2005-02-20Orthogonal German Chess Variants
Can't get seven players together for a game of Diplomacy? Don't have hours and hours to play it? I have just stumbled upon Zeitgeist, which is chess with simultaneous-movement moves. Simple and elegant. (Don't miss the chance to poke around the site and also discover IceTraders, Homeworlds, CheeseWiz, Happy Fun Die, and Ouija Dancing.)
Following which I realized that Zeitgeist was orthogonal to Kriegspiel; you can add one set of rules to chess, or the other, or both, without compromising the principles of either or making adaptations that aren't obvious. Have pawn capture options announced before moves are submitted, but illegal pawn capture attempts are handled as in Zeitgeist. Announcements are lightly adapted from Kriegspiel: Move, Capture (square of captured man/men, and whether pawn or piece), Check (direction of check)), or Bounce. If you play by writing down moves, it won't be possible to keep promotion a secret. Probably that's OK, since simultaneity adds more uncertainty than that removes. Or you could play in the back-to-back Kriegspiel arrangement, and promotion would remain confidentialish.
Next I noticed that, if you're an Übergenius, that might not get hairy enough. Zeitgeist rules can be applied to Raumschach for three-dimensional fun. Or Kriegspiel rules. Or both. (That way lies madness, no doubt.)
The next thing I noticed was that all three of these interesting and orthogonal variants have dimorphemic German names, all of which by a weird coincidence I actually understand. Get out the tinfoil hats, it's a plot to drive the strategic thinkers mad!
Now, it may not have a German name (it's got a Dutch one!), but you could add in Pocket Knight (a.k.a. paard in de zak) to any of the above ones without too much trouble either. And it's a delightfully simple variant. Kriegspiel announcement: "Black has placed the knight," or "White's knight drop has bounced."
Whereas if you tried to add in Hostage Chess you'd have to think a bit about how to do it. The two concerns are that you have to know what you've captured, and that dropping adds so much unpredictability to play, that combining it with Kriegspiel would be quite tricky. Probably have to tell what is captured, and tell what rescues what and what is dropped, if not where. Maybe tell what quadrant it's dropped in, or what rank, or which side of the board. That would have to be play-tested. (Now, combine Hostage with Raumschach, and your main problem is physical: Where are they parachuting from? The fourth dimension?) And in Hostage Zeitgeist, maybe bouncing a drop should send the paratrooper back to the airfield, or maybe it should send him to prison anyway. Yeah, now we've departed from both orthogonality and Germanness. But Hostage by itself was too cool not to mention.
Words cannot express how badly I would abuse a device like this.