The Center

To win in Crumble, it's necessary to create a chain of your own pieces that touch all four sides of the game board. If you have an impervious block of pieces in the center, then radiating your pieces out in any direction will bring you closer to some part of the game board’s edge. This makes your ultimate strategy much less predictable by your opponent.

If your opponent occupies the center, on the other hand, then you can only build your chain through the flanks of the position. Your opponent can see that as well as you can, and so your strategy is easier to counter.

Because Crumble is a game of size, there is also the question of what constitutes the 'center' of the board. Clearly if you retain starting-sized, impervious pieces in the center, then the 'center' could be considered to be about 1/31/3 the width of the board. But as pieces become divided over the course of the opening, an exact measurement ceases to be the most relevant consideration. There may come to be many pathways through that third of the board, just as there may come to be many pathways leading through the flanks.

The center, therefore, like material balance, becomes less important as the game progresses. What remains valuable is to maintain a flexible, unpredictable strategy in the areas of the board that are not already either impervious, redundant, or clearly favoring you. It just so happens that in the early stages of the game, the most flexible region of the board is the center; and if someone could occupy it, it would be valuable.