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Castles is a popular board game for two players which is played all over the world in a great number of variations. The origins of the game date back to prehistoric times, and apparently there never has been a culture which did not know Castles in one way or another. It is a common misconception that Hieronymus Findorff invented the game: While he was the first to actually write down the rules and develop a number of standard game variants, he only summarized the game as it had been know for a long time already.

Basic setup Edit

Castle is played by two players on a rectangular grid. The grid can be a small board of 8 x 8 fields, or a large board with 9 x 9 field. On the large board, the 9 center squares (3 x 3 fields) are called "the lake" and cannot be traversed by any piece.

Usually, the board has two "end zones", which are the two (or three, for the large board) backmost rows on the board.

Common features to all Castle variants Edit

Despite the big number of variations, all Castle games have in common that there are three types of game pieces, namely Musketeers[1], Horsemen and Pikemen.

While musketeers can strike pikemen, they themselves are in turn struck by horsemen. The pikemen on the other hand can strike the horsemen, thus every kind of piece can strike one other kind, and is itself struck by the third kind.

When setting up the game, both players are free to take as many pieces of any kind, as long as the total strength of their army doesn't exceed a predetermined limit (for small boards, this is usually 15 pieces, for larger boards 18). The players chose their pieces secretely and place them on the board protected by a screen, so that their opponent can't see the deployment of their army. The screen is removed once both players have set up their pieces as they like.

Standard play ("Findorff's play") Edit

(The following mode of play is called "standard play" because it was the first which was included by Findorff in his book, and hence also bears his name. But there is nothing to actually suggest this mode was more popular than any other.)

Setup Edit

Played on a small or a large board. The players set up their pieces in the protection of their screens within their own end zone. In addition, each player places one general in their endzone. Players are free in the composition and arrangement of their pieces.

Game play Edit

After that is done and the screens are removed, players take turns moving one of their pieces one field across the board onto a free square, horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally.

Any piece other than a general which has left the own end zone can never move back in.

Striking and pushing Edit

As mentioned above Musketeers can strike Pikemen, Pikemen can strike Horsemen, and Horsemen can strike Musketeers. Struck pieces are taken from the game.

If a piece comes across an opposing piece of the same kind, the attacker can "push" the opponent one square back, if the square behind the opposing piece is free. It is also possible to push an opponent off the board of the game or (on large boards) into the lake; in both cases the pushed pieces are struck.

Finally, a piece can push an opposing piece of the same kind into any piece of its own army. In this case the pushed piece is called "crushed", and struck from the game as well.

End of the game Edit

The game lasts until

  • one of the generals is struck by any opposing piece,
  • one army has lost all of its pieces with the exception of the general,
  • by surrender of one side, or
  • until both sides agree that neither has a reasonable chance to win anymore.

In the latter case, the game is called "going to siege" and is considered a tie.

Notes Edit

  1. Before the introduction of firearms, they were probably called Archers. Although this isn't know with certainty, many antique pieces depict bowmen in place of later musketeers.

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