The Chess Variant Pages




Mini Thunder Chess

by Fergus Duniho

Introduction

Mini Thunder Chess, which was created by Fergus Duniho in 2001, is a is a small-scale version of Thunder Chess, which is a hybrid of Metamorph Chess, Fusion Chess, and Assimilation Chess, all previously created by Fergus Duniho. Besides the combining, splitting, and changing of pieces found in these three games, the hybridization of these three games also makes the production of new pieces possible. On the smaller board of Mini Thunder Chess, it becomes harder to avoid the sudden changes that give Thunder Chess its character.

Setup

White
King (K): d1
Queen (Q): c1
Paladin (A): b1, e1
Rook (R): a1, f1
Pawn (P): a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2
Black
King (k): d7
Queen (q): c7
Paladin (a): b7, e7
Rook (r): a7, f7
Pawn (p): a6, b6, c6, d6, e6, f6
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
7  | r |:a:| q |:k:| a |:r:|  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
6  |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
5  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
4  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
3  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
2  |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:| P |  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
1  | R |:A:| Q |:K:| A |:R:|  
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+  
     a   b   c   d   e   f    

Pieces


King
The King moves one space in any direction, but may not move into check. The King is one of four possible royal pieces which a player may have. A King may merge with a Bishop to form a Pope, with a Rook to form a Dragon King, or with a Knight to form an Eques Rex. If any one of these pieces gets checkmated, you lose. In Mini Thunder Chess, the King does not get to castle.

Pope
The Pope moves as a King or Bishop, but may not move into check. The Pope is a royal piece and is formed when a King merges with a neighboring Bishop. When the Pope is on the board, it is the player's only royal piece, and the game is lost if it is checkmated. The Pope may split into its components by making a non-capturing move with one of them.

Dragon King
The Dragon King moves as a King or Rook, but may not move into check. The Dragon King is a royal piece and is formed when a King merges with a neighboring Rook. When the Dragon King is on the board, it is the player's only royal piece, and the game is lost if it is checkmated. The Dragon King may split into its components by making a non-capturing move with one of them. The name for this piece is borrowed from Shogi.

Eques Rex
The Eques Rex moves as a King or Knight, but may not move into check. The Eques Rex is a royal piece and is formed when a King merges with a neighboring Knight. When the Eques Rex is on the board, it is the player's only royal piece, and the game is lost if it is checkmated. The Eques Rex may split into its components by making a non-capturing move with one of them. The name is Latin for Cavalier King.

Knight
The Knight moves as the Knight in Chess, jumping in an L shape, two spaces forward and one to the side. A Knight may merge with a Rook to form a Marshall or with a Bishop to form a Paladin.

Rook
The Rook moves as the Rook in Chess, any number of spaces orthogonally. A Rook may merge with a Knight to form a Marshall or with a Bishop to form a Queen. There is no castling.

Bishop
The Bishop moves as the Bishop in Chess, any number of spaces diagonally. A Bishop may merge with a Knight to form a Paladin or with a Rook to form a Queen.

Queen
The Queen moves as the Queen in Chess, any number of spaces in any single direction. The Queen is a combination of Rook and Bishop. It may separate into its components by moving one of them to an empty space.

Marshall
The Marshall moves as a Rook or Knight. The Marshall is a combination of Rook and Knight, and it may separate into its components by moving one of them to an empty space.

Paladin
The Paladin moves as a Bishop or Knight. The Paladin is a combination of Bishop and Knight, and it may separate into its components by moving one of them to an empty space.

Pawn
The Pawn moves as the Pawn in Chess, except that it gets no double move and may not capture by en passant. Upon reaching the last rank, a Pawn may promote to a Rook, Bishop, or Knight. It may not promote to a Queen, Marshall, or Paladin.

Short Rules

Mini Thunder Chess plays by all the rules of Thunder Chess with the additional rule that Pawns get no double move and may not capture by en passant.

Detailed Rules

Mini Thunder Chess is played like FIDE Chess with the following exceptions:

  1. When a simple non-royal piece (Knight, Rook, or Bishop) is attacked, it may promote to a compound piece by moving to an empty square.
    1. Knights promote to Queens [B+R].
    2. Bishops promote to Paladins [B+N].
    3. Rooks promote to Marshalls [R+N].
  2. When a non-royal compound piece (Queen, Marshall, Paladin) captures a piece, it demotes to the simple piece it just moved as.
    1. If it captured by moving diagonally, it demotes to a Bishop.
    2. If it captured by moving orthogonally, it demotes to a Rook.
    3. If it captured by jumping as a Knight, it demotes to a Knight.
  3. When a royal compound piece (Pope [K+B], Dragon King [K+R], or Eques Rex [K+N]) captures a piece, it demotes to a King.
  4. A simple piece (King, Knight, Bishop, or Rook) may combine with another non-royal simple piece of either side by moving onto its square.
    1. The combined piece is the compound piece that moves as either of the two pieces just combined.
      1. King + Bishop = Pope
      2. King + Rook = Dragon King
      3. King + Knight = Eques Rex
      4. Bishop + Rook = Queen
      5. Bishop + Knight = Paladin
      6. Rook + Knight = Marshall
    2. The new piece belongs to the player who made the move.
    3. A piece may not combine with another piece of the same type.
      1. Knight + Knight = Rook + Rook = Bishop + Bishop = Illegal.
    4. A non-royal piece may not move to combine with a King, but a King may move to combine with a non-royal piece.
    5. Compound pieces may not combine with other pieces.
  5. A compound piece may split into its components by moving one of its components to an empty square.
    1. A Rook which separates from a piece must move away as a Rook moves.
    2. A Bishop which separates from a piece must move away as a Bishop moves.
    3. A Knight which separates from a piece must move away as a Knight moves.
    4. A King which separates from a piece must move away as a King moves.
    5. The compound piece is replaced by the component which doesn't move away.
  6. There is no castling.
  7. Pawns may promote to Rook, Bishop, or Knight, and not to any other piece.
  8. Pawns may not make a double move and may not capture by en passant.
  9. The object is to checkmate your opponent's current royal piece, which may be a King, Pope, Dragon King, or Eques Rex.

Playing Tips

As in Shogi and related games, it is possible for a player to regain lost material and make a comeback. But it happens differently in this game than it does in Shogi. Instead of replenishing your forces by seizing enemy pieces that you can later drop, you can replenish your forces through reproduction and assimilation. Assimilation is similar to what happens in Shogi, except that it merely promotes the capturing piece, and it is not always available as an option. The most important way to replenish your forces is reproduction. This happens through a combination of promotion and fission. A piece can promote either through assimilation or metamorphosis. The promoted piece cannot promote any further, but it can split into its components, and these can promote. Through the repeated process of promotion and fission, players can continually introduce new pieces into the game.

Although reproduction is a good reason to keep splitting your compound pieces into simple pieces, immunity from assimilation is a good reason to keep compound pieces as they are and to combine your simple pieces. Compound pieces are immune from assimilation.

You can use the ability to promote as an additional threat. You can sometimes win a promotion by forcing the enemy King to attack a piece of yours that is protected.

Forcing your opponent to capture with a compound piece will reduce your opponent's overall material.

Although material advantage is less permanent, and so less important, in this game than in Chess, it becomes more important when overall material has thinned out. Generally avoid exchanges when you are behind in material, and press for exchanges when you are ahead in material.

Computer Play

If you have Zillions of Games, you may play Mini Thunder Chess against your computer. The picture on your left is from the Zillions of Games implementation of Thunder Chess. The board is made from computer generated textures. It combines elements of the boards from Fusion Chess, Assimilation Chess, and Metamorph Chess.


Download minithunder.zip

You may also play Mini Thunder Chess by email, using this site's Play-by-Mail server.

Equipment

A 6x7 Chess board, all the regular Chess pieces, and other pieces for Marshalls, Paladins, Popes, Dragon Kings, and Eques Rexi. Visit the Crafts section for suggestions.

Alternately, the game can be played entirely with regular Chess pieces, with pairs of simple pieces used for compound pieces. Doing it this way will make the combination and division of pieces much easier to handle, and it doesn't require anything but the regular equipment. Use Rook/Bishop pairs in place of the Queen.

It should be easy to make a board by cutting up a cheap paper or cardboard board that comes with a cheap Chess set.

Notation

Use algebraic notation as you would for Chess. Use these abbreviations for the additional pieces: P or A for Paladin; M for Marshall; KB for Pope; D, DK or KR for Dragon King; and E, ER or KN for Eques Rex. Denote Pawn moves without the use of any letter to identify it. When a piece merges with another piece, promotes to another piece, or demotes to another piece, follow the move with = and the abbreviation for the new piece. For example, R a4 - d4 = M indicates that a Rook moved from a4 to d4 and became a Marshall. The context of the game will indicate whether the move was fusion, assimilation, demotion, or promotion. When a piece separates from a compound piece, identify the move as belonging to the piece which moves away. Follow its move with a semicolon and identify what piece is left behind. For example, R a4 - d4; a4 = N indicates that a Rook moved to d4, separated from a Marshall at a4, and left a Knight behind at a4.


Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: November 20, 2001. Last Modified: November 21, 2001.