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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Gary Gifford.

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Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-09-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This is one of my favorite variants on the site!  Very well done.  I like the concept of the river as a barrier, but you didn't stop with that as a gimmick.  You also made the piece types work with the river!  There is an archer to shoot over the water, the ram could be too powerful but the river hampers it's deployment, and a catapult to toss pieces....great job.

Now, there are a few things I would do different (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I may design a derivative) but there is only one thing I think is not designed very well.

Why do you have 5 ranks on each half of the board?  Xiang Qi also has 5, but the pawns start on the fourth rank.  Catapults of Troy's pawns start on the second rank, and don't have an initial double (or triple) step.  I would venture to say this makes pawn development very very slow.  

Which would be fine, except I see absolutely no benefit from it.  The river already has a huge damper on pawn development/attacks, so even if you wanted to limit pawn interaction in the game it's already redundant.  Not to mention, slowing the game (particularly the opening) down for no actual change doesn't seem like a good idea.
It slows down getting the bridge builder into position, it slows down getting the Trojan Horse into the also makes developing the bishops really awkward....Honestly, it makes everything except the catapult sadly out of position.  I'm afraid the opening of Catapults of Troy would devolve into catapulting most of your pieces close to the river just to save 30 turns of development.
Frankly, I think there is so much empty space eliminating only one rank from each side would still play almost the same.  Slightly shorter opening, sure, but nothing else. 
Again, all this would be OK, except I see no benefit at all.  Just an unnecessarily stretched opening.

Am I missing something?  Please inform me, if so.
(Maybe you like a long opening!  That's OK.)

I would allow pawn double step and eliminate one rank per side, personally.  I think that would speed up the opening tremendously and lose nothing--maybe lower the importance of the Catapult a little bit, but at the moment Catapults look too central to moving pieces.

All that being said, this is STILL an excellent game.   I can handle an unnecessarily long opening, so long as the rest of it is great!  One of the best on the website!

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