The Chess Variant Pages

Thunder Chess

by Fergus Duniho

Thunder Chess is a hybrid of Metamorph Chess, Fusion Chess, and Assimilation Chess. As in Metamorph Chess, simple pieces promote to compound pieces, and compound pieces demote to simple pieces. As in Fusion Chess, players can combine their simple pieces into compound pieces. As in Assimilation Chess, simple pieces assimilate other simple pieces when they capture them. And, as in both Fusion Chess and Assimilation Chess, compound pieces can split into their component simple pieces.

The name Thunder Chess is more poetic than descriptive. I drew the name from the I Ching, where thunder represents movement and perilousness. The longer descriptive name would be Metamorphin' Fusion Assimilation Chess. But Thunder Chess is more than the sum of its parts. As a whole, it has a character that is different than Metamorph Chess, Fusion Chess, or Assimilation Chess. Its character is something like Shogi or Chessgi, except that it accomplishes it without drops. Like these games, Thunder Chess is dynamic, tense, and touch and go. Players can regularly replenish their forces through reproduction and assimilation. Exchanges can lead to sudden turnabouts in who has the most material, and being ahead in material doesn't assure a win nearly as much as it would in Chess. The player who is behind in material could regain material and still win the game.

Equipment

A regular 8x8 Chess board, all the regular Chess pieces, and other pieces for Marshalls, Paladins, Popes, Dragon Kings, and Eques Rexi.

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. At startup, replace the Queen with a Rook/Bishop pair. You'll need an extra Chess set for the extra Rook and Bishop.

Setup

The initial setup for Thunder Chess is exactly the same as for regular Chess. So there is no need for a diagram.

Rules

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

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.

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.

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. It moves forward one space, but is allowed a double move on its first move. A Pawn captures by moving one space diagonally forward. If a Pawn makes a double move to a space alongside an enemy Pawn on its fifth rank, the enemy Pawn may capture it 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.

Notation

Use algebraic notation as you would for Chess. Use P to denote Paladin and M to denote Marshall. 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.

Play on Your Computer

If you have Zillions of Games, you may play Thunder Chess on 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 thunderchess.zip



Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: April 9, 2001. Last Modified: April 9, 2001.