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Game Reviews by Johnny Luken

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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-09-13
 By Michael  Nelson. Pocket Mutation Chess. Take one of your pieces off the board, maybe change it, keep it in reserve, and drop it on the board later. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTCAverage ★★★
I would have to extend my criticism of Crazyhouse to this game, and echo Mr Dukes sentiments.

While I like the concept, I don't think its an actually good game.

My proposed amendment of the drop in rule (pieces are played in with non capture from the spot they were captured) likely brings an improvement here as well.

Non immediate promotion is also unsatisfactory; why not allow pieces to promote immediately on rotationally symmetric opposite squares?

To me these are the most logical ways of importing Shogis mechanics into the more energetic game of FIDE.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-03-21
 Author: Fergus  Duniho. Crazyhouse. A two-player version of Bughouse. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTCPoor ★
A classic example of a game whose popularity exceeds its actual quality.

The addition of conversion to chess is a worthwhile pursuit, but the brainless mechanic of dropping a piece wherever you want, is the least imaginitive possible implementation.

More specifically the freedom to drop pieces produces a higher level of convergence in the game tree versus more restricted implementations, reducing strategic connotations of moves. Piece drops in Crazyhouse are always done on primitive grounds, check blocks, pawn promotion threat etc.

That it merely borrows this from Shogi is not a defense; those games are 1) somewhat aged, 2) purposely designed towards such a mechanic.

Were Chess capture performed by nonreplacement, pieces could simply be converted immediately and this would likely work well.

As it is, I believe there are two main implementations.

1. allow pieces of like colour to occupy common space with immediate conversion. This is not satisfactory as it simply allows the second player in a trade cycle to gain all the pieces.

2. my proposition. Captured piece is immediately converted, continues to occupy its cell and can be played on as usual. However it may not be captured at this point, and may not capture on its first move after conversion. 

On playtesting this idea, I further propose that converted piece must wait one turn before being played into a game-this avoids attritional cycles with little change to the board.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2009-01-04
 By John  Smith. Euqorab. Anti-Baroque. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-02-20 UTCGood ★★★★
Nice concept and homage to the original.

The "wrong reaper" is clever and not something I had thought of.

One thing maybe missing from the set is to change to the king from anti king chess that can't be captured, but requires constant enemy threat.

As mentioned the widow is essentially an immobiliser and the "independent" is overpowered, though the presence of the anti king would makes it a more acceptable piece.

Also in the spirit of the game would be to have a "mobiliser" type that for example allows double move to adjacent friendlies.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2013-03-25
 Author: Edward  Jackman and Fergus  Duniho. Inventor: Vernon Rylands Parton. Alice Chess. Classic Variant where pieces switch between two boards whenever they move. (8x8x2, Cells: 128) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2012-10-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A pretty playable subvariant would be with both boards full, and ordinary moves, starting and ending on the same board, by necessity, legal.

You could even adapt the mechanic for higher dimensional games, with layers of boards, with the rule that for a piece to move legally from one board to another, the move would have to be legal on all intermediate boards aswell...

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-11-05
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Robert  Abbott. Ultima. Game where each type of piece has a different capturing ability. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JohnnyLuken wrote on 2012-05-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Fascinating concept, the idea of pieces of homogenous movement
differentiated only by their capture method.

Perhaps not strictly a chess variant, but a unique subgenre in its own
right, & one that I feel deserves more popularity.

As for the game itself, there are some strange imbalances which I find
surprising; why allocate 2 slots for the powerful long leaper but give
pride of place next to the king to the feeble withdrawer as an standalone
piece? This is the kind of imbalance one sees in older prechess variants
but would not expect in a newer variant...

Another issue is the overly defensive nature of the game, with current
setup. Having 2 chameleons with no mutual attack method tends to stagnate
and cluster gameplay in my experience.

Also an issue is the increasing irrelevance of the pawns in endgames. They
of course have no promotion ability, which is not feasible for such mobile
pieces, and offer minimal threat to the FIDE king, due to its residual
ability to capture adjacent pieces.

I propose the following alterations;

1. Replace king movement with that of a knight. This adds variation to the
dynamic of the game and allows the pawns to present a threat to the king,
as they can now be positioned adjacent to it without fear of capture. This
also increases their relevance in endgames.

2. Replace the spare long leaper and chameleon with 2 pieces of offensive
type; advancer/displacer(orthodox FIDE queen)/queen moving cannon etc.

3. Allow the chameleon to capture king and pawns in the manner of their own
capture, but without being restricted to their movement types. This, along
with the inclusion of new powerful offensive pieces, which the chameleon
the acts as a counterbalance to, makes it a much more important standalone
piece, and serves as an important leveller against the power inequity of
different piece types.

4. (optional) Allow the withdrawer to capture from 2 spaces of distance
(this might make it a little difficult to counterract in opening play, but
a far more respectable piece overall) OR merge the withdrawer and advancer,
freeing up another piece slot.

These alterations would, in my opinion, add a much more open, fluid,
balanced, dynamic, and varied mechanic to an already excellent concept...

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