(Who ate all the pies?)
In the International General Game Playing Championship 2014, it struck me that many of the games that were played had significant bias for one player (usually, but not always, the first). In an attempt to compensate, many games were played both ways round, often with the predictable outcome. This was unfortunate because it increased the amount of time required to play games, reduced the excitement (by having predictable outcomes) and effectively reduced the best-of-3 rounds to a best-of-one (two matches of a game with a predictable outcome and then the decider - usually a game where the bias is unknown because it isn't played on Tiltyard and therefore statistics aren't available).
Whilst reading up on various abstract strategy games, I was introduced to the concept of the Pie rule. Based on the traditional method for children to divide a cake ("you cut, I'll choose"), it aims to balance two player games by giving the second player the opportunity to swap places with the first player after the first move. This way, the first player has an incentive to play the most balanced initial play the he possibly can. (If he makes an opening move that is too strong, the second player will swap with him and get the strong position. If he plays an opening move that is too weak, the second player will leave him with it.)
In the last few days, I have created Pie-rule variants of 9-board Tic-Tac-Toe and Hex. (I've also created a visualization for regular Hex so that it can be played on Tiltyard.) It's early days yet, but I notice that the pie rule seems to be doing the trick for 9BTTT. In the first 16 matches played on the Tiltyard, 9 went with the first player and 7 with the second. Whilst it's still a small sample size, that's looking substantially more balanced than the regular version.
So, for the GDL authors out there (by which I suppose I mean Alex!), consider the Pie rule for creating balance in your game.
For everybody else, what games would you like to see a Pie rule variant of? Whilst I'm certainly not making any promises, if you post in the comments, I'll consider doing them.