Board Game Arena
Board Game Arena (www.boardgamearena.com), often abbreviated BGA, is a website offering online play for a large number of board games, including many commercially published games. It was created in 2010 by Grégory Isabelli and Emmanuel Colin, and has more than 5 million users in 2021.
Currently, Board Game Arena is the most popular site for playing real-time Hex. (The other most popular Hex site, Little Golem, only offers turn-based play).
Hex on Board Game Arena
Board Game Arena offers six different board sizes for Hex: 6x6 (beginner), 11x11 (classic), 12x12 (twelve), 13x13 (expert), 14x14 (Nash), and 15x15 (big). The 6x6 board size is only available in training mode, i.e., players cannot earn or lose Elo points for playing 6x6.
There are several time control options:
- Real-time play, at three different speeds: fast, normal, and slow. The actual time per move changes dynamically based on past games, but a typical value for normal speed is 3 minutes initially, with 40 additional seconds per move (up to a maximum of 3 minutes).
- Turn-based play, ranging from one move per 2 days (slowest option) to 24 moves per day (fastest option).
- Training mode (no time control). Training mode games do not affect Elo rating.
When a player goes over time, the game may continue, but at some point the opponent gets the opportunity to kick the player out.
Hex on Board Game Arena now includes a passing move. Three consecutive passes are not allowed, so if a player passes, the opponent can effectively reject the pass by passing themselves, forcing the player to make a move.
In October 2021, 1643 games of Hex were played on Board Game Arena (53 games per day). Of these, 1352 (82%) were real-time games. The most popular board size is 11x11 (93%). During the site's lifetime, 26815 players have played at least one game of Hex, and 424 players that have played at least 50 games.
Board Game Arena uses an Elo rating system. The K-factor is k = 60 for the first 10 games, k = 40 for the next 10 games, and k = 20 thereafter. There are special rules for ratings under 100: Players rated below 100 can never lose Elo points, and win at least 1 Elo point for their first game. Once a player has reached Elo 100, they cannot go below 100 again, so 100 points is basically the baseline rating. The strongest Hex players are rated in the 900s.
Any player with a premium membership can create a tournament. Recent Hex competitions of the Mind Sports Olympiad have been hosted at BGA.
During tournaments and in arena mode, games are sometimes ended by force when the next round is about to start or when the tournament or arena season ends. In these cases, the player with the least time remaining on their clock is declared the loser (rather the player who first ran out of time).
This has led to unexpected results in some tournaments, notably in the final game of the 2021 Mind Sports Olympiad for 14x14 Hex. In this game, Stanley Kozera was in the lead when his opponent, Paweł Guz, ran out of time. The players decided to continue the game, but then the system unexpectely ended the game and Paweł Guz was declared the winner. This resulted in Stanley Kozera, who had been undefeated at the tournament, being awarded 3rd place by the Board Game Arena tournament system, finishing behind Paweł Guz and Maciej Brzeski, each of whom had lost one game. Mind Sports Olympiad later corrected the tournament results, awarding gold medals to both Stanley Kozera and Maciej Brzeski.
- The address is www.boardgamearena.com.