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Fearful fairies. An experimental army for CadA, featuring the Dullahan (Ferz-Knight compound) and the Banshee. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
💡📝Jörg Knappen wrote on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 01:31 PM UTC:
@Joe: The clue to my rating of the Shatranjian Shooters is the observation that a Ferfil ist worth a Knight is worth a Bishop. To my experience this is true for a single Ferfil compared to a single Bishop. A pair of short range Ferfils does not generate a feelable pair bonus, though.

The Shaman ist about 1.25 pawns above the Ferfil. The Hero is similar to the Shaman, but has a larger overall mobility, I rate it half a pawn above the Shaman. The War Elephant is like a Queen, therefore it is 1.5 pawns better than its components. This gives the following calculation:

2 Heros @4.75 Points   = 9.5 Points
2 Knights @3 Points    = 6   Points
2 Shamans @4.25 Points = 8.5 Points
1 War Elephant         @10.5 Points
Sum                     34.5 Points

compared to 32 Points for the FIDEs. I don't know whether the Shamans already have a feelable pair bonus, therefore I don't put it in.

Of course, with a jumping general (about 7.5 points) the army is on the low end of the CwDA scale. 31.5 is less than the FIDEs have. The Hero and the Shaman are very tactically dangerous pieces, specially against the FIDEs with their unprotected rooks in the back rank.

H. G. Muller wrote on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 08:18 PM UTC:
I played 100 games Fairies vs FIDE at 40 moves/min on my fast machine now, and FIDE seems to do a little better then. Still about 70% in favor of the Fairies, though. But that is about the same advantage as I found the Nutters to have over FIDE (and includdes the white advantage). The color-averaged Pawn-odds advantage is 65-68%.

pallab basu wrote on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 08:11 PM UTC:Average ★★★
Joe joyce,

Hope we will play this games sometimes.


H. G. Muller wrote on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 08:36 AM UTC:
When I say the array is safe, it refers to the array of the entire game, i.e. both players. And I think that with this material composition it is rather exceptional to have a quiet array. So if you are going to shuffle, in most cases it will be disaster. I also tried Frog starting on c/f, and this makes white win a Rook from scratch against regular FIDE.

So there is no guarantee this same setup of the Fairies will work well against the standard setup of the other armies. (In fact it was already noticed that solely due to the Banshee placement, Fairies - Nutters is a mate-in-one. Using alternate arrays for the opponents that have all Pawns protected (e.g. Clobberers II) does help, but is no guarantee: the Banshee already attacks some Pawns from where it starts, and if a long-range leaper like Frog can immediately create a second attack on it during its development, effectively gaining a tempo, and pick its back-rank target after it, black is in big trouble.

So indeed, Banshee and Frog are generally troublesome pieces. But that makes it of course all the greater a challenge to design a variant where they actually work.

More worrisome at the moment seems to me that the army seems way too strong in the middle game, even when a tactically quiet opening position is used. In my tentative testing it scored > 75% against FIDE.

Jeremy Lennert wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 10:43 PM UTC:

On a related note, has anyone tried playing with the Avian Airforce from Ideal and Practical Values part 3? That army features WDD, FAA, and WFDDAA, and so should also be able to make long-range attacks on the back rank.

Jeremy Lennert wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 10:28 PM UTC:
I would be wary of declaring an opening array safe on the basis of the way it interacts with a specific opposing array.  The FIDE army happens to have a piece on b/g that starts defended, is worth about the same as a Frog, and can flee without moving a pawn first.

Suppose we shuffled the pieces on both sides with some algorithm similar to FRC.  Would that be likely to produce a problematic case like your b/g test, or a calm one like your a/h test?

Put another way, are the problems you had with the Frogs on b/g a special case that is unlikely to recur with different armies, or is every future CwDA army going to need to carefully check to make sure the Fairies can't easily win a piece against them in the opening?

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 09:42 PM UTC:
Indeed, the Frog on b/g was a big problem, because of 1. Fg4 threatening g7 (which is also under attack by the Banshee) and 2. Fh5 with an attack on the Rook. With the Frogs in the corners there doesn't seem to be a problem, though. FIDE seems to be losing big time, for sure, but the score usually stays flat until move 20-30, and then he suddenly loses a minor or Rook vs Pawn, and it is a done deal. So I don't think it is an opening problem. My guess is the Banshee is just too dangerous tactically, and leaving anything unprotected when the board population starts to thin, is fatal.

This is the game definition I am currently using in the fmax.ini file:

Game: fairy/Fairies-FIDE # P.....E.....S.F.....UKpnbrq................k
6 11 3 7 10 3 11 6
8 4 5 9 10 5 4 8
p:100 -16,24 -16,6 -15,5 -17,5 
p:100 16,24 16,6 15,5 17,5
e:310 15,7 17,7 -15,7 -17,7 30,7 34,7 -30,7 -34,7
n:325 14,7 31,7 33,7 18,7 -14,7 -31,7 -33,7 -18,7
b:350 15,3 17,3 -15,3 -17,3
f:315 15,7 17,7 -15,7 -17,7 48,7 3,7 -3,7 -48,7
S:1050 15,3 17,3 -15,3 -17,3 14,3 31,3 33,3 18,3 -14,3 -31,3 -33,3 -18,3
R:500 16,3 -16,3 -1,3 1,3
Q:950 1,3 16,3 15,3 17,3 -1,3 -16,3 -15,3 -17,3
k:-1  1,34 -1,34 1,7 -1,7 16,7 15,7 17,7 -16,7 -15,7 -17,7
u:485 15,7 17,7 -15,7 -17,7 14,7 31,7 33,7 18,7 -14,7 -31,7 -33,7 -18,7

Jeremy Lennert wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 08:43 PM UTC:
Hmm.  A Banshee (or even just a Nightrider) starting on d1 can reach c4
within 2 moves, forking king and rook.  Black can play d5 or b5 to
discourage it, though for some armies 1...d5 would invite 2. BNNxd5 (still
threatening 3. BNN-c4+).  I suppose d6 or b6 could also be used to
preemptively block one tine of the fork.  (And I'm not sure if white would
be wise to develop his superpiece on turn 1...)

Of course, even a compound with (0,3) such as the Frog or Half-Duck can
likely threaten an undefended back-row piece within 2 moves.  For example,
a Frog starting on b1 can go to b4 and then a5, threatening an undefended
rook if playing against the FIDE army.  Perhaps not terribly difficult to
defend against, but I don't know about 'tactically quiet'.  Do
you feel this is acceptable but, say, a Camel (1,3) is not?

If I were forced to play against a Bison in a FIDE-like game, I imagine I
would try to deny it early access to my fourth rank by guarding any space
it appeared be aiming for with pawns.  But I've never actually tried it.

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 08:30 PM UTC:
I tried Fairies vs. FIDE in Fairy-Max, and played about a dozen games, but on a slow computer at bullet speed. Initially FIDE lost everything, but in the end it managed 3 wins as well. Most games seem to be decided by tactical errors, where the score suddenly jumps by nearly a Rook. So maybe the time control is just too fast.

One thing seems clear, though: the array HF,NF,FA,BNN,K,FA,NF,HF is playable against FIDE. With some other setups the Fairies (who always played white) could immediately win a Pawn or even a Rook, due to HF or BNN action.

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 06:29 PM UTC:
Well, the problem is that a deep forward fork makes it almost impossible to have tactically quiet positions in the opening, because the forking piece can choose its victims on the back rank and stay clear from the Pawns at the same time. The Banshee indeed is a concern, but at least its long-range attacks are blockable. So a check on the King would not be immediately a smothered mate, because you can move up a Pawn to block it. And then you can hope that it was not attacking an unprotected piece elsewhere on the back rank. That is different with a Bison checking from d5. The only remedy there is to make an escape square for your King in advance, but letting your castling rights be destroyed that way is pretty fatal too.

It would have to be play-tested if the Banshee can do fatal initial damage to the opposing army.

Jeremy Lennert wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 05:37 PM UTC:
Would you care to elaborate on the comment that 'forward long-range forking power...wrecks the game'? Does this raise concern regarding the Banshee?

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 04:12 PM UTC:
As for end-game abilities:

Frog, Toad and Newt can all mate in combination with the Modern Elephant, as can a pair of (unlike) Modern Elephants. (The Elephants have the magic property, to be able to go from c1 to a1 in 3 moves.) They all draw against a Rook. (But Modern Elephant loses!)

A pair of Frogs or Toads can force checkmate, but a pair of Newts can't! (The Newt cannot go from c1 to a1 in 3 moves, and that it can go from c1 to b1 does help in combination with the Modern Elephant, which can fork a1, c1, but not in combination with another Newt.)

Btw, in contrast to what I wrote earlier, Banshee vs Rook is mostly won. The wtm win rate is only 97%, though, which is unusually low for a generally won end-game with such strong pieces (KQ.KR is 99.4%). But perhaps this is simply due to the large number of forks and skewers that a Rook can give on a Banshee (where with Q skewers only work when Q is behinf K, and forks don't work at all).

Joe Joyce wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 03:47 PM UTC:
Nice-looking game, Jorg. It's good to see more short-ranged armies on the board. Thank you for mentioning the Shooters. I would be very interested in hearing how the 2 armies interact, and why you agree with me that the weaker shooters are more appropriate as a CwDA. Finally, how does the banshee play with all the short-ranged pieces?

Pallab, I would like to take you up on that game offer, but it will take me a little while to do so. Family health issues have sidetracked me for a few months, and I am behind on a handful of games already. When I catch up, you're on!

H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 12:17 PM UTC:
FD might not be a good idea, because it is color-bound, and you already have another color-bound piece in the array. (I like the piece, btw; I wonder why it is not used more often.)

I think a (3,0) move is indeed not too dangerous, because only one of those goes forward. And it is forward long-range forking power that wrecks the game. Without any input from play testing, I would think that the Frog would be the nicest piece. The others seem a bit awkward, without any short-range steps.

💡📝Jörg Knappen wrote on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 08:45 AM UTC:
Now there is a lot of input for thought, and I may create another army based on the fairy theme ...

For aesthetical reasons I don't like a 'queens left' setup, but H. G. Muller makes a strong point to consider it nevertheless. I have to think what rules for castling to prefer (Fischer random rules or just mirrored castling).

As a replacement for the phoenix/waffle piece, another knight-strength piece is needed. Candidates are the Kylin/Diamond/Duke (FD compound) or the 3 simplest amphibians Frog {1,1}+{0,3}, Toad {0,2}+{0,3}, and Newt
{2,2}+{0,3}---all of them are very thematic, but I have to playtest how they work together. That the halfduck is feasable in CwDA suggest that the amphibians aren't too dangerous to use.

pallab basu wrote on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 11:10 PM UTC:
Anybody like to play this army? Although I do not really like the nightrider piece I can still play with it. Nightrider is always a problem and it is difficult to calculate with it :). Another queen variant which is short range is NBD or NAFD.

H. G. Muller wrote on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 06:12 PM UTC:
Ah yes, I see now there is a Clobberers II army described in Betza's original note's. It seems a bad idea, however, to let the Clobberers play in different setups against different opponents. So perhaps I should switch to universally using Clobberers II in Fairy-Max.

What do you think of universally swapping King and Banshee in the Fearful Fairies? In that setup they could be paired with any of the FIDE, Clobberers II and Nutters army (and even against itself). It is still a bit of a blemish, though, that the Fairies share a piece with the Clobberers.

Wouldn't it be better to go to an array where the FN is the corner piece (protecting the b- and c-Pawn), and FA on b/g (to protect the a-Pawn)? Then you could castle with the stronger piece, so that you would not have to expose it to minor attack that early.

💡📝Jörg Knappen wrote on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 04:05 PM UTC:
The Clobberers can compete in their alternate setup (FAD and Waffle/Phoenix swapped).

H. G. Muller wrote on Sun, Mar 4, 2012 08:21 PM UTC:
I had not noticed this one yet (but I see it is recent). It looks indeed like an interesting and well-balanced army. You no doubt put the (value-wise) Rook replacement on the b-, g-files rather than in the corners to have all Pawns protected in the array. This could cause the problem that you are forced to develop it early in order to castle. But I guess the ability to develop them to d2/e2 (d7/e7) gives them a shelter that is relatively safe for attacks by the opponent's minors.

The Banshee seems a problematic piece, with its attack on g7. Would it be an idea to swap it with the King, so that it attacks b7 in stead? In the Nutters army, b7 is defended by the Colonel. There is another problem, though, namely that the Banshee also attacks a7. This Pawn is unprotected in the Clobberers army. And this problem cannot be solved by starting the Banshee on e1, because h7 is just as unprotected as a7.

These are of course really defects in the Nutters and Clobberers armies, leaving their Pawns unprotected. But as these armies are well-accepted, it becomes a bit difficult to integrate this army in a general CwDA environment. Otherwise it would be no trouble at all to configure Fairy-Max to play it: all pieces are quite regular Chess pieces, and even of high symmetry.

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