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Hexgi

Introduction

For some time I wondered whether Shogi could be the basis of a Wellisch-style hex interpretation, with a reduction in both individual pieces and types relative to the square-board variant. I noticed that, with no need of a River, both Wellisch and Glinski/McCooey orientations could be used, though still following the Wellisch convention of not seeking to emulate the standard diagonal. Contrast this to Fergus Duniho's family of hex Shogis, which combine Glinski/McCooey-style symmetrics and generals with a Wellisch orientation.

This leaves only the orthogonals to play with for analogues to the various generals, including as promotees. As the royally-restricted piece is the General, I decided not to name capturable pieces with subsets of its move after decorated generals as they were lesser pieces but rather to use the next two military titles down unprefixed in the Glinski orientation. In the Wellisch orientation I used pieces for which names formed more straightforwardly. It is for this reason that in naming this family of variants I have dropped the Sho relative to Dr. Duniho's ones.

Since first posting this page I have adapted Hexgi for 6 players as Stellgi.

Setup

Both orientations can be played with 2 players or 3, and from the two that I show below, the other two should be easy to extrapolate.
Glinsky orientation:

Wellisch orientation:

Pieces

Names of symmetric pieces are long-established. My piece articles Man and Beast 01: Constitutional Characters and Man and Beast 12: Alternative Fronts explain the names of forward-only pieces and more complex pieces respectively.

Pieces common to both orientations:

The GENERAL moves one step along any orthogonal, like a Wazir, but unlike the latter piece and like the FIDE and Shogi King it must be kept out of check. The General is not promotable.
The ROOK moves any distance through empty intermediate cells along any orthogonal. In Hexgi it is not promotable.
The WING (Wg) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells, and the POINT (Pt) one step, orthogonally forward. This means straight forward only in GO Hexgi, where they are promotable to Brigadier, and along either of the two forward orthogonals in WO Hexgi, where they are promotable to Wazirranker.
Pieces specific to the Glinski orientation:
The BRIGADIER moves like the General except that it cannot move straight back. As Gold analogue it is unpromotable.
The COLONEL moves like the General but in only the three forward directions and straight back. As Silver analogue it is promotable to Brigadier.
The SALTIRE moves one step along either of the two forward hex diagonals. As Helm analogue it is promotable to Brigadier.
Pieces specific to the Wellisch orientation:
The WAZIRRANKER moves like the General but in only four of the six directions, being unable to move sideways. As Gold analogue it is unpromotable.
The DEXTER moves like the General but in only the player's three right directions and straight left. The SINISTER (Sr) moves like the General but in only the player's three left directions and straight right. As they mirror each other, each can become the other at the end of a promotion-zone move. They can do so any number of times. The names are Latin for right and left, and the heraldic terms for those sides of a shield from the carrier's viewpoint (but the opposite from the opponent's). They indicate 90° rotations of a normally-forward-orientated piece, in this case of the Colonel but potentially of others in other variants.
The SUPERSALTIRE moves one step along the straight forward hex diagonal or either of the two partly-forward (but mostly sideways) ones. I felt that the ordinary Saltire in this orientation - moving only straight forward - would make a poor Helm analogue. It is promotable to Wazirranker.

Rules

In 2-player subvariants play alternates between the two players starting with White. In 3-player ones it progresses anticlockwise starting with Red.

A player capturing another's piece puts it into a Reserve, and can reintroduce it at any time. Dexters and Sinisters can return in either form (like certain Symgi pieces) but the rest must return unpromoted and able to move in that form. In GO Hexgi a player cannot have more than one unpromoted Point on the same file, files being the same for both players in the 2-player subvariant but differing between players in the 3-player one.

As in Shogi a player's promotion zone comprises the furthest edge(s) plus cells one or two orthogonal steps short thereof, which coincides with the enemy camp only in 2-player WO Hexgi. A promotable piece starting or ending a move on such a cell may be promoted at the end of that move. Promotion is optional unless the piece has no further move unpromoted.

In 2-player subvariants Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as usual. In 3-player ones a player is Checkmated when their General is threatened by the player about to move. That player's pieces, both on the board and in Reserve, are removed from the game. As with my 4-player Shogi variant, this is because the variant has a greater density of pieces - and particularly of long-range pieces - than either 2-player Shogi or Yonin Shogi. It also gives an incentive to postpone Checkmating the first player in the hope of capturing more pieces.

Notes

The number of cells exceeds Shogi's but the board is identical to that of the three FIDE-analogue hex variants mentioned. As in those variants, it aligns the front rank nicely for promotion.

The single Rook can be seen as inheriting its Shogi rôle, albeit without promotability, but can also be seen in a FIDE context as an orthogonal-only Queen corresponding to the General as orthogonal-only King.

I did not consider Superwings and Superpoints (all three forward orthogonals) for GO Hexgi as having fewer directions compared to the Helm analogue was logical.

I have ruled out a four-player version, alternating between the two armies, though not before working out that it would need a board of side 8 (169 cells). As well as issues of relative strength between the two kinds of army there is also the issue of what would return as what when captured by a neighbouring, rather than opposite, player.



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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2006-10-27. Web page last updated: 2016-02-26