Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Game Description: Martian Chess

Just last week, I forced my aide to sit down and play Martian Chess with me. This is one of the games I was introduced to at Origins this past year, and have been looking forward to the start of the semester to try it out more.

This game is sort of a more complex version of Clobber: pieces are arranged on a checkerboard, and they "clobber" pieces near them---except that there are 3 different types of pieces and they move in different ways. Pawns move one space in any direction (including diagonal), drones may move up to two spaces (but only horizontally and vertically) and queens may move exactly as queens in Chess. Pieces may not jump over other pieces. Okay, maybe it is more like Chess than Clobber...

Nevertheless, the goal is to take opponents' pieces. 3 points are given for a queen, 2 for each drone and 1 for each pawn captured. The game ends when a player no longer controls any pieces. The twist, however, is that when you capture an opponents' piece, they now take control of your piece on the board. This occurs because each player "owns" two opposite quadrants of the board: they may move any pieces in their quadrant. Capturing an opponents' piece means moving into an opponents' section and surrendering the piece you just owned.

Martian Chess is a really fun game that forces you to think on your toes. Just about when I seemed to be coming up with a strong strategy, Ernie pulled a new trick on me and had me completely second-guessing myself. I would really like to play this game in class, but, alas, I don't think I have enough Icehouse pieces!

Let's use this wacky ownership in a variant of Clobber: Reverse Clobber. Now, when I clobber an opposing piece, I instead lose my own piece. How much fun is this to play? (Maybe not so much...)


  1. I'm not so convinced that Reverse Clobber is uninteresting. I might try to take a look at it.

  2. Neil,

    There is a chance this game is one which is easy to play from the standard starting configuration, but which can have some "creative" instances which are hard.

  3. I did look at reverse clobber at some point in the past (calling it anti-clobber). I even wrote a plug in for cgsuite to implement it. Unfortunately it seems to have vanished into a black hole (or possibly is one of the few things that was located only on a hard disk that died on me earlier this year.)

  4. "Anti-Clobber"! I like that way better :)