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Wa Shogi. Game with many different rather weak pieces, with or without drops. (11x11, Cells: 121) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
📝H. G. Muller wrote on 2023-02-22 UTC

I now created the tiles piece set for Wa Shogi, as 99x99 PNG images of two-kanji tiles. (The Interactive Diagram displays those at 33x33, but they can be zoomed in on to improve the resolution, rather than blur them.) Although Wa Shogi has many pieces that also occur in other Shogi variants, the names are all different, so there is no overlap with the tile sets for other Shogi variants.

🕸Fergus Duniho wrote on 2023-02-15 UTC

Lots of images on this page are returning 404 errors. For example:

[15-Feb-2023 20:04:36 UTC] Referred by
[15-Feb-2023 20:04:36 UTC] 404:
[15-Feb-2023 20:04:36 UTC] Referred by
[15-Feb-2023 20:04:37 UTC] 404:
[15-Feb-2023 20:04:37 UTC] Referred by

They all appear to be from the same directory.

📝H. G. Muller wrote on 2020-03-09 UTC

Ughh, this was a case of a >= that should have been a > in the Diagram script. The algorithm is that the promoOffset is added to promotable pieces (all types from 1 up to and including maxPromote) to get the promoted type. When this gets larger than the number of defined pieces, it is replaced by the promoted type of the first piece. The latter was introduced to not explicitly have to define all the Golds that result from promotion of a host of different Maka Dai Dai Shogi or Thai Shogi pieces; if the first piece is a Pawn, and promotes to Tokin, all pieces that also promote to Tokin can then be put last amongst the set of promotable pieces. After that can follow the unpromotable pieces, and then all the promoted types that are explicitly defined. So if (say) maxPromote=10, and promoOffset=15, piece 1 will promote to piece 16, pieces 11-15 will be unpromotable. Piece 16 and higher are the promoted types. But if only six are defined (16-21), these will be the promoted versions of 1-6, and 7-10 will all promote the same as 1, to 16.

I fixed it now, thanks for reporting.

A. DeWitt wrote on 2020-03-09 UTC

When I try to promote a Flying Falcon, it promotes to a Tokin instead of a Tenacious Falcon. However, this can be easily fixed by making the King the last piece and changing the parameters accordingly.

Omnia Nihilo wrote on 2019-07-07 UTC

The power of the pieces doesn't mean much. Look at the larger variants or even Sho Shogi which is just regular Shogi with a drunk elephant and no drops. Weak pieces doesn't and didn't necessarily imply that drops were used. 

📝H. G. Muller wrote on 2019-07-07 UTC

Well, that we today play this game both with and without drops is only out of ignorance. At the time this game was invented the rules were of course known, and nothing would have been optional about them. So it would either have been one or the other always. Based on the power of the pieces I am now convinced that the original rules would have included piece drops. And with piece drops there is no such thing as (meta-)color binding; any piece can get captured, and re-appear on any color it wants. Also note that the Heavenly Horse is a promoted piece. Because of the promotion zone being 3 ranks deep and the way the Liberated Horse moves you can promote on 3 of the 4 possible meta-colors.

KelvinFox wrote on 2019-07-06 UTC

One of the weird things about this game is the fact that you can only have 2 Heavenly Horses at max, even though you need 4 to cover the whole board, probably there is some compensation for this. I also investigated the camel variant of it, this piece can only reach 1/6th of the board.

📝H. G. Muller wrote on 2019-02-18 UTC

Thanks for warning me about the diagram; the link for the JavaScript powering it was still pointing to my own website rather than to the version here on CVP. Not sure why that did not work; because the file is still there, and I am sure it worked in the past. Perhaps more stringent security measures of modern browsers prevented the access. Anyway, I altered the link to point at the version of the file here on CVP. (The piece images are still taken from my website, though; I guess I should upload these here as well, so I can change that undesirable state of affairs.)

Games with drops are in general harder for computers, relative to humans. Until last year computers still lost to human experts in Crazyhouse. (And then Stockfish-variant appeared.) For regular Shogi the problem was solved earlier, but only through 'data-mining' the huge data base of human Shogi professionals, and absorbing their knowledge in a neural-network type evaluation. For Wa Shogi such a game data base does not exists. And I know only of one computer program that can seriously play it: my own engine Crazywa. (Some non-searching programs like ShogiVar support it, but these are real push-overs.) But I did not seriously tune it even there, and its strategy is simply a generalization of what it does in Crazyhouse, with purely guessed piece values.

I have no doubt that with Google's AlphaZero technology a super-strong player could be made. Wa Shogi is most certainly too insignificant to interest Google, though, or any large community of owners of computers with state-of-the-art graphics cards that would be needed to mimic such an effort (like the LeelaChess Zero project for Chess). So my guess is that computer Wa-Shogi players will remain relatively weak for a long time to come.

Implementing Wa Shogi in Jocly is on my to-do list; it should not be very difficult now that I have already done regular Shogi, so that its infra-structure for drops can be used. Jocly's AI is also laughably weak, however. But as I also made progress in setting up a Jocly based Game Server, it would offer an opportunity to play Wa Shogi on line.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2019-02-18 UTC

Just a guess, but this kind of version of shogi (i.e. of board size 11x11) might make for the optimally largest board size, if it's desired that games not take arguably too many moves in an average well-played game. I also don't know if Wa Shogi with drops would give computer engines a harder time if they played vs. people than would be the case for regular (9x9) shogi. Maybe Wa Shogi with drops would be hopeless for human players, in the long run in any case, if they're faced with a self-teaching machine.

Also, in the past I've noticed a game where a leading (and still active) Game Courier player remarked that he could not find anywhere to play Wa Shogi with drops against people online, which is the way I think I would much prefer to play it if I ever could give this well-tested game a try on Game Courier. At the moment there is no preset for Wa Shogi, with or without drops.

@ H.G:  In case you've not noticed, the setup diagram for this Wa Shogi rules page currently is not showing up for some reason.

📝H. G. Muller wrote on 2017-01-17 UTC

For clarity, because I did not mention that here yet:

I have written an engine 'CrazyWa', which can play various chess variants with drops, amongst which Crazyhouse and Wa Shogi. A package that bundles it with WinBoard as GUI can be downloaded from

bukovski wrote on 2017-01-02 UTC

Dr Muller, thank you for WinBoard wa shogi -- what a nice present for the new year!

📝H. G. Muller wrote on 2016-08-27 UTC
I made a set of Wa pieces by printing their images on sticker paper, cutting them out, and fixing them on the tiles from a cheap regular Shogi set. Two Shogi sets give just enough tiles to make one Wa and one Tori-Shogi set, with 2 x 2 pieces shared (King and Cloud Eagle /Right Quail, which do not promote,and thus can be oneach other's back side).

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