A chess variant that's a deterministic wargame using leaders, activation, capture by replacement, rifle capture, capture by leaping, and custodial capture. A single king per side expands into a hierarchy of leaders with greater and lesser abilities.

WarGame 1


wbanner.gif1 Command Post
bchampion2.gif1 Supreme Commander
wgeneral2.gif6 Tank Commanders
bgeneral.gif4 Infantry Commanders
wchampion.gif3 Artillery Commanders

All leaders have a movement of 4 and a range of 1.

Non-leader Pieces:
btank.gif16 Tanks - movement of 3, range 2
wman.gif24 Infantry - movement of 2, range 0 in open, range 1 if in trees, towns, or hills
bcannon_south.gif14 Artillery - movement of 1, range 3

Leadership and Command Control

The 4 types of commanders lead their armies by issuing orders to specific units within command range to take a particular action.

Leaders maintain the chain of command from the highest to the lowest level, allowing those units below them to activate.

A leader who is out of command control range may himself give orders but may not move.

A tank, infantry, or artillery unit out of command control range cannot be activated.

Command Control Ranges:

There are 2 types of command control, with different ranges.
The first type is activation range. This is how far away from a piece a leader can be to activate that piece.
Activation range is 3 for all leaders.
Each leader may activate 1 piece within 3 squares of that leader.

The second type is leader communication range, or a leader's maximum distance from a higher-level leader for it to be activated. This is automatic, and maintains the chain of command.

  • Supreme Commander - 9 - allows (same or) lower level leaders 9 squares away to be activated
  • Tank Commander - 6
  • Inf/Art Commanders - 3

If a leader is outside any higher-level leader's command range, that particular leader may perform no actions, although it does provide command control to those lower level units within its range.
Exception: Leader relays. Same-level leaders may relay/extend a higher-level leader's command control to other same or lower-level units. The higher-level leader command control range is extended by the relaying unit's leader command range, not the higher-level commander's range.

  • Each player may move up to 10 different pieces per turn.
  • A player may pass a turn, moving nothing.
  • If both players pass, one after the other, the game is a draw.
  • Any piece, to move, must be activated by a leader.
  • No piece may move more than once in a turn.
  • No leader may activate more than 1 piece per turn.
  • Pieces are moved one at a time, in any order desired by the owning player.
  • All pieces are sliders, moving from one square into one of the 8 surrounding squares, then into one of the 8 squares around that "new" square, etc.
  • All moves must be legal when they are made.
  • No piece may move on top of or through a friendly piece at any time.
  • A piece may move on top of or through an enemy piece only when that enemy piece is being immediately removed from the board as a result of the moving piece's action, ie: in a close assault (rifle, or fire, combat) or an overrun (movement).
Command Control:
  • Pieces [except leaders] may not move or fight under their own power. They must be activated by a leader to move or attack an enemy unit within range.
  • Pieces are activated by leaders which must be within 3 squares at the start of the activation. The leader that activates a unit may itself have been activated and moved to that spot earlier in the same turn.
  • An activated piece may move outside the 3-square activation range of the leader which activated it, or any other [friendly] leader.
  • A leader may activate only 1 piece per turn, including itself or another leader.
  • No piece may be activated and perform more than one action per turn.
  • Once a piece has finished its action, it becomes inactive again. It cannot move in a subsequent turn without being re-activated by a leader.
  • Leaders may activate only pieces of their own color.

Movement Costs:

Leaders and Tanks are vehicles. Infantry and Artillery aren't.

  • Leaders move 4 in open terrain or town.
  • Tanks move 3 in open terrain or town.
  • Infantry moves 2 in open terrain, trees, or town.
  • Artillery moves 1 in open terrain, trees, or town.

Lower-level leaders tow artillery 2 in open terrain or town.
Leader starts turn adjacent to artillery piece. Leader moves 2 open terrain squares and artillery follows along behind the leader, moving into the spaces the leader is moving out of.

Tanks tow infantry (up to) 3 squares/turn. There is no cost for tanks to tow infantry. The infantry and tanks must start the turn adjacent. Only the tank has to be in command control.

Units being towed may be directly targeted and eliminated by distant fire only. While being towed, units cannot be eliminated directly any other way.

Units being towed are eliminated if the units towing them are eliminated.

Terrain and Movement

Hills cost 2 to move onto [no artillery].

Trees cost vehicles 4 to enter [no tanks].


Combat occurs when one unit shoots at another as its action, or when one unit moves on top of an enemy unit.

Range over open spaces: Artillery 3, Tank 2, Leader 1, Infantry 0.

All combat is considered rifle combat, and is always successful.

Special Infantry Rifle-fire Rule:

Infantry in non-open terrain has the ability during its turn to use rifle capture instead of replacement to kill an adjacent enemy leader, infantry, or artillery piece.

Terrain and Ranged Combat:

All non-open terrain blocks fire through it, but not into or out of it.
Line of fire is determined by drawing a straight line from the center of the firing location to the center of the target location.
For purposes of fire combat, units, both friendly and enemy, block fire through their locations.
Some fire will pass directly through a grid intersection, or along a grid line. Fire is not blocked unless both cells on either side of the intersection or gridline are blocking.


Deterministic captures allowed when defender is in town:

  • Infantry only captured by artillery directly adjacent [and shooting];
  • Artillery only captured by tanks directly adjacent;
  • Tanks in town only captured by infantry replacement.
  • Leaders captured by tank or inf replacement only.

Leaders in trees killed by:

  • Infantry by replacement.
  • Artillery directly adjacent.
  • Tank directly adjacent.
  • Leaders never kill leaders in trees.

Artillery in trees killed by:

  • adjacent tank or
  • adjacent artillery
  • never by infantry or leaders

Infantry in trees killed by:

  • adjacent tank;
  • adjacent artillery;
  • infantry replacement.
  • never by leaders

Tanks on hills killed by:

  • Adjacent artillery;
  • Infantry replacement;
  • Tank replacement.

Leaders on hills killed by:

  • Infantry replacement;
  • Tank replacement.

Infantry on hills killed by:

  • Infantry replacement.

Special Rule - Overruns:

Only vehicles may overrun.

  • Tanks may overrun Leaders and Infantry only.
  • Leaders may overrun Infantry and Artillery only.

An overrunning vehicle moves in a straight line directly through the space the defending unit occupies. The overrunning unit, entering from one space, must exit into the space directly across from the space it entered the defender's space.

Overrunning vehicles pay only the standard costs of movement. There is no requirement for performing an overrun beyond having enough movement points to move through the enemy-occupied location.

Units in trees and towns may never be overrun.

Overruns are always successful, and are considered part of movement, not combat, so they are an additional way to remove enemy units.

Special Rule - Custodial Capture: Out Of Supply

Any time 3 or more friendly units "surround" an enemy unit after all of them that are moving have moved for that turn, that enemy unit is removed from the board.
Definition of surround: One piece is surrounded if none of its 8 adjacent squares which are empty are not next to an enemy piece, and none of those 8 adjacent squares contains a friendly piece.
This is considered a supply check, not combat, and represents another way to remove pieces from the board.


Victory is one of the things not fully worked out yet, but method 1, below, works all the time.

  • You win by killing all your opponent's leaders.
  • Optionally, you win by killing your opponent's banner.
  • Optionally, you win by planting your banner somewhere better and faster than your opponent can do his. Banners - aka: command posts, can't move, but they can be towed 1 square/turn by the supreme commander (only?) at the cost of one activation.
Future possibilities

Paratroops. Consider allowing a medium-range leaping piece, say about 5-6 squares, that can move 2 or leap several, then move 1. This piece might have to be specially "prepped" by using up an activation on one turn that will allow the piece to leap on any subsequent turn until it has either already leaped or acted in any manner to cause an enemy piece to be removed from the board. [Eg: paticipated in custodial capture, say.]


(Such as it is.)


Changing the number of pieces moved per turn

One of the things I noticed with the Chieftain games is that once you've lost a leader without re-capturing an enemy leader in return, you have basically lost the game. Actual battles are usually not only a little more messy, it is extremely rare that even all the units ordered to move or attack in a battle actually do so. Thus, I've reduced the number of activations below the number of leaders. This will allow for some losses of leaders without the concomitant loss of the game necessarily. Allowing up to 10 activations in a turn means that about 15% of the pieces can move at start. With towing, this percentage can rise significantly, conceivably up to 30% of the entire army moving in a turn.


WarGame 2


In early playtesting with Uri Bruck, who has suggested a hex board, I found the game amazingly chaotic, fascinating in potential, and just a tad too big and unwieldy, certainly for a "first-of-its-kind" game. Proof of concept can be done on a smaller scale. For my next try, something American Civil War-like, maybe with shorter ranger and longer movements. Although the movement in the initial rules set, on a 20x33 board, seemed to work out rather interestingly. Having terrain on the board would be a good idea, and hexes might provide an easier field of fire to figure.

Let's consider pieces:


Commander: 1
General: 3
Colonel: 6
- Command Ranges: Colonels are 3, others 6
- Movement: about 6


Cavalry - moves 5, fire combat range 1, can overrun [jump]
Infantry - moves 3, fire combat range 1, can close assault [replace]
Artillery - moves 2, fire combat range 2


Use a hex board, with terrain.

A leader who activates a piece and moves along with it during its entire move adds 1 to that piece's movement.


WarGame 2



Comment 8/15/12

As usual, the ideas here outstrip the reality of play. Wargame 2 is a much better example game than Wargame 1, because it is more playable. Note the changes: an unwieldy command structure has been simplified, and a plethora of pieces has been pruned. Wg2 was the springboard for Warlord and the Warlord Scenarios, where, as of this writing, terrain is about to be added to the experimental scenario A Test of Wills. The current active page for this series of games is here: [http://chessvariants.wikidot.com/warlord-2]

Comment 8/27/12

A Test of Wills has been playtested and works well - thanks, Dave Bennett. A preset is now available on the active page. Border Wars, a 16x24, 48 pieces/side game with terrain has been successfully [very successfully!] playtested, (again, thanks, Dave) and has shown my initial ideas here above to be, once again, too complex to work well or easily. Simplicity rules, as does taking the design forward one step at a time. See the current active page (just above) to see what appears to be a proof of concept game in Border Wars, that demonstrates a working chess-wargame fusion.

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