David Parlett's Katarenga games

A double crossing game for two boatmen

This is the original game for which the board was designed, Katarenga being a later development. It was intended to be a pathfinding and blocking game rather than a capturing game, though I've added a scoring variant that gives credit for capturing.

Object. To be the first to get all your boats across the Colorado River from the bank nearest you to the one furthest away on the other side. 'All' does not necessarily mean all eight but only all those remaining if any are sunk (captured). You can therefore win by getting only one boat home if your other seven are gone. Sinking your opponent's boats does not reduce their chances of winning. On the contrary, it makes it easier to find free squares in their homing row.

Play. Normal Katarenga rules of movement and sinking apply, including the prohibition on sinking on your first move.

When you land a boat on a square in the opposite bank it may (if possible) be immediately sunk by your opponent. If it isn't, it becomes invulnerable to sinking so long as it remains on that square. It can be moved again, whether or not to another square on the home bank, but every time it lands on a square on the home bank it becomes vulnerable to sinking on that move only.

The game ends as soon as one player wins by getting their last remaining boat home to the other bank. Note that you cannot win by sinking all your opponent's boats, otherwise they will have got 'all' home (albeit for a score of zero, so it's a draw). However, it is a win if your last boat gets home by sinking your opponent's last remaining boat still on its starting bank.

The unusual nature of this game is such that it is not advantageous to sink opposing boats if you can avoid it, and is desirable to force your opponent to sink yours as often as possible. In fact, if you sink all opposing boats you lose the game! You will readily see that if you lose three boats you will have that many more choices of square to land the other five on, whereas once you have seven home it can be costly to manoeuvre the last one into the only remaining vacancy.

Score You score 1 point for each opposing boat remaining in play but not yet on a home square. In the illustrated example, Black requires three moves get home (g1-h1, d3-f2-g1), but White can do it in two. White wins one point, regardless of who has the move. Play up to any agreed target.

Variant Alternatively, score 1 point for every one of your opponent's boats that has failed to reach home, including those that have been sunk. In this version capturing is a very definite advantage, but only to the eventual winner!

Moves

A boat moves from red like a rook, from yellow like a bishop, from green like a knight, from blue like a king. From red and yellow it can move any distance up to but not beyond the next square of the same colour in line of travel. You sink an opponent's boat by landing on it (from a great height). (Return).

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