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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]
Vitya Makov wrote on 2010-01-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Few clarifications from Gary:

1) Troy Horse can leave an Archer on a bridge square.
2) Ram can shoot from Catapult. After this Ram must be removed from the board, Catapult must remain on the board.

Very interesting game of Catapults: 

/play/pbm/play.php?game=Catapults+of+Troy&log=makov333-nickwolffrated-2009-245-443

Gary Gifford wrote on 2008-06-09 UTC
Thanks for commenting George. I can understand your rating of 'poor' as you admit to find 'overwrought and over-complicated Rules' (to your mind at least. Which I suppose doesn't surprise me. It seems other CVers have no problem playing CoT (in a tournament, no less)... amazing, they can grasp it. Of course, you seem to not grasp the simple Hole Chess either... so I am not really that shocked. AF made a nice Zillions game of CoT. Perhaps if you played it you might learn this game which is currently too complex for you.

George Duke wrote on 2008-06-09 UTCPoor ★
[Rating Poor to average out the one little Rating it had of Excellent in the very first of fully 22 Comments; everyone else apparently thought not to Rate] Certainly nice artistry in pictorials. Really about 4.5 out of 10 points, Average. Catapults of Troy saves itself from being another sorry entry by both that artwork and the Problem(s) thoughtfully added. Otherwise, as a game, it is the sort of overwrought and over-complicated Rules-set hardly worth constant publication, once so many such are available to peruse. Extremely few would be interested in convolutions like Catapults of Troy, even among Chess-aware intelligent public; yet it is understandable among Chess Variant artists, who care not about wide play of their games and want chiefly to increase their portfolios. Actually, Gifford seems past that stage and we should not expect many new CVs from him. So we can now start to analyse Gifford's work as retrospective, as we have started, for example, with Gilman's, still active, and Betza's. I never felt safe opportunity to Rate Gifford's Average, and Good in certain cases for their over-all presentation, for fear of lampooning by ''prolificist'' addicts. The ''inner circle'' would not consider its mindset of ''quantity over quality'' as intimidating and intolerant of dissent. It falls beyond their comprehension. But really that period is gone, since most CVP readers become aware at last of the untenability of unlimited Rules sets without full evaluation and unintended consequences from ignorance of priority.

Gary Gifford wrote on 2007-09-30 UTC
Adrian - You state: 'In the mate problem, after Ram to h1, can't the King move onto the catapult at e2?'  
Answer: Yes; And the fact that you noticed the escape is very good.  It was also pointed out by Ed (last name not known) in 2003.

In December of 2003 I commented that White's C2 Catapult should really be a 'Catapult/Pawn' combo piece.  With the piece correction White does not have that unintended escape.

Unlike newer games, I cannot access the rules page to fix it.  

Best regards, Gary

Adrian Alvarez de la Campa wrote on 2007-09-30 UTC
In the mate problem, after Ram to h1, can't the King move onto the catapult at e2?

Anonymous wrote on 2006-03-16 UTC
I have notice a trend to de-value games based upon their potential for
draws.  Draws are not, in themselves, a negative.  There is always the
potential for such to be judged according to material or position. So 
a player might obtain a draw, but might lose according to their material 
or position.

The draw  question should be whether a player might through a set of
specific moves force a draw from the start of a game, not whether any
potential draw is possible.  In other words, by achieving a particular
position on the field the player is able to prevent the opponent from 
ever achieving the stated capture goal of the game.

And as stated, a draw-ish game is not, by its nature, 'broken', it can
still be evaluated by material or position if the players desire.  Though
if it is possible to force a draw each and every game, the stated capture
goal might be considered inconsequential or at the least merely an
influence during the game.

I apologize to Gary for my rant.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2006-03-16 UTC
Hey, I wasn't planning on inventing another variant for 2006 (I prefer quality over quantity), I have some ideas for a wargame variant inspired by Catapults:
  • How about the name 'Crossing the Rubicon'
  • Hexagonal board
  • Each side begins by placing all of their units N squares from the first rank (we will figure out what N is when designing this variant).
  • On each turn, a player moves all of their pieces once.
  • The goal is the capture of one or more enemy royal pieces.
I also have some ideas that would make the game not abstract, but may make the game more dynamic:
  • River semi-randomly laid out. This makes each game a little different.
  • The archers roll a die when shooting long-range. The farther away an archer shoots, the higher the roll has to be to capture the piece the archer aims at.
Of course, this game will require a lot of playtesting and tweaking to become a balanced and fair abstract game.


Gary Gifford wrote on 2006-03-15 UTC
While I strongly [very very strongly] disagree with the Sam T. changes suggested for Catapults of Troy and the 'evidence' implied by only 8 games ( which excludes the numerous ZRF wins ); I will look more deeply into his suggestions... not to change CoT, but perhaps to collaborate with Sam on a variant, which as he implied, would be okay. I am satisfied with CoT as it is... and have not even a slight desire to change it. The variant, if I work on one with Sam's input... should be quite different that CoT, as it seems Sam desires a fairly heavy overhaul. I would not want the games to appear too similar, for example, like Chinese Chess and Korean Chess. Because when playing either game, one can easily think in terms of the other and commit an error.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2006-03-15 UTC
A lot of draws often times indicates that a game is unbalanced; basically, a weak player can force a draw against a strong player. As it turns out, it's actually harder to fix a drawish game than it is to fix a game where white always win; a 'white always wins' game can usually be fixed with the pie rule; a drawn game needs to be fixed by changing the game to be less drawn (usually by making attack stronger and defense weaker) [1].

Here is some empirical evidence:

Game# games played# drawsDraw %
FIDE Chess (on game courier)3100%
FIDE Chess (on Brainking)5757324544.26%
Grand Chess1400%
Catapults of Troy8337.5%

In order to make sure this is an apples-to-apples comparison: I have included two other games from the same game server that the Catapults games were played on. I have also included statistics from a real-time server, BrainKing, since this server has a large number of games, and since you mentioned that correspondence games will have more draws.

I'm sure you won't do this, but if you ever change your mind and incorporate my ideas, you can still keep the same copyright on Catapults of Troy (then again, you can't copyright ideas, only artistic expression). :-p

- Sam

[1] Chess-like games can usually be made less drawish by adding Shogi drops to the game.


Gary Gifford wrote on 2006-03-15 UTC
Sam Wrote: This game seems too drawish; it is too hard to launch an attack
and too easy to defend. The fact that three out of eight games played on
Game Courier ended in draws seems to support this contention. 

Response: I think the draws indicate that (a) the game is somewhat
balanced.  (b) no one has yet mastered the game.  In fact, in 1 of those
draws I was very lucky to avoid a loss.  I was about to lose but I
Catapulted my King onto Carlos Carlos's side of the board where my King
was safe.  So, that little oversight created a draw. And, if we used the
Sam T. idea of archers over there not being able to shoot... guess what,
that makes the game more drawish, not less.  But anyway, remove my lucky
draw and we have only 1 out of 4 draws.  Also, I have played a large
number of games against Antoine Fourrière's ZRF.  And guess what?  No
draws for me.  Not one.  I win or I lose.

I watched a USCF chess expert play the ZRF... he was amazed by the game
and he lost over and over again.

Also, it must be remembered that the CoT games at CV are played with time
delays, usually of several days.  In such games outright blunders (seen in
over-the-board play) are much less common.

As for the ideas to improve the game, I appreciate the comments but do not
care to implement any changes.  I think the game works well as it is.... in
fact, I think it works extremely well.

Note that the ZRF does have a setup option which was suggested by 
Antoine Fourrière.  I had no problems with Antoine's idea (see the ZRF)
and think he did a great job with the Catapults of Troy zillions program. 
If you play it at a decent level I doubt very much that you will see lots
of draws.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2006-03-15 UTC
3 out of 8 ended in draws .... doesn't that mean there is a high percentage of wins?

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2006-03-15 UTC
This game seems too drawish; it is too hard to launch an attack and too easy to defend. The fact that three out of eight games played on Game Courier ended in draws seems to support this contention.

Here is what I would do to lower the number of draws:

  • Archers, in the interest of minimizing friendly fire, will not fire (capture) when on the friendly side of the river.
  • Archers can leap on to or off of the Troy horse any time, as part of their normal move.
  • Bridge builders can not capture nor be catpured. Any piece, friendly or enemey, can slide through the bridge builder as if the bridge builder was not there; it is illegal, however, to land in the square that the bridge builder occupies.
  • A bridge builder can not destroy a bridge that is adjacent to the opponent's bridge builder.
  • Bridge builders move like chess queens.
- Sam

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2006-02-17 UTC
The source of the problem is given right in the error message you reported. The filename had an extra '.html' tacked to the end, which was probably caused by pasting the filename onto a partial filename. It is now fixed.

Gary Gifford wrote on 2006-02-17 UTC
'Broken link? ' For the Week ending Feb 22 lisiting
in What's New I looked at ' Games for Game Courier.
Updated lists of most popular games . . . by Author:
Fergus Duniho.'  I looked at the page to see what
games are played the most and saw Catapults of Troy
listed in the column for one of the games most often
played in the last 90 days.  I then clicked on the
Catapults of Troy link [in that list] and got the
following message:  ' Not Found The requested
URL /pbm/presets/catapults_of_troy.html.html was not
found on this server. Additionally, a 404 Not Found
error was encountered while trying to use an
ErrorDocument to handle the request.' 

I then checked several other game links in the
list... those links checked worked.  I then
checked CoT in CV's alphabetical listing. 
That worked.

Gary Gifford wrote on 2004-04-28 UTC
I intend to elaborate upon the Catapults of Troy rules in the very near future. This will include more detail regarding Catapult-related activity and Bridge Builder Activity. I would also like to add an 'arrow' Troy Horse image to the piece set. The arrow Troy Horse would be used at the start of the game to remind players that an Archer is inside. After the Archer is dispensed, the 'non-arrow' Horse Image will replace the arrow-image Troy Horse, thus showing that the Troy Horse is empty.

Larry Smith wrote on 2004-04-28 UTC
A Catapult carrying a Pawn on the far rank?  Let me quote the rules:

'...upon reaching the last rank, a Pawn is immediately promoted to an
Archer....'

Unless the remaining rules state otherwise, all specific rules are usually
considered absolute.  Privileges are given, not assumed.

Michael Schmahl wrote on 2004-04-28 UTC
What happens if a Catapult moves to the last rank, carrying a pawn (rather than launching it)?

Gary Gifford wrote on 2004-04-21 UTC
To answer Carlos:

1. Yes, a bridge builder can move onto a bridge, and from there add/remove
adjacent bridges.  2. Yes, a bridge builder can cross a bridge, and from
there add/remove bridges to the river on the 3 squares'behind' him
[adjacent to him].  But he can only do 'one' add or delete at a time. 
Also note that a bridge builder can remove a bridge that an opponent's
piece is standing on.  That piece effectively 'falls into the river' and
is removed.

carlos carlos wrote on 2004-04-21 UTC
can i assume that:

1. a bridge builder can move onto a bridge, and from there add/remove
adjacent bridges? 

2. a bridge builder can cross a bridge, and from there add/remove bridges
to the river on the 3 squares 'behind' him?

Gary Gifford wrote on 2004-04-18 UTC
I have made a note to add Michael Schmahl's concise statement to the
rules, i.e., A catapult can launch a piece occupying it to an empty square
on the same rank or file. It cannnot launch diagonally.  Note that the
rules do have examples of legal Catapult moves and launches.   On a
different note, a reminder that the first checkmate problem has an
error... the Catapult on E2 should have a Pawn on it.

Michael Schmahl wrote on 2004-04-18 UTC
The rules aren't explicit, but I assume a catapult launches a piece occupying it to an empty square on the same rank or file?

Gary Gifford wrote on 2003-12-19 UTC
In regard to the previous two 'C of Troy' comments. White's C2 Catapult should really be a 'Catapult/Pawn' combo piece. Then the King has no escape as the Catapult is already occupied... the intended mate holds true when the piece correction is made. Again, a special thanks to Ed for pointing out the mistake. I will make a new diagram in the near future to replace the incorrect one. gkg

Gary Gifford wrote on 2003-12-14 UTC
Ed is correct about the Mate-in-2. The King could simply move onto the Catapult. I can't believe I missed that. Ed, thanks for pointing out the King's escape. Sincerely, Gary (inventor of Catapults of Troy)

Ed wrote on 2003-12-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This looks like a very interesting variant.  I sure hope that someone can
ZRFolate it!

In the Mate-in-2 problem, is it not possible in response to both moves 1
and 2 that the king could mount the catapult?  Or should one assume that
there is a rule that forbids mounting a catapult to escape check?

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