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Imperial Chess. Large variant with new pieces and victory by capture of royal pieces. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2005-07-23 UTC
The tactical promotion end game necessary to capture the Emperor and the strategic buildup to it is unique to Imperial Chess, as far as I know.

George Duke wrote on 2005-03-01 UTCGood ★★★★
'GHI,LargeCV': Edgar Burroughs' ambiguity was tolerable in 1920's for original creation. Reader should not have to go to Comments or game logs to clarify movements in a version that borrows some rules from Jetan. However, the fairy pieces are interesting in being multi-pathers, and this thread credits effort of artwork or theme. Fifteen piece-types over 144 squares has the 10-percent comprehensibility. Original 'Charge' moves one piece in each of the 12 columns. 'Hitching a Ride' is more clearly explained than Gridlock's 'Mounting'. A third innovation: 'Rapid Deployment'. Still it is vague whether the mixed straight(square) and diagonal moves allow 135-degree changes of direction or doubling back. As another instance, 'move three spaces in circle'? Or, can a charge be mounted with only 11 of 12 columns having pieces? This Chess is not sharply enough defined.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2004-07-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I've just completed a very nice <a href='/play/pbm/play.php?game=Imperial+Chess&log=tony_quintanilla-whittlin-2004-193-062'>game</a> of Imperial Chess with the inventor. Its a very enjoyable game. <p>I think that there are two distinct aspects to this game. If one chooses, one could play the game the traditional way: one piece moves per turn. The normal way is to use the charge. Now James has also added 'rapid development' as well to speed up the moves prior to the charge. Note that once charges start, they can basically keep going until less than 6 pieces are available to attack in the end game. This makes this game basically a multi-move game, with the limitation that *only* one piece per file can be moved. <p>This is a very fast-paced way to play, fun, with a lot of surprizes and turns. Obviously, the strict calculation of moves and possibilities is near impossible. The large board and number of pieces makes the multi-move environment appropriate. <p>The moves of the pieces is very interesting, I find. While superficially they seem redundant, they are not. The key difference is whether orthogonal or diagonal moves are permitted; compare the Crossbowman and the Pikeman, for example. The Bishop and Rook (or Castle) add a Shogi-type feel to the game. The Catapult is an interesting longer distance piece that can come into play in closed positions. The Princess is a *very* interesting piece that does not capture but can promote -- unique, as far as I know. Capturing the entire Imperial family is not an easy task, but the multi-move environment makes this easier. <p>I should add that if you play the game on Game Courier using James' charming drawn figures and his map-type board (modeled after his hand-cast pieces and board) that this only adds to the fun!

Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-06-25 UTC
All right, so we all make typos from time to time - 'to ambitious' was another in my last comment, for 'too ambitious'. Also, I did qualify it as '...for a 2d variant', meaning that generally speaking 3d variants are indeed more ambitious and more complex, but through the more obvious distinction of pieces having a wider range of basic moves. Thanks for suggesting that I try designing a variant with my pieces, I'll take it as permission to do so without accusation of stealing the idea for the theme.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2004-06-24 UTC
With regard to some experience with this game, observe this <a href="/play/pbm/play.php?game=Imperial+Chess&log=charles-cvgameroom-2004-170-114">game</a> being played in the Game Courier: <p>By the way, images more suitable for this game are being developed for the page and the preset.

james spratt wrote on 2004-06-24 UTC
Response to Charle (sic) Gilman's comment: Hi, Charle. Sorry you find Imperial Chess underwhelming, but I think you should play it a few times before you condemn it. Your 3-d idea with Imperials, Royals and Ducals sounds interesting. Why don't you develop it and field it? And thanks for making a comment. Ahem...

Charle Gilman wrote on 2004-06-24 UTCPoor ★
Having analysed this offline, I see that what the confusing names mask is a confusing set of pieces. No fewer than five types of piece have a move comprising two FIDE King moves. Allowing all pieces to capture and having a distinct move for the Crossbowman would be a start, and combined with names (let alone images) more suggestive of the moves that might even be a good variant, but it would lose the link to the inspiring theme. Perhaps trying to convey different levels of royalty is to ambitious for a 2d board. Sorry to blow my own trumpet, but a better approach to the theme might be a 3d variant using my 26-direction imperial, 18-direction royal, and 14-direction ducal pieces.

J Andrew Lipscomb wrote on 2004-06-15 UTCGood ★★★★
One source of confusion in the terminology. Normally, the term 'royal' in chess variants is used to indicate those pieces that form the victory conditions. Perhaps the non-decisive royals in this game should be demoted to merely noble ranks.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2004-06-14 UTC
In response to Fergus and James, I must accept responsibility for the 'shortcuts' in the piece descriptions. I will make some changes and consult with James. With regard the piece images, that's entirely my doing. I was taking the expedient route to illustrate the setup and prepare a preset at the same time (what's the saying about haste?...), using already available image sets in Game Courier. I agree that the images I chose are not ideal. Perhaps this can be improved relatively soon with a custom set.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2004-06-14 UTC
The editors received this reply from Mr. Spratt: <p>Dear Fergus, or Dr. Duniho, if you prefer: Thank you for your critique on the presentation of my new game, Imperial Chess. You found some features not to your liking, and I'll respond to them one-by-one here. First let me explain that the editors posted the game description rather quickly and without many changes, based on a 'promotional' rule sheet/game description that I wrote years ago, so the 'bad' text is my doing, not theirs. <p> On the HYPE: That was, I admit, a somewhat silly, somewhat overexuberant ad-style intro written in a mood of antipathy toward a local chess-club whom I had visited to get their (largely negative) reactions to this game and a couple of others. They were focused on CHESS, traditional-style, and I soon became pointedly aware that these type guys were not my market; the warmest kudo I got from any of them was 'Hmm...interesting.' Personally I feel the traditional mind-set rigid, unimaginative and stultifying; they've got their ways and they're sticking with 'em; to try to expand someone else's narrow view might be unkind, and I should be more gracious. (snicker!) I wouldn't mind if that line were dropped--it isn't really ne cessary--and it was intended to appeal to NON-Chess-players, to expand interest in the game. Not everyone can become really good at Chess, and many people become disenchanted with the game by frowning self-involved 'chessmasters,' who take it too seriously and gloomily stomp them every chance they get. How 'bout 'A New Chess Game Anyone Can Play?' Better? <p> On the NUMBERS: You're dead right; there isn't really a need to tell anyone who can count how many pieces of each type he has. <p> On PIECE DESCRIPTIONS: I wondered about the piece descriptions that said 'Same as...' The reader is forced to look elsewhere to see how the piece moves. Several of the pieces move similarly, and are in the game because they exist in real life, such as the Queens and Princesses, and enhance the metaphorical similarity of the game to real life (Even traditional Chess is not purely abstract; the pieces have real-life names, and the moves-set is not purely abstract, but that's another discussion.) The presence of many female characters, even though they move in similar ways, I think adds a visceral element to play, expecially since most players are men; we gotta protect our ladies, and it smarts to lose one just a mite more than it smarts to lose a buddy. A sad condition of our species. The Piece Descriptions in my original rule-sheet are more thoroughly written, and I'll post them on my website,, within the week. Tony? <p> On PIECE IMAGES: That's not my doing--the online board w/icons--and I wondered about the Princess having a horse-type image. I'm not familiar with icons used online to represent chess pieces, especially those of the move exotic variations, which I now deduce are many. I wish I were more skilled at programming and computer stuff, but as we speak I have to leave that to others who are far ahead of me in that department. (Tony! Ben!! Thumbuddy he'p me, Pleathe!!!) <p> Again, Fergus, thanks for your comments. I hope we can get all the bugs out soon, and let me know if you see anything else that doesn't seem just right. <p>Yours, James

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2004-06-13 UTC
My comments are about the page, not the game itself. First, I'm skeptical
of the hype in the introduction. If someone is a mediocre Chess player who
finds Chess boring, and let me note that that does not describe myself, why
would he have more fun with a variant that is more than twice as large and
introduces several new pieces? For one thing, I expect such a player would
be even more mediocre at this game, because it would be even more
difficult. Also, since it is larger, games would draw on longer, and a
mediocre player who already finds Chess boring might very likely find a
longer game even more boring.

Second, the numbers in the piece descriptions serve no useful purpose. At
first, I thought the numbers preceding each description had something to
do with how the piece moves, but I later figured out that these numbers
indicate how many pieces there are of each type. This information is
already given in the setup, and including it in this cryptic manner in the
piece descriptions just makes the piece descriptions more confusing. It
would be best to delete these numbers from the piece descriptions.

Third, piece descriptions are often too brief. When a piece can't leap,
say so in the description for the piece. Don't just imply it by
mentioning the ability to leap only for pieces that can. Also, it's
confusing to mention that some pieces move the same as others without in
the same place explaining why there is any reason to distinguish between
them. Apparently, some are royal and some are not, but even the unroyal
ones are listed under royalty in the piece descriptions. All in all, the
piece descriptions will be easier to follow if they include some
information that will also be included with the rules. When describing a
game to humans, as opposed to machines, it helps to build in some
redundancy. When a piece description raises questions, answer them right
away instead of leaving it to the reader to infer the answers only after
gaining a total understanding of the game.

Fourth, I think more suitable piece images could be chosen for some
pieces. Some of the piece images used were intended for specific sorts of
compound pieces. The speed line mane on the Knight image used for the
Imperial Prince and Imperial Princess pieces was intended to represent
Nightrider powers. The Princess has been represented by an Amazon piece,
the Prince by what is known in fairy chess as a Princess. It might be best
to draw new images for the new pieces, perhaps basing them on the pieces
Spratt actually designed for this game.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2004-06-13 UTC
I am copying Mr. Spratt's comments to the Imperial Chess page for reference: <p>Hi Michael: Thanks for your comments regarding Imperial Chess rules; here I'll try to clarify some of the muddy areas you pointed out. Please understand, first, that as the inventor of this game, I consider myself responsible for clarifications of all points, although I freely admit that you and the other editors share vastly greater experience in rules than I, and might have superior ideas about some of them. Know that I am open to any of them that you feel firmly about; I'm flexible, I play for fun, and I grasp that a firm codification of rules must be thorough, comprehensive, and comprehensible. <p> On Capturing All the Imperials To Win: I feel that this game should adhere metaphorically to the way wars and life really work, or fail to work. It is in the nature of Empires to serve themselves and to perpetuate themselves. It has been known for a King to marry a commoner and call the offspring a King; therefore, to eliminate the royalty entire would require the elimination of all of them. Possibly the Win Condition could be simplified to just the Emperor, or just the Empress, or the pair of them. If anyone would like to play it that way, it's fine with me; just remember the Imperial Prince, when he gets the news from his messenger from home (special rules:Emperor killed.) <p> On Promoted Pawn Return: 'Pawn is returned to his original position.' I've never played a game wherein that spot was occupied by another piece, although I realize it could be; in that case, the pawn should be placed as near that space as possible, behind the occupying piece. The Pawn should be returned in the file in which his promotion took place. (Thus eliminating the need for numbering the pawns.) <p> On 'Moves Any Two Spaces, Square or Diagonal.....' I believe you are referring to the Knight's move, especially, and the Princes. I call this the Knight's Backjump, wherein he can move from a1 to a2 to b1 or b3; a literal interpretation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jetan rules, regarding the Thoat's (Knight's) move permits this, and it does make the Knight much more dangerous. Some players dislike this option on the very face of it, but then many chess players dislike variations of any kind. I'd consider this optional, to be agreed between the two participants before play; I happen to like it. <p> On 'The Charge.....Within One Move of Direct Attack Position': This would be threat position, minus one move. Look at any given piece on any given board in any given game; you can tell how many moves it will take that piece to clobber another one. Back up one move, and you're in Threat Position; back up one more move, and THAT's the position you need six of your foremost men in. It takes a fairly sharp, predatory eye to perceive this. <p> More About 'The Charge': Charging is an advantage, but not an overwhelming one. Remember, if you're close to him, he's close to you, too. It's usually a matter of who throws the first punch. There is also the danger of overextending your troops by being TOO aggressive, say, two or three charges in a row. The Charge permits the smart to be really smart and the dumb to be really dumb. Any charge, or countercharge, immediately sets up at least six fights which must be dealt with NOW, and introduces an element of desperation which I consider very much like real combat; a truly anal and conservative player will almost never initiate a charge, but they need their butts kicked anyway. There is a little element of serendipity in the post-engagement moments--sorta like 'Wow! WHAT was THAT?!--but some sharp General once said that no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. ALSO, it's a big board, with a lot of pieces; without the Charge, it takes three hours; with the charge, half that time or less. <p> Michael, thanks again for your pertinent questions. I hope I've made it clearer, and let me know if there's anything else about the game that's doubtful. I'm open to your suggestions about how to improve it, but I really think you oughtta play it a few times first. Stay in touch! <p>Yours, James

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