The Chess Variant Pages



This page is written by the game's inventor, Daniel Zacharias. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

Panoply

Panoply is a hexagonal chess game, which I developed mainly because I wanted to think of an interesting hexagonal chess variant that wasn't just a translation of another game to a new board. I started with a smaller board, with 6 spaces on each side. It took me a year or two and many tests to come up with a set of pieces that felt right, but then I ruined it all by expanding the board to 7 spaces per side and adding some newer pieces I'd thought of, just to see how they'd work. I liked the result too much to change anything so here it is.

Setup

Pieces

The pawn moves by sliding any distance in either of the two forward directions, and captures by jumping over an enemy piece immediately in front of itself and landing on an unoccupied space behind. When a pawn reaches the farthest rank, it must promote. Pawns can promote to any piece other than a King or Barricade, regardless of what has been captured or not.

This shows the pawn's movement abilities. The pawn on h5 can move to any of the spaces marked with blue. The pawn on e5 can capture the pawn on e6 by jumping over it to e7, but cannot capture the barricade on d6 due to the special capturing rule for barricades.

 

The King moves one space in any of the six directions, and captures as it moves. The usual rules regarding check and checkmate apply.

 

The Rider is a normal hexagonal rook. It slides any distance in a straight line and captures by landing on an enemy.

 

The Skirmisher moves like the Rider, but captures differently. When capturing, the Skirmisher moves, in the opposite direction of its target, as many spaces as it would move if it were moving to the targetted space. Skirmishers may not capture a piece if there is another piece of either color between the target and the Skirmisher. A Skirmisher is not required to capture when moving to a space where it could go to capture.

In this diagram, if the Skirmisher captures the Rider it will move to g6, if the Pawn it will move to i5, if the Herald it will move to k7. The black Skirmisher on g9 cannot capture the white Skirmisher because the Rook is in the way.

 

The Catapult moves like the Rider and Skirmisher, but captures differently from either. The Catapult catpures by leaping along a line over its target, landing on an empty space exactly as far from the target as the target was from the space the Catapult was on before. Other pieces, of either color, in the path of the leap do not obstruct the Catapult, but its destination space must be empty for it to capture.

Here the white Catapult can leap to b8 to capture the Pawn on d6, to f10 to capture the Skirmisher on f7, or to f12 to capture the Guard on f8. It cannot capture the Pawn on e5 because its landing space, d6, is occupied.

 

The Herald moves like the Rider, but cannot capture. Instead, any enemy piece that is adjacent to a Herald at the beginning of a turn may not move. Pieces may still move through or into the spaces adjacent to the Herald. Two hostile Heralds can immobilize each other. A piece prevented from moving by a Herald does not give check.

 

The Guard moves to the next space in any direction that is not occupied by a friendly piece. It captures by replacement.

 

or The Barricade occupies two spaces on the board. Each player has two Barricades, which I have distinguished here by using slightly different graphics for each, although they behave exacty alike.

The Barricade has a complex move, consisting of one or two steps. Each step may be either a rotation, where one end of the Barricade moves to an empty space that is adjacent to both ends of the Barricade; or an advance, where one end moves one spacee directly away from the other end, and the other end follows. The advance step can alternatively be thought of as one end of the Barricade leaping over the other, landing on the opposite side.

A Barricade may only capture with an advancing step. Either, neither, or both of the steps a Barricade makes on a turn may be captures. A Barricade may capture and immediately retreat to its previous position, but it may not in any other circumstance make two opposite steps. Null moves are not allowed.

Barricades are immune to capture from all directions, except the two in which they can advance. Another way to express that is, no piece can capture a Barricade that does not begin its move on the same line as both ends of the Barricade. When capturing a Barricade, the capturing piece treats the first end as the target. Thus, pieces that capture by replacement will stop on the first end of the Barricade, although both ends are removed together. Pieces that jump treat the first end as the target of the jump. Pawns cannot ever capture Barricades, because a Pawn must jump exactly two spaces to capture and the Barricade would occupy both of them.

Barricades are not immune to immobilization by Heralds, from any direction. If either end of the Barricade is next to a hostile Herald, the whole Barricade cannot move.

In this diagram, the Barricade on c11 and d10 illustrates the different possible steps. The blue dots show rotations and the white and green show advances.
The Barricade on i6 and j6 shows all the spaces that are threatened with capture in one move, of one or two steps.
The Barricade on h3 and i2 can be captured by the Rider on c8, because the Rider is aligned with the ends of the Barricade, but it is immune from capture by the Rider on h2. The Catapult on j1 cannot capture the Barricade for the same reason a Pawn could not, but if the Barricade were farther away from the Catapult it might be possible.

Rules

Stalemate, when one player has no legal moves on his turn, is a loss for the stalemated player, if the other player is not also stalemated. If neither player has any legal moves, the game is drawn. Fifty consecutive turns without any irreversible moves is a draw. Irreversible moves can be any of these:

Notes

I have tested this game (not just by myself) enough to be fairly sure it works. Of course, I can't be completely certain. I do wonder if it favors defensive play too much, but I haven't seen any draws except one involving perpetual check.

Because of the Pawns' unlimited forward movement, promotion is common towards the end of the game. The choice to disallow promotion to Barricades was influenced by not having enough of the physical pieces I used to play, and also because I feel it might be too powerful since a newly promoted to a Barricade would likely be immune to recapture.

I estimate that the Skirmisher, Catapult, and Guard are close to each other in value; while the Rider, Herald, and Barricade are also similar to each other. Skirmishers are very useful throughout the game, but less so when the Riders have more space to maneuver. Catapults and Guards are good for threatening enemy Heralds. Barricades can attack early, since they are safe from attack by pawns, but losing a Barricade is severe.

Panoply can be played through Game Courier with this preset.



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By Daniel Zacharias.

Last revised by Daniel Zacharias.


Web page created: 2020-11-20. Web page last updated: 2020-11-20