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Catapults of Troy. Large variant with a river, catapults, archers, and trojan horses! (8x11, Cells: 88) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-10-24 UTC

I had checked older games and I can see them. Maybe a specific one is broken. I see at least a working dozen :)!

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-10-24 UTC

To my understanding archers are meaningless inside the trojan horse besides the fact that they can be dropped :)!

Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-10-21 UTC

I now have a rule question.  All this time, I've been thinking archers could shoot out while inside the Trojan Horse, whether they had crossed the river or not.  I have now noticed this is never stated or denied in the rules, or clarified in the comments.  (Unless I mised it.)  I can't view past games to see if it came up, so can I get clarification?

Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-10-19 UTC

I am in the middle of my first game of CoT, and it is quite good.  :-)

However, I am trying to view old games (maybe looking for an edge on my opponent....) and I only see two finished games in the logs, and it will not let me veiw them at all.  It just gives the error message:

Error: The logfile at ../pbmlogs/catapults+of+troy/carlos-penswift-2004-163-673.php is missing, or something is misspelled.

Am I doing something wrong, or is this a program issue?

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-10-18 UTC

Don't worry, Anthony!...

The offers are open for five more days. We can always redo them.

If you are unaware of this material, it would probably help to check it :

I'll be happy to talk you through in in the game chat when needed:)!

I hope everything is fine!... Good luck :)!...

Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-10-18 UTC

Aurelian, I am sorry, I missed your previous comment about running a game of Catapults of Troy.

I apologise, I have not figured out game courier yet. Are those games still open? I tried to check, but I am still learning how to use that program. If the offer is still open, I will figure it out.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-10-10 UTC

It deleted my comment, complaining I was not logged in...

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-10-10 UTC

Would You like a catapulta double header? And the also a centenial double header? I'll make the challenge!... I Hope we will have fun!


Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-10-10 UTC

Well, good.  I'm glad that was understandable Aurelian.

I would also add that at one time I spent many an hour lurking on this site, examining many many good games.

When I took my 10 year-ish long break, Catapults of Troy was one of the games I remembered best, and a big reason why I got back on and actually started posting.  When a game sticks in your head that well for that long, even after identifying flaws, it did something right.

Centennial Chess is another that really stayed in the back of my mind.

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-10-09 UTC

Actually to me there are a lot of bonus points if the ideas work well together. That is actually the main goal :)! So I'm totally on board with your first three paragraphs :)! My main goal in asking you this question Anthony was to understand something I don't but it seems you do!

After reading your whole argument Anthony I see your points. Thanks! That it was what it was all about :)! You have explained quite well. Thanks!... As my games are called apothecary maybe someday I'll put in some apothecary variants!...

Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-10-09 UTC

Aurelian Florea, I will try to explain why I like this variant.  

First, though; I generally don't like variants with one idea....if someone thinks of a cool piece and slaps down two per side on a 8x10 board (everything else standard chess) I usually find that uninteresting.  I may like the new piece, mind you, but I generally like a few new ideas in a game.  Preferably, the new ideas don't feel like a bunch of random new pieces stuffed on a board.  Bonus points if the new ideas work together.  

Basically, my favorite variants push the envelope away from standard chess, and work as a cohesive whole.

Catapults of Troy succeeds at both of those things much better than most.  The river terrain makes this very different from chess, but it functions as a cohesive whole because everything is based around that one thing--the river.  

1) The river is not a total barrier--Archers can shoot across it and the Trojan Horse can jump it.

2) The river is a 'promotion' line; after crossing it the Trojan Horse can drop the archer.

3) The bridge builder is the primary way across the river, essentially adding in squares for use.  Building the board adds a whole new, rarely explored, dimension to the game.  This also means there will be a great deal of variety between games, as the board varies in shape from game to game.

4) The catapult is a new, very different, very interesting piece.  (To me, anyway.)  But it's not just new and different--it acts as the alternate way across the river.  This keeps the game from becoming a one-dimensional game of attack-the-bridge-builder.

5) The ram is a new, different piece.  At first glance it appears to be a random idea, but that is incorrect.  It would probably be too overpowered, except for one thing--the river.  By limiting the number of files the ram can threaten to bridges, the river makes it possible to defend against it.  It would be difficult to use the ram in a different variant, without a river.
Honestly, I didn't like the piece at first.  Too powerful and game changing.  However, I eventually realized how the ram and river function together, and I cannot help but admire the cleverness of the design.  The ram requires the river to function properly, and yet has nothing to do with fording the water!  This adds another dimension to the river's usefulness.
I still wonder if the ram is a bit overpowered, though.  I'm tempted to say the catapult should not be able to toss it--it's a devastating piece.

You'll also note that it's a very lean game--Gary didn't add anything that didn't have something to do with the river, and he removed a bunch of usual chess pieces.  There is only six pawns, one rook, and the two bishops.  (The single Trojan Horse with archer inside is vastly different and more powerful than a knight.)

Excellent, different, and cohesively designed game.


It's not perfect, mind you.  Having that many ranks on the board weights the game too heavily toward the catapult for no good reason, IMHO.  It should be only 8x9, including the river.  (See my previous comment below.)  Archers should probably have less squares they can shoot, they are quite powerful.  The starting pawn structure seems arbitrary.  And I really feel that it should have a palace (like Xiang Qi, the inspiration for the river) where the Trojan Horse must reach to allow the horde of troops inside to dismount.

However, it's easier said than done.  I've fooled around with designing something like Catapults of Troy plus palaces, but it's giving me new appreciation for Gary's clean design. Having two driving ideas behind a variant (river&palace instead of just river) really multiplies the number of pieces.  It doesn't help that I have a tendency to throw everything and the kitchen sink at a variant....

One more time: it's an excellent, different, and cohesively designed game.

My one gripe is that Zillions of Games isn't letting me upgrade the program, so I haven't been able to play Catapults of Troy yet!

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-09-28 UTC

I meant from a game theoretical point of view :)!

Simon Jepps wrote on 2018-09-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
  • "May someone make in effort to describe his/her's appeal to this game?"

It's just brilliant! I had an idea once for a piece called "The Lovers". It was basically a figurine of a man and woman holding each other, but which could separate and thus have two pieces distributed about instead.

"Catapults Of Troy" reminds me of this, specifically the Trojan Horse, with its ability to deploy Archers.

Whilst this game is not Classically orientated, there are good things to come from designing pieces such as these, which are two abilities combined as one.

Nice work. ;)

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-09-28 UTC

To be honest I do not see the appeal of this game although people seem to applaud it latelly. It is not that the basic passable obstacle with an effort idea is bad , but there is not enough material to make a strategic game as far as I can see. May someone make in effort to describe his/her's appeal to this game?

Simon Jepps wrote on 2018-09-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

It truly is amazing how many exquisitely different and unique Chess variants have been invented.

I personally always prefer something more closely resembling the Classical concept, for example Modern Chess and so forth, but am astounded by the dedication given by people like yourself to the intricate details of playability, in what would seem an almost bizarre game in comparison.

Well done!

Gary Gifford wrote on 2018-09-25 UTC

Thank you for your detailed review, Kevin... it is appreciated. I've not played this game in many years, but I do not recall the play being slow. Antoine Fourrier created a Zillions version of this and if you play that I think you will find the game moves along pretty well... also, if you play another human I think you will see it moves along well.  I did find one minor bug in the Zillions app concerning the Ram...not sure if it still exists after all these years. If I ever  update  the rules it would be to delay movement of the Traojan Horse 3 moves. I have reasons for this.... but will not go into them at this time.  Thanks again for the comment.

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!

Gary Gifford wrote on 2018-07-29 UTC

This is in regard to Kevin's comments on several games yesterday, of which C.O.T. is one. Thank you Kevin for taking time to comment on games. It is much appreciated. Happy Gaming! Regards, Gary G.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-07-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This cool chess variant is at least to some extent ground-breaking. Though I initially had trouble grasping the large number of rules (which almost makes this variant more like a wargame), the effort was worth it now that I have at least some inkling of how the game's strategies might work in practice.

abraham gray wrote on 2015-07-17 UTCGood ★★★★
This is my favorite chess variant so far.  Thank you for designing it.

Claudio Martins Jaguaribe wrote on 2010-05-28 UTC
So, in the diagram the white catapult in E4 can throw the archer, who must had retreated, after all they are supposed to be laid in the attack field, up to E11 making it capture the black king and whinning the game, right?

Should I announce the check?


Gary Gifford wrote on 2010-05-28 UTC
Hello Claudio - I am glad you like CoT.  It has been a long time since I have played the game myself, or looked at the rules, but I will see if I can answer your questions.

Some questions:

1- The rook also does not cross the river, right?
Answer.  With a bridge available, a rook can cross the river.  It can also be catapulted across.

2- Can the A jump over the river? After all, only him and the TJ leaps;
Answer: No, Archers cannot jump over the river.  Archers don't leap, except when inside the horse (as they move along with it). 
3- Shouldn't be better, if the bridges belong  a number to a side, instead of a commom pool? 
Answer:... so, you are asking about each side having a limited number of bridges. An interesting idea. I do not know the answer. If desired, players could set their own bridge limit. I like 'unlimited.' I never had a game where lots of bridges were built. I think if there was a bigger version of the game that a limit might be a good idea. .  

4- How far a C can throw a piece?  
Answer:  All the way to the promotion zone.  In the Archer section of the rules there is an example, with this comment, 'Also note that the Catapult on C8 could catapult the Pawn to C11, resulting in a Pawn promotion to Archer at C11. Giving check to the King.'
My best regards to all - Gary

Claudio Martins Jaguaribe wrote on 2010-05-27 UTCGood ★★★★
I liked the board and lots of things in the pieces. The good came because some reasons:

i- The assymmetric arrange of the pieces, lots of 'lone' pieces;
ii- The cartoonish ability to the BB to 'pull the rug from the feet of the enemy';
iii- The idea of a 'heavy' piece like the TJ jumping the river, he should slide like a half-sissa (using only the foward diagonals).

Some questions:

1- The rook also does not cross the river, right?
2- Can the A jump over the river? After all, only him and the TJ leaps;
3- Shouldn't be better, if the bridges belong  a number to a side, instead of a commom pool? And, so, could be destroyed by the BB.
4- How far a C can throw a piece?

Good things:

a- I loved the TJ leaving A behind, it's a great idea, could be evem more A in a larger board;
b- The catapult its also a great piece, even without a river;
c-The R is also a great piece, mostly because it is too strong, but can be used only once and it's gone.


Gary Gifford wrote on 2010-03-17 UTC
In regard to the question, 'Can archers capture by replacement [displacement]?' Answer: Yes. There is an example of this in the archer movement/shooting section of the rules.

Anonymous wrote on 2010-03-17 UTCGood ★★★★
Can archers capture by replacement?

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