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Subject: The origins of the Phalanx in Latrunculi XXI rss

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Jose Carrillo
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BozoDel wrote:
j_carrillo_vii wrote:
BozoDel wrote:
... can I ask you something? Why did you feel the need to add the testudo/phalanx capture?


As for the testudo/phalanx, they were a result of the need to solve the last problem I encounterd with the game.

When I started the Latrunculi (and Petteia) experiments, all I had to work with was simple orthogonal moves for the pieces and custodial captures (including corner captures).

A game with this simple rules will sooner rather than later turn into a draw blocked position of some sort.

I find game that end in a draw boring. So I decided to start fixing the "problems" with the game, which was how easily blocked positions could be created with back and forth moves by the men.

The locked in combat rule was a big breakthrough, but didn't solve the problem altogether.

I programed the game in Zillions of Games, and ran the program against itself hundreds of times, analyzing the games that ended in draws (after 50 moves without a capture), and identifying new capturing methods when I saw common patterns.

I updated my Zillions program, and kept testing.

The very last problem that I found was when a player was coward enough to build themselves a fortress position on a corner of the board.

None of my other solutions could prevent this fortresses, my only satisfaction was that a player purposely and cowardly would need to aim for one of these fortresses to force a draw, never playing for a win; so the need to solve this problem was not something I needed to do before I published the game.

I played the game extensively with my teenage son, and the situation never arose in my Latrunculi XXI.

Having finished that game, I turned my attention to Petteia, which was a similar game, with twice as many soldiers and no King. I figured that my Latrunculi rules set should have been enough to play a new Petteia XXI, without me having to do anything new.

Two games for the price of one. :-)

Again I put Zillions to the task of playing hundreds of Petteia XXI games, and to my surprise, I found many draws. This time it wasn't because of a fortress formation, but because (since there were so many more soldiers on the board) the game quickly built a wall in the middle of the board which neither player could force the other to break. Again, too many games were drawn because of back and forth moves with the soldiers behind the wall, on either side of the field.

The solution was the testudo/phalanx attack, used to destroy that wall, or as a deterrent for players in my Petteia version to try to build the wall, because the other player had a tool to break through. I got the idea of the Phalanx Attack when I was watching the movie 300.

Once this problem was solved for Petteia XXI, then Latrunculi XXI just inherited the rule, which happened to solve the problem with the fortress formations on the corners as well!

My objective was always one: minimize or eliminate the possibility of draws; and so far, we haven't had even one draw in the Chess Variants site (in either Petteia XXI or Latrunculi XXI).

From experience the Phalanx I seldom used in Latrunculi, it's just there as a potential tool and a deterrent. In Petteia on the other hand, the Phalanx is the main method of attack in the opening portion of the game, just like it once was during the real wars in the Greek Empire.

That's the story.

... I found that story quite interesting. In fact, I think you should post it in the forum. I'm sure it'll help get people interested in the game.


Thanks for the question BozoDel!
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