's very simple to pick up and play, and yet the possibilities for each move become many. Frustrating and difficult, the challenge is fun if you put a little time into examining how each move affects the play.

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37 Comments

Yo Jay,
I would love to swap some links with you. Can you shoot me an email to discuss. Awesome site by the way.

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Nils von Barth August 20, 2004 3:15 AM

Hey Jay-
the game is frustrating b/c you haven't figured it out. Once you figure out a basic strategy, you can easily beat the computer (I did, on my 3rd try, which was my first using a good strategy). I think this is a rather good game (this particular implementation is rather nice); probably not very deep, but solid and good fun.

Here's the basic strategy [you allude to it in "break up the train"; perhaps this is just filling in the details] (SPOILER, I suppose): remember the military maxim: whoever has the last fresh reserves wins. The trick is to look at the connected components of your pieces (and the opponents'), especially the number: when red takes your pieces, it only takes those that are connected. This is the fundamental insight. Many strategies follow from it: 1: maximize your own number of components; 2: when you take, try to make the piece you take with become disconnected from the rest, so if/when it's re-taken, the rest of your pieces are safe; 3: the other key thing to look at is threats: pieces that are one move away from taking some -- and conversely look at your defenses: pieces on another component that are 1 move away from retaking another component; 4: if there's a back-and-forth (each step you take one of your opponent's components, and it becomes part of one of your components, without breaking off), then at each step each side's number of components goes down, so whoever starts with the most components wins (if one player carefully breaks off a piece each time they attack, then their number of components doesn't go down); 5: you can also make defensive moves: see a component that's threatened (in 1 move) by the opponent, and disconnect it, and make sure it's "defended": you can counter-attack it if it's taken; 6: a good move when you've got nothing better to do is to disconnect a piece and make another component, preferably so it threatens/defends one of your existing components (or the opponents'); a usually bad move is to just expand an existing component.

So once you take up this strategy (maximize number of connected components), and do a 1 or 2 move look ahead, you can beat the current computer pretty easily -- it's not that smart. I think novices probably lose because they try to take all the pieces without regard to components.

I'm not sure how deep this game is; it might be as subtle as Go (very high branching factor, visual patterns to recognize), but I suspect it's about the level of Othello, maybe easier. I suspect one could program a computer to beat any human, but this isn't that computer.

Like Othello, this game is marked by big reversals, and has some tension as a result. A more strategic version would indicate the components on each side (and tally the number) and which pieces threaten on the next move (this is the boring/rote part of the strategy; a deeper strategy computer would also indicate which pieces defend, i.e., threaten a player's own component): the ease of seeing the guts of what's going on and presumably to evaluate a position are why I suspect it's not a very deep game: your number of components, attackers and defenders (your "material") seems the most important part of how good a position is (the actual details matter, but I suspect not very much).

So yeah, I rather enjoy this game (the abstract game, and this implementation of it); it really ought to be one of the "classic computer board games" (it's kinda unwieldy on a physical board).

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Thanks for posting your thoughts on this game, Nils.

I did finally figure it out. I even find myself going back to it from time to time because it is enjoyable, and I am able to beat it most of the time, but it is still a challenge for me. I think my problem initially was when the computer turned my pieces, I didn't fight right back by finding a piece along the outline of those just turned to reverse the move. This is a game where the best defense is a good offense, and the player who can keep the other player reacting will likely win the game.

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Check out this game. It is directly based off of this but has lots more features, like multiplayer and it's not in a web page. There is also alot more features like cheats and arcade mode and stuff. I could play this for hours.

Link: http://forums.gamemaker.nl/index.php?showtopic=87569

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yes! Beat it on the first try! i like his game, except for the fact that i was winning, then the computher was winning then me, etc.

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Jay, I noticed that the link to play this game brings up a site that states the space needs to be renewed. You may want to put a note up so everyone knows about it...that and you don't get repetitive comments like this one. =P

Btw, your site is really well done. I like it a lot. I just pray to God they don't block this site at work here! =P Helps the day go by!!

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Thanks, JB, for the headsup. Done.

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The Jab must have renewed his domain because the game is back online. Yay. =)

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GG Allin May 1, 2005 1:31 PM

GREAT GAME! Got it on the second attempt. Patience is a virtue here. I don't have any special strategy, I just countered each move the virus made and played very defensively. Every once in a while the virus will try to take the offensive, but if you stick to your defensive guns you'll triumph!!

The best offense is a good defense!!!

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Most of the games on this site are ones ive played and beat a while back but its fun to go back and relive them... I got this one with ease last time but it seemed harder this time :)

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Kristofski July 17, 2005 8:43 PM

Warning to people: this is not a good game to play while intoxicated. I just got back from a rather pissed night in the park and the voice in it absolutely scared the crap out of me. I think I'm going to have nightmares.

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It IS possible to beat it (I JUST DID!! YAY!) but only after about a week of playing.
have fun!
A.C.

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I'd love to play it, but call me daft as I can't figure out how to get it to even run. I'm running firefox and when I click on the link at the top to play it askes me what I want to do with the file as if it were a normal download.

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Obscure - be sure you have the latest Shockwave plug-in installed. It's very simple to do, really. Just click the orange "Get Shockwave" link in the sidebar to the left, and then follow the instructions provided.

It's quick and painless, and then you will be able to play this game. =)

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the flying monkey Author Profile Page October 17, 2005 11:46 PM

beat it first try.
got annoying towards the end when they only had 1 left ad it took half the screen

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I decided the simplest way to approach winning was to capture the edges of the board as quickly as possible.

If you spread down and right as fast as possible I think the chances of winning are higher than random stabs at a node. It's always nice to hit a long thread though...

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valentine bauer Author Profile Page December 27, 2005 4:07 PM

i finaly beat it this takes some serious thinking especially when one move can take or remove over 100 nodes.

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Beat it on the first try. Great game that really gets you thinking. I love your site Jay :)

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Thanks, Di! =)
I'm glad you like the site!

And I agree, it's a great game. I keep coming back to it myself.

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I won 2 of my first 5 games. It is not too difficult. In my opinion this game cannot be compared with Go because it needs also luck.

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i hate this game with a vengeance.

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when I try to play it it responds sooo slow I cant do hardly anything... There is like a 2 second delay between click and move... (I have always had problems with shockwave though...)

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I can't beat this one... I've tried reading the next move, and yet every single time I attack, it basically boils down to me taking about 50 nodes, and even if I make sure to disconnect, I lose the node I used to attack with upon counterattack, and of course, if I try to counter again, I'll lose another node, but if I don't, the computer goes on the offensive and obliterates me.

Ugh.

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...oh dear lord this game is awesome. Early expansion is the key. Force the opponent into being unable to counter immediately - two-move counters are your BEST friend.

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Great Game.

Aother trick is to make sure you isolate your own territory. Make it so that when part of your territory is turned to red, it's small. Work the red into a corner.

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Cerberus July 17, 2006 4:22 AM

that's the worst game I've ever played since Tetris!
these people know how to make someone else's life miserable!

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Hey Jay,
Sorry to tell this, but it's kinda easy as a game.
Quite fun though :D!
Played a long and entertaining game on the first try, and was able to beat the cpu (not w/o some luck!).

Took me some time to figure out the strategy but when I did, I realized it was just plain easy.

Here's some theory...
Nils was right about the compartments importance. But it's only the half of the strategy.
The other half is to have a lot of "units" defending your own compartments. There are two types of units:
A) Those that threaten the ennemy directly.
B) Those that are there to defend your compartments (ie. these are units that become (A) when the ennemi takes any of your compartments)
The units in (A) are usually quite rare and not so important: their only function is to act as offensive triggers for units (B). The units (B) are on the other hand the vital parts of your "empire" and their amount determines your power and stability.
Basically, more compartments you have, more borders you have; and more borders you have, more units (B) you will usually have. That's why having a high amount of compartments is very important.
What I call a network is a set of compartments that are linked by units (B). Bigger networks are, better it is. The network power is determined by the amount of "nodes" in it. A node is a unit (B) connecting a compartment to another compartment in the network.

Now the strategy...

The difference between human and cpu is that as soon as the CPU appears to have an (A) unit, he will use it to attack you, which may often make him weaker and eventually... will bring him death.
There's one simple rule:
When attacking the ennemy, you must compare the power of the networks. Your attacking network must be bigger than the defending network of the CPU.
If it is bigger, you will campture the ennemi's network. Even if the difference is only one node.
You will have a lot of exchanges (depending on the amount of nodes), but you will eventually beat the crap of it.
On the other hand, when the ennemy is attacking it's quite different. If his network is larger then yours, don't reply to his attack, but be sure that the new compartment he will capture won't have (A) units pointing toward you. Otherwise, he will simply capture your compartments one by one.

Anyway, there are a lot of other details, but they aren't hard to figure out when you play... and I don't want to write a whole essay... (even if I think it's already the case :S).

I applied this strategy (actually, a very simplified version of it, cuz I thought about the rest while writing this) for my second game, and completely beated the CPU, so I guess it works!

By the way, thanks, Jay for all these games you bring! They are always interesting and so original... and to sum it up, wonderful work, keep going, you are the best!

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beat it on my first try...
the AI is easly fooled.

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Heh! I won first time trying! The voice went just NOOOOOOO!!!

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Avaritia May 9, 2007 2:31 PM

I don't understand what's so difficult about the game. o __o; I haven't lost a single round yet...

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Frustrating, but it becomes so clear.
Break the links with the capture moves to make counters.
A puzzle game that defines "Lucky Intelligence"

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this is a simple game.

the trick to win: when you turn a slot, than only the last at the right side.
watch for a cut from the line.
the new field to must not connected with the others.
the grow of the green in direction down an then in the right.
the important thing: cut your big fields in many small fields.

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Roflmao!
I beat it on the first try in like 3 minutes xD.
I got too lucky that time.

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What, people are having troubles with this game? I've played 5 times now and I've won each time. Easy as hell, you barely even have to think.

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Having a slight problem - whenever I win the screen goes black, then I click, then it goes to the beginning screen, then I click again, then the little voice goes NOOO, then the screen goes black again. Doesn't make it unplayable, but it's getting annoying reloading the window. Any tips?

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Oh, sometimes happens when I loose too, except it's stuck on the black screen

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I won on my second try! Take that you vile filth!!

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