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Armies of Faith 6: After Empire

Introduction

This page concludes 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 correctly did 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, Gryphon, and Unicorn here;
* after religious titles in Judæochristian-monotheism armies (which by definition would be short of other options) - the Rabbi, Bishop, and their compounds here;
* after real creatures related to the area continuously through changes in religion - most typically the Camel.

The previous page in the series covered the development of high temporal office in Christian and (or, depending on your breadth of definition, including) Islamic empires. This page moves on to the Cold War era, when those empires have declined or changed their established faith. Of course I could not subtitle the page "The Cold War" as that would make for dull play! What this variant really represents is the major-power warfare that might have (but thank goodness hasn't) broken out. As I am ending the series with this variant, I decided on an open-ended subtitle.

I identified no fewer than six strands of faith to confront each other. Protestants and Catholics had largely buried their differences to give a united Western Christian front against more exotic and/or modern ideologies. Islam continued as in AOF5. Indigenous religion returned to... not exactly established, but certainly predominant, status in India. Israel too saw a return of its local religion - along with a population practising it. The Eastern church lost its Northern empire to Marxist atheism. Finally, it seemed fitting to include the fantasy creatures of European religion in the fantasy establishment for which elements of the New-Age movement were starting to hold out. Six was two more than the second condition unifying the series allows for, so I had to combine the most similar. India and Israel have the obvious connection of revived indigenous religion standing up to Islamic neighbours, so I have an Indoisraeli army. The most similar pair among the remaining four may be more surprising - Christianity and Islam - but both revere Jesus, both seek converts throughout humanity, and both continue as established faiths from the imperial era. Therefore I have a combined Christian and Islamic - or to use a coinage of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Chrislamic - army.

The return of a Jewish presence meant the return of the hex-prism board, slightly enlarged compared to AOF3. The Chrislamic army inherits AOF5's Bishop and compounds thereof, minus the Metropolitan in accordance with the Russian revolution. Corresponding Rook compounds are distributed among other armies, those with female names often with connotations of infrastructure alongside their literal meanings. Some armies inherit AOF2/3 pieces. Relative to earlier variants the Ferz is dropped as peripheral to the theme, the Sennight and Fortnight as no longer culture-specific, and the Peacock and Simurgh as their religion has not returned to dominance anywhere. I also dropped promotion by Checkmate to match the subtitle, although some players can replace their King with a President through a certain alignment with other pieces. Conversely some pieces rejected for AOF2 are brought in.

What I retained was 5 levels, of which some pieces could reach only a subset. However I expanded the number of pieces bound to one level to bind three to each even level, and conversely bound Elephants and Elves to odd levels. This pits Rabbi against Unicorn, and Elephant against Elephant/Elf, but not one pair against the other.

Setup

The board has 5 numbered levels of common shape. Each letter represents a series of 9 columns in a single plane, or 5 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 has half the Knights/Bishops/Elephants/Elves and all Camel compounds, Levites, and Princes.

Level 2 has half the Rooks, Camels, Revolutionaries, royally crowned pieces, Rabbis, and Unicorns.

Level 3 has the unpaired pieces, Knight compounds, Cohens, Gurus, Baronesses, and Gryphons.

Level 4 has half the Rooks, Camels, Revolutionaries, royally crowned pieces, Rabbis, and Unicorns.

Level 5 has half the Knights/Bishops/Elephants/Elves and all Viceroy and Rumbaba compounds.

Pieces

I have also tailored army composition to be represented by 1 large and 2 small FIDE sets. Large Kings/Queens and small Rooks/Knights/Pawns represents themselves. Small Bishops represent other pieces of which players have 4, and large Pawns pieces of which they have 6. As players have 1 or 2 of the rest, they can be represented by any small royalty or large simple pieces. Pieces may not move along a hex or hybrid diagonal between columns ea and td, or nj and ok, either as a whole move or part of a longer one, as there is no column da or nk. This is why I raise the Cohen's and Rabbi's steps from the 4 of a convex board to 5.

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. For two armies a King does not fit the theme, but the series rules require every army to start with one, and the two must replace their King with a President to have a chance of winning.
The ROOK (RK) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells in any of the 6 horizontal, and 2 vertical, orthogonal directions. There are 4 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. ed3-gb2-fc4-ec2-gb4-ed3). There are 4 Knights aside.
The PAWN (PN) moves rather like in Raumschach. Its noncapturing move is one step along either horizontal orthogonal away from its own rearmost column. 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 16 Pawns aside, blocking every other piece except leapers such as the Knight. At just over a third of each army it is the most numerous piece, befitting its lowly status.

Pieces common to two armies:
The CAMEL (CM) makes 3:1 leaps. Unlike on 2d and cubic boards a Camel is unbound (e.g. ed2-fc5-ec2 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. The Chrislamic and Marxist armies have 6 Camels each, 3 starting on each even level. It marks the continuity of secular society among the lands where Islam has taken root. Some Islamic countries, most outside this series' borders but some borderline, and conquered by a Russian empire reaching well within, were inherited by the Soviet Union.
The ELEPHANT (ET) moves exactly two cells in any of the 12 root-2 diagonal directions. Each Elephant is bound to one in four cells of all odd levels. In this variant it has special powers in conjunction with the Revolutionary. The Indoisraeli and Marxist armies have 4 Elephants each, 1 for each binding within the 3 odd levels. It primarily represents the 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 AOF2 era. As the modern Bishop is still known in Russia by a translation of its predecessor's name, no doubt with the Marxist establishment of Soviet times preferring such a non-ecclesiastical name, the Marxist army gets that predecessor!
The QUEEN (Q) is the compound of the previous section's Rook and next one's Bishop. It can move within or between levels because its orthogonal component can. The Chrislamic and New-Age armies have a Queen each, and it is the Chrislamic army's only Rook compound. Alongside the literal sense of an enduring King's consort, it partly symbolises societies in which monarchy is being bolstered more generally.
The REVOLUTIONARY (RY) moves exactly one step in the 8 orthogonal, 6 hex-diagonal, and 12 hybrid-diagonal directions, but not the 12 standard diagonals. In this variant it has special powers in conjunction with the Elephant. The Indoisraeli and Marxist armies have 2 Revolutionaries each. This piece represents in the first case Indians breaking away from, and in the second Marxists taking over, an empire.

Chrislamic-specific pieces:
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 4 Bishops. All other Chrislamic-specific pieces are Bishop compounds. This name's significance is hopefully self-evident.
The CALIPH (CL) is the compound of Bishop and Camel. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. There are 2 Caliphs. 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. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. There are 2 Cardinals. Its name is a high religious title in Catholicism, and has long been used for this piece.
The MODERATOR (MD) is a Bishop that can also move one step along any of the 6 hex diagonals. Unlike its components it has the choice of moving within or between levels. There are 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 a Bishop that can also move one step along any of the 8 orthogonals and 6 hex diagonals. There is but 1 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 a Bishop that can also move one step along any of the 8 orthogonals. There are 2 Primates. Its name is a religious title in many episcopal churches, and its use for this piece is because it adds fewer moves than a Cardinal to the plain Bishop move.

Indoisraeli-specific pieces:
The COHEN (CO) moves up to 5 steps along orthogonals or hex diagonals, but never both in the same move, through empty cells, turning either 60? left at each intermediate cell or 60? right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose inspiring this kind of piece, a move never mixes left and right turns. If there are no 60? turns to make, in this case with a move starting with a vertical step, the move must consist of just that step. There are 2 Cohens. It is new to the series but not to offshoots. Its name is a rank in the historic Jewish priesthood. The former spelling is the more familar, but the latter is sometimes used for the ancient priest to distinguish from the surname widespread in modern Jewish society. For knowledge of the ancient meaning I am indebted to Leo Rosten's books on language.
The GURU (GU) is a triangulating leaper (like the Gnu). Its components are the 4:1 Giraffe and 5:3 Gimel. It can move 4 levels and 1 column, 4 columns and 1 level, or 5 columns and 3 levels. It is unbound. In all cases it moves between opposite corners of a vertical block. There are 2 Gurus. The name is after a kind of holy teacher in various Indian religions. Its use for this piece combines the G and R of Giraffe with a final U for a triangulating compound by analogy with Gnu. As a specifically religious title of real humans outside the Judæochristian tradition it is a rarity in the series.
The LEVITE (LV) is the compound of the Chrislamic-specific Bishop and New-Age-specific Elf - whether in this geometry or in the cubic one - and is the Indoisraeli army's only Bishop compound. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. It has previously appeared in the series only as a promotee. I exclude its Rook analogue the Leaseholder, which does not fit the theme. Its name is after a lesser Jewish priest than the Cohen. Its use for this piece is because it shares the first consonant and vowel of Elf, with the intention of extrapolation.
The RABBI (RA) moves 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 a single level. There are 6 Rabbis, to cover all 3 bindings within each even level. The name is of course after the most widely-known Jewish religious title.
The VICEREINE (V) is a Rook that can also move one step along any of the 6 hex diagonals, and the Indoisraeli army's only Rook compound. There are 2 Vicereines. The name is the feminine of Viceroy, the piece with which it is the Rook's compound. As British India had a Viceroy and Vicereine, this seems a suitable piece to represent the imperial legacy in India's civil service, railways, et cetera.

Marxist-specific pieces, all of them Rook compounds:
The BARONESS (BS) is a Rook that can also move one step along any of the 12 standard and 6 hex diagonals. There are 2 Baroness. The name is the feminine of Baron, the piece with which it is the Rook's compound. Unlike the feminine of most lordly titles, baroness usually indicates some service to the state by the woman herself rather than by her husband or an ancestor of his. Historically some baronesses have supported left-wing, and a few even anti-monarchist, causes.
The CANVASSER (CV) is the compound of Rook and Camel. There are 2 Canvassers. Its name refers to someone carrying out a house-to-house survey. Revolutionary propagandists have indeed commissioned such surveys to justify both initial uprisings and actions of the resulting government.
The HOUSEWIFE (H) is a Rook that can also move one step along any of the 12 hybrid diagonals. There are 2 Housewives. Along with the next section's Druid it is new to the series. The name is analogous to the New-Age-specific Chatelaine, but in a more modest dwelling. Here it symbolises Marxist claims of improvements for the ordinary household.
The MARSHAL (MH) is the compound of Rook and Knight. There are 2 Marshals. Its name has among other meanings that of a high officer of state, and has long been used for this piece.

New-Age-specific pieces:
The CHATELAINE (CT) is a Rook that can also move 1 step along any of the 12 root-2 diagonals, and the New-Age army's only paired Rook compound. There are 2 Chatelaines. Its name is a generic for the lady of a stately home, and fits well with the imagery of many of the romances inspiring New-Age thought.
The DRUID (D) is a Bishop that can also move one step along any of the 12 hybrid diagonals, and the New-Age army's only paired Bishop compound. Like its components it cannot move within a single level. Along with the previous section's Housewife it is new to the series. There are 2 Druids. The name means a priest of an ancient religion of NW Europe, and Druidism has been revived in somewhat modified form as part of the New-Age movement.
The ELF (EF) is a simple root-11 leaper. While on a cubic board this definition equates to a 3:1:1 leaper, here it equates to the r7:2 leaper. It is bound to all odd levels. Elves are barred from moving between columns ea and sd/tc, eb/fa and td, mj/ni and ok, and nj and ol/pk. There are 4 Elves. 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 GRYPHON (GY) moves one step as the Ferz above (including the need for a complete 2x2 block of cells) but then turns 45? and continues horizontally or vertically as a Rook. On this board the whole move must be within a single vertical plane. There are 2 Gryphons. The name is after a creature in European mythology, part bird and part beast, and is long established. The piece played the same rôle for both players in Grande Acedrex.
The LEPRECHAUN (LC) is the compound of Elf and Unicorn - whether in this geometry or in the cubic one - and inherits the Elf's binding. Unlike its components it has the choice of moving within or between levels. There is but one Leprechaun. It is the game's only Unicorn compound. Its name is after an Elf-like creature of Irish mythology and one much depicted in modern imagery of old Irishness. Its use for this piece is because it shares the first consonant and vowel of Elf, with the intention of extrapolation.
The PRINCE (PC) moves like the King but can be captured. There are 2 Princes. Of the piece's many names, this one is closest in meaning to Taishi, its Japanese name in Dai Shogi. While this piece is something of a fill-in throughout the series its use in this variant, like the Chatelaine, fits with New-Age romanticism.
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 6 Unicorns, to cover all 3 bindings within each even level. 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.

Non-array pieces:
The PRESIDENT is a King that can also move one step along any of the 12 hybrid diagonals. It is the piece with which a player replaces their own King by a Revolutionary Elements alignment. This event can be either just remembered or (if the cells are large enough) marked by flanking the King with the two spare large Pawns. It 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. Its name means a non-hereditary head of state.
The FIRSTLADY is a Queen that can also move any distance through empty intermediate cells along any of the 12 hybrid diagonals. The array has no Firstladies, but it is a piece to which a player with a President can promote Pawns. As it can never be in the same army as a standard Queen it can be represented by the relevant large Queen, which is otherwise unused. Its name means the wife of a president or premier.

Rules

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

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. Chrislamic Pawns can capture New-Age ones En Passant, and vice versa, only with a move ending on column te. Indoisraeli Pawns can capture Marxist ones En Passant, and vice versa, only with a move ending on column oj.

There is no Castling.

If player can align their pieces to have the King and an Elephant both one step away from a Revolutionary along the same radial, this is a Revolutionary Elements alignment. The King is replaced by a President.

Pawns ending a move on or beyond rank e if Indoisraeli, j if New-Age, o if Chrislamic, or t if Marxist may be promoted to any other array piece of their own or, once the player has a President, a Firstlady. If the Pawn has no further 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 President is threatened by the player about to move. That player's pieces are removed from the game, as are the pieces of any player who has a King but no Queen. To avoid getting caught out that way, a player losing their Queen must promote a Pawn to replace it, and a player who never had a Queen must set up a Revolutionary Elements alignment to replace the King with a President. A player not managing this before running out of Elephants can still do it if they first promote a Pawn to an Elephant, likewise with Revolustionaries. If all four armies are removed at once, as a player may occasionally arrange to avoid losing outright, the game is a draw. If three are removed the survivor wins. Otherwise the remaining players alternate moves starting with the Checkmating one, or if that player's army is removed, the next surviving player. The player delivering the last Checkmate wins - or joint winner if their own army is removed as well.

Notes

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

Cohen is, as I mentioned in Anglojewish Chess, the maiden name of Edwina Currie, and Vicereine was the title of Edwina Mountbatten. That pieces connecting two women sharing a forename should end up in the same army reassures me that I have made the right mergers.

This variant seems the right point to complete the series. Events since the end of the Cold War are too recent to view with sufficient perspective and detachment to form the basis for a variant of this kind. Offshoots will however continue to appear, although one with 6 armies seems unlikely at present.



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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2008-08-02. Web page last updated: 2010-09-14