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3D Arimaa

This is a rules file for Zillions of Games, a Windows program that will let you play any puzzle or strategy board game you can feed it the rules to. With Zillions-of-Games installed, this rules file will let you play this game against your computer.

The original Arimaa game, from which this 3D version is derived, is a two-player strategy board game that was designed to be playable with a standard chess set, easy to learn, difficult for computers, and fun to play for humans. It was invented in 2003 by Omar Syed. Syed was inspired by Garry Kasparov's defeat at the hands of the chess computer Deep Blue to design a new game which could be played with a standard chess set, would be difficult for computers to play well, but would have rules simple enough for his then four-year-old son Aamir to understand. ("Arimaa" is "Aamir" spelled backwards plus an initial "A".) This 3D version is based on 5x5x5 Chess, perhaps the most famous example of which is Raumschach.


Each side gets 20 pieces. Gold sets up first, placing the Gold pieces in whatever configuration the player chooses, on the four bottom rows closest to the player. Silver sets up after Gold, also in whatever configuration the player chooses, on the top four rows closest to the player. The number of possible starting positions for each player in original Arimaa is 64,864,800. In this version, there are 9,311,702,400 possible starting positions for each player (a factor of 143). 



Each player has 10 Rabbits, 3 Cats, 3 Dogs, 2 Horses, 1 Camel and 1 Elephant. On each turn the players can take up to 4 steps. All pieces step the same way, which is laterally, like a Rook in Chess. Rabbits may not move backwards. (A Gold Rabbit may move Up but not Down; North but not South). Stronger pieces can push or pull weaker pieces. A piece is frozen if it is orthogonally adjacent to a stronger piece and not adjacent to a friendly piece.

The positions at 2b3, 2d3, 4b3 and 4d3 are called 'traps'. Any piece that is standing on a trap is immediately removed from the board if there are no friendly pieces adjacent to it. A piece may safely stand on or pass through a trap as long as there is a friendly piece adjacent to it. If the friendly piece moves away then the lonely piece on the trap is immediately removed from the board.


It may be helpful to have a familiarity with the original Arimaa game. This is my interpretation of Arimaa played on a 5x5x5 field. Refer to the readme.txt or the Help information within the game itself for details.

There are three ways to win a game of Arimaa:

The first player to get just one Rabbit across the board to a goal cell wins. On this 3D board, Gold's goals are 5a5-5e5; Silver's goals are 1a1-1e1. 

Another way to win is to eliminate all of the opponent's Rabbits. In standard Arimaa, you win if you capture the opponent's last Rabbit, even if you sacrifice your own last Rabbit to do so.

The third way to win is by immobilizing your opponent. Stalemate is a LOSS for the immobilized side.


Arimaa - 3D Version

Original Arimaa invented and implemented by Omar and Aamir Syed, November 2002.

Translated into 3D by Tim O'Lena, June 2020. 


Derived from Arimaa.zrf - used with permission.

This software is being provided with a written authorization from and in compliance with "Section 3 of the Arimaa Public License". Authorization #200710. Any rights granted by the end user license of this software apply only to this software and do not extend to the Arimaa game. The end user is responsible to ensure that any derivative work based on this software complies with the Arimaa Public License and obtain any authorization or license by contacting The Arimaa name is a trademark of The Arimaa game is patented. The Arimaa game rules, the Arimaa board design and the Arimaa piece design are copyright protected. The Arimaa Public License allows cost free use of the Arimaa game for non-commercial use. More information can be found at

Download Instructions

Instructions on downloading this Zillions file:

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Tim O'Lena.

Last revised by Tim O'Lena.

Web page created: 2020-07-12. Web page last updated: 2021-04-05