Shock Troops or ST Chess is a variant that uses the standard 8x8 board, and normal chess pieces set up in the standard configuration. During play each side has the option instead of making a regular move or to drop one of two pieces into any vacant space in the back rank.
The two pieces introduced this way are the War Knight and the Elephant Knight.
The War Knight makes either an orthogonal step or leaps 2 squares horizontally or vertically.
Similarly, the Elephant Knight makes either a diagonal step or leaps 2 squares diagonally.
In addition to their unique moves, both pieces can also move like regular knights. They capture by displacement like any other piece.
Shock Troops Start position
One War Knight and One Elephant Knight to be dropped in empty space from a1-h1 for White or a8-h8 for Black
2 Ninja Pawns to be dropped (and optionally moved) in empty space from a2-h2 for White and a7-h7 for Black.
The ninja pawn can always move 1 square up or 1 square sideways to an empty square regardless of where it is situated on the board. It can also make an initial double step just like the regular pawn.
Like the standard pawn it can capture one square diagonally up, regardless of which half of the board it is on.
When the ninja pawn is on the top half of board (White rank 5 or greater +, Black rank 4 or less) , it can also capture one square horizontally.
There is no en passant. It cannot capture another pawn or ninja pawn en passant nor can any other pawn capture it this way.
Promotion: The ninja pawn promotes on the last row, to any piece. Promotion to a piece is mandatory so it would cease to be a pawn in the last row.Dropping: 2 Ninja Pawns can be dropped (1 per turn) into an empty space on the 2nd rank by either side during the course of play. The Ninja Pawn can be optionally pushed forward (1-2 spaces) towards the middle during the same turn.
The War Knight and Elephant Knight are compounds of ancient very well known elements: the Ferz, Alfil, Warmachine, and Wazir.
There are a number of sub-variants using this system. A very interesting sub-variant involves the War Drone and Elephant, which both move exactly like the War Knight and Elephant Knight respectively, minus the knight movement. This reduces the power on the board and might be a preferred variant for some players.
Of course, if the ninja pawns are not to everyone's taste, both sides can play without them.
Another interesting variant is to use the Chancellor and Archbishop instead. Note that this would make it very similar to Seirawan Chess especially if used without ninja pawns, but with a more logical dropping mechanism.
Such considerations as when the pieces should be allowed to enter the game require a lot of play testing and feedback. It is clear that it is more flexible to allow them to enter at any time, and there does not seem to be any valid reason to limit the dropping to the initial stages of the game.I have been reluctant to experiment too much with the 8x8 boards simply because of the abundance of superb standard chess and the shuffle chess varieties. Adding new pieces seems almost like defacement, but nonetheless the gameplay is quite interesting.
I had to, however, demonstrate that the use of slightly less powerful but still formidable jumpers as a very viable and possibly superior alternative to the Seirawan Chess setup. Not to mention the use of ninja pawns, which adds a subtle change to the gameplay.Orthodox chess players may not welcome these changes to what they see as and what may very well be the perfect game. Of course, it is always better to present any chess variant as an alternative chess based game rather than as some "improvement" that all players must play instead. In fact, the whole notion of finding the "next" chess, an idea that regrettably even I was fascinated with, is probably the most foolhardy scheme anyone can attempt to undertake.
So despite my enthusiasm for this variant and my other variants as well, I have come to realize that chess - the standard 8x8 type - may well be the most fascinating game of all. It seems to have even gained in popularity a bit in recent years.
Nonetheless, the exploration of different board sizes and new pieces is entirely justified and must continue. For who knows what lies within these parallel universes! All that is required is a substantial amount of testing, play and research within any one of these new systems, and an entire new faction of chess can flourish.I am certain though that any variant including Fischer Random would never replace Chess in the new future, but 100 years from now? Who knows? !
If you would like to email the chess variant inventor directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
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