Duggan's Fantasy Chess (revised)
by Sean Duggan
The original Duggan's Fantasy Chess was
devised somewhere back in the early 1990's. For some reason, I got it
in my mind to create a variant of Chess based upon fantasy figures. I
seem to remember that my main inspiration was a cartoon in
DragonMirth, a page in the then-popular Dragon magazine. It showed a
cavalier and a barbarian sitting at a chess board where every piece
was toppled but for one Pawn. The cavalier is yelling, "There is no
such thing as a Berserker Pawn!" And so I had to create something
where the Pawns could berserk. I submitted my rules to Fergus over
Usenet and the variant entered history. Over a decade later, I decided
to implement it in Zillions of Games and realized how bad the game
was. There were several initial moves that guaranteed checkmate unless
the opponent made specific precautions in moving their pieces. In
addition, a few of the pieces got updated moves that increased or
decreased their power. And so, now that I feel that the game runs
fairly decently, I am submitting an updated version. *wry grin*
Ironically, the very inspiration, berserking, never made it back in,
although that was partly due to some engine constraints.
Board and Setup
Same as FIDE chess. 8x8 board of alternating squares.
Pieces and Piece Movement
Golem (Rook) A lumbering hulk of stone that crushes those in
his path regardless of their side, The Golem is a special case in more
than one manner. For one, he is extremely hard to kill, being only
able to be killed by the move of a Mercenary, a Commander, or an
Adept. Secondly, he may kill multiple pieces in one move. Lastly, he
can kill pieces of his own side. The Golem has 8 possible moves, 4
diagonal ones and 4 horizontal or vertical ones. He may move 2 spaces
diagonally or 3 spaces horizontally or vertically. Capturing follows
the rule that the Golem may only move to a space if there are either
no pieces in the way or if there is a piece on the space where he
lands. In the latter case, he takes all pieces in his path, friendly
or not. The Golem cannot put his own Adept in check, but he may not
make a move that would capture his Adept in the process. He can, of
course, check the other side's Adept. Golems may not capture other
Mercenary (Pawn) A Mercenary is fairly analogous to a Pawn. He
has one non-capturing move and three potentially capturing moves. For
his move, a Mercenary can move one step forward as long as no piece is
occupying that space, two steps if he is still on the 2nd rank of his
side. If the Mercenary is being threatened by any piece that could
capture him next turn, including one of his own (Golem), he may
instead take one step to his left, to his right, or forward, capturing
in the process. This move may capture the Golem piece. If a Mercenary
lands on the final rank, he is promoted to an Archer, a Bishop, or a
Archer (Knight) The Archer has a fairly unusual form of
movement, but a fairly simple one. The archer moves by going n spaces
in one direction horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, then n spaces
perpendicular to the first direction. He may not jump over any
pieces. He may capture any enemy piece at the ending square of his
move. It might be noted that the Archer never leaves the color he
Bishop (Bishop) The Bishop acts in all ways like his FIDE
counterpart, moving any number of squares diagonally on his move,
capturing at its end. It, like the Archer, is color-bound.
Commander (Pawn with a counter beneath it) This is the promoted
version of a Mercenary. A Commander may move one space horizontally or
vertically, capturing in the process is there is an enemy piece on the
square. If a Commander reaches the first rank, he may promote to an
Archer, Assassin, Golem, or Bishop. Alternately, he may choose not to
promote at all. A Commander retains the Mercenary's ability to kill
Assassin (Queen) The Assassin is a rather deadly teleporting
foe. For her move, she may either teleport to an unoccupied square or
make a capturing move. Her capturing move is similar to that of a King
in FIDE chess, one square horizontally, vertically, or
diagonally. This piece is extraordinarily powerful in its ability to
attack undefended pieces and the players may wish to play with one of
the alternate variants which reduce the Assassin's power.
Adept (King) This is the piece which decides the game. If the
Adept is captured, the game is over. The Adept moves like the FIDE
king, one step in any direction, capturing any pieces occupying that
square. The Adept may kill enemy Golems.
Basically the same as FIDE Chess. Players take turns moving one piece
at a time, trying to checkmate the opponent's king. There is no
castling or en passant.
Cornered Assassin - Teleporting takes a presence of
mind unavailable when under the threat of imminent death. The Assassin
may not make her teleporting move if she is threatened by an enemy
piece. Capturing moves are unaffected.
Cowardly Assassin - The Assassin is insecure and needs
affirmation. She may only teleport to a square defended by a friendly
piece. This includes her own Golems but not those of the enemy.
Game Tips and Strategy
Wry grin. Still trying to figure these out. However, while
playing the computer, I've found a few things that may help.
Assassins are extremely valuable pieces, even in their variant
forms. An Assassin can almost instantly capitalize on any undefended
piece within a move or so. However, she can only strike undefended
targets with impunity, so be careful.
Golems are powerful pieces, able to strike directly through lines of
defense and safe from reprisal by many of the pieces. This, however,
is balanced out by their inability to attack unless their ending
square is occupied. They make ideal blocking pieces, as few pieces can
Mercenary promotion doesn't seem to happen very often. Commander
promotion even more seldom. Generally, they're only used to seal
Mercenaries of the same color that are side-by-side protect each
Archers cover a fairly wide field of possible squares, but can be
easily blocked. On the other hand, their roundabout movement is often
overlooked by human opponents.
Beware of checkmates by a Golem in early stages of your game. An Adept
surrounded by defenders cannot move out of the way and interposed
pieces won't stop the Golem.
Endgames can take forever in this game. Most pieces have a fairly
limited threat range, with only the Bishop having a long-distance
Caution is rewarded in the early moves. A small mistake can often be
easily capitalized upon using the Golem or Assassin.
The game is still not at the level of Chess, but it's playable.
There is a Zillions rules implementation of the game. (See
Web Page by Sean Duggan.
WWW page created: March 8th, 2004.