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Under development

This game is currently under development, in the Playtesting stage. Feedback is strongly encouraged! Feel free to give comments on game design or structure on the talk page.

Don Sheldon
A chess-like game without captures
:Players Players: 2
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: 2
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 2
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
volcano board
Setup time: 2 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: High (I hope)
Random chance: None
Game mechanics: Chess-like
Theme: Martian Civil War
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

Like other major Roman deities, Mars had a large number of epithets representing his different roles and aspects. Mars Albiorix, used the epithet meaning "King of the World" and was regarded as a mountain god. No one knows what happened to the ancient civilization of Mars but recent findings point to one significant historical event: a world-wide civil war, the winner of which was no less than the king of their world.

This may have been the only civil war which was genuinely civil (i.e. polite). In Albiorix pieces are never captured and removed from the board but are instead transformed and subverted with a strong likelyhood that the procedure can be reversed. Victory is decided when the opponent's monarch is permanently subverted.


The game is played by two players on a volcano board. Each player takes one stash (the author suggests monochrome stashes but it would be possible, though difficult, to play with unmatched treehouse sets). At the beginning of the game each side will have eight pieces. Seven are "Diads" made of two pyramids stacked on top of each other and one, the "Monad", which stands alone. This is that player's monarch and is the focal point of the game.

Pieces are initially placed on opposite corners thusly:

| 3-3 | 2-1 |
| 3-1 | 1-1 | 2-1       x: a single pyramid with x pips
|  3  | 2-2 | 3-2     x-y: a pyramid with x pips under a pyramid with y pips


The object is to begin your turn with both Monads in your control at which point both sides of the Civil War declare your side to be the King of the World. (This is the same as your opponent ending their turn without a Monad.)


Whichever player has seen Mars more recently goes first. (The planet, the god, whatever. In person, through a telescope, in art, whatever.) Further games in the same sitting should alternate the first player.

Turns alternate between players. A turn consists of either moving one piece to an unoccupied location or mixing that piece with another. Mixing is somewhat analagous to capturing in Chess but, rather than moving to the target's location and removing the target, the various pyramids in the target and attacker are reconfigured to make two new pieces.

The way in which a piece moves is determined by the makeup of its pyramids. Pieces may mix (capture) to the same locations that they can move. A piece may mix with any other pieces, even those controlled by the player moving it.

Generally, pieces made of larger pyramids have more dramatic moves than those made of smaller pyramids and Pieces made of identically sized pyramids are more potent than those made of mixed pyramids. However, smaller pyramids are more powerful in mixing than larger ones and homogenous pieces require more focussed resources than mixed ones.

A player may move (or mix) any piece in which:

  • His side's color is the top (or only) pyramid
  • A piece identical (in size and color) to his Monad is contained

It is possible (and likely) that both players will be able to move the same piece on their turns.


The Martian Civil War is a battle of hearts and minds. Soldiers are not lost to death, merely to a new way of thinking.

A piece can be mixed with any piece at a location it could move to. The pyramids involved (usually four, sometimes three, and possibly only two) are used to make two new pieces following these simple rules:

  • There must be two pieces
  • Each piece can have no more than two pyramids in it
  • In each piece the top pyramid can be no larger than the bottom pyramid
  • A player may not leave themselves without a Monad as this would be suicidal

One piece is placed where the attacker originated from, the other where the target had been. The player may recreate the original pieces but in this case must place them in the opposite of their original locations, otherwise nothing has changed and, as this would be equivalent to skipping a turn, is not allowed.

Obviously, a major goal of mixing is to create two pieces under your control, but it may be strategically beneficial to do otherwise.

Repetition of moves

Similar to the Ko rule in Go, Albiorix does not allow repetition. Unlike the Ko rule however, it is repetition of moves that is disallowed, not repetition of positions. If the first player makes a particular move (or mix), the second player is allowed to exactly reverse it (assuming that such is a legal move) and the first player must now make a different move. This repetition only applies to consecutive turns (like weak Ko) and it should be customary for the second player to state verbally that he is reversing the preceeding move.


3-3 - General - The General moves boldly but is easily converted however, he is always loyal to his Queen. The General moves in any of six directions: all four orthogonal directions and the two forward diagonals. (Like a Chess Rook and half a Bishop, or a Gold General Rider.) He must stop when he reaches another piece.

3-2 - Diplomat - The Diplomat travels far, but never alone. Like the General he is loyal to the Queen. The Diplomat moves in any of five directions: all four diagonals or directly forward. (Like a Chess Bishop and a Pawn, or a Silver General Rider.) He must pass over one piece and must stop no farther than the second.

2-2 - Bureaucrat - The Bureaucrat can squirm his way into almost anywhere. Unsurprisingly he is always loyal to the Regent. The Bureaucrat moves up to three spaces orthogonally but can change direction at will. He may not return to where he began and cannot move through another piece (only into one, with which he must mix).

3-1 - Dancer - The Dancer inspires the enemy to join her cause by extolling the virtues of her Monad. She is always loyal to the Queen. The Dancer moves in a way similar to the Bureaucrat but, instead of three orthogonal steps, she takes two diagonal ones.

2-1 - Soldier - The Soldier is not alone, play begins with two. The Soldier, unlike the General, is loyal to the Regent. The Soldier moves as a Chess Knight but only while advancing.

s . s . .   S: starting position of the Soldier
. . . s .   s: possible ending position of the Soldier
. S . . .   <: the location pointed at is NOT a possible destination
. . . .<.
.<. .<. .

1-1 - Artist - The Artist must study his subject carefully, but once his work is complete it is difficult to refute his arguments. The Artist is the only piece loyal to the Princess. It is not possible to tempt the Artist from how he feels. The artist moves one space orthogonally, or as far as two if moving forward, assuming no other piece interceeds.

3, 2, 1 - Queen, Regent, Princess - The Monads must go on, lest the war be lost. By interaction with their subjects, a new Monad may come in to power. All Monads move in the same way, one space in any of eight directions (like a Chess King).

Entered in the Icehouse Game Design Competition, Summer 2008
Winner: Ambush 2nd: Logger 3rd: Albiorix 4th: Virus_Fight 5th: Atom_Smasher
6th: Dog_Eat_Dog & Martian_BattleSpires 8th: Pass_The_Pyramids 9th: T-Minus 10th: Tresurion