For me to say that a game is for the birds when I really think it's the bees' knees, why this is like flipping fate the bird!
This is the revised version of this game (see Revisions below).
This is a fairly good example sequence of flying moves, and in fact you'll see in the next section that the Black Ra1 would threaten to kill either b1 or c1, for free, and therefore gets a big advantage.
The one chance is only useful if the doomed piece is itself a pecker, for it can peck after being pecked. For example, after 1. a1-a6, pecking it to death by 1... a8:a6 allows 2. a6:a8 in response.
Technically, pecking is very closely related to "Rifle" capture, and the final peck by a pecked piece is closely related to the concept of "return fire" in my old game of Autorifle Chess.
Pecking counts as a move, and a Rook-equivalent piece that has pecked may no longer castle.
In the example above, 1. a1-a4? a8-a1!, the threat is either a1:b1 and the Dodo at b1 has nothing to peck, or a1:c1 and the Flamingo at c1 likewise is killed without a counterpeck -- and therefore the example shows that this peck/counterpeck type of capture is especially powerful when the pecker and the peckee have different powers, even though pecking is devalued when the two parties have equivalent powers (for example, 1. Crane a1-a6? Crane a8:a6? 2. Crane a6:a8 is a legal opening sequence that shows devaluation).
While these Queens are equivalent to the Chancellor and usual Queen respectively, unlike those two pieces, these flying pieces are probably not of equivalent strength with each other -- the Flaming Crane flys in more directions, and thus benefits more.
Nestlings and Fledglings capture by moving onto a square and being so cute and lovable that the enemy piece is forced to retire from the game. Kiwis and Road Runner peck like other pieces.
The F part of the Fibnif would make an immediate capture, but with the disadvantage of occupying the square where the capture took place; the fbN part of the Fibnif would stand still and peck the victim, but with the disadvantage that the victim survives one turn and can perhaps peck in reply.
If 1 e4 e5 2 fbNF g1-f3 and there is no way to defend e5; but of course Dodo g8-f6 evens up the game by killing e4. Therefore the Dodo and the avian Fibnif may be of equal value.
Now what about the Half-Duck (HFD)? I think the F is a roll/squash move and the HD are both fly/peck moves.
Pecking is a powerful form of capture, but its range is short; meanwhile the pieces have avian mobility so that "closed games" formed by Pawn chains do not have their usual meaning.
I think you will like playing this game.
In the games by the original rules, there were two problems. One was that the counterpeck made it too difficult to defend the Roc's Egg. The other was that the Nestlings were so weak they almost irrelevant, serving only to trap their own Roc's Egg. The game was also too quick, less than twenty moves.
Two different approaches to resolving the issue with the counterpeck were tried. The first idea was to add two Gardeners (WFcD) to the array between the Dodos and the Flamingos. This added a good defensive component, but was unaesthetic because it changed the board to 10 x 8. The other was to weaken the counterpeck so that it could not capture the Roc's Egg. This made a big difference. Formerly, if a piece could be gotten in range of the Roc's Egg, and he could not move away, the game was over. Now it was necessary to take the time and thought to clear away the defenders.
The Nestling issue was addressed by upgrading them to Fledglings. A Fledgling captured like a Nestling, but can move fR. It must stop on the seventh rank, and promote by a single step to the eighth rank. This made promotion a real threat, and it became necessary to carefully consider the effect of opening files.
These changes were tried in different combinations to see how they worked. The weakened counterpeck seemed like a solution, but even Fledglings were still too vulnerable. For instance, a "pawn fork" that could be answered by pecking the pawn was useless. Therefore, we tried allowing an fF peck for both Nestlings and Fledglings. This restored the necessity to beware of pawn forks, especially since the Fledglings ranging forward move meant they could occur anywhere on the board.
Now, with pecking Fledglings (Roadrunners), promotion was likely, so it was weakened to only pieces that had been captured. As a last refinement, it seemed the Flaming-Crane's long swoops across the board on both Bishop lines and Rook lines created too many forking opportunities, so the Flaming Cranes were replaced by Crandodos, which were more vulnerable and slowed things down slightly.
So, their recommendations for improvement, now included in the rules, were:
and less strongly:
The Gardeners also worked well with the weakened desperado peck, and are included in the ZRF as a variant.