In January, I played with a bunch of games starting with an empty board, but realized there was a simple symmetry strategy for the second player. We brainstormed some potential starting boards to fix things, but more complicated symmetry strategies arose.
After returning to Wittenberg, Noam Elkies and I corresponded, finally working out the current starting board. All the flaws we'd seen were fixed.
My plan was to bring the game to Integers to play with people. Beforehand, I tested it out on my WittSem class, and it proved challenging. My student Patrick also took interest and showed a pseudo-symmetry strategy I was afraid of could be broken! Awesome! (I still don't recall how he does it!)
Next week, I will be in Seattle for Supercomputing for most of the week, so there may not be regular posts.