Friday, December 26, 2014

Space Cadets and Chess Variants

I recently got a copy of Space Cadets: Dice Duels. I played it a lot at SaltCon last year and enjoyed it so much that I got it for Christmas. It is a frantic team game where you attempt to quickly (since there are no turns) maneuver your spaceship around a board and shoot the other spaceship. Each player controls different ship functions (such as weapons, movement, or sensors) and the team must coordinate their efforts in real time to effectively combat the other ship.

The core mechanic is rolling dice and placing them on mats that control the various ship systems. For instance, a player that has control over the weapons will roll red dice that have missile part symbols on then in an attempt to get the three parts that are necessary to build a missile and then he places them on the missile bay that corresponds to the direction that he wants to shoot.

At the same time the shield player would be trying to move the shields to point in the direction of place that the opponent ship is located at and possibly prepare to move them to the place that the enemy ship is planning on moving to.

It takes four players to play the game, but it can go up to 8 players according to the rules. The sweet spot is probably 8 players since then you can have a full crew on each ship including a captain.

In other news we have been playing and making chess variants at work. One popular one was Alice Chess, where there are two boards and once a move is done the piece moves to the other board (to the same location as they were). It is interesting to set up defenses that actually defend pieces (a naive defense will not do anything at all) and to attempt checkmate the opponent.

To deliver checkmate you have to have the piece that is delivering the check on the same board as the king being checkmated and the pieces that prevent the king from moving out of check on the other board.

This means that a king and any piece can checkmate a king who has a pawn that is not locked by pushing the king against the wall with your king and then delivering the checkmate while the player being mated advances his pawn. (This happened in a few games, so it was of interest to me.)

The most interesting variant that we made (in my opinion) was a variant where the pieces all move in the normal manner, but they capture by occupying all of the four squares directly adjacent to the piece in the four cardinal directions. If a piece is surrounded on all sides by friendly pieces it is not captured (however one enemy piece is enough to capture it), and if it is against the edge of the board it is considered to be surrounded by friendly pieces on the sides in which it borders the board.

To win a player either must capture their opponent's king (there is no check or checkmate) or get their king to the 8th rank.

We are also considering torus chess as well as benedict chess, though we have not played them yet.