Accidental Inspiration – Academy Chess

While writing a scene, I had an idea for two characters playing chess. This is a bit of a cliche, but it is one for a reason. It is a microcosm of conflict. A representation of two wills doing battle. But chess is known, every possible game can be calculated and the mystery is kinda gone. So in my tradition of not doing anything simple for myself, I accidentally created a new variation of the chess system.

pexels-photo-42070Not sure what to call it, but for now I’ll refer to it as Academy Chess (the setting for a novel series I’m writing is at an academy for individuals who have magical talents). Academy Chess at first sight is different because each and every one of the sixteen pieces is unique from each other and divided into categories (and sub-categories):

Royal – Queen, King
Cleric – Bishop, Priestess
Mounted – Knight, Paladin
Stronghold – Castle, Fortress
Infantry (shield) – Swordsman, Guardsman
Infantry (reach) – Spearman, Pikeman
Infantry (ranged) – Archer, Crossbowman
Infantry (mobile) – Ranger, Scout

The advantage for each piece being identified is that it opens a whole new world of possibilities for game-play. I’ve not gone into all of that yet, but a variation I was using in my book is called ‘spy hunter’. Each piece also has a coin that represents it. And what spy-hunter does is each player chooses one coin representing one of the opposing players pieces (excluding Royals) to be their spy. On any turn, you can reveal your spy: show the coin, place it under the opposing player’s piece, and now that piece is yours to control and acts with the power of a queen. Can you imagine playing a game where not only would you have to maintain a standard game but have to be prepared for just about any one of your pieces turning on you? I’d like to see a computer handle that.

Now it’s not all powerful; the reveal uses the whole turn and the opposing player has a chance to capture or otherwise neutralize it, and the element of surprise is gone. Also, there is a spy in your midst as well and the opposing player might want to distract you with a sudden reveal to continue the game.

There is an ‘execution’ option built into Academy Chess where one of your pieces can remove another one of your own pieces from the game. Currently, the only advantage for using that would be to flush out the spy. If you execute a piece and it is indeed the spy, the opposing player may reveal their spy and evade with their move that cannot result in a captured piece. Or it could be indeed the spy, but the opposing player does not reveal the spy and so then you would be attempting to hunt down a spy that doesn’t exist anymore. Or worse case, you execute an innocent and so you are down a piece and the spy is still at large.

I’ve not played with this idea in the real world yet, only in my head as thought experiments. But all it would take is a label maker, a handful of coins and let the spy games begin.So in the attempt to do a mild spice up of a scene, I think I’ve done a bit too much. And it didn’t end there, the above was just for that one scene. I developed special abilities for each sub-category of infantry, rules for a double or triple sized armies (instead of extra kings and queens, there would be princes and princesses, who, if the king or queen are removed, would become the new king and queen), and using a hexagonal board to support six players.

So in the attempt to do a mild spice up of a scene, I think I’ve done a bit too much. And it didn’t end there, the above was just for that one scene. I developed special abilities for each sub-category of infantry, using dice for conflict resolution, rules for a double or triple sized armies (instead of extra kings and queens, there would be princes and princesses, who, if the king or queen are removed, would become the new king and queen), and using a hexagonal board to support six players.

I can never do anything simple, just ask my wife. But this was a fun mental exercise and I wanted to share with everyone.

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