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Asteryx Chess. Hexagonal chess played on an asterisk-shaped board. (Cells: 43) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
dtj wrote on 2004-06-08 UTC
I was gratified to find that Asteryx received a couple of votes in the (fairly) recent 1st Game Courier Tournament poll, used in selecting the variants to be played, hopefully demonstrating the soundness and playability of this variant, as originally presented, of which I am still rather fond! - dtj

dtj wrote on 2003-06-06 UTC
In the open and unentrenched spirit of chessvariants, here are some
officially sanctioned natural variants for Asteryx which some of you might
find intuitively more appealing and which you might like to experiment
with to see if play is thereby enhanced.... 
Asteryx 1 - the original.
Asteryx 2 - as 1 except that the king can also move one step as a Glinkski
bishop.
Asteryx 3 - the starting position has queen and king where original
bishops were (queen faces queen, white queen on lefthandside) and there
are now 3 colourbound bishops which start on the central axis, and one
pawn fewer per side. Bishops move as Glinkski bishops, queen moves as
Glinski queen, king moves as in 1.
Asteryx 4 -as 3 except that king can also move one step as a Glinkski
bishop.

dtj wrote on 2003-06-05 UTC
Fergus, thanks for taking some time to comment on the game, and your view
on the queen's overpowerfulness would seem to chime with that of nicholas
- so let me try to address those concerns once again. 

In designing the game (which of course involves a form of custodian rather
than replacement capture - see rules) i was well aware that the geometry
of the board allows any token (including the king) on certain cells (in
fact 12 of the 43) to be capturable by a  single piece (not just a queen).
In fact, the king has deliberately been positioned initially so that it
actually needs to be moved twice  to reach a cell less vulnerable than its
starting cell.  One is constantly having to balance the imperative of 
'developing' one's king (and one's rooks!), with defending other
tokens, and of course launching one's own attacks and probes.  The game,
as i hoped to suggest in my notes, is quite unlike chess in its very
lively play - more like a cross between chess and draughts in feel.

Now i could have made the king more powerful, say by also giving it the
glinski bishop single step move - but i suspected that then the king would
prove too hard to checkmate especially as the number of tokens per side
diminished. I found that the moves i selected for the various tokens
(albeit giving queen and bishop moves more powerful than in chess) created
a lively and enjoyable game that was easy to learn and play and could also
provide checkmate with limited resources on both sides. 

It could well be that there are other move combinations that work better
together, but i have yet to find them. Thanks for your interest and
comment - dtj.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-06-03 UTC
Looking over this game, it appears that the King is weaker than the usual hexagonal chess King, and the Queen is stronger than the usual hexagonal chess Queen. The result is that the Queen can checkmate a King without any assistance from another piece.It also seems very capable of forcing checkmate. Although I haven't played the game, I suspect that the Queen is too powerful.

dtj wrote on 2003-04-17 UTC
thanks, fergus - puts my battered board to shame! dtj

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-04-17 UTC
Thanks for pointing that out. I have now corrected the positions of the Bishop and Pawn.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-04-16 UTC
fergus, thanks much for the excellent asteryx preset - i hardly recognise it! - one small thing, somehow you have got a black bishop and pawn transposed, though the white side is perfect. i am looking forward to playing myself on your board! - gratefully, dtj

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-04-16 UTC
I've created a preset for Asteryx Chess, so that it may be played by email. But the preset does not use the same set of coordinates as shown in the diagram for this game. Instead, it uses the standard coordinate system that is built into the PBM for hexagonal boards. To find out what coordinate a space is, let the mouse hover over the middle of the space. The coordinate should show up in the ALT text that appears next to the mouse cursor.

Nicholas Kuschinski wrote on 2003-04-08 UTC
No amount of math or speculation will ever be able to contend with playtesting. It still LOOKS extremely unbalanced, but if several games are played, attempting specifically to test this balance, and it still works, then I really can't complain.

David Jagger wrote on 2003-04-08 UTC
Nicholas, thanks for the feedback and the rating. To judge from your
comment on a centrally placed queen's ability to always capture if any
two enemy pieces were next to each other - i think you may have
misinterpreted the rule of capture, which perhaps hasn't been stated
clearly or forcefully enough in my rules. The capturing side must occupy
at least two of the EXISTING spaces of the same colour around an opposing
token. (Or just the one if only one EXISTS). I think in this context you
have understood 'existing' to mean 'available' - which would explain
the conclusion you arrive at.  In reality you will find that a player can
actually PROTECT its own token (typically its king) when it is on the
perimeter by having two of its men stand next to it on different colours,
thereby  PRECLUDING enemy capture until at least one of the protecting men
is dislodged. Hope this clarifies things about capture. 

Taking your point about an apparently overpowerful bishop (and hence
queen) I'll admit to having had similar doubts initially, though
playtesting convinced me that they were misplaced. Of course too the given
move means that the bishops are not colourbound, and 3 bishops are not
needed - as would be the case with 'glinka' bishops. I do believe that
with custodian capture, which typically involves 2 capturing tokens, more
powerful pieces than usual are no bad thing. 

One point perhaps worth making about any centrally placed token (queen or
otherwise) - is that it is of course more vulnerable to capture itself -
as then being within the reach of a greater number of opposing forces!
Thanks again for your interest, further feedback appreciated, dtj.

Nicholas Kuschinski wrote on 2003-04-06 UTCGood ★★★★
The idea is looking good. This will probably be a strong entry into the 43 square competition, and one to look out for. I would suggest revising the movements of the bishop and queen, as they seem a bit too powerful, but I haven't actually played the game, and the implementation of custodian captures might limit them sufficiently (still, a piece that can move to any square on the board if it starts in the center would mean that if any two enemy pieces were next to each other, and the queen was in the center, it could capture the opposing piece, no matter where on the board this encounter takes place . . .) My solution to this problem might be to restrict the range of the bishop (and hence the queen), but it is hard to tell what that would do to the game.

dtj wrote on 2003-03-20 UTC
moussambani, thanks for the feedback, and yes, well spotted, the geometry
supplies that rather nifty fact - but though the queen seems so powerful
it will usually capture in tandem with another token which in effect
qualifies its power. If you would like to see the queen in action in an
animated game, check out yahoo group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vishangroschessvariants/ 
where i have included complete snapshots of the entire first game. Thanks
for your interest and comment. dtj
ps thanks too to david howe for doing such a good joy on the presentation!

Moussambani wrote on 2003-03-18 UTC
This looks good. Want an interesting fact? a queen in the center of an empty board can reach any cell! not that it is a bad thing, but that makes queens really powerful.

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