Martian Chaturanga

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Martian Chaturanga

An Icehouse game by Nate Straight.

Overview

The ancient Indian game believed to be a predecessor of Chess enters the Icehouse world.

Object

The object is to capture, rather than simply checkmate, your opponent's monarch.

Equipment

2 stashes of Icehouse pieces

3 colored rocks per player, matching each player's color of Icehouse pieces

2 four-sided dice per player, matching each player's color of Icehouse pieces

1 5x5 game board, as used in Volcano

2 players and approximately 15 minutes

knowledge of standard Chess rules is both necessary and assumed

Setup

Each player will form a monarch, two paladins, two ravens, and two squires from their stash of Icehouse pieces. Each player will also use 3 colored rocks to serve as their three keeps. All of these pieces have certain abilities and characteristics that will be described later, but, for now, their construction and setup will be described as following.

  • A monarch consists of a full tree of Icehouse pieces (a small on top of a medium on top of a large).
  • A paladin consists of a broken tree of Icehouse pieces (a small on top of a large).
  • A raven consists of an unfinished tree of Icehouse pieces (a medium on top of a large).
  • A squire consists of the top of a tree of Icehouse pieces (a small on top of a medium).
  • A keep is simply one of three rocks matching each player's color of pieces.

The board is setup similarly to Chess, with some pieces being omitted or merged in order to fit all of the pieces onto the smaller 5x5 game board. It is helpful (both in terms of setup and, later, in terms of movement) to think of the raven as being equivalent to a rook, the paladin as being equivalent to the merger of a knight and a bishop, the monarch as being equivalent to the merger of a king and a queen, and the keeps and squires as being equivalent to the eight pawns of a standard Chess setup.

On each player's home row (the row nearest them), they will place their two ravens on the two outermost squares (just like the two rooks in Chess), their two paladins on the two squares horizontally adjacent to the two ravens, and their monarch on the square between the two paladins; they will place their three keeps directly in front of their two ravens and their monarch, and their two squires directly in front of their two paladins.

Each of the four types of pieces (excluding the keeps, which may never move) is assigned a specific number to be used in determining piece movement during the game.

Monarch = 1, Paladin = 2, Raven = 3, and Squire = 4.

Gameplay

The player with the lighter color of Icehouse pieces will begin the game.

On each player's turn, they will roll both of their four-sided dice and then move the two pieces indicated by the roll, as determined by the number assignments above. A player may freely choose to move either, both, or none of the pieces indicated by their roll, in any order. If either piece indicated by the roll is unavailable (due to capture by the opponent), the player may count upwards from the number rolled until reaching a number assigned to a piece that is available. The count ends at 4 and may not wrap around to 1.

The four types of pieces move according to rules of movement implied by each of their names and the standard rules of movement in Chess. A monarch is a combination of a king and a queen, and may move as either (in effect, as a queen). A paladin is a type of "holy knight," such as might be found if a knight and a bishop merged, and may move as either a knight or a bishop. A raven is sort of an upgrade from a rook (both are birds from similar families), and may move as a rook, but may also move two (and only two) spaces in any direction diagonally, "flying" over any piece found in between, with the exception of the opponent's keeps. A squire is simply a renamed pawn, and moves exactly as such.

Pieces capture and are captured exactly as they are in Chess, with the exception of the omission of the "en pasant" capture, which is unnecessary given the fact that the small game board size prevents squires from moving two spaces on their first move anyway.

Pieces may never land on or pass through any of the six keeps on the board, with the exception of the raven, which may fly over its own keeps (but never its opponent's keeps). Keeps are entirely immobile pieces and may never be moved or captured.

There is one special move, called the garrison (like the castle move in Chess), which may be performed if the dice, piece positions, and previous piece movements allow it. In the garrison move, a player who rolled both a 1 and 3 on their turn, has removed their paladin from between either one of their ravens and their monarch, and has never moved that raven or their monarch may move the raven one space toward the monarch and then jump the monarch over the raven, effectively "garrisoning" it behind one of their corner keeps.

[Image missing]

In this example, it is red's second turn (red began the game with a 2 and 4 roll; black followed with a 2 and 3 roll), and they have rolled a 1 and 3. Since the space between one of their ravens and their monarch has been left open by the removal of their paladin on their previous turn, and since neither that raven nor their monarch has yet to move in this game, the red player may use their 1 and 3 roll to garrison their monarch behind their left corner keep. The two red arrows show the movements of the raven and the monarch, and the figure on the right shows the game board after the garrison move has been completed.

Finally, as in Chess, if a player's squire manages to reach their opponent's home row, it may be promoted to any other piece that that player has had captured by their opponent.

Ending

The game ends when a player successfully captures their opponent's monarch. There are no checks or checkmates in the game; the player who actually captures the monarch wins.

Variant

Martian Chaturaji is a four-player variant of Martian Chaturanga.