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PASGL 312 Chess. Critters steal lunch in the forest, while trying to get close to the campfire and avoid the train. (Cells: 68) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
danielmacduff wrote on 2015-04-20 UTCGood ★★★★
Another subvariant would be to add a row on each side and superimpose The Game of the Trees.  Every piece can travel on grass, shrubbery, and trees equally (Perhaps a Shrew in the trees can't be squashed, or a Deer can eat grass and shrubbery...).  Other than movement, trees would block everything.  Just a suggestion.

Update (like six hours later): Perhaps This Game is for the Birds could be worked in too...  The Ultimate Outdoor Trifecta Chess would be very strange indeed...

George Duke wrote on 2010-11-11 UTC
Some of the subvariants are different armies, that can be found. Betza rarely strays outside 64 squares, like this one 68 squares. Other examples of that are Betza's Outrigger on 80 and Chess on a Really Big Board of 256.

George Duke wrote on 2009-10-21 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thanks, Peter. This is another great Betza effort and I am going to dissect it this week for follow-up. Train and Terminals and probably Railroads. Who would have guessed. And FOX answers that part of question 6 of the Quiz as well as the other two right answers of Fox I have in mind. (Five of the ten Quiz question still have to be explained and answered every few days.) PASGL 312 then is correct alternate response for railroad/train.

AMXRE wrote on 2006-09-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I reckon this is ralph betza's best game!i am a fan of ralph betza's themed games.they are interesting and look fun to the way,i hope ralph betza eill publish another game!lunch seems tobe a nice theme!the trin is also aconcept not seen before!bye,i will be busy making a set to play with my family!

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-06 UTC
I gave a rule for stalemate even though I was not sure it could happen in
pasgl312 chess.

You may question my consistency. Repetition is clearly possible, althogh it
is difficult, and I thought of it bur chose not to mention it at all.

The difference is that for this game there is one clear and simple rule for
stalemate. I could write down the rule and be sure that it was correct,
even though I could not be sure that the situation it covered was

Instead of keeping silence, I chose to write down the one true stalemate
rule because I felt that it expressed a truth about the game that would
help you understand the game.

You could almost add it to rule zero: 'for point-scoring games, stalemate
is a non-event.'

John Lawson wrote on 2002-07-06 UTC
Yes, that's a good enough rule.  My feeling was that it didn't matter. 
Even in a dual stalemate position, with just the Train chugging around, if
there are pieces near the Campfire, the score will be incrementing, at
least until the critters are squished by the Train.

Wouldn't achieving a stalemate position be difficult?  With multiple
occupancy, it is near impossible to blockade lunchvoll critters, and if one
player's critters were all lunchlos, he would be in a very bad position
anyway, and possibly lost.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-06 UTC
I did not think that repetition would be an issue in pasgl312 chess.

If a position is the same except for the Train, it is a different position.
Therefore, in order to have a real rapetition. you have to wait for the
Train to come to the same place and have all the same pieces in the same
place, and have them all just as lunchvoll or lunchlos as they were before.

If the relative score is the same you can claim end of game and the higher
score wins. Is that a good enough rule?

This will not often happen, I think.

John Lawson wrote on 2002-07-05 UTC
I have searched, and I cannot find any rule regarding repetition. Stalemate results in a pass or multiple passes, but I mean voluntarily repeating a position. What happens, if anything? Does it matter if points are being accumulated? Does the position of the Train count?

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-03 UTC
I think that pasgl312 will be very hard to play. At least, my own attempts
to play a game against myself have all ended after just a few moves with
confused positions where i really didn't understand what was going on or
what strategy would be appropriate.

In designing this game, I first thought about what critters and features of
the real pasgl312 I wanted to have in the game, and then I determined the
major characteristics of each piece according to the nature of the
real-life critter as best I could; and then for several days I thought
about individual interactions one-on-one between the pieces. The result is,
as far as I can tell, that no piece is overly dominant.

This means that there is a skunk strategy and a woodchuck strategy and a
deer strategy and even a chipmunk strategy (because of multiple occupancy,
you can advance the shrew from c2 to g6 to h7 to g8, and get a chipmunk;
it's very hard to stop! But it takes a few moves, so what is the enemy
doing while you do this?)

Yes, the Fox strategy is designed into the game. If you can eat all the
medium/small critters (oops, actually there aren't any small, are there?)
then the large critters lack support. A combined Woodchuck+Fox attack is a
nice idea. By design, the Woodchuck aims at awkward squares, and by design
you may have trouble implementing this strategy.

Because I designed primarily for the theme, there are lots and lots of
rules. Because I thought so hard about the one-on-one interactions, every
strategy i think of has a counterstrategy. 

I do not think that I will ever be very good at this game; on the other
hand, when i used to play my own games competitively, the games i played
poorly were usually more popular than the ones I could win -- people got a
kick out of beating the game's inventor, I guess.

I think i could play Nemoroth pretty well. 

I hope to see somebody play pasgl312 well. I will admire and applaud.

John Lawson wrote on 2002-07-02 UTC
I will be playing PASGL 312 in the near future, and one of the plans I had considered was the Woodchuck and Fox working as a team against the opponents medium-sized critters. The Woodchuck bonks them, causing them to drop their lunch, and then the Fox darts in and devours them.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-02 UTC
'if the Woodchuck chucks wood in a high enough arc to clear the Train'

Yes, I think it does. I said it could chuck past obstacles. The Woodchuck's
shooting aims at awkward places, but I am finding it to be a very
interesting piece in my attempts at playtesting.

No wonder I had to post before testing! It would have taken me months and
months to playtest because the strategies and tactics are even stranger
than Nemoroth's!

John Lawson wrote on 2002-07-01 UTC
I understand that the Hunter cannot shoot through the Train, and the Deer
cannot leap over the Train, but it is unspecified if the Woodchuck chucks
wood in a high enough arc to clear the Train.

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-28 UTC
'...but some of the emptying moves could go from one Train square to

Also, if you unload a Campfire square to a Campfire square on the other
track, the train will be back to that square in 10 moves or so.

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-28 UTC
'...I guess you can score enough in one turn to win; with the Train coming
by, you have 10 moves to load up a square and ten moves to empty it; but
some of the emptying moves could go from one Train square to another.'

If you are accumulating points fast enough, it may not be necessary to make
any attempt to unload the Campfire square if you reach the 30 point
advantage before the Train actually squishes your critters.

'Because of multiple occupancy, it's easy to promote a Shrew. However, it
takes quite a few turns.'

And all that time, your opponent is gathering his critters around the
Campfire.  (Do critters gathered around the Campfire sing songs and make

'...this is baffling to try to play.'

This is an alarming admission.  I confess that, even after actually playing
Nemoroth and Captain Spalding Chess, I am having trouble getting my mind
around PASGL 312, and now the inventor is baffled, too.  Maybe I'm not as
dense as I feared.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-06-28 UTC
So many comments to answer!

I think of the abbreviation as pronounced p, a, s, g, l. The roadside signs
sometimes say 'sgl 312', and the 'pa' is implicit because you're obviously
in Pennsylvania.

Yes, scoring is cumulative per turn. I must confess that I didn't consider
how many points one could score per turn.

If the opponent does not shoot you or steal your lunch, I guess you can
score enough in one turn to win; with the Train coming by, you have 10
moves to load up a square and ten moves to empty it; but some of the
emptying moves could go from one Train square to another.

Remember that pieces can become useless without being removed from the
board. If you skunk a bunch of enemy pieces and occupy their home squares
with Chipmunks it's a big advantage.

Because of multiple occupancy, it's easy to promote a Shrew. However, it
takes quite a few turns.

If a piece is on its home square and you steal its lunch, what happens? (a)
nothing much; it gets a new lunch just by being there; (b) it has to leave
home and re-enter the square. This is unspecified, a hole in the rules.
I'll specify after some more playtesting.

It's serendipitous that you can try to scroe some points fast with 1.
Df1-d4, but then Wg8->d4 bonk! and the Deer is lunchlos! 1. Df1xc7 merely
helps the enemy development. Ths Skunk has such great mobility, what about
1. Sb1-b2 intending Sb2-b7 trying to get in the way and slow down enemies?
Maybe the Fox is the key to the game? No? Hmmm, this is baffling to try to

Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-06-27 UTC
What about pas--gal three twelve

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-27 UTC
I've been meaning to ask how 'PASGL 312' is spoken.

Most straight-forward would be 'pee-ay-ess-gee-ell-three-twelve'.

I've personally been referring to it as
'Pennsylvania-State-Game-Lands-three-hundred-twelve Chess', but this might
be considered hyper-correct.

Other alternatives are also possible; which is most appropriate?

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-27 UTC
I think Joseph is right.  It looks like I missed exactly how points were
accumulated.  I was thinking they would be assessed once, at the end of the
game, but assessing them at the end of each ply makes more sense.

Then missing Hunters might not be a disaster, because if you outplayed your
opponent, your score would eventually exceed his by 30 points anyway.  It
would probably be undesirable to have two royal pieces.

This is another one of those games, like Nemoroth and Captain Spalding
Chess, where you need to spend days studying the rules to have a chance.  I
love this stuff.

Joseph DiMuro wrote on 2002-06-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
If I'm interpreting the rules correctly, critters earn points EVERY TURN
that they start next to the campfire. If a bear stays next to the campfire
6 turns in a row, that's 30 points.

As for the possibility of an endless game, it looks like the only way it
can happen is if both hunters are lost, as you said. How about we say that
a player that loses a hunter loses the game? That would close the loophole
without affecting gameplay much (the chances of losing a hunter are
extremely slim).

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I've been looking at the point scheme.

The total number of points a player can have for critters next to the
campfire is 24 plus 1 for each Shrew that can be promoted to Chipmunk, or

If you assume that promoting Shrews is difficult: 

Then the likelihood of exceeding your opponent's point count by 30 is close
to zero.

And the likelihood of losing the game even though the opponent's Bear is
eliminated for 20 points is close to zero.

Furthermore, to achieve the maximum score (32) for Campfire propinquity,
there would have to be 16 critters adjacent to the Campfire.  Since the
train passes through each Campfire square 2 of every 20 turns,
orchestrating the 'campout' without some critter getting sqooshed would be
near impossible.

Another interesting effect is that if each side loses its Hunter
(foolishly, since the only way I can see for that to happen is for them
both to be squished by the Train), the game can never end, except draw by
agreement.  Perhaps in this case we need something like a 50-move rule, but
instead of a draw, the winner is declared on points.

I can see the possibility of an urban variant of PASGL 312 called NYCTA
IRT, where commuters jostle to be near the door to get on or off a subway
train without being pushed onto the tracks or having their pockets

BTW, I noticed no one has actually rated this.  I give it excellent for
concept.  Play is still moot.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-06-26 UTC
Yes, lunchvoll and lunchlos; and I'd rather say lunchlos than lunchless in order to avoid possible confusion: creatures that never carry Lunch are lunchless, but they are not lunchlos.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-06-26 UTC
I've merged the additional material at the end, and added the notation

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-26 UTC
Let me see if I understand 'Lunch' correctly:

If a critter loses its lunch, that lunch disappears from the game; it is
not lying around to be picked up by some other critter.

If a critter drops its lunch, that lunch disappears from the game; it is
not lying around to be picked up by some other critter.

If a critter steals another critter's lunch, the stealing critter must, of
course, already have a lunch.  The result is that the stealee has no lunch
and the stealer has lunch, not two lunches.

Since lunches are not 'conserved' as objects, then they may be considered
more as states, say 'lunchvoll' and 'lunchlos'.

Did I get it?

gnohmon wrote on 2002-06-26 UTC
'If a Deer is at a3 and wants to jump
   to b5, when is it blocked by the train? Is it when the train is in a4,
   or in b4, or in either a4 or b4, or in both a4 and b4?'

Hey! People are already saying too many rules! Hush!

Unless otherwise specified, if a Knight cannnot jump it is considered to
move first Rookwise then diagonally, so that a blockable Knight move from
a3 to b5 is blocked when a4 is occupied;
as per the 'Rule Zero' page -- which I haven't submitted to the editors
because I've been so 'busy' thinking about PASGL312 Chess! (And so I can't
blame you for asking, right?)

In this game, the Train is capitalized, in honor of Jay Gould, who is the
evil capitalist robber baron whose name is in Gouldsboro.

If you are not familiar with the history of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk and the
Erie Lackawanna RR, buy or borrow a book. It's a wonderful story.

Yes, Gouldsboro is named after *that* Jay Gould, and yes, the Train in
PASGL312 Chess is in real life the Erie Lackawanna RR! (I paused for a few
minutes and decided that it really needs a few more exclamation points.)

Peter Hatch wrote on 2002-06-26 UTC
If a Deer is at a3 and wants to jump to b5, when is it blocked by the train? Is it when the train is in a4, or in b4, or in either a4 or b4, or in both a4 and b4?

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