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Rococo. A clear, aggressive Ultima variant on a 10x10 ring board. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

A cool variant that may take some time to be at ease with, but it looks worth it.

George Duke wrote on 2016-10-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Robert Abbott was inventor of Ultima in the 1960s. Abbott commented 13 years ago on Rococo:


Rococo is my single preferred CV whether Orthodox style or Track Two Heterodox style like Rococo. It themes every piece moving like Queen but capturing differently. Contrary to Abbott, the border squares substantially make the game, because different pieces and Rococo Pawns react differently with those "half-squares" variously accessible according to the piece-types divergent Rules. "Divergent" is carefully picked to describe because all Rococo pieces are divergent in the CV sense that they move and capture differently. But then Abbott has a narrow specialty having invented several (not a lot) of great game rules and secondly made challenging mazes. He admits here and there he does not play games, CV or not, very much himself. He seems to have just chanced on 2 or 3 great Rules sets in card game Eleusis and CV Ultima. Or maybe Ultima gets attention because it was one of the first modern ones in between Parton and Boyer and just prior to Betza. There is not much follow-up insight on Abbott's part, where for instance most revisions of his suggestion worsen the great original. Abbott never really delved into CVs and does not consider Ultima even to be one like we do, but just using Chess equipment in his words.

However, over-all we have played Abbott's great Eleusis quite a bit more than Aronson and Howe's Rococo, no comparison really. Eleusis, so thanks aplenty to Robert for countless hours at Eleusis.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTC
In truth, Ultima pieces don't really have fixed values but rather discrete sets of values that vary based on the nature and composition of other pieces.

Looping around to give the weakest pieces resistance against the strongest only enhances this "rock-paper-scissors" dynamic (not that that necessarily makes it a worse game).

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTC

More accurately; Immobiliser 13 FIDE Pawns, Long Leaper/Advancer 8, Chameleon/Archer 7, Withdrawer 3.5, Swapper 2.5, Cannon Pawn 2.

Certainly the Rococo Withdrawer and Rococo Swappers normalised values fall far below those of the minor FIDE Pieces, the Long Leaper alone benefits from the exotic board giving it comparable strength to the Advancer, while the Rococo Immobiliser, with its added abilities, is unmatched even by the Advancer+Withdrawer compound (the awfully named "Pushme-Pullyu").

The Withdrawer is not resistant to the Immobiliser so I'm not sure why you included that value.

If we're talking hypothetical pieces in a Rococo setting I have already made far more logical and consistent amendments than such ad hoc tacked on rules.

Julian wrote on 2015-05-07 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
The strength order probably goes like this:
Immobilizer - 9 points
Advancer - 8 points
Chameleon - 6 points
Long Leaper - 5 points
Archer - 5 points
Withdrawer - 3.5 points (resistant to the Immobilizer)
Swapper - 2.5 points
Withdrawer - 2.5 points (not resistant)
Pawn - 1 point

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-27 UTC
This games prides itself on conceptual simplicity, and indeed the 5 most fundamental Ultima types manifest themselves in some form or other, 

Replacer (x, y) => (0, x)

Neutral (x, y) => (x, y)

Codestructor (x, y) => (0, 0)

Archer (x, y) => (x, 0)

Swapper (x, y) => (y, x)

although only the latterly added Archer exists as a standalone representation.

Aronson attached codestruction to his swapper, but both concepts are better fleshed out separately in my opinion.

My amendment to the swapper is specified below, while the Queen from Atomic Chess as representative of the latter concept seems a very natural addition to this game (albeit it requires staggered opposition pawn rank to prevent early slaughter).

Its worth pointing out that the immobiliser in this game is stronger than the original concept of Abbots game. Abbott floated the idea of a "Neutraliser" 

(x, y) => ((y, x') => (y, x'))

as a separate piece, which acts as the twin of the immobiliser (one disables movement, the other the effect). As its able to not only freeze but entirely disable the chameleon, swapper and archer, the Rococo immobiliser is really a compound of both, which goes towards explaining why its so overpowered.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-13 UTC
Like the swapper, the withdrawer can be extended quite logically.

Allow it to capture pieces in its line of sight as many squares distant or less as it moves when making the capture.

It already does this when capturing adjacent pieces.

In this way, the withdrawer could capture pieces as many as 4 squares distant using the outer edge of the board.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
I think the general trend in ultima variants is in removing significantly weaker pieces from the board in favour of a balanced set, which I think is aesthetically better and more interesting. 

Only way I think having weaker pieces works is if there is an even hierarchy of different valued pieces, but most ultima pieces cluster around a ~7-9p value.

As far as overpowered pawns and explosive capture attack, why not just introduce a seperate piece for that purpose?

What about an "alchemist" piece that allows adjacent pieces to perform atomic/suicide capture (like in Atomic Chess), and that explodes as an attack or if captured?

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
Now I find the Swapper ok, but the pawns too strong. Is there really a need to give them also the power of promotion?

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
But actually there is no need to alter that game at all. The Swapper is the weakest piece above the pawns and that's it.

But it's always funny to find varitions to existing games.

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
1. Rococo IS an Ultima variant. You somehow misunderstood me.
2. The Swapper destroys an adjacent piece, not one in line with it. So letting it destroy more than one adjacent piece is only a slight enhancement
3. Ok, so you quit the mutual destruction completely. Your swapper is a positional swapper, a colour swapper and a type swapper. That's actually not a bad idea.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
To clarify my amendment proposal

Aronsons swapper has two moves..

Positional swap 

Mutual destruction

I recommend removing the latter, which seems to refer to a separate concept, and adding 2 new swap moves.

Colour swap

Type swap

The fact that this is a natural completion of the concept can be shown from the fact that any swap move acts as a combination of the other two (for friendly pieces T and P are equivalent, and C is a null move).

The resulting piece is considerably stronger (probably the equal of any piece on the board), more logically consistent, and I would argue no less intuitive or complicated than the current version or some of the proposals.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
Actually to say that the swapper 2.0 performs conversion isn't strictly correct.

Conversion (C,P)=>(C,P') is a different moveset.

As conversion is merely a strengthened form of capture, it would have to implemented as an indirect piece to be distinct, so a "missionary" would be something that for example allows an adjacent piece to convert and/or be converted.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
Sorry my mistake.

I don't see that conversion is more an Ultima concept than a Rococo one, nor do I see how turning the swapper into a exploding piece fits more with its ability than an ability swap.

As I understand it, the swapper currently merely mutually destroys with an opposition piece in its line of sight. Its not an "explosion", its just taking it and another piece out of the game.

On the other hand, allowing it to swap its ability with another piece in line of sight ( (S, P') => (P, S') ) is just a logical extension of what the piece already is. Existing swaps of friendly pieces ((S, P)=>(P, S)) could equally be interpreted as an ability swap rather than a positional one.

This rule allows it to become a worthy piece while remaining "swapperlike."

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
Hey, it's not my game! I,m just playing it for the first time.

A Conversioner ("missionary")fits quite well into Ultima-derived games. But this game is good as it is. Just the Swapper may really be too weak.

Since the swapper already is a bomb, enhancing its explosional abilities seems to be the best way to make it stronger while changing as little as possible to the original game.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
Explosion is a concept that is definitely worth considering adding in some form.

However I'm not sure tacking it on to an existing piece is the way forward. I also don't see it working that well in this game, other than an overpowered means of flattracking the weaker pieces.

On the other hand a direct ability swap/conversion would give the swapper a unique and strong threat against all opposition pieces. The stronger the piece in the swappers line of sight, the more severe the threat the swapper/converter would offer.

In fact now that I think of it, it is enough of an augmentation by itself to safely disregard my mediated swap proposal.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
Well its your game. However I think this move better complements the swappers ability.

And the new swapping procedure really isn't complicated; P1 Sw P2 -> P2 Sw P1.

Or for conversion (Black Piece of Type 1, Swapper, White Piece of Type 2) => (White Piece of Type 1, Swapper, Black Piece of Type 2)

Its a good way of introducing the missing concept of conversion into an Ultima variant.

If you think its too complicated or over dynamic then you could also just use direct conversion as the "special move."

(Black non swapper, White Swapper)=>(Black Swapper, White non swapper)

The latter move equates to double the material gain produced when merely mutually destroying the swapper with a stronger piece, and fits in more intuitively with its ability.

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-07 UTC
No, please not!

But acting as a bomb, how about destroying all adjacent pieces, including friendly ones. This would give more attacking force to the swapper without altering or complicating this piece so much

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-03-06 UTC
The swappers capture method seems decoupled from its ability. Its also quite a weak piece.

I propose; a) allow the swapper to swap 2 pieces on either side of it, while remaining stationary.
b) allow it to swap piece type, ie converting a friendly to an enemy and an enemy to a friendly.

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-06 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
That was quick! Thanks!

 Great game!

Peter Aronson wrote on 2015-03-06 UTC
A Swapper's capture by mutual destruction only captures a single piece.  That said, allowing the mutual destruction capture of multiple pieces would not be an unreasonable variant.

Georg Spengler wrote on 2015-03-06 UTC
can a swapper, used as a bomb, capture more than one enemy piece?

Peter Aronson wrote on 2014-03-28 UTC
While the Cannon-Pawn is similar in some ways to a piece in Four-Field Kono (the usual English name for the game), unlike it, they can capture by jumping over opposing pieces as well as friendly pieces.  Now, I've been exposed to Four-Field Kono via one or another of R.C. Bell's books, so it could have been an influence, but the Cannon from Xiang Qi was a more immediate influence.

Daniil Frolov wrote on 2014-03-11 UTC
Recently i found out about traditional Korean non-chess board game Nei-pat-kono, and it's pieces seems to be similar to to cannon-pawns. Never seen mentoiding of this game in information about Rococo.

(zzo38) A. Black wrote on 2012-10-20 UTC

Another variant, instead of making the Withdrawer immune to the Immobilizer, you may specify that you want to capture the Immobilizer with an immobilized piece, and the Immobilizer's owner specifies how this will be done, and in this case only the immobilization is ignored. You said Immobilizer seem too powerful, this is another way to make it weak, and in some cases may add some additional complications to the strategy (especially if there are multiple captures possible in this way).

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