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ArchMage Chess. 10x10 30v30 Fantasy Chess. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2022-05-25 UTC

Thank you Cyrus for your understanding. Having a theme is good. I wish you success with ArchMage Chess.


Cyrus Arturas wrote on 2022-05-25 UTC

Thank you all for reviewing this rule set and for your constructive criticisms. I have been seriously contemplating the problems you have presented and your suggestions. I really appreciate your help and input as this is my first time inventing a chess variant or posting my ideas on this website. I think that it is important to respect the veteran inventors who came before me and I will do my best to acknowledge their concerns and to correct any mistakes and errors I may have made when creating this rule page.

When it comes to the names of the pieces I have chosen I didn’t realize at the time how others may be bothered that I changed the names of already well established move sets for fairy pieces. I understand that there is a long historical tradition within chess variants to keep the names of familiar fairy pieces and their move sets recognizable as to not cause confusion with other veteran players. My goal when designing ArchMage Chess was to create a chess variant that payed tribute to worlds such as Dungeons & Dragons and the Lord of the Rings universe. I wanted to make a fantasy chess game that had an element of magic implemented into it hence why I created the Mage with the ability to teleport and summon.

After some thought I decided that it would be best to rename these pieces with their more well known names from other variations. I decided that I will call the Jester a Phoenix, I will have the Griffon & Manticore instead of the Dragon & Griffon as they are named now, and the Demon & Demoness will become the Dragon King & Dragon Horse. I will call the Princess an Amazon and the Warrior Prince will become the Lion. I will rename everything besides the Mage, Sorceress, and the ArchMage as these pieces are unique and their rule sets are the focus of what makes this chess variant different from other games. As a Christian myself I understand the controversy surrounding the term “Demon Summoning” and how this would be received poorly in the west. I will change the term to “Dragon Summoning”. I know that even the Dungeons & Dragons theme, fantasy, and magic itself is controversial within the Christian community.

I will be working on adding rules explaining the situations that arise with unit swapping and promotion on the same turn as well as how the en passant rule would be affected by this.

I will consider different solutions to the summoning drop rule because I agree that as it is stated now the rule seems too powerful for actual play even with the 1 turn wait limit. It makes it so there is no great risk or severe punishment enough for losing a summoned piece if you can just easily summon it again later. This would make it so players would not value their summoned piece enough to keep it alive and may abuse it by sending it on suicide missions over and over again in order to gain an advantage. I think you all have presented really good ideas of ways to limit the power of the summoning ability. As it stands right now I like the idea that the captured summoned unit stays in the hand of the capturing player instead of returning to the hand of the original player who summoned it. This would be similar to shogi’s drop rule. The only way the player would be able to summon the captured unit again is if they have a summoner unit still in play. If the original player wanted to summon it again they would have to recapture their original unit.

I will remove diagram images that are considered excessive, repetitive, or explain rules that are already common knowledge in orthodox chess. I will simply state that the game follows the rules of orthodox chess and I will add any rules or problems that are unique to this variation of chess. For the setup description I will add the coordinate points for the starting pieces instead of just simply stating how many pieces a player starts with. I will remove the large bold headers at the beginning of each piece name as well as add a link into the pieces names directing towards the appropriate page explaining the historical fairy piece.

Thank you for taking the time to review this page.


Greg Strong wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

@Daniel,

Now there's an interesting idea!


Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

The suggested changes to the summoning rule seem overly complicated to me. I would suggest instead making the summoned pieces switch sides when captured, like shogi pieces. Then the players would want to be careful about losing the demon, since that would allow the opponent to summon it later. If you want losing a summoner to be more consequential, a captured demon could only switch sides if the capturing player still has the right piece to summon it back.


Samuel Trenholme wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

Summoning looks really overpowered, and we’re trying to figure out if we can keep the mechanic without it ruining the game.

Some ideas:

  • Summoning just puts a piece on the board once in the game, akin to Seirawan (Sharper) chess.
  • My proposal to give the other player an extra move after a summoning is done.

I mentioned Zillions, but, of course, Fairy Max might be able to implement the summoning mechanic to playtest just what compensation we need to give the other player when invoked (unrestricted extra move, restricted extra move, etc.).


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

There is nothing wrong with the mechanism of summoning itself. What wrecks things is that you automatically get the Demon back in hand when it gets captured.

Compared to how other pieces normally put themselves at risk when capturing a piece, this is like giving one piece a WMD. So, I would propose putting some kind of restriction or limitation on this.

Giving the opponent two moves, knowing that he has those, is too costly, though.

Where does this come in? Summoning is a full move, and I didn't see any mention of lettings players move twice in a turn.

Nevermind. I see it is a cost to summoning that Sam proposed. It's not in the creator's description of the game.


Samuel Trenholme wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

Since I didn’t make this clear: The opponent wouldn’t get to keep their extra move “in pocket”. When a summoning is done, the opponent then makes two moves immediately afterwards.

It’s true an extra move is very powerful, but having a replaceable piece which is only fully removed from the game when the summoner is captured is very powerful too. [1] If the two moves end up being too much compensation for the summoned piece, we can hobble that too (the extra move can not capture, one piece can not move twice, etc.)

I agree we need some playtesting to here to find out how much compensation we give the other player for the summoned piece getting placed on the board. It’s like changing the king’s move or how the pawns move: It changes the nature of the game enough that extensive playtesting is needed to see if it unbalances the game to the point it’s a forced win for the first player, or (especially if making the king too powerful) if it makes the game an easy draw.

This is also why I still like Zillions, some two decades after the program was last updated: Zillions is a relatively easy way to playtest game mechanics like this one.

[1] A game with summoning and drops can make the summoning less unbalanced too, since we can come up with some way of combining those mechanics to balance the summoning. Another option is to go the Seirawan route and only allow a summoning of a piece to be done precisely once.


Bn Em wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

Giving the opponent two moves, knowing that he has those, is too costly, though. In the opening you might get away with it, but in a typical middle-game position the opponent would use those to make a hit-and-run capture.

To be fair, Fergus' solution to that issue is quite elegant imo, and even just restricting two consecutive moves by a single piece alleviates hit‐and‐runs per se. It may be getting away from the intended point of this variant to introduce a whole nother idea but it seems like a usable way of introducing multi‐moves into a mostly‐single‐move game without breaking things too much


H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

There is nothing wrong with the mechanism of summoning itself. What wrecks things is that you automatically get the Demon back in hand when it gets captured. That effectively makes it an 'iron piece'. Giving the opponent two moves, knowing that he has those, is too costly, though. In the opening you might get away with it, but in a typical middle-game position the opponent would use those to make a hit-and-run capture.

Furthermore, summoning a Demon for free seems too easy; in horror stories one typically has to make some sacrifice as part of a summoning ritual. Using this concept the following might work: to summon a Demon, the Mage should first capture a friendly piece. That will then 'activate' him for summoning a Demon in the next turn. But depending on what the opponent does in his turn, you might pass on the opportunity to summon, and do something else. That would waste the opportunity to summon, and you would only regain it by capturing another friendly piece.


Samuel Trenholme wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

“I am starting to suspect that this summoning business will sort of spoil the game. Because you get the Demons back whenever you lose them, at the cost of only a tempo.”

One thought I have been having is to make a summon cost two tempo: You can summon a piece, but when you do, your opponent gets an extra move.

Let’s imagine, for the sake of simplicity, a Seirawan Chess variant where instead of the “add the piece when moving a piece in the back rank” rule, the knight can summon the Elephant (Seirawan’s nomenclature for the R+N Cardinal/Marshal) next to it, and a bishop can summon a hawk (B+N, i.e. Archbishop), but each time a summoning is done it costs two tempo.

Here’s how a game could start out:

  1. Nf3 d5
  2. [email protected] e5,Nf6

We could write the score like this too, if preferred:

  1. Nf3 d5
  2. [email protected] e5
  3. (Tempo lost after summoning) Nf6

Here, White opens with Nf3, Black responds d5

Next, White summons an Elephant on to g3 (I’m using Crazyhouse notation, which is fitting because Seirawan himself frequently plays Crazyhouse on Lichess). Because White has performed a summoning, Black now gets a bonus move, so Black moves e5 then Nf6.

If the other player responds to the summoning with a summoning as their first move, they don’t get the second bonus move. If they respond to the summoning with a summoning on their bonus move, the other player gets a bonus move, e.g.:

  1. Nf3 Nc6
  2. [email protected] [email protected]

or

  1. Nf3 Nc6
  2. [email protected] d5,[email protected]
  3. e4,d4

I think the summoning mechanic is very unique and creative, but it might give White a won game, but maybe we can hobble it to keep it usable.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-05-20 UTC

I am starting to suspect that this summoning business will sort of spoil the game. Because you get the Demons back whenever you lose them, at the cost of only a tempo. The most effective strategy thus seems to simply keep summonig them in a developed location, and immediately send them on a kamikaze mission against whatever opponent is in their path. Even a Pawn is usually worth more than a tempo. You would not even care whether the square you summon them on is in a location that the opponent attacks once, as when the Demon(ess) gets captured you recapture with the Mage or Sorceress, and would still have traded the indestructible Demon for some opponent material.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-05-19 UTC

The Diagram below implements summoning for entering user moves. (The AI doesn't understand it yet.) It appears I had already built in some provisions to promote a piece on a locust square through the user-supplied WeirdPromotion routine: if the '256' bit of the promotion piece that is returned by the function was set, it doesn't promote the piece on the destination, but the piece on the locust square. I still had to fix some bugs in relation to handling of the pieces in hand, though. (Swapping with a piece increased the number of pieces in hand, and promoting at the locust square did not decrease it.) So refresh your browser cache!

satellite=summon squareSize=50 graphicsDir=/graphics.dir/alfaeriePNG/ graphicsType=png symmetry=mirror holdingsType=1 promoChoice=B*R*Q* pawn::::a2-h2 knight:N:::b1,g1 bishop::::c1,f1 rook::::a1,h1 lady::RabuKudR:guard:d1 queen:::::1,1 king::::e1

In this Diagram there is one unorthodox piece, the Lady. It moves and captures like a Rook, but it can also swap with friendly pieces that are a Rook move away. In addition it can summon a Queen on an adjacent square, if you have one in hand. (And initially you do have one!) To do that just move the piece to such a square, and then back. A second click on an adjacent square would move the the piece there, rather than summoning.


Greg Strong wrote on 2022-05-19 UTC

I will also note that some people would have religious objections to pieces with demonic names. When Hans was running this site, he would not allow some Shogi variants that included demon pieces. While I don't share his religious beliefs, and I assume Japanese demons are not quite the same thing as Christian demons, I see more of a problem with a game that allows for summoning demons in the more usual western sense. I will also point out that the pieces called Demon and Demoness are more commonly known as Dragon King and Dragon Horse, these being the names they have in Shogi.

I am a Christian but I see no real problem with these names.  I do think Dragon King and Dragon Horse are better names, both because they are established and because they are less likely to offend, but if the author wants to stay with Demon and Demoness, I don't personally think that is a sufficient issue to veto publication.  It is, after all, a game.  (And one of my own inventions would be problematic!  I now notice that page doesn't have the introduction where I described the origin of the name and the theme of the game -- an M. C. Escher drawing called Circle Limit IV -- I was working on that game and apparently never finished the rewrite...)


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2022-05-19 UTC

While H. G. Muller and Jean-Louis Cazaux have qualified their criticisms by saying they are not editors, they are among the regular contributors who are most qualified to be editors, and their criticisms are valid. This page needs to be fixed up a lot, and I will wait for appropriate changes to be made before publishing it.

I will also note that some people would have religious objections to pieces with demonic names. When Hans was running this site, he would not allow some Shogi variants that included demon pieces. While I don't share his religious beliefs, and I assume Japanese demons are not quite the same thing as Christian demons, I see more of a problem with a game that allows for summoning demons in the more usual western sense. I will also point out that the pieces called Demon and Demoness are more commonly known as Dragon King and Dragon Horse, these being the names they have in Shogi.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-05-19 UTC

Zillions of Games is a commercial program, and not everyone has it. It is a pity the AI of the Interactive Diagram doesn't do drop moves yet. In general variants with drop moves (such as Shogi) are very hard for a computer, because of the huge branching factor. In this case drops (for summoning Demons) are limited to just a few squares adjacent to the Mages, while most of the time there wouldn't be anything to drop because the Demons are already in play. Implementing the Demon summoning as a regular drop, which would try any square, and rely on a user-supplied BadZone routine to reject any drop that doesn't land adjacent to a Mage would still be a very inefficient implementation, though.

I guess it would be possible to abuse the XBetza 'unload' modifier u for summoning. Currently this is defined as putting the piece that was captured by the move at the origin square of the leg that it labels. But a back-and-forth move where the second leg unloads (e.g. abuK) would never capture anything, as it would end where the piece itself was (and the first leg per default has m mode). But if the Diagram's AI would simply ignore the u in such a case, effectively making it a turn pass, a user-supplied routine WeirdPromotion could be used to specify a new piece for the unload square rather than the overall destination of the move. Promotion choices are automatically taken from the 'hand' already (to implement promotion-to-captured-only). This would then selectively generate drops on squares adjacent to the pieces capable of summoning (which have the abuK move component specified on them).


Samuel Trenholme wrote on 2022-05-19 UTCGood ★★★★

I think one thing the author may do until when and if this variant gets formally published here is to make a Zillions of Games implementation of it, then send an email to Ed van Zon to get the implementation published. There can be a long delay before a submission and its publication here, but Ed’s pretty good about publishing a submission within a week of its submission.

The hard part is taking all these rules and converting them in to Zillions’ quirky language. I enjoy doing it myself; it converts rules in to unambiguous machine-readable rules, and it allows people to play the variant themselves.

I would also change the name of the summoned pieces in to something like, oh, Dragon Horse and Dragon King, the Anglicized form of these pieces’ names in Shogi. I like the summoning tactic, but it’s an open question whether having it makes the White advantage overwhelming. People seem to enjoy Crazyhouse a lot over at Lichess, so I think this summoning mechanic can be very usable.

(I should also point out that Betza called what is the Jester here the “Waffle”)


Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2022-05-18 UTC

I'm not an editor either but I fully agree with H.G.'s comments. I think they are good advices if the author is open to modify, and thus improve, his page. I also thank him for referring to my own work.

Concerning the very annoying issue of names, I also agree with H.G. @ Aurelian, with a smile I would say that nobody has never seen a fight between a gryphon and a dragon to be sure which one is the strongest. After all, who knows, the gryphon is maybe x5 times bigger in scale than a dragon. We are biased by Hollywood movies.

Seriously, H.G. is right. There is too much confusion already. I admit that I am guilty to have contributed to the confusion too much. But we shall do all what is possible to convince new creators to change their mind. Of course the creator has the freedom to do what he wants. But even for him, if he wants some success to his invention, he will increase his chance by trying to respect legacy and heritage of those who invented CVs before him. One valid exception I see is if you need some specific names to fit with the theme or the consistency of your game. But if you have no precise reasons or constraints what is the interest to call Dragon a Gryphon and Gryphon a Manticore? You are just confusing your potential followers.

There are plenty of sources that can be consulted. The Wikipedia page on Fairy Chess Pieces. The Piececlopedia here. Or this page from 2001, https://www.chessvariants.com/piececlopedia.dir/whos-who-on-8x8.html where Derzhanski was calling F-then-R a Gryphon and W-then-B a Dragon!!!

The Jester (WA) is the Phoenix (from chu shogi).

The Warrior Prince (KAND) is the Lion (Metamachy) or Lioness (A.King).

The Princess is the Amazon. Princess is often a BN.

The Minotaur is the Centaur (is it really needed to change a Greek's monster by another one?)

The Pegasus is the Buffalo. Pegasus is often used for something else.

And Griffon, Dragon, have been commented enough.

Kindly, I believe that the author will be well inspired to follow the advices of the veterans who are dwelling here.


Aurelian Florea wrote on 2022-05-18 UTC

I, too think Dragon and Gryphon are better names than Gryphon and Manticore. That is because of strength of pieces first (it is logical for the dragon to be stronger than the gryphon). Also the dragon it is a well established fantasy creature, where the manticore is a creature used in fantasy works to a lesser extent. That is for a fantasy setting at least. The usage of eagle and rhino is fine, too though! Those being the names Jean-Louis uses! But your argument is historical, and for that it carries some weight. I'm not sure what to say about that. In my Grand Apothecary Chess variants I have changed the names presented here for the bent riders to fit Fergus's proposal, which is more widely accepted. And by the way there is also a natural selection process at hand here. Maybe people would like more the dragon/gryphon style names. We cannot know for sure.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-05-18 UTC

I am not an editor here, so my words carry no official weight. But I think the article is annoyingly verbose and digressing. E.g. the introduction section contains no information related to the variant at hand other than the e-mail address of the author (which people can already get from the author's profile) and two external links. The remaining 85% discusses the history of Chess, what other chess variants the author likes etc. I don't think an article about a specific chess variant is the proper place for that.

Dwelling on the obvious, such as "The unique units seen in chess variants are called fairy pieces" is just diluting the information one would be interested in. OTOH, in the Setup section it would be more useful to write the coordinates of the starting squares of the pieces, rather than their number. Most readers will likely be able to count, but it would be nice if they could unambigously associate the names with the images at that point. Although I admit that (perhaps with the exception of Prince / Princess) most images speak for themselves. But if the image is supposed to be selfexplanatory, why waste words on the fact that the pieces of a player occupy 3 ranks?

There doesn't seem any need to explain what e.p. capture is, and why it was introduced during the evolution of chess to its current orthodox form. Scrolling through pages and pages of diagrams containing only information everyone knows is pretty annoying. Most articles on CVP would simply state "King, Queen, Rook, Bishop and Pawn move as in orthodox Chess, including the initial 2-step move for the Pawn and e.p. capture". The same applies to castling, where if you want to be truly elaborate you could still mention that the King moves 2 squares towards the Rook, if you think "moves the same as in orthodox Chess" was too difficult to understand. This would get rid of 17(!) diagrams, and gets the reader to the interesting stuff immediately.

There isn't any need to explain what checkmate or stalemate means. Spending a diagram (3 times!)  for illustrating what you mean by "adjacent square" also seems overdoing it.

Typographically, the article now uses headers for the descriptions of the individual pieces of the same 'level' as those used site-wide for the article's main sections (Introduction, Setup, Pieces, ...). While they are all supposed to be sub-sections of the Pieces section. There is an extra redundant header "Unit Moves and Captures", which repeats what "Pieces" is already supposed to convey. Rules and Notes sections seem to be missing entirely; one would have expected description of the check / checkmate / stalemate (if it would have to be given at all) to appear in the Rules section, not in the description of the King's moves. Other draw conditions than stalemate (repetition, 50-move) are now not mentioned at all. It would probably suffice just to mention that all these rules are the same as in orthodox Chess.

As to the variant itself: it always saddens me when people use a well-established piece name (such as Griffon) for another piece. As if there isn't already enough confusion.

When a Sorceress, Mage or Archmage swap a Pawn to last rank, does that Pawn promote? Does the swapped Pawn count as having moved? Would a Pawn swapped back to 3rd rank regain its two-step move? BTW, it also seems a bit superfluous to have practically the same diagram for illustrating the swapping in 3 places. It would be better to discuss the swapping once (e.g. in the rules section), and then just refer to that from the descriptions of the pieces that can do this. It is not clear to me why the description of the swap has two side-by-side diagrams. On supposes that the second diagram shows the position after the swap, but then it is illogical that it still has an arrow in it. I would think that a single diagram with a two-way arrow would suffice. In general people can be expected to know what 'swap' means, so devoting a diagram is already quite generous.


Cyrus Arturas wrote on 2022-05-18 UTC

My submission for the rules of ArchMage Chess are ready for review and publication. Please let me know if there are any changes to the page you would like me to make.


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