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Cataclysm. Large board game with short-range pieces designed to be dramatic without being overly complicated or dragging on too long. (12x16, Cells: 192) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Greg Strong wrote on 2019-03-30 UTC

I'm thinking of making a change to make games a little shorter.  I need to test it, but I am inclined to change the pawns to fast pawns (pawns can make a double-step, subject to en passant from anywhere.)  This change was suggested by John Davis.

If I did this, I would also remove the rule that a player can move two different unmoved pawns a single space (I like this rule, but it makes the game hard to program because it becomes a multi-move variant.)

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCGood ★★★★

Several interesting piece types in this game. Can well-played games of it be reasonably short on average? Time will tell, but I suspect most such games won't go past 100 full moves, good for such a large board.

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-04-06 UTC
Thanks Greg,
I just wanted to make sure I understood the defintion of mirror symmetry.
I definitely think multiple moves per turn is something to continue exploring (not necessarily in chess engines, but in the games).

I've thought about adding the feature to Trappist-1 (version of Chess on an Infinite Plane). It will help correspondence games go faster when only one move is played per day. Of course it also changes the strategy. The opening and mid-game will go-by faster, and then the final "clash" can be much more damaging.
Theres are some game notations on this site with double-moves, but all are very short (like 10-15 moves). But with a large format game I think it can work really well, and with Cataclysm, using it for selective pieces (just pawns) is a great idea.:)

Greg Strong wrote on 2017-04-06 UTC

Thank you for the feedback and excellent rating.  And thank you for pointing out the error.  I changed the starting array a long time ago to remove a couple of pieces and speed development.  At the time, I apparently went back to mirror symmetry.  With this array, it probably doesn't make any difference.  There was more asymmetry before, but now there is little point in just swapping one king and queen, so I removed that paragraph from the description.

ChessV does not yet play Cataclysm.  I will certainly want to add it and will do so at some point.  It's not trivial, though, because of the rule allowing you to move two different unmoved pawns one space.  That's an important rule I don't want to drop.  ChessV does now support a couple of double-move variants, so it can be done, but will require some work.  In this game, making two moves is rare, and the second move is optional, so I'd need some sort of user-interface for passing.

V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-04-05 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
In the notes to this game, it says this game has rotational symmetry rather than mirror symmetry. That does not appear correct based on the setup diagram. Even the king and queen face each other, each sharing the same file as in classical chess. Was the graphic updated, or am I missing something?
It does look like an excellent large-format variant. Does anyone know if ChessV plays it (and if so, how well)?

Calvin Daniels wrote on 2011-09-09 UTC
Laying in bed last night I did have one thought regarding Cataclysm, and
that is the pile of pawns the huge board creats, and yet that aspect of the
game was untouched.

Even moving to Berolina pawns?

Or the great pawns found with Odin's Rune Chess?

Or maybe a mix

four Odin pawns in centre, flanked by two Seargents, and the rest standard

Just thoiughts

Calvin Daniels wrote on 2011-09-09 UTC
Mr Strong you do make highly entertaining yet accessible variants. This
with Opulent and Brouhaha  are all find efforts.

This may be as good a 'Big Board' (larger than 10X10) I have seen.

Greg Strong wrote on 2011-01-29 UTC

Woo hoo! Thanks, Fergus! That will improve the playability.

Single latin letters for each piece is no problem. When designing games, I deliberately name the pieces so that no two pieces start with the same letter. Perhaps I'll mention that on the designing good chess variants topic. Makes notation easier :)

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2011-01-29 UTC

Greg, send me two set files, as described here, each using the same letters for the same pieces but using different images. Please stick to using single Latin letters for labels. I will them add them to the sets available on Game Courier, and I will group them together.

Greg Strong wrote on 2011-01-29 UTC
I mentioned this alternate preset a couple of days ago in the Potluck discussion...  I'd like to make two 'linked' piece sets so that each player can use either set, even in the same game.  I don't want to just convert to these alternate pieces wholesale, though, as I find them very unappealing visually...

Joe Joyce wrote on 2011-01-29 UTC
The preset I'm using for the game between nGreg and myself is decent:
Just don't know where the blank preset is located. I suspect someone familiar with the naming of these games and presets could figure it out...
It's a LOT easier for me to use this preset that the other. I'm a big fan of using symbolism on pieces to indicate their actual moves. I use such a system in all my shatranj variants - including Chieftain, which is a shatranj variant, actually.

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2011-01-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Hey this game looks great, love the big board and not too many pieces added, really like the 'duke' too. I will have to check out the game courier logs, i like this type of game because one can learn more about gameplay with fairly short range type pieces on a very large board. Great stuff.

George Duke wrote on 2008-09-20 UTC
Not only Joyce's own Chieftain, Chesimal Fusion I, and Space War are 16x12, also Strong's Cataclysm (12x16).

Eric Greenwood wrote on 2008-03-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
 I don't ever check my e-mail--Just accept the game for courier-spiel, and we'll talk while we play!
 BTW, this is a decent game-i've played a lot worse!

John Ayer wrote on 2008-03-15 UTC
Eric, please send me an e-mail?

Eric Greenwood wrote on 2008-03-10 UTC
Hi, John!
 They are under the Courier chess-Modified section. Perhaps i can help w/ some of the questions....
 We have a game going, it' your move!  :)

John Ayer wrote on 2008-02-22 UTC
Eric, where can I find out more about Courier Chess, Mods 4 & 5?

Eric Greenwood wrote on 2008-02-18 UTC
Hi Joe!

 Well I'm glad Someone is happy i'm back!  :) Could be much worse....

 Actually, Courier 5 is one of my most playtested games-but just against myself, unfortunately. I've finished about 20 [solitaire] games, and played a couple against a friend.
 It IS a different paced game, but one that has some nice concepts to it, with lots of tension and strategy, and some unexpected tactical shots as well.
 I wouldn't mind doing a tournament w/ Courier, especially if enough people can be recruited! I suspect a cash Prize would help matters along with i just gotta get enough to make it worth while! :)

Joe Joyce wrote on 2008-02-18 UTC
Hi, Eric! [Some of us think] it's nice to see you back, lol. ;-) This is an interesting game. I think it's on the edge of playability for a large traditional chess variant. Greg has a nice dynamic with the king being so exposed in the middle of the board. You should like it.

Jeremy is still around, I believe, but is letting life interfere with CVs. Which is a shame, because he is supposed to judge the 45-46 square contest with me, and hasn't surfaced after the first meeting. Why am I putting this on Greg's Cataclysm page? Because Greg is the third of us judges, and he is also among the missing. [This is unofficial notice that the results of the contest will be delayed.] 

And this brings us, in a roundabout way, to playtesting games. I know you asked for someone to playtest Courier Mod 5, but I'm thinking of recruiting a couple new playtesters for the contest... maybe we can work a deal.


Eric Greenwood wrote on 2008-02-15 UTC
Thanks, Joe!

 I'll give this game a shot-Matthew Vallee has a challenge up.

 Actually, Rennchess has a variant that uses a 14x12 board, which will allow increased movement behind the lines. Perhaps this is similar to what Cataclysm is trying to achieve...hmmm.

To comment on the opposing viewpoints expressed here....

I happen to agree w/ you, Joe-let the Creativity flow!
 WHo among us is qualified to say which 50, or 100, or even 1000, games is 'worthy' to be played? Every game has appeal to at least ONE person! :)Saying that a game is unworthy in comparison to another one is judgemental in the extreme! I don't like the Majority of games out there, But isn't that just MY taste in games?

 I have created quite a few chess variant games. A few are very good (some even award-winners!), some are just good, some are ok, and a few are stinkers! However, learning an artistic craft like Game Designing means not everything will be great every time. Take what is good and leave the rest alone-don't disparage someone else's efforts!

OK, off the soapbox (for now)......

 Is Jeremy still here and playing?


P.S. I'm looking for players for my Courier Chess, Mod 5. I believe I have found THE best update of historical Courier Chess, one that keeps the same ideas, flow of play, and strategic scope that the Original game had for Medieval players. Anyone interested, please challenge!

 (btw, it took 5 tries to finally get it right. Perfection is rarely achieved on the first try...  ;}  )

Joe Joyce wrote on 2008-02-15 UTC
Hi, Eric. I can answer that: no, the sorceress does not jump. It's similar to pieces like the chu shogi lion, but is basically a 2-step guard. It slides 1 square in any direction, and then slides 1 square in any direction again, except back to its starting square. ;-) Enjoy

Eric Greenwood wrote on 2008-02-15 UTCGood ★★★★
Can the Sorceress Jump? it doesn't seem like it can, but it is not disallowed in the rules. Thanks! :)

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-08-19 UTC
George, I don't know that I ever expressed it *quite* like that, lol, but yes, I believe there are a large number of games in the 'Chess' area of conceptual space, and think many of them are quite good and worth playing if you're so inclined. We also have a number of games that are very close to, but not quite inside, the 'Chess' area, and this site seems to have been accepting them well before I found it. I think that's good in itself [and also because there is really no other place for them.] That's my basic position.

Now, thank you, George, for helping me make the big time. :-) Must be getting somewhere if I have an avowed philosophical adversary! And while one could loosely categorize us as opposites, with your position as 'minimalist' and mine as 'maximalist', there are some points on which we have general agreement. The number of games on CV certainly exceeds the number of good games by an order of magnitude. And I must give you points for agreeing there are a decent number of good games onsite, even 50 standouts. Most minimalists wouldn't do that. 

But I must agree with Greg and Jeremy that you and Mats are both wrong in condemning a game as unplayable without even trying to play it when the game and rules are as simple and easy to understand as Cataclysm. [And Jeremy's Cataclysm preset with the alternate 'pictograph' pieces makes the  game even easier to play.] This is not some tired re-working of chancellor chess or Carrera's chess. This is an excellent shot at creating a different kind of chess variant, and I respect it as such. It's eminently playable. I will here cheerfully challenge Greg, you, and Mats to a game - Jeremy and I already have one going. Some of your other comments I'll try to take up elsewhere. I may surprise you by finding an area of agreement again. Enjoy! Joe

Greg Strong wrote on 2007-08-18 UTC
George, I understand your feelings about the fact that there are thousands of variants here, most of which would not be the slightest bit interesting to most people, and many of which have never even been played.  But it seems unfair to me to use that opinion to assert that Cataclysm is pointless.  It is quite different from any other variant (that I know of.)  It has a large board with predominately medium-range pieces.  And, as such, it plays unlike any other variant that I have tried.  And I like it.  Of course, others may not - this is a radical change from Chess, and is not intended to be the next Chess, or the logical successor to Chess, or anything like that as others claim about their variants.  This is just a game that hopefully is fun to play.

UNPLAYABLE?!?  The other criticism doesn't bother me, but it does bug me a little that this game has now be labeled as 'unplayable' by two people now who have not played it, or even tried.  Is it too hard to understand the rules?  I doubt it.  Lasts too long?  Maybe - games probably average about 80-100 moves.  Some may consider that too long.  But the tempo is very different from Chess, however, and a lot less rides on each move.  I consider it to be more strategical and less tactical than Chess, and, to my tastes, that is a good thing.  Unplayable?  Nonsense.  Seriously, there's a big difference between 'I don't want to play it' and 'I can't play it.'

George Duke wrote on 2007-08-18 UTC
With respect for Strong's himself frequent evaluation of others' normal-size variates or piece-values, I have to agree 100% with the sense of M.Winther's 5May2007 Comment, 'I SEE NO POINT IN THIS[caps. added], as this variant is virtually unplayable. ...too long to play. Could somebody please explain the credo behind these constructs? Are they to be regarded as pieces of art, or what?' We just take Cataclysm as 'Sarcasm'. No one in the outside world would be interested in anything like this. We assume it must be a joke. The proponents of multiform ethos never understand that those at opposite extreme are serious thinking there are only 20, or 100, or 200 important Chess forms to consider during an era, never thousands. Hey, for many, many very good players there is only the ONE true Chess, and no changing that. Thus the effort should be to find those 100 not devise obsessively willy-nilly. Contributor Winther may be intermediate, but I stand opposite the Joe Joyce-expressed 'Let a thousand flowers bloom' and stay here presumptively for sanity at the Alice-like tea party. If only they could imagine a Boston Tea Party instead, they have 50 standouts but not 500, and Cataclysm is one of their backwater exercises in whatever.

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