The Endgame

On a certain level, Crumble is all about hardening your position so it can’t be disrupted. As long as the position remains flexible and mobile, you’re still in the opening or middle game stages. But as the local battles play out, and more and more of the position begins to firm up, you start to approach the endgame.

There’s no clear division between the middle game and endgame. But eventually the players find themselves focusing on a smaller and smaller set of very specific problems, as opposed to the larger disposition of the board. Local battles start to involve fewer and fewer pieces, and their outcomes start to become more and more predictable. At that point the game starts to have an endgame feel.

Unlike other pure strategy games like chess and go, a game of Crumble can jump suddenly back from the endgame to the middle game, if a player makes a mistake and lets their opponent off the hook. All of a sudden, whole regions of the board may find themselves full of resources that hadn’t been there before. And the final disposition of the game may become entirely unpredictable.

This is both a good and a bad thing. You could say that it’s an advantage for chess and go to have relatively finite and predictable playing times. And that it’s a mistake to design a game that can simply go on forever.

In practice, Crumble games do tend to last roughly the same amount of time as a standard chess or go game — anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. So, like the ‘problem’ of having pieces that could be split infinitely small, this turns out not to be a problem in the real world.

On the other hand, if a player counters well, and outplays their opponent by conducting a spirited defense, there’s a certain amount of justice in the idea that they will have earned the ability to carry out the further course of the game in the full strength of the middle game.

And as the game’s inventor, this was in fact one of the things I was going for. Like the ability to split and join without limit, I like that the game retains all its potential until someone actually wins.

Comments