I joined the 19x19 ladder four months ago, and in this relatively short time have developed a full-grown and exclusive addiction to it. I wanted to share the reasons why, because seems to me more players should join it, and many of those who have joined could enjoy it more. Disclaimer : this is the viewpoint of a DDK, playing against DDK. Not sure if it is shared by stronger players, but curious to know.
The time settings of the game fit me perfectly. Games last generally about a month, which is the time it takes for me to enjoy them, munching over variations, etc. In real time games, I just don’t have the time to realize what happens. Too slow brain.
The number of games in which you can be engaged at the same time (maximum six) is perfect.
Finding one’s way up the ladder is a game by itself, akin to mountaineering. You have to figure an optimal path upwards, monitoring whom you could challenge next. The first steps are quite easy, but the higher you get, the more challenging it becomes. You know that at some point it will be almost impossible to get further up, and you’ll have to fight not to fall down.
Most important maybe, you soon find a small world of friends whom you have challenged or who challenged you, with whom you maintain a permanent and friendly emulation, jumping ahead of each other, commenting each other’s games and results etc. Most (all) players I’ve played in ladder games were friendly, fair play, seriously engaged, and enjoyed both the game and conversation along the games.
In a nutshell, I would say the ladder so far gives me the impression of gathering a kind of aristocracy (in the good original sense of the term) of players (independently of their ranking).
But maybe I was just lucky so far.