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Armies of Faith 3: Assimilation

Introduction

This page continues a series of themed variants. Many armies are used over the series. One page's armies cannot generally compete with another's as each page has its own distinctive board. What they share is:
* all boards are 3d;
* all variants have 4 players;
* all armies include the King, Rook, Knight, and Pawn common to standard Occidental Chess through history;
* armies in the same variant have the same number of Kings (always 1), Rooks, Knights, and Pawns.

The theme is different religions that have appeared and, in many cases, disappeared over the history of the Old World north of the Sahara and west of the Urals and Himalayas. My reason for confining it to that region is personal modesty - I know too little of historic religions elsewhere to feel qualified to theme variants on them. A secondary reason is that many, though not all, standard games east of said mountains have abandoned the Knight and Pawn common to all armies in this series. The overall series title, Armies of Faith, I chose to keep to a limit of 13 characters, leaving the 14th free for the number. I do not anticipate going into double figures!

Additional pieces express elements of different religions over the series, often combined with a board barring them from other religions' regions to represent religions with no tradition of proselytising beyond their founding ethnicities. They may be named...
* directly after deities - the Mesopotamian pieces on the first page;
* after animals with whose heads deities are represented - the Chaturanga Elephant (Alfil) here;
* after types of mythical creature - the Elf, Simurgh, and Unicorn here;
* after religious titles in Judæochristian-monotheism armies (which by definition would be short of other options) - the Rabbi, Bishop, and most promotees here;
* after real creatures related to the area continuously through changes in religion - most typically the Camel.

Following on from the previous page in the series, covering the later civilisations of Occidental antiquity, I reach Christianity's rise as an established religion, of an empire rather than an ethnically specific group. In this capacity it sought, with varying degrees of success, to assimilate the region's cultures and replace their old religions. The Bishop, a mere promotee on the previous page, thus becomes an array piece, and all players get every piece type of which the AOF2 array has more than one. To reflect church hierarchy's growing importance Checkmate promotes, along with the Checkmating player's King to Emperor as before, the piece delivering mate to one of the Bishop compounds, for which I have long advocated names of other "lords spiritual".

I retain a 5-level hex-prism board, albeit an enlarged one for what would now be 44-piece armies, and place bound pieces (of which the Bishop is not one in this geometry) on the same levels. This pits Rabbi against Rabbi, Elephant against Elephant, et cetera, but no bound piece type against another unless one of the two is an Elf.

Setup

The board has 5 numbered levels of common shape. Each letter represents a series of 8 or 9 columns in a single plane, or 6 in two non-intersecting planes. A column has its coordinates specified in reverse alphabetical order. Odd and even levels are coloured differently to reflect the relevant bindings.

Level 1 inherits pieces from the AOF2 Jewish army, in their original numbers.

Level 2 inherits the Elephant from the AOF2 Indian army, in half its original numbers. As the weakest Chaturanga piece it shares this level with the strongest, the Rook.

Level 3 inherits the Simurgh from the AOF2 Persian army, in half its original numbers. As the strongest piece bound to its level it shares this level with the King which needs a strong guard, and along with that the Bishops that represent the religion established in place of regional ones.

Level 4 inherits the Camel from the AOF2 Persian army, in reduced numbers. As a piece so often used to complement the Knight it shares this level with that piece.

Level 5 inherits pieces from the AOF2 European army, in their original numbers.

Pieces

Pieces constant in the Occidental game and so in every army in the series:
The KING (K) moves one step in any of the 6 horizontal orthogonal (one column but on the same level), 2 vertical orthogonal (one level but on the same column), and 12 root-2 diagonal (one level and one column) directions. It must be kept out of Check. There is 1 King aside.
The ROOK (R) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells in any of the 6 horizontal, and 2 vertical, orthogonal directions. There are 3 Rooks aside.
The KNIGHT (N) makes 2:1 leaps. It can move 2 levels and 1 column or 2 columns and 1 level, but cannot move within a level. Unlike on 2d and cubic boards a Knight can return to a cell in an odd number of moves (e.g. ec3-ga2-fb4-eb2-ea4-ec3). There are 2 Knights aside.
The PAWN (P) moves rather like in Raumschach. Its noncapturing move is one step along either horizontal orthogonal away from its own King and Simurgh columns. Its capturing move is one step in any root-2 diagonal with coordinates in one of its noncapturing directions and either vertical direction. There are 24 Pawns aside, which like the 8 of FIDE Chess or 10 of Raumschach is half of each army. The basic Pawn rank has room for only 20 but another 4 start in the middle of the rank in front of the rest, partly to make each player's foremost Rabbi and Unicorn start as blocked as the other two.

Pieces inherited from single AOF2 armies:
The CAMEL (C) makes 3:1 leaps. Unlike on 2d and cubic boards a Camel is unbound (e.g. ec2-eb5-dc2 brings it to an adjacent cell), and as on 2d boards but unlike on cubic ones it cannot return to a cell in an odd number of moves, as it always switches between odd and even levels. There are 2 Camels aside. It marks the continuity of secular society among the lands, Arabic and Iranic, where Islam emerged during the period when AOF3 is set.
The ELEPHANT (E) moves exactly two cells in any of the 12 root-2 diagonal directions. Each Elephant is bound to one in four cells of both even levels. There are 2 Elephants aside, and each binding is covered by a different pair of enemy Elephants. It primarily represents elephant-headed deity Ganesh in what was and remains India's largest religion, Hinduism, but elephants are also considered auspicious in, for example, Jainism, another Indian religion surviving from the era. That it is the only India-specific piece here, and in reduced numbers aside, reflects Christianity's lack of direct impact on India.
The ELF (L) is a simple root-11 leaper. While this definition on a cubic board equates to a 3:1:1 leaper, here it equates to the r7:2 leaper - its destination is 2 levels above or below the Sennight's. It is bound to all odd levels. Elves are barred from moving between columns da and qc/rb, db/ea and rc, ki/lh and mj, and li and mk/nj. There are 2 Elves aside. The name is of course after a creature in European mythology. Its use for root-11 leapers puns on the modern German for 11. The binding to exactly the levels missed by Elephants reflects Europe and India being the furthest apart of the four civilisations covered.
The RABBI (A) makes up to 5 steps along hex diagonals through empty cells, turning either 60° left at each intermediate cell or 60° right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose which inspired this kind of piece, a move never mixes left and right turns. Each Rabbi is bound to a third of Level 1, and can reach no other level. In this variant I up the steps from the usual 4 to 5 to allow Rabbis to pass indirectly between da1 and rc1, or li1 and mj1, which they are barred from doing in a single step. There are 3 Rabbis aside, to cover all 3 bindings within that level. The name is after the most widely-known Jewish religious title. The name has a fairly precise meaning nowadays but was vaguer in the era on which this page is themed. Jewish-Christian ecumenists from both directions sometimes describe Jesus' work of his later life as rabbinical.
The SENNIGHT (S) is the root-7 oblique leaper. It moves to the closest cells on the same level that cannot be reached from the same start in a single Rook or Rabbi move, and having reached such a cell goes no further. It cannot be blocked. It is bound to all of Level 1 and like all pure-hex leapers can triangulate. Sennights are barred from moving between columns da and qc/rb, db/ea and rc, ki/lh and mj, and li and mk/nj. There are 2 Sennights aside. The name means a seven-day week, which Jews were first to give a major religious significance and Christians spread wider on becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire. Its use for a root-7 leaper puns on the 7 and the more familiar Knight piece.
The SIMURGH (M) makes one step along a hex diagonal but then turns 30° (but not 90°) and continues as a horizontal Rook. It is bound to all of Level 3, and cannot reach any other level. Simurghs are barred from making the initial step between da3 and rc3, or li3 and mj3. There is only 1 Simurgh aside, as it is a relatively strong piece bound to all of its level. The name is after a creature from Persian mythology, combining a man's head and bird's body, for knowledge of which I am indebted to the works of the 20th-century Dutch artist Maurits Escher. Its use for this piece (and a cubic analogue) is analogous to the Gryphon which is an AOF2 European piece.
The UNICORN (U) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells in any of the 6 hex-diagonal directions. Each Unicorn is bound to a third of Level 5, and can reach no other level. There are 3 Unicorns aside, to cover all 3 bindings within that level. Unicorns are barred from moving between da5 and rc5, or li5 and mj5, as either a single-step move or part of a longer one. The name is of course after a creature in European mythology. My use of it on hex and hex-prism boards extrapolates from the linepiece of the same move lengths on cubic boards.

The Christian-specific array piece:
The BISHOP (B) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells along any root-2 diagonal (that is to say, by the same number of levels as columns), although the board prevents it moving more than 4 steps here. Unlike on 2d and cubic boards a Bishop is unbound (e.g. ed2-fd3-fe2 brings it to an adjacent cell). It always changes level, but may change by both odd and even numbers of levels. There are 2 Bishops aside, and as they start on the middle level of 5 their first move cannot exceed 2 steps (and successive ones 4). This name's significance is hopefully self-evident. The necessary change of level suggests a religion almost going out of its way to proselytise among new ethnicities!

Non-array pieces:
The CALIPH is a Camel promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the Bishop move. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. Its name is a high religious title in early Islam, a religion founded during the period when APF3 is set. Its use for this piece ties in with the Camel above.
The CARDINAL is a Knight promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the Bishop move. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. Its name is a high religious title in the Catholicism that was the original single Christian denomination. It has long been used for this piece.
The EMPEROR is a King that can also make one step along any of the 6 hex diagonals. It is the piece to which a player promotes their own King by checkmating another's, and must still be kept out of Check itself from any remaining players. Both the reduction in players and the increased mobility should however make this easier.
The GOVERNOR is a Unicorn promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the Bishop move. Unlike its components it has the choice of moving within or between levels. Its name is a religious title of British monarchs following the Reformation, and in this variant foreshadows that schism in later history.
The LEVITE is an Elf promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the Bishop move. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. Its name is a Jewish religious title. Its use for this piece is because it shares the first consonant and vowel of Elf, with the intention of extrapolation.
The MODERRANGER is a Rabbi promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the Bishop move. Unlike its components it has the choice of moving within or between levels. Its name is extrapolated from Marshranger, a name that I suggest for the compound of Rook and Rose (itself derived from Marshal) in combination with Moderator, which I suggest for a Bishop that can also make one step along any of the 6 hex - or on cubic boards 8 triaxial - diagonals. The next page features a Moderator of the latter kind.
The POPE is a Bishop promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the remaining Emperor moves. It can move within or between levels because its orthogonal component can. Its name is the Catholic church's highest religious title. Its use for this piece represents being to the church what an emperor is to more general society. Because of Fusion Chess I was particularly keen on a piece indistinguishable in 2d from the next entry...
The PRIMATE is the Bishop with the remaining King moves added, to which an Elephant or Pawn delivering Checkmate is promoted. It can move within or between levels because its orthogonal component can. Its name is the religious title below cardinal. Its use for this piece is because it adds fewer moves than the Cardinal piece to the plain Bishop move.
The QUEEN is the compound of Rook and Bishop, to which a Rook or Simurgh delivering Checkmate is promoted. It can move within or between levels because its orthogonal component can. Its use here foreshadows its introduction to standard Chess.
The SEVITE is a Sennight promoted after delivering Checkmate, by adding the Bishop move. Unlike its components it has the choice of moving within or between levels. Its name is an extrapolation of the Levite above to another oblique component whose Square Of Leap Length divides by 4 with remainder 3.

Rules

Play proceeds in anticlockwise order, starting with Red.

Pawns starting on columns mg, oi, pd, and rf have no special moves, except to capture enemy Pawns En Passant. Other Pawns have an optional initial double-step noncapturing move along either forward orthogonal (but not one of each) from their starting cell. Enemy Pawns (but no other piece) can capture them En Passant as if they had made only the single step. Red Pawns can capture Blue ones En Passant, and vice versa, only with a move ending on column rd. Orange Pawns can capture Green ones En Passant, and vice versa, only with a move ending on column mi.

There is no Castling.

Pawns ending a move on or beyond rank d if Orange, i if Blue, m if Red, or r if Green may be promoted to any other array piece. If the Pawn has no unpromoted move promotion is compulsory, otherwise it is optional. The latter is the case even if the move is an En Passant capture.

A player is Checkmated when their King or Emperor is threatened by the player about to move. That player's pieces are removed from the game and the remaining players then alternate moves starting with the Checkmating one. The Checkmating player's King is promoted to Emperor, and the piece delivering Checkmate is also promoted - to a Queen if a Simurgh, to a Pope if a Bishop, to a Primate if an Elephant or Pawn, and to its own compound with the Bishop otherwise, thereby becoming unbound if not already so. A player delivering the second Checkmate with a piece already promoted as a result of the first wins, with the player who is neither Checkmating nor Checkmated in second place. Otherwise the player delivering the third Checkmate wins. Promotion to Emperor reflects imperial conquests by Christian powers. Other promotions reflect the church hierarchy's growing importance or foreshadow schisms.

Notes

This series is not intended as a rival to any other themed series of different-armies variants.

This game can be played with two distinguishable large, and two distinguishable pairs of identical small, FIDE sets. Each player uses pieces of one colour from one large set and one pair of small sets. Large Queens represent Simurghs, and other large pieces and all Pawns themselves. Small Kings/Queens/Rooks/inverted Rooks represent 2-aside non-FIDE pieces, and small Bishops/Knights 3-aside ones. Promotees are improvised as in casual games of FIDE Chess. Emperors need only be remembered, as they do not coexist in the same army as their unpromoted forms.

An Emperor may occasionally be able to Checkmate an unpromoted King. This wins the game exactly as a piece delivering two Checkmates does.

There is no ambiguity of order of promotions if an unpromoted Pawn in its promotion zone delivers Checkmate. As it Checkmates at the start of its potential move it is promoted to Primate, losing the chance of promotion to anything else. For a choice of promotee the player would have had to promote it at the end of the move bringing it to that cell.

Although E, R, and S are each the initial of two pieces, I decided on single-letter designations to minimise the size of graphics files. I use an initial shared by two pieces for the more established of the two. A capital A especially suits Rabbi as it can be seen as part of a Star of David - note how this multicoloured Star of David

turns out on closer inspection to be composed of a rotated A of each colour.

. I have not bothered with correponding designations for non-array pieces.

The "straightening out" of the Simurgh move to a Rook for promotion to a Queen is based on my lack of a name for the Bishop+Simurgh compound.

This is the closest game in the series to how I originally envisaged a one-off variant based on a wide range of religions. That was to be a 3-player version on a board that would be a hex prism with all sides 5 cells long.

Other pieces like the Moderranger in this geometry (though not this particular variant) are Rook+Finch=FINCHRIDER, Rook+Rabbi=VICERRANGER, Bishop+Finch=PRIMARANGER, Bishop+Cohen=POPERANGER, Queen+Rabbi=DIARCRANGER, Unicorn+Finch=BESIERANGER, Unicorn+Rabbi=RABBIRIDER, Governor+Finch=REGENRANGER. The 2d hex geometry has only the Finchrider, Vicerranger, Besieranger, and Rabbirider (see 4 Linepiece Hex Chess notes section). Though having the standard diagonal, the hex-prism geometry has no Curved linepiece in that direction. The cubic geometry however has one, the APOSTLE of Paired-everything Tunnelchess. Its compounds are Rook+Apostle=CHATERANGER, Bishop+Apostle=APOSTRIDER, Unicorn+Apostle=HERETRANGER, and Duchess+Apostle=DOWAGRANGER. On the other hand, cubic geometry has no Finch, Rabbi, or compounds thereof.

That the only promotees with derived names are the Moderranger and Sevite seems to justify my choice of which pieces I did and did not retain here. Of those abandoned only the Ferz would have a clear promotion to a piece with a bona fide religious name, the Primate of whose move it, like the Elephant and Pawn, has a short-range subset. There is ambiguity as to whether to "straighten out" the Falcon, Gryphon, and Jackal prior to adding the Bishop move. The Peacock does not even have clear candidates for promoted form. The rest would clearly be promoted by adding the Bishop move, but to pieces with derived names. Promoting Ibis to Birdinal would at least convey the idea of the ibis as bird but promoting Anu, Guru, and Nintu would have yielded the less satisfactory Antor, Igtor, and Intor.



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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-11-14. Web page last updated: 2007-11-14