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The Chess Variant Pages



Wizard's War

By Mike Nelson

Introduction
Board and Setup
Pieces
Rules
Playing Tips
Computer Play
Notes

Introduction

Wizard's War is an entry in the 84 Spaces Contest. While the pieces are familiar, the gameplay won't be. Two coalitions of powerful Wizards are battling for supremacy. The Wizards weave in and out of the enchanted realms, creating minions to fight to dominate the world and destroy the enemy Wizards.

Board and Setup

Wizard's War is played on an 84-square board: a 10 x 10 grid with 2 x 2 sections removed from each corner. The 6 x 6 grid in the center of the board is the arena, the 2 x 6 zones around the arena are enchanted squares. In the image below, the arena is enclosed by a red line and the enchanted squares are brightly colored.)

Notation for Wizard's War labels the squares as if the removed corner squares were on the board, so that the bottom square in the leftmost file is a3 and the leftmost square in the bottom rank is c1.

Wizard's War setup

 

White starts with Bishop-Wizard on f1, Knight-Wizard on g1, Rook-Wizard on h1, Bishop on f3, Knight on g3, and Rook on h3. Black starts with Bishop-Wizard on e10, Knight-Wizard on d10, Rook-Wizard on c10, Bishop on e8, Knight on d8, and Rook on c8.

Pieces

Wizard's War uses the FIDE chess Knight, Bishop, Rook, and Queen. The familiar variant pieces Cardinal (Bishop+Knight), Chancellor (Rook+Knight), and Amazon (Queen+Knight) are also used. All of these pieces have their normal moves. There are no pawns and the King is replaced by three new royal pieces: the Knight-Wizard, the Bishop-Wizard, and the Rook-Wizard. Each Wizard moves as if it were a piece of the type it is named for, and can create new pieces of that type.

 

Rules

The rules of FIDE Chess apply to all situations not covered by these rules.

Object

Capture all of the opposing player's Wizards or leave the opposing player with no pieces in the arena.

Movement

Movement depends on the type of squares the move starts and ends on. There are four situations:

  1. Move starts on an enchanted square and ends on an enchanted square: All pieces make non-capturing King moves instead of their normal moves.
  2. Move starts on an arena square and ends on an arena square: Pieces move and capture normally. Captured pieces are removed from the game.
  3. Move starts on an arena square and ends on an enchanted square: Pieces move and capture normally. A captured piece is not removed from the game, but is given to its owner to keep in hand to drop later (see below). A Wizard may move to a square containing a friendly piece and swap positions with it.
  4. Move starts on an enchanted square and ends on an arena square: Pieces move and capture normally. Captured pieces are removed from the game. If the moving piece is a Wizard, a new piece is created (see below).

Piece in Hand

A player may drop a piece in hand on any empty arena square as the player's turn. A player may have only one piece in hand at a time: if the player is given a second piece in hand, the first piece in hand is removed from the game.

Creating New Pieces

When a Wizard moves from an enchanted square to an arena square, a new piece is created on the Wizard's starting square. If the Wizard moves to an empty square, the Knight-Wizard creates a Knight, the Bishop-Wizard creates a Bishop and the Rook-Wizard creates a Rook.

When a Wizard on an enchanted square captures an enemy piece on an arena square:

  1. If the enemy piece has the movement capability of the capturing Wizard (example: Knight-Wizard captures a Knight or a Chancellor), a new friendly piece of the same type as the captured piece is created.
  2. If the enemy piece does not have the movement capability of the capturing Wizard (example: Knight-Wizard captures a Rook or Queen), a new friendly piece is created which adds the Wizard's movement to the captured piece's movement. (In the example, when the Knight-Wizard captures a Rook, a Chancellor is created; when it captures a Queen, an Amazon is created.)
  3. If the captured piece is an enemy Wizard, it is treated as if it were the piece it is named for and rule 1 or 2 is applied. (Example: If Knight-Wizard captures Bishop-Wizard, a Cardinal is created.)

A Wizard on an enchanted square can capture a friendly piece on an arena square if the piece does not have the Wizard's movement capability. (But a Wizard cannot capture a friendly Wizard.) A new piece is created as if the captured piece were an enemy piece. (Example: A Knight-Wizard can capture a friendly Queen and create an Amazon, but can't capture a friendly Chancellor.)

The following table lists all possible creations. Those marked with a * can result from capturing a friendly piece.

Destination square Knight-Wizard creates Bishop-Wizard creates Rook-Wizard creates

empty

Knight

Bishop

Rook

Knight

Knight

Cardinal*

Chancellor*

Bishop

Cardinal*

Bishop

Queen*

Rook

Chancellor*

Queen*

Rook

Cardinal

Cardinal

Cardinal

Amazon*

Chancellor

Chancellor

Amazon*

Chancellor

Queen

Amazon*

Queen

Queen

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Amazon

Win, Lose, or Draw

  1. Removing your opponent's last Wizard from the game wins. This can result from capturing the Wizard on an arena square, or capturing any piece on an enchanted square while the opponent has the Wizard in hand. Capturing your opponent's last Wizard on an enchanted square gives the opponent the Wizard in hand and the game continues.
  2. Capturing your opponent's last piece in the arena wins. It doesn't matter how many pieces your opponent has on enchanted squares or whether your opponent has a piece in hand. Moving your own last piece in the arena out of the arena loses.
  3. Triple repetition is a draw. Pieces in hand are included in determining repetition.
  4. There is no stalemate. A player with no legal move passes. [If it is possible for neither player to have a legal move, the game is drawn in this case.]
  5. The player to move may claim a draw if fifty or more consecutive moves by both players (including the move the player is about to make) have elapsed since the most recent removal of an irreplacable piece from the game. A piece is irreplacable if its owner has lost the ability to create a piece of the same type. A piece type is extinct if neither player has a piece of this type and both players have lost the ability to create a piece of this type.
    • Any Wizard is irreplacable.
    • A Knight, Bishop, or Rook is irreplacable if its owner has lost the corresponding Wizard.
    • A Cardinal, Chancellor, or Queen is irreplacable if its owner has lost both corresponding Wizards.
    • Knights, Bishops, or Rooks are extinct if both players have lost the corresponding Wizard and all pieces of this type.
    • A Cardinal, Chancellor, or Queen, is irreplacable the opponent has no pieces of this type and either of its components is extinct.
    • Cardinals, Chancellors, or Queens are extinct if either of their component are extinct and both players have lost all pieces of this type.
    • An Amazon is irreplacable if the opponent has no Amazons and any two of Cardinals, Chancellors, or Queens are extinct.

 

Notes

Wizard's War was inspired by Ralph Betza's Captain Spalding Chess, a really strange and excellent game. The piece creation rules are adapted from Fergus Duniho's Assimilation Fusion Chess.

Ever since Ralph published Captain Spalding, I have wanted to design a piece-creating variant using strong pieces. This plays better on a larger than 8 x 8 board, so the reopening of the 84 spaces contest inspired me to design a board. The cross-shaped board suggested a central arena with annexes of some kind. Creating pieces from nowhere suggests magic, hence the theme.

Wizard's War gets its unique character from the dynamic tension between the arena and the enchanted squares. You want to keep as much of your army as possible (especially the Wizards) on enchanted squares where they are safer, but your pieces must move into the arena to capture or to create pieces. Overdoing safety is most dangerous--the fewer pieces you have in the arena, the easier for the enemy to eliminate the last one and win!

 

Playing Tips

Capture enemy Wizards when possible--it may be worth doing even if you have to lose an Amazon and allow the enemy to create one to do it. Or it may not be worth doing: many positions exist where one Wizard can defeat two or even all three enemy Wizards.

Try to keep at least two pieces in the arena at all times. If you have lost two Wizards, try to keep two non-Wizard pieces in the arena at all times. Last Wizard and one piece are in too much danger of being forked, etc.

Piece values are different from normal chess. The Bishop is more valuable than the Knight because the board is larger and the Bishop is not colorbound, as it can change colors by moving from one enchanted square to another. An irreplaceable piece is more valuable than a replaceable piece. For example, normally it is a bad trade to exchange a Rook for your opponent's Knight. But if you still have your Rook-Wizard and your opponent has lost his Knight-Wizard, it becomes a good trade: you can create a new Rook, he can't create a new Knight.

 

Computer Play

If you have Zillions of Games installed on your computer, you can play this game. Download file: wizwar.zip. Sample games are included.


Written by Mike Nelson.
WWW page created: November 16, 2002.


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Credits

By Michael Nelson.

Comments

Wizard's War. Game with piece-creating Wizards and a board divided into arena and enchanted sections. (10x10, Cells: 84)
Anthony Viens wrote on 2020-03-25 EDTGood ★★★★

Well hey, apparently I never commented on this!

I quite like it! The interplay between needing pieces on the arena/safer on the enchanted squares is quite unusual.

Creating your own army is fun, and ensures no game start will be quite the same.

This is a very cohesive & well thought out variant.


Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-08-17 EDT
Another interesting question is whether quantity or quality is more important. I would tend to side with quantity if for no other reason that clearing the arena is a matter of quantity more than quality, although generally concentrated force is more effective than dispersed force. In the opening, when development means clearing the squares to which the Kings may move while starting to control the arena, quantity may be more important. During the middle game when the arena is well populated, concentrated force may be more important.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2003-08-02 EDT
I had never been happy with the 150-move limit, but I just wasn't able to
write an an adequate 50-move rule in time for the contest deadline. In
fact, I have several me vs Z and Z vs Z games in my library that were in
doubt on move 150 but won by move 170, where a draw would have been
declared even though progress was being made.

By the way, games of this length are extraordinary--the most recent
involved me making a very long comeback from being within a hairbreath of
lost at move 75.  On the other hand, I have seen games that were pretty
dea by move 100 or so that the new rule will stop before move 150.

The new 50-move rule is complex, but is an accurate adaptation of the FIDE
50-move rule to the radically different conditions of Wizard's War. In
actaul play, the irreplacablity of a piece will be more obvious than it
seems from reading the rule.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-08-02 EDTExcellent ★★★★★
<p>Very nice game. The dynamics of the opening, middle game and end game are quite distinct, although very different from FIDE Chess.</p><p>The opening is characterized by piece creation in tandem with piece development.</p><p>During the early middle game, positional play starts to develop, with a balance between attempting to get a material advantage by capture or by piece creation.</p><p>As the middle game proceeds, positional play becomes more important. While piece creation is always an important element it must take a secondary position as positional tactics become more critical.</p><p>In the late middle game, the goal of capturing the 'arena' starts to influence tactics. Capture of semi-royal Wizards also becomes a tactical and strategic issue.</p><p>Overall, a very nice game and very innovative.

Mike Nelson wrote on 2003-01-02 EST
I have a Zillions 2.0 ZRF for Wizard's War that does piece creation
automatically and also plays better.  (Thanks to Jens Markmann for making
the modifications.)

It differs from the current ZRF in that it doesn't respect the piece
limits--it will allow a player to have seven Knights or eight Rooks on the
board at once.

Extensive testing indicates that the piece limits are not necessary to
play balance and that this rule can be dropped. Zillions has as yet not
created seven or more of the same piece in games, but has done so in
created positions.

I don't want to make any changes to the web pages while the contest is
being judged, but if anyone wants the new ZRF, eamil me and I will send it
to you.

Number of ratings: 2, Average rating: Excellent, Number of comments: 6

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First Created: Monday, November 18th, 2002
Last Modified: Sunday, July 27th, 2003
File Timestamp: Wed, 14 Jul 2021 17:37:53 -0400
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