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Armies of Faith 5: Spiritual and Temporal

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 such as the Chaturanga Elephant (Alfil) of earlier in the series;
* after types of mythical creature such as the Elf, Gryphon, and Unicorn of the AOF2 European army;
* after religious titles in Judæochristian-monotheism armies (which by definition would be short of other options) - the Bishop, Caliph, Cardinal, Metropolitan, Moderator, Pope, and Primate of the main variant 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 Christian schisms, this page reaches the growth of lay power bases - within each sectarian culture rather than as a new culture in its own right. I therefore augment the previous variant's Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, and Byzantine armies, the last by this stage the name of a vanquished empire but one whose church has spread north to Russia.

AOF4 pieces remain valid representations of the lords spiritual of their respective cultures. So how was I to represent the lords - and ladies - temporal? One thing that struck me about AOF4 was how it reversed the Chaturanga-derived dominance of orthogonal over diagonal pieces in the series' previous variants. 2 Rooks aside represented the Rook move while most armies had 4 Bishops and all 2 or more Bishop compounds. That inspired me to use Rook compounds, some of whose names are historically male but now unisex, some exclusively female. These are not culture-specific and any distribution would be arbitrary. Two distinguishable large sets and two distinguishable pairs of identical small ones would allow four of all FIDE paired pieces, AOF4 numbers of Bishop compounds and their Rook counterparts, and as promised a Queen alongside each King. Initially I planned to give each army corresponding Rook and Bishop compounds, but balance led me to give the Protestant army Rook compounds corresponding to Byzantine Bishop ones and vice versa. This gave armies of equal size and similar strength. A final addition was the Pawn's complement regarding orthogonals and diagonals, as much to make use of large Pawns as anything, but my name for it proves relevant.

The resulting 44-piece armies outgrew the AOF4 board. After considering various options I settled on extending one dimension to a length of 10, preserving AOF4 relative King proximity (western pair and eastern pair) even with all Kings pushed into the corners.

I decided to retain AOF4's promotion of pieces delivering Checkmate by adding the Unicorn move, for much the same reasons as in AOF4. I also decided to have a "Raj" subvariant doing something with most of a Checkmated player's pieces, in allusion to the battle for India. In practice it came under first an Islamic and then a Protestant power, but powers of other denominations were out to rule India as well and would no doubt have done so had things gone slightly differently. India will however return as a power in its own right in the series' final variant.

Setup

The board has 4 levels numbered 1 to 4, all 10x8 boards. FIDE colouring reflects the Bishop/Camel bindings. Vertical planes are in two perpendicular groups lettered a-j and s-z respectively. Columns sc/sh/zc/zh are occupied entirely by Rooks, ta/tj/yj by Bishops, tb/ti/yb/yi by Knights, ya by Camels, tc/th/ua/uj/xa/xj/yc/yh by Yeomen, and 16 columns by Pawns. What differs between levels is which pieces occupy columns sa/sb/si/sj/za/zb/zi/zj.

Level 1 has Rook compounds right in the corners and Bishop ones next in, those with no triaxial move in armies that have two types of either.

Level 2 has Kings right in the corners and Queens next in.

Level 3 has triaxial compounds both right in the corners and next in, except the Islamic army which has the Prince and second Queen.

Level 4 is identical to Level 1 except with the bindings reversed. This is important as the Caliph is a bound piece.

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 orthogonal and 12 root-2 diagonal directions. Being here as a standard piece of 2d games it cannot move along root-3 diagonals (commonly called triagonal). Other 3d variants using this piece are Ecumenical Eurasian Ninjachess and Triaxial Qi. 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 orthogonal directions. There are 4 Rooks aside.
The KNIGHT (N) makes 2:1:0 leaps. On an infinite cubic board it would have 24 such moves, but the moves never exceed 20 from a middle, or 16 from an outer, level of a 4-level board. As on a 2d board, but unlike on a hex-prism one, a Knight cannot return to a cell in an odd number of moves, as it always switches between the two Bishop bindings. There are 4 Knights aside.
The PAWN (PN) moves like in Raumschach. Its noncapturing move is one step along either horizontal orthogonal away from its own camp. Its capturing move is one step along any root-2 diagonal with coordinates in either one of its noncapturing directions and either vertical direction, or both its noncapturing directions on the level. There are 16 Pawns aside. At just over a third of each army it is the most numerous piece, befitting its lowly status.

Simple colourbound pieces:
The BISHOP (B) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells along any root-2 diagonal. As on 2d boards, but unlike on hex-prism ones, a Bishop is bound to either the dark or the pale cells - but can go as many as 7 steps. Each Trinitarian army has 4 Bishops, 2 on each binding. The significance of its name is hopefully self-evident.
The CAMEL (CM) makes 3:1:0 leaps. On an infinite cubic board it would have 24 such moves, but the moves never exceed 16 from any level of a 4-level board. It is bound to either the dark or the pale cells. Unlike on 2d and hex-prism boards a Camel can return to a cell in an odd number of moves, e.g. tb1-wc1-td1-wd1-wb2-tb1. The Islamic army has 4 Camels, 2 on each binding. Camels have been in selected armies from the start, and their continued presence marks Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia coming under a uniting religion.

Array Bishop Compounds:
The CALIPH (CL) is the compound of Bishop and Camel, and retains its components' binding. The Islamic army has 2 Caliphs, 1 on each binding. Its name is a high religious title in early Islam. Its use for this piece ties in with use of the Camel.
The CARDINAL (CD) is the compound of Bishop and Knight. The Catholic army has 2 Cardinals. Its name is a high religious title in Catholicism, and has long been used for this piece.
The METROPOLITAN (MT) is the compound of Bishop and Gryphon. This means that it makes the first step of its move as a Bishop, but then has the choice of continuing as a Bishop or turning 45° (but not 90°) and continuning as a Rook. The Byzantine army has 2 Metropolitans. Its name is a religious title in many episcopal churches, but is more widely publicised in Eastern churches, where a man might be referred to as "Metropolitan Ivanov", than in the Western ones, where "Metropolitan Jones" would sound odd. This exotic feeling of its common use is what inspired its use for a relatively exotic Bishop compound.
The MODERATOR (MD) is a Bishop that can also make one step along any of the 8 root-3 diagonals. The Protestant army has 2 Moderators. Its name is a religious title in bishopless Protestant churches, and here completes Protestantism's breadth. Its use for this piece reflects such a church being popular in Scotland, linked by the Unicorn to the root-3 diagonal.
The POPE (PO) is the Bishop with the remaining Emperor moves (see next but one section) added. The Catholic army has a Pope. 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. Fusion Chess made me especially keen on a piece indistinguishable in 2d from the next entry...
The PRIMATE (PM) is the Bishop with the remaining King moves added. The Protestant army has 2 Primates. Its name is a religious title in many episcopal churches, but is excluded from the Catholic army as that church has higher priestly ranks. Its use for this piece is because it adds fewer moves than a Cardinal to the plain Bishop move.

Array Rook compounds, those marked * the feminine of my name for the non-Rook component:
The ANCRESS (A) is the compound of Rook and Anchorite. This means that it makes the first step of its move as a Rook, but then has the choice of continuing as a Rook or turning 45° (but not 90°) and continuning as a Bishop. The Protestant army has 2 Ancresses. *
The BARONESS (BS) is the Rook with the remaining Emperor moves (see next section) added. The Catholic army has a Baroness. *
The CANVASSER (CV) is the compound of Rook and Camel. The Islamic army has 2 Canvassers. Its name refers to someone carrying out a house-to-house survey, but suggests someone packing tents onto a Camel.
The CHATELAINE (CT) is the Rook with the remaining King moves added. The Byzantine army has 2 Chatelaines. Its name is a generic for the lady of a stately home.
The MARSHAL (MH) is the compound of Rook and Knight. The Catholic army has 2 Marshals. Its name has among other meanings that of a high officer of state, and has long been used for this piece.
The VICEREINE (V) is a Rook that can also make one step along any of the 8 root-3 diagonals. The Byzantine army has 2 Vicereines. *

Other array pieces:
The PRINCE (PC) moves like the King but can be captured. The Islamic army has a Prince. Of the piece's many names, this one is closest in meaning to Taishi, its Japanese name in Dai Shogi.
The QUEEN (Q) is the compound of Rook and Bishop, moving any distance through empty intermediate cells along any orthogonal or root-2 diagonal. The Islamic army has 2 Queens and others 1 each. The name is in the sense of a King's consort, from FIDE Chess, reflecting an increasingly important advisor in that capacity. Queens ruling in their own right in between Kings had also grown more frequent.
The YEOMAN (Y) swaps the Pawn's moves. Its capturing move is one step along either horizontal orthogonal away from its own camp. Its noncapturing move is one step along any root-2 diagonal with coordinates in either one of its capturing directions and either vertical direction, or both its capturing directions on the level. There are 8 Yeomen aside. At just over a sixth of each army it is the second most numerous piece, befitting its second lowliest status. The name is after the next social class above the peasantry represented by Pawns. It is fitting as the lowest property-owning class - though still common and suitably weaker than pieces named after nobility.

Pieces resulting from promotion by Checkmate, unless otherwise specified adding to the array piece a Unicorn move any distance through empty intermediate cells in any of the 8 root-3 diagonal directions:
The CAFILA is a Camel promoted after delivering Checkmate. Unlike its components it is unbound. Its name means a caravan in the ancient camel-train sense, devoid of modern structural connotations and a similar procession to the next entry...
The CAVALCADE is a Knight promoted after delivering Checkmate. Its name means a parade of horses, as both components have equine names.
The DUCHESS is a Rook promoted after delivering Checkmate. Its name refers to being akin to the Queen, but with a lesser secondary component.
The EMPEROR is a King that can also move, though only the usual distance of one step, along any of the 8 root-3 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 EMPRESS is a Queen promoted after either it or an ally delivers Checkmate.
The GOVERNOR is a Bishop promoted after delivering Checkmate. Unlike its components it is unbound. Its name is a religious title of British monarchs following the Reformation.
The USURPER is the compound of Prince and Unicorn, to which a Pawn, Yeoman, or Prince delivering Checkmate is promoted. Its name is after someone threatening an established royal line, as the Prince's components' compounds with the Unicorn, the Besieger and Heretic, threaten castle and church respectively.

Pieces resulting from substitution by Checkmate, none of them blockable:
The MEMSAHIB leaps either 2 steps along any orthogonal, like a Dabbaba, or 1 along either of the two forward ones. A Checkmating player's Memsahibs replace the Checkmated player's Rooks and (Queen apart) Rook compounds and use the same physical representations. Memsahibs are bound to either the odd or the even levels. Its name is the feminine form of the Sahib below.
The NABOB leaps either 2 steps along any root-3 diagonal, like a Eunuch, or 1 along either of the two forward ones. A Checkmating player's Nabobs replace the Checkmated player's Knights, Pawns, and Yeomen and use the same physical representations. Nabobs share the Unicorn's binding. The name means an important native but still subordinate to the Sahib class.
The SAHIB leaps either 2 steps along any root-2 diagonal, like the Elephant of AOF2 and AOF3, or 1 along any of the five forward ones. A Checkmating player's Sahibs replace the Checkmated player's Bishops, Camels, and (Queen apart) Bishop compounds and use the same physical representations. Sahibs share the Bishop's binding. Its name means a member of a colonial ruling class in India, especially during the British occupation. As the compound of Cross and Elephant it suggests a Christian influence in India.

Rules

Play proceeds in anticlockwise order, starting with the Catholic army.

Pawns have an optional double-step noncapturing move along either horizontal orthogonal from the starting cell of any Pawn of the same army (including its own). Enemy Pawns (but no other piece) can capture them En Passant as if they had made only the single step. Yeomen have no double-step move as their noncapturing move includes the horizontal diagonal, which brings it 2 columns nearer the enemy camp.

There is no Castling.

A Pawn reaching the opposite army's camp, or a Yeoman reaching a non-Pawn column thereof, is promotable to another capturable array piece of its own army, with restrictions. Pawns cannot be promoted to any piece with a Rook move except the Rook itself (as in AOF4), nor Yeomen to any piece with a Bishop move except the Bishop itself. Promotion is compulsory on the King column, otherwise it is optional.

A special move is allowed for promotion to a Queen, which has both a Rook and a Bishop move. An unpromoted Pawn or Yeoman can move onto a cell which is both occupied by an unpromoted ally of the other kind and a promotion cell for both, by a capturing or noncapturing move (as it is not exactly either). The two combine into a Queen. This cannot happen on a King column as neither piece can wait there unpromoted. The reason why anyone might wish to promote a Pawn and Yeoman to a Queen rather than to two pieces is forthcoming...

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. In the "Raj" subvariant they are, except for the King and any Queens, replaced by the Checkmating player's Raj pieces. The remaining players then alternate moves starting with the Checkmating one. The Checkmating player's King is promoted to Emperor (if not one already) and all their Queens - including any created by merger - to Empress. The piece delivering Checkmate, if not a Bishop compound or Rook compound, is also promoted. 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 and Empress reflects the rise and fall of the empires of the period.

Notes

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

The bar on promoting Rook and Bishop compounds delivering Checkmate is primarily for want of names for their compounds with the Unicorn.

Representation by two large and four small sets goes as follows:
* Kings and Trinitarian Queens by themselves from large sets;
* Pope, Prince, and Moderators by small Kings;
* Baroness, Vicereines, and Islamic Queens by small Queens;
* other FIDE pieces by themselves from small sets;
* Camels by small Bishops;
* Cardinals, Primates, Caliphs, and Metropolitans by large Bishops;
* Marshals, Ancresses, Canvassers, and Chatelaines by large Rooks;
* Yeomen by large Pawns.

It matters not that a Queen delivering Checkmate does not qualify for promotion as the piece delivering Checkmate, since it qualifies for promotion as one of all its army's Queens. An Emperor may occasionally, and an Empress more often, be able to Checkmate an unpromoted King. This wins the game exactly as a piece delivering two Checkmates does. An Empress Checkmating an enemy Emperor wins anyway as such a move must be the third Checkmate.

There is no ambiguity of order of promotions if an unpromoted Pawn or Yeoman in its promotion zone delivers Checkmate. As it Checkmates at the start of its potential move it is promoted to Usurper, 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.

As C, M, and P are each the initial of multiple piece types, I have introduced 2-letter designations. I have not bothered with such designations for non-array pieces. The BS of Baroness (starting cell js3) is rather stylised as both letters share the lower curve.

The 25% larger board and 44% larger armies compared to AOF4 make for a higher piece density of 55%.

Having two Queens in the Islamic army is symbolic on several levels. One is the obvious allowing of polygamy in traditional Islam, but other armies can gain Queens later anyway. Another reflects the use of Camels. Where most Rook compounds match the corresponding Bishop compound, the Islamic army could be seen to require a Rook compound matching the corresponding Camel compound. Thus I give it 2 each of Rook+Bishop, Rook+Camel, and Bishop+Camel. Finally it makes up for the relative weakness of other Islamic army pieces, especially should the Islamic army deliver the first Checkmate.



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 Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2008-04-26. Web page last updated: 2008-04-26