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Re: Enchanted Forest (I and II)
Posted By: gremlinn, on host
Date: Saturday, July 6, 2002, at 11:29:27
In Reply To: Re: Enchanted Forest (I and II) posted by Trip on Saturday, July 6, 2002, at 10:42:22:

> > You probably know all of the basic stuff, I'd guess. Do you pay attention to where the leviathan and pixie move throughout the game? Every square they step on eliminates a square you have to search for level boosters. By putting off catching the pixie, you can speed up the level booster search a bit by having the pixie scout out the corners of the map for you (this is also great for figuring out where the Mirror is).
> Of course. I have a little worksheet where I mark off (in different colors) where I've been and where the leviathan/pixie have been. (I am such a dweeb. :-) )

I just try to remember them as they occur. Or, sometimes what I'll do is hit back in the browser 10 or 20 times and quickly check where the pixie has been lately. That way I can scout a whole area at once without having to pay attention on each move. The way you do it is optimal, of course, but I don't have the patience for it.

> > Then there's strategy about how you move around. That's pretty simple though, as for the most part it's just visiting a sector at a time until you get 4 level boosters, keeping your distance from the leviathan in the meantime. I usually pay attention to the general area where the blackstone is, but don't make it the highest priority to get it immediately (I'll usually finish off getting the booster for whatever sector I'm working on before going for the blackstone). You don't want to put off getting it for too long, though, or you'll have less time to get whitestone clues.
> All true. In addition, in the beginning of the game, once I have that stock of teleporters, I use them. The fewer squares you step on yourself, the more the leviathan and pixie can take care of for you. So, for example, my first move of the game might be to to the square north of center, then back and forth until the leviathan reaches me. Then teleport far away, find a teleporter as quickly as possible, then wander among used squares until the leviathan reaches me. Repeat.

Ah, I usually don't give him the chance to get close to me at first...I go off exploring the quadrant diagonally opposite where he starts.

> > The bonus square? I always (okay, 99.5% of the time) take the gold.
> Always. And I always hate it when the unicorn gives hits instead of gold.

The only time I'd take hits is if my hits drop really low early in the game. I'd rather sacrifice those 7000 gold pieces if it will help me stay alive and perhaps make 70,000 more. This just goes along with the strategy of maximizing the average score -- I want to avoid dying early at all costs.

> > Most of the rest, I guess, is your strategy for picking a cutoff gold/hits ratio for fights, and your strategy for buying potions. I usually end up getting the 100 hits potion/50 hits potion about half the time each, throughout the course of the game.
> I never buy potions. Seems like a waste of gold to me.

This is very surprising to me. Buying 50 hits for 150 gold is a good deal, at least, at a 3:1 ratio, so unless you're already fighting monsters with payoff ratios that low (which is doubtful, because you'd need those potions even more!), it would be beneficial to buy them. Even 100 hits for 500 gold is only 5:1, still well below the payoff ratio I usually go with at the start. I sometimes even "bail out" when I'm low in hits by buying the 200 hits potion -- for a reason similar to turning down the 7000 gold at the bonus square.

> >> Beyond that, I guess it's just luck, and for me, the fact that I've played so many games.
> Nah, you're just hiding your *real* strategy secrets. :-)

Honestly, by now I think I've explained the important parts of my strategy. Maybe the potion-buying strategy I have is actually more conducive to getting really high score, even though intuitively you'd think that a high-risk strategy of not buying potions might give better results for extreme cases.

Maybe the best way to solve this problem would be to write a computer program to simulate playing a game of EF (you'd have to have the probabilities of everything estimated fairly closely, or get them from Sam).

You could give it a searching algorithm which followed the simple heuristics such as searching one quadrant at a time for boosters, making note of where the leviathan and pixie stepped and generally avoiding those when booster-searching, having a gold/hits cutoff ratio function depending on hits, amount of board left, and many other conditions, etc., then allow this algorithm to be "mutated" over time and float towards an optimal strategy.

Maybe it wouldn't work so well -- I know that a lot of adaptive algorithms like this don't always end up leading towards an optimal strategy or even a particularly good one (you might just end up in a local maximal optimal strategy which is nowhere near being globally optimal). But if you give it your best try for an initial strategy, it might be able to make some improvement.

There's the question of what an "optimal" strategy would mean -- you could measure optimality in terms of highest average score, or highest percentage of scores over 120,000 (or 130,000, or 140,000). If the aim were to crack the top score, you'd use a cutoff around 142,500 or whatever it is.

So you'd run this program a few thousand or million times (hopefully it would be fast!) and see where it ended up, and check to see that it's not doing something really stupid which traps it in a sub-optimal local maximum, and maybe you'd get a slightly better strategy which you could try in real games.

> Here's a question: is the number of trees that hide gold a set number, or random? If it's set, that's one thing I could do: stop buying saws once I'd found all of the "tree gold". My belief is that it's random, though.

It's random, and I believe that the gold-trees are determined when generating the map. Normally it would be very hard to determine whether or not some random events in the game such as the placement of gold-trees and other squares are determined upon generating the map or upon entering the square, but one time I had what I believe was the same EF2 board twice in the same day. I had a sense of deja vu, a little while into the game: the pattern of trees in one place looked *really* familiar, and then I recalled where I had found a level booster on a game with a similar-looking layout. I went to that square, and sure enough, there was the booster. I also remembered the location of a second booster, so I immediately teleported near that square and checked it out. Yep, there was the second one. Then, to just to make sure, I walked over to the tree where I had found the Whitestone in that game. Found it in the same place.

So I think what happened, if I remember what Sam said, is that the random seed which generated the map just happened to coincide with the one which had been used earlier in the day. I have no idea how unlikely this is, but it's maybe not too far out there.

> I rarely play EF2 anymore, actually -- just have other things to do -- but I do keep my hand in every now and again. It is a cool game.
> -- Trip

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