Hi Zied,

I have become an enthusiastic fan of your Muskeeter Chess and already own three sets and am in the process of completing my collection with the remaining two. I am also interested in chess variants in general. In fact I originally got the Fortress&Unicorn kit simply because I needed a unicorn figure for a chess variant of my own I was working on, but as I began to study more about fairy chess pieces I became interested in muskeeter chess itself.

I was very interested when I found this forum post and discovered that there might be more sets in the near future. The new figures are looking pretty cool. Griffin's also happen to be among my favorite mythological beasts. I am a little confused about the dragon, considering that you already called the Queen + Knight compound the dragon in Muskeeter Chess. Your post seems to indicate that this is a new piece however. In any case you asked for suggested moves and I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to contribute, even if only in a small way, to something I have become a fan of.

The first thing that came to mind is to simply give the griffin it's traditional move as defined in grand acedrix. In grand acedrix, the griffin first moves one space diagonally, and then can choose to go in one of the two orthogonal directions that formed the diagonal. Here is a diagram using your board painter tool:

*by the way, this board painter tool is actually pretty cool

In this form the piece has a value very close to that of a cannon, according to computer calculations I made regarding average mobility across a wide variety of board conditions. With the original muskeeter pieces there is a lack of orthogonal movement. Only two pieces possess it, the chancellor and the series 1 dragon, and that's mainly because they are pieces that predate muskeeter chess. The grand acedrix griffin can easily attack all the traditional chess pieces from a safe square, and can even attack any other muskeeter piece safely as well. Thing is, muskeeter chess doesn't always follow the historical movements of pieces. The unicorn in muskeeter chess moves the same as the "gnu" in the usual fairy chess nomenclature. Meanwhile the unicorn in grand acedrix moves in a completely different way, making a knight move first, followed by a diagonal sweep outwards. What are your thoughts on the traditional fairy chess nomenclature?

If such a movement is not suitable for muskeeter chess this raises the question, just what kinds of moves are suitable? What are the parameters that define a good muskeeter piece? Based on the existing ten pieces some things can be gleaned. For one it's clear that these pieces are mainly designed to be valuable enough to be an interesting addition to the game of chess, but not so over powered that they become the only strategic consideration. Towards that end, it seems that the pieces are deliberately designed to fall between a rook and queen in value. This seems like a good idea anyway since there is a huge gap in power between these pieces. The only exception to this rule is the series 1 dragon which appears to be about 3 pawns past a queen in value and is by far the strongest muskeeter chess piece (the second being the chancellor, the third, perhaps surprisingly being the spider). The second principle seems to be the avoidance, for the most part, of pieces with unlimited range. Again, only three pieces have this ability (archbishop,chancellor,s1 dragon), and they all predate muskeeter chess. When "sweeps" are allowed they are limited to two or three squares. "Leap-squares" which we're once the exclusive purview of the knight, now become very common in muskeeter chess, perhaps owing to the turning away from "sweeper" pieces. Leap-squares however are very powerful however, especially in the middle game, because they can not be blocked, and therefore should be used sparingly. As a result many of the muskeeter pieces earn alot of power simply from their leap-squares. The spider is the strongest simply because it has the most leap-squares, a total of 12 (20 if you count the middle 8 squares). Another noticible pattern is that pieces typically have a maximum number of squares of either 16 or 20, the only exceptions again being the archbishop,chancellor, and s1 dragon. Lastly, the moves are always symmetrical. Specifically they have radial symmetry and 4-fold mirror symmetry.

With this in mind, and a general design goal of trying to create pieces that can safely oppose each other at least from one key position, I have designed a very unique move for the griffin and dragon. There are two ways to create a safe attack. One is for piece to control a square the other doesn't. The problem is that another unwritten design principle is that the 16 or 20 squares are all relatively close to the starting square. Specifically, every piece can fall within the "third perimeter", except for the unlimited sweepers. This means however, that there is a lot of sharing of squares. If both pieces share the same square and it's a leap-square, then there is no way to avoid mutual threat on that square. However two pieces can share the same square and still not be in mutual threat, provided they get there by different paths. So for example, the spider can attack the s1 dragon safely, provided there is a piece between them.

So without further ado, here is my proposal for the griffin. The griffin can move one space diagonally followed by a knight move provided this lands on the third perimeter, or it leaps two spaces orthogonally. Here is a diagram:

Some points of interest:

The griffin here covers exactly 20 squares. It covers all of the opposite colored squares on the third perimeter. It's an example of a new style of piece I call a "double-leaper". The double-leap reduces the amount of mobility slightly to better balance the piece. It lands on the "zebra-squares" on the third perimeter which no existing muskeeter piece lands on. From this vantage point it can attack any other piece. However it is vulnerable from orthogonal, diagonal and knight moves. The griffin here as an estimated value above the leopard and just a tiny fraction of a point below the fortress. It is basically a glorified knight. There is a checkmate position with a lone griffin but it's not known if it's a forced win against a lone king. It retains a feature of the original griffin that it's return path is different than it's initial path. This means that the griffin above is the only example of a symmetric piece so far that can actually attack itself safely. See for example:

Here with white to move, the black griffin is threating the white griffin, but the pawn is in the way of the white griffins attack path.

I play tested one game with the griffin and unicorn. The griffin proved to be a strong piece in the middle game, but was a little more difficult to visualize due to it's many unorthodox features. It did however make for an interesting game and the discovery of an interesting checkmate position, illustrated below:

Early on, the black griffin was able to win a rook with it's unusual move but then was trapped. Meanwhile the black b pawn was able to advance until the first position was reached. At this point the king is in serious danger. The black pawn at b2 is blocking the griffin, but when it promotes at b1 it's unblocked. If 1.Nxa1 then bxa1=Q. Naively I thought I'd do 1.Ud2 to try and take the Queen and still have the option of taking the griffin. However when replying with b1=Q this now becomes checkmate! Even though both pieces are under threat, only one can be taken and therefore there is no way out of checkmate. In retrospect Ud2 actually blocked the king in, but it's still an interesting checkmate combination.

For the dragon I came up with the idea of inverting the griffin move. It moves like a knight followed by a diagonal move into the third perimeter. Here is a diagram:

This s2 dragon covers 20 squares. It covers the same squares in the third perimeter. Due to the fact that it's an inverse of the griffin, only two things are possible on these squares. Either the s2 dragon and s2 griffin are in mutual threat, or they are mutually blocked. Just like the griffin the s2 dragon can safely attack itself with the correct intervening piece.

So what do you think?

I also have some designs for other pieces if you're interested. I think ultimately the important thing in expanding muskeeter chess is that the pieces properly complement each other and create opportunities for one player to gain the high ground. I have not done a thorough analysis comparing all these pieces against each other, and I haven't constructed them in a systematic way, but that is probably the most important thing going forward.

Sincerely,

-- Finitus

Thanks to @Finitus i got a lot of inspiration concerning my future pieces.

I'll update with some new pictures. Currently i got 16 out of 20 new pieces almost ready (still a few changes to improve the pieces) the remaining 4 are still in development mode.

Yeah

Sorry for this late answer.

reminder, this is the Glider

This is the Wizard