The Chess Variant Pages




Unconventional Warfare Chess

(a submission to the 84 square contest)

Introduction

In the new millennium, knights jousting and bishops scheming will be substituted by a much more unstable, deadly and quick system of warfare. This chess variant tries to bring that to the playing board.

Objective of the Game

Capture the other player’s president and Joint Chiefs of Staff pieces.

Layout

The Escalation Protocols

The game begins at status: blue.

Note that these prohibitions can’t be willingly violated. The international community would strike down hard at any nation using strategic nukes in the beginning of a conflict, so it’s assumed that the nations will only take actions the international community won’t frown upon.

Status: blue

Use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is strictly forbidden. Terrorist attacks are forbidden. Capture of civilians is forbidden.

Invasion of territory (moving any non-civilian piece to the opposing half of the board) causes escalation to status: green.

Status: green

Prohibitions continue, except that terrorist attacks may occur. However, the death of any civilian causes the conflict to escalate to status: yellow.

Status: yellow

Biological weapons and chemical weapons may be employed at will. Tactical nuclear weapons may be employed against any target, except directly against the enemy president. The use of nuclear weapons however automatically triggers the escalation to status: red.

Status: red

All or nothing. All weapons and strategies are permitted.

Observation - the power of the International Propaganda piece is this: as long as you possess one, the escalation protocol governing attacks against you is considered to be one less severe. That means that, for instance, if the game has reached status yellow and your opponent has International Propaganda, you can’t use biological weapons against him, although you can still use terrorist attacks, as if the status were green.

Special actions

Unless stated otherwise, these can only be used with your own pieces.

Draft – this transforms a civilian in a soldier. This uses up the turn. This can be used any times per game. The soldier type must be chosen from the following list: marine, ranger or airborne.

Terrorist strike – this transforms a civilian in a terrorist and automatically allows an attack with the terrorist. This uses up the turn. This can be used any times per game. This is an act of terrorism, and as such requires status: green.

Suicide bomber – this kills a civilian and all other adjacent pieces, due to the use of a dirty nuclear suitcase bomb. This uses up the turn. This can be done once per game. This employs a nuclear device, something prohibited until status: yellow and causes escalation to status: red. You can also use this with a terrorist, instead of a civilian, as the bomb carrier.

Infiltrated terrorist – this transforms one of the opponent’s civilians in a terrorist belonging to you. This uses up the turn. This can be done once per game. This is an act of terrorism, possible only in status: green or worse.

Note: there are no promotion, no initial double movement, and no castling.

The pieces

Tactical Nuclear Weapon – A small-payload, 100-kiloton ballistic missile. Actually the definition of tactical nuclear weapons is tenuous. The Cold War joke was that a tactical nuclear weapon would be one dropped on Germany. The piece moves as a King (WF). Can only capture by launching itself. In this special capturing move named Nuclear Strike, all pieces in a target square (anywhere on the board) and all squares around it (the blast zone) are captured. The National Guard, the Strategic Nuclear Weapon and the President aren’t captured if they are in the blast zone, but they are captured if they are in the target square.

Chemical Weapon – Highly concentrated VX gas bomb. Symptoms of exposure are nausea, blindness and dying. The piece moves as a King (WF). Can only capture by launching itself. In this special capturing move named Chemical Strike, all pieces in a target square (anywhere on the board) and all squares around it are captured.  The National Guard, Special Forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other Chemical Weapons, Biological Weapons, both kinds of Nuclear Weapons and the President are immune to chemical strikes.

Biological Weapon – Highly concentrated Ebola spores, dispersed by explosion. Ebola can kill more than 90% of the infected, and spreads quickly by air, water, touch and even by stepping on it. The piece moves as a King (WF). Can only capture by launching itself. In this special capturing move named Bio Strike, a piece at a target square is infected, and so is the target square. An infected piece infects all pieces, friend or foe, adjacent to it, and all squares it moves to. An infected square infects all pieces that end their movement there. Whenever an infected piece captures, it is also captured. The National Guard is immune to infection.

International Propaganda – politicians and media saying how fair your cause is. The piece moves as a King (WF), and does not capture. It can however sacrifice itself to capture all terrorists, wherever they may be, belonging to the opponent. Its other power was described in “The Escalation Protocols” section.

Strategic Nuke – a large, 10-megaton hydrogen ICBM. Also named ‘the weapon to end all wars’. It moves as a King (WF). Its silo can resist but a direct impact with a nuclear weapon. It can only capture by launching itself. In this special capturing move named Nuclear Strike, all pieces in a target square (anywhere on the board) and in a two square radius (the blast zone) are captured. The National Guard, the Strategic Nuclear Weapon and the President aren’t captured if they are in the blast zone, but they are captured if they are in the target square. Plus, the target square is removed from the board. That is, no piece can move over it or through it.

The President – elected in fraudulent elections, and autocratic commander of the military operations. It moves and captures as a King (WF).

Hacker – a computer nerd able to hack into moving missiles. It moves as a King (WF) but cannot capture. It can sacrifice itself to capture an unguarded Chemical, Biological or Nuclear weapon. Such weapons are considered unguarded if they are not adjacent to a friendly piece threatening its square with normal capture (for example, the President, the National Guard or Terrorists are capable of guarding; a tactical nuke isn’t). Lastly, no such NBC weapons can strike targeting the hacker’s square or one adjacent to the hacker.

Join Chiefs of Staff – an assorted selection of politicians, generals and bureaucrats capable of running the nation should the President become ‘unavailable’. The piece moves and captures as a King (WF).

The National Guard – armed men prepared for emergencies. The piece moves and captures as a King (WF).

Special Forces – very well trained soldiers. The piece moves as King plus Alfil plus Dabbabah. It can also burrow. Burrowing spends the turn. A burrowed SF is removed from the board. Later, spending a turn, the SF can be dropped in any empty square in its owner’s half of the board, as long as the square is of the same color as the one SF was on when it burrowed.

Aircraft Carrier – the white elephant of modern warfare. Big and expensive, with questionable utility in a war the enemy has bombers of his own. Limited to the sea (color bound). It moves as a ferz (F), but it captures as a rifle Knight plus Alfil plus Dabbabah (rNrArD), “rifle” meaning that it does not move to the captured piece’s square.

Civilians – also known as ‘collateral damage’. Nice people who just want to get on with their lives. Moves as Wazir (W), but does not capture. It can however become angry. If a friendly civilian is captured in a square adjacent to it, its owner may choose to automatically transform it in a terrorist. This does not count as a move.

Terrorist – poorly trained angry civilian. Moves as a king (WF) but captures as a ferz plus an alfil (FA).

Marine – heavy color bound infantry. Moves and captures as a Ferz plus Dabbabah plus Alfil (FAD).

Ranger – color-switching infantry. Moves and captures as Wazir plus Knight (WN). Rangers can’t be captured by terrorists. Rangers can enter enemy territory and capture civilians without triggering escalation of the conflict.

Airborne – dropping infantry. Moves and captures as a King (FW). It can be dropped on any unthreatened empty square of the enemy territory.

FAQ

Q: Has this been playtested?

A: No.

Q: Is a civilian considered threatening its diagonally adjacent squares? It can after all make a terrorist attack immediately.

A: No, it’s not threatening any square. To threaten a square, the unit, in its present state, must be able to capture in the following move a piece in that square, without having to use a special move of any sort. This means that NBC weapons, hackers, civilians and international propaganda are incapable of threatening squares.

Q: What does NBC mean?

A: Nuclear, biological and chemical. The abbreviation is used to avoid repeating the name of the four pieces all the time.

Q: How is the notation for this chess variant?

A: Beats me. Too many pieces and special moves. It’d be hell to notate.

Q: What are Ferz, Wazir etc?

A: A common way of defining movements of chess pieces by its fundamental elements. Check other variants for definitions.

Q: Too many draws!

A: Yes, most pieces are too slow to chase down JCS or the President if there are few pieces left. Special moves can compensate for this, but then again modern warfare usually has no winners.

Q: White always wins!

A: Well… remember that the first to cause escalation is vulnerable to the new status. For example, theoretically White can use a tactical nuke first. But this will allow Black to retaliate with a strategic nuke.

Q: Why sometimes you say ‘nuclear weapon’, sometimes you say ‘nuke’?

A: Same difference, but nuke is shorter.

Q: Are your political views expressed in any way in this game?

A: Not really.

- by Luiz Carlos Campos


Written by Luiz Carlos Campos.
WWW page created: November 21, 2002.