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Roberto Lavieri wrote on Fri, Jun 17, 2005 06:33 PM UTC:
Gary, you are right,the game play feeling is a mix between Maxima and Chinese Chess, although there are not many elements of Xiang-Qi in the game, and only a few from Maxima. Xiang-Qi feeling is based on the positional concepts, the Cannon, the Jumper (a kind of 'Short-Cannon'), and the interaction Cannon-Jumper-Rook makes a close idea to many situations in Xiaang-Qi, regardless the six directions. The Maxima feeling is due, basically, to the Palaces and rules of the game. I have played now at least ten test games against Zillions, and now I think that the game play and feeling of this game has its own characteristics. The game is very strategic, much more than I thought at first, and the rythm can change a lot and many times through the game. Archer can be controled using well the Shielded-Guards, and Immobilizer can be controled using well the Cannon, Jumper, Rook and Pawns, so a good strategy is necessary. The tactics are complex and, sometimes, charged with a rare beauty. Toccata is a correct name for this game, by many of the reasons explained. At first view for a novice which has not played the game, it may look intimidating, fast and somewhat unclear, but it far from being the case, the game is much more clear than other games in its style, and rythm is complex, fast in some moments, very slow in others. The average numberf of moves to finish a good game seems to be around 40-50 moves. The ends are usually incredible, plenty of tension. Draws seem to be less probable than in Maxima. King and any other piece always win against a solitaire King, although in some cases it is not easy. Immobilizer is a powerful piece, equivalent to two major pieces in many instances (By example, Long-Leaper+ Rook), but if one player loses its Immobilizer, the best strategy is mantaining the active major pieces relatively far from each other but trying to control potential enemy attacks, it can preserve the attack possibilities due the six directions and topology of the board, and limit the possibilities of the Immobilizer, but it is not a good idea losing the Immobilizer in the first stages of the game. Cannons and Jumpers can be very powerful pieces in closed structures and in some particular positions against the King. Archers, Rooks and Long-Leapers are particularily dangerous in open structures. Shielded-Guards are pieces of intermediate value, but they may be important for changing the Pawn structure of the enemy and to control some pieces.¨Pawn defensive power is high and difficult to atenuate by simplistic tactics, so a good attack strategy must be planned step by step; fast and not well calculated attacks are almost always controled, regardless the apparent power of some pieces. I´ll wait a Preset for this game, I am anxious to test it in a human-human game.

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