The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Daniel MacDuff.

Medieval Chess

This is the most complicated chess game I have ever created, but the rules fit (albeit pictorially) on a single sheet of paper.

First issue: You need four chess sets, or a big ol' box o' checkers.

Second issue: You need these rules by you to play.

Please note that I do not mean First Class as in it is good; on the contrary, it means it is in its first state and is represented by the first set (or no checkers).


Put one serf (pawn of the first set) on your first row.


The Peasantry (Pawns)
1st Class- Serf- Moves one space straight up.
2nd- Peasant- Moves one space straight up or to the side.
3rd- Pawn- Wazir.
4th- Tradesman- King.
Architect- Constructs 2nd level buildings.
Doctor- Can heal any piece that died up to two squares away, orth. or diag.
Minstrel- Friendly pieces within two squares move twice.
Warrior- Can also capture as an Alfil or Dabbaba.
Pilgrim- It can walk off the edge of the board and return as a priest in the next turn instead of moving (1B)

The Warrior Class (Knights)
1st- Page- King.
2nd- Squire- King, Alfil or Dabbaba.
3rd- Knight- Knight.
4th- Warrior- Nightrider.
Bow- Can capture pieces a Knight's move away before or after moving,
Lance- Captures up to three pieces in a row in the Mao/Moa direction it ended its move with.
Mace- Captures all pieces diagonally adjacent to its ending space.
Sword- Captures all pieces in the Moa/Mao path it used to go to its end space from the previous one.
Axe- Captures all pieces orthogonally adjacent to its ending space.

The Priestly Class
1st- Priest- Ferz.
2nd- Bishop- Alfil or Dabbaba.
3rd- Archbishop- Bishop.
4th- Pope- Bishop or Wazir.
Reformist- Enemy Monasteries are destroyed.
Seculist- Enemy Emperors move as Kings.
Improvist- All friendly Churches become Cathedrals as they are built and when the Pope promotes.
Persecutist- Enemy Priests, when capturing, become friendly Serfs.
Crusadist- Knights may move as a Ferz.

Siege Engines
1st- Ladder- Wazir.
2nd- Battering Ram- Wazir or Dabbaba.
3rd- Catapult- Rook.
4th- Trebuchet- Rook or Ferz.
Flaming Ammo- Destroy enemy buildings on the square when capturing.
Large Ammo- Can capture two squares in a row.
Fast-Firing- Makes two moves in a row.
Shot- Downgrades enemy buildings on the square and on adjacent squares when capturing.
Trojan Ammo- Releases a Page on capturing square.

Royal Class
1st- Vassal- Wazir.
2nd- Lord- Wazir or Alfil.
3rd- King- Wazir, Alfil, or Ferz.
4th- Emperor- King, Alfil, or Dabbaba.
1st- Vassalette- Ferz.
2nd- Lady- Bishop.
3rd- Queen- Bishop or Wazir.
4th- Empress- Queen.
Defensive- Leaves a Wall behind when moving.
Religious- Leaves a Priest behind when moving.
Fighting- Leaves a Page behind when moving.
Popular- Leaves a Serf behind when moving.
Heired- Leaves a Vassal or Vassalette (you choose) behind when moving.


The Peasantry have special powers:
Serfs can build buildings on the square that they are on or an adjacent square.
Peasants can upgrade buildings to level two or build buildings.
Pawns, in addition to the powers of Serfs, can upgrade buildings to level three.
Tradesmen can do all that and add Amenities to buildings.

The buildings do this whenever they are vacated:
Asterisks mark Amenities, which allow two to be created.  Both are on the building, but can move independently.  This is the only time two pieces can be on one square.
1st Level- Farm- Create a Serf.
2nd- Fief- Peasant.
3rd- Great Fief- Pawn

Warrior Class
1st- School- Page.
2nd- Academy- Squire.
3rd- Great Academy- Knight.
Tournament Field*

Preistly Class
1st- Church- Priest.
2nd- Cathedral- Bishop.
3rd- Great Cathedral- Archbishop.

Siege Engines
1st- Wall- Ladder.
2nd- Castle- Battering Ram.
3rd- Great Castle- Catapult.

Royal Class (Note: These, when with the Amenity, always produce a male and female piece.)
1st- House- Vassal(ette).
2nd- Manor- Lord or Lady.
3rd- Great Manor- King or Queen.

A piece can only destroy a building (except specialized Trebuchets with Flaming Ammo) when on its space.

Pieces promote or gain a Specialization when they capture.

You win by estroying all enemy buildings and units.


You may only have as many of each piece as there are pieces representing it.

Also, just to clarify:

Create piece- When building for that piece is empty, on the building.
Make building- When you have a Serf, place in adj. square.
Destroy building- Instead of moving, when you have a piece on the square.
Promote/Specialize- When you capture.

Notation is explained in this game:
a6/h6              //Where the initial Serfs are
1. (a6) kq1      //The Serf builds a house on a6
P1g5       // Pawns are given the letter P and the number of their class
2. (b5) b1
(g5) n1
3. b5
P1f5 +N1             //The Serf moves and produces a Page
4. (c4) r1
[You might question the strategy of White's consistent building while Black has an army coming along.  I do too, and I'm playing both sides.]
… N1f6 +N1
5. P1c5 +B1
N1f4 {+}      //The Page moves, but Black has no more Pages left.
                     That is why he cannot produce one.
6. B1a6 +B1           
7. B1b7 +Q1
[White is in a pot of stew here.  His only builder is being threatened.  All hope is lost unless retribution can be attained.]
8. (c6) p1
[Now White can easily recreate his Serfs.]
… N1xc5=N2                  //Black here promotes his Page to a Squire
9. B1c6
10. B1d4 +P1
[I will stop the sample here.  I want you to figure out what happens next.  But Black is in a good position…]

And now for adventurous folk, here is… the Wizard!
Note: Persecutist Popes also turn wizards of all classes, even friendly ones, into Serfs when the wizards capture.
Wizard Building:
1st- Cave
2nd- Lair
3rd- Great Lair

1st Class- Healer- Ferz
2nd Class- Sorcerer- Ferz and Camel
3rd Class- Arcane Artisan- King and Camel
4th Class- Wizard- King, Knight and Camel
Fire Spell- Can rifle destroy buildings like a rook
Humorous Healing- All adjacent friendly pieces are immune to capture
Befuddlement- Any adjacent Peasantry piece swaps sides when the Wizard moves
Rotten Luck- All enemy pieces of level 3 or above die, instead the player who owns the Wizard moving, but the Wizard is destroyed too.
A New Life- The Wizard can walk into a Church, Cathedral, etc. and become a Priest.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Daniel Robert MacDuff.
Web page created: 2013-07-14. Web page last updated: 2013-02-22