Originally created to depict the many inner and outer struggles
of the Grand Empire of Krath, this
board game quickly became popular in the military of
Krath then spread its influence over
the bureaucracy of the Krathian Empire.
Credit is given to A'charil's creator, a
Krath General, who created the game in order to creatively solve military
problems by A'charil receiving its creators name. This complex board game is
still being played today and is often seen as a
Krath reflection of the popular
Two popular versions of A'charil exist throughout the Earth Empire differing only slightly from one another, but mostly differing by their players. The most common variety which held strictly to the original form of the game, is often played by soldiers within the Krath Army. The original version of the game thus gained the names "Soldier’s A'charil", in respect to who played it; "Low A'charil", since it was played by commoners or the low; and finally, "True A'charil" since this is the form of the original game.
The other version of the game was transformed slightly from the original when A'charil became popular with noblemen. Noblemen not so concerned with some elements that soldiers considered important, soon formed their own version of the game. This version slightly changed from the original game of A'charil is called "The Krathaszar", after the tribe of the people who often played the game; "High A'charil" to denote its popularity with the high or noble; and often "False A'charil" by soldiers who disliked the nobleman's form of their popular war game.
History. "A’charil" or "The Krathaszar" receives its origins from the mighty Empire of Krath who invented the games to amuse themselves on long nights or to plan an attack. The first beginnings however, were purely strategic in nature.
A few military generals while laying down their military campaign found themselves in the unique position of having too many choices with too little hope of success. Unwilling to admit defeat or retreat in the face of the enemy as seemed to be the only option at the time, the generals struggled long hard hours pouring over a map with various pieces depicting their legions and forces and those of the enemy. Finally, after two days of long debate, one of the generals had a brilliant idea. General A'charil decided that perhaps what could not be deciphered in seriousness could perhaps be unpuzzled in fun. Folding up the map of the area, and gathering the pieces used to depict the armies, the general proceeded to the nearest officers tent where he ordered his officers to present themselves to him that evening. Rather than present the officers with the real situation, the general instead presented the map and the pieces as a game. Rules were soon set that mimicked actual military movements, as it was only natural for these military men to think military strategy. The game was then played and by playing the game, the captains discussed, discarded, and then decided on successful moves in order to ‘conquer’ the enemy. Using the strategy the captains had used in their game the night before, the Generals soon won the apparently impossible battle. Thus, A’charil was first played and created. - It is believed that the name for the game was derived from that of its creator, "General A’charil".
Although, A’charil continued to be used for strictly military campaigns, the game quickly became popular with the soldiers as they sketched crude maps in the dirt and used buttons as pieces. From the military, A’charil trickled upwards to the Krath Emperor, downwards from the Emperor to the Grand Vizier, and from the Grand Vizier to Nobility.
This division of two kinds of people playing the game (military and nobility) eventually went on to form two different popular forms of the game. "Soldier's A’charil" is the game of strategy and war played by the military to depict and predict battles, whereas "The Krathaszar" is a game played by nobles to mimic the internal struggles of the Empire. Both versions of the game are commonly called "A'charil", nevertheless "Soldier's A'charil" is called "Low A'charil" and "The Krathaszar" is called the "High A'charil" to show the distinction between the two.
Since the fall of the Grand Empire of Krath after the Year of Darkness, A’charil continued as a popular noble’s strategy game and some traces of the game can be found in versions of the game played in the great City-States of the Zhunite Plains.
A’charil is always played on a map of some sort depicting various scenes
depending on the owner and player of game. The map can be made of leather,
inscribed into a wooden board as was most common, or simply scratched out in
the dirt. Most often old or worn maps are used for A’charil, although a map
inscribed onto a wooden board is also equally common.
Whatever the type, size, or picture displayed on the map, the map is turned into the game board with a few simple steps. First the board is divided horizontally in half, and then in vertical thirds. These form the sections of the board or ‘the kingdoms/provinces’ as they are called in game play. The division of these sections is usually marked with six different coloured strings - or in the case of a more wealthy man's board - with the use of paint.
Each section is then divided into four, to form corners or "Fiefs" as they are called in game play. These Fiefs are marked with thin black lines.
Each Fief is then divided into four smaller sections marked with even thinner lines. These small sections are called "Holdings" in the case The Krathaszar is played and "Areas" in the case of Soldier’s A'charil. These small sections generally are scaled to depict the time taken to travel the area. A single space on large maps such as the diagram depicted would denote a day's travel whereas small maps of a single region would denote an hour of travel time.
In addition a circle of some sort, whether drawn on the dirt or in form of a flat disk set on a pestle-stool must also be present. The circle is usually half a fore in diameter and when raised stands a ped above the ground. A line is usually drawn in front of the circle about 2 fores away from the "Throwing Circle", as the circle is called. This line depicts where the players must stand while throwing their spears.
Equipment. There are two types of A’charil, one called "Soldier's A’charil", and one called "The Krathaszar". Although the names of the pieces vary differently as well as their shape, game play remains the same.
Both Soldier’s A’charil and The Krathaszar can be played with as little as two players or in upwards of six players. More players are allowed if teams are formed, although only a single player of a team can actually move the team’s pieces. Teams can consist of any number but it is rare for more than a team of two or three to be formed. Each player or head of a team is either termed a "Lord" when The Krathaszar is being played, and a "General" when Soldier’s A’charil is being played. Team players who are not moving the pieces but simply conferring with the Lord or General, are called "Holders" in the case of the Krathaszar and "Captains" in the case of Soldier’s A’charil.
Aside from the board players need a set of throwing sticks which are called "Spears". Spears are one palmspan long and 2 nailsbreadth wide, and generally flat and smooth to the touch. Each spears has two sides, a naturally coloured side and a white side. These sticks are thrown into a circle drawn on the ground or onto a raised disk to determine how many moves a player can make.
Players also need a dice with six faces and angles numbered 1 through 6. The dice is rolled to determine the chances of "Battle". Further information will be provided in the Rules section.
Also to play, players need various different objects to depict pieces. These pieces are usually varied depending on the player and can be anything from buttons, to wood chips, to stones, to coins, to wood models, or elaborated carved pieces of bone depending on the wealth of the owner of the game. It is not unusual therefore to see many different figurines in sizes, shapes, and craft when the game was popularly played although the pieces always represented the same thing.
To begin with each player/team is provided with 9 pieces for a total of 56 pieces for the entire game. An additional 40 more pieces are available to be bought for actual gold if a player so desires.
Pieces are then divided either by declaration or by their shape into 4 different types. Types of Pieces include (Soldier’s A’charil name first then the Krathaszar):
The Ships (Navy)
Usually depicted with a blue coloured object or a piece carved into the shape of a ship. Styles and sizes of the ship depend on the taste and wealth of the owner of the game.
The Knights (Cavalry)
Usually depicted with a brown coloured object or a piece carved in the head of the Fujin, a popular riding mount of that day. In the case of the Krathaszar, pieces carved to look like horse heads are also known to be used.
The Hunters (Aerial
Usually depicted with a shiny object such as a coin, or a piece carved to look like the head or full figure of a bird. Styles, shapes, and type of bird vary widely from player to player.
The Peasants (Infantry)
Usually depicted with a green coloured object such as a coin, or a piece carved to look like a weapon of some type, or a pitch fork. Pieces carved into the shape of miniature human form are also commonly used.
Players also are given a single piece called a
"Camp" or "Manor" to be their base in their section, this base is stationary
and cannot be moved after a player lifts his/her finger from the piece.
Camp/Manors are either rocks in the case of a poor man's board, but are
generally wood carved tents or houses styled after the owner's taste.
Camps/Manors have the longest history of being personally owned and personally
crafted pieces of the game. It is not unusual in fact for an avid player of the
game to carry with them their Camp/Manor at all times, and to use their
personal piece rather than playing with the pieces provided by the host.
Pieces depending on their type are governed by their own natural movements that they would possess in real life.
There are an equal number of each piece, and a total of 96 pieces. Although all players receive 2 of each piece type in addition to their Camps/Manors, pieces can be exchanged for no cost for another type of piece. For example if the game is being played on a map depicting a territory where no water exists, players may exchange their naval pieces for additional cavalry pieces.
Players only receive 9 pieces each, or a total of 56 pieces maximum, and this leaves plenty of extra pieces which are generally called "Sell Swords" or "Mercenaries". Extra pieces can also be bought individually by each player, but must be paid for with real money, and the money goes into a pot which is then at the end of the game collected by the winner. Some players see buying pieces as an investment, and others see it as an unnecessary risk as much coins can be lost in the process.
Players also need a single person to be the Treasurer and the "Peace Maker" of the game. A Peace Maker's/Treasurer's purpose is to be in charge of all transactions involving buying pieces or resources. The Peace Maker is also an impartial party who will decide on all matters of controversy that may occur in the game. This person is usually one of the observers that surround the game, and is often recruited unwillingly for this task. A Peace Maker’s word is final, cannot be disputed, and above controversy, but it has not been unknown for a former Peace Maker to be found dead the next morning of mysterious circumstances...
Game Set-Up. To begin players/teams first throw the Spears. The highest number of white sides thrown by a player gives that General/Lord first choice of Sections (called Kingdoms/Provinces), followed by the second highest etc. The first throw also determines the turn of play, the highest thrower will go first, followed by the player on their immediate right.
Spears must be thrown onto or into the Throwing Circle from a distance of 2 fores, generally marked by a line inscribed in front of the Throwing Circle. Players must also stand to their full height, and no part of their body may cross the 2 fore mark. All throws that violate these rules are disqualified, and his/her turn is forfeit. Only Spears that land completely in the Throwing Circle count towards the throw, and some players attempting to make the throw more difficult will decrease the size of the circle upon mutual agreement.
Then players set up their pieces. Pieces may be set up anywhere within that players/teams coloured section. Restrictions of where pieces can be set up exist only in natural boundaries and the type of piece.
Game play relies totally on the accuracy of the map, and no more can be made where one cannot be made in real life if the territory were crossed. Therefore, if it is impossible for an army to march through a certain pass, a piece cannot be placed there. In addition types of pieces also control where a piece may be set up/moved.
Navy/Ships can only be placed in or on water. Cavalry must be on a clear area without trees or mountains, at the start of the game although they can move through these areas later. Infantry can be placed in the mountains if human life exists there, or in any area that is not judged unsuitable for human life. Aerial units may be placed anywhere on the board to begin with except over/on water or over/on on a high mountain where no human can live.
Camps/Manors can be set anywhere where a house can be feasibly built, and in the case of Soldier’s A’charil are often placed where the actual camp is positioned. Once set, the Camp/Manor unlike the other pieces may not be moved, and the placing of the Camp/Manor is often a strategic endeavor.
There is no limit to how many pieces can exist with a space, nor is there any limit (other than the natural limits imposed on the game) where pieces can be set up.
Once the board is set up Alliances can then be made in between players/teams. No rules govern what the terms of alliances are, or who can align themselves with whom. Alliances are spoken agreements between players that last for 10 moves of game play (10 turns per player). Alliances can be temporary or permanent. In the case of temporary, betrayals are allowed, but in permanent alliances betrayals are counted as an extreme offense by all players present and are generally not advisable. Alliances usually consists of two players/teams agreeing to fight towards a common goal and to share resources. Alliances are completely optional, but must be made at the beginning of the game or in the "Talking Sessions" that occur every 10 turns (or when all players have taken 10 turns).
After alliances are made, additional armies/pieces can be bought using actual coin. The price of the pieces are declared at the begging of the game and cannot be increased or lessened during the game. Coins paid for pieces are then given to the Peace Maker’s care and will go for the winner. Pieces may only be bought at the beginning of the game.
When playing Soldier’s A’charil, the Blue Section which represents the Krath Empire. And at the beginning of the game, the Krath Empire (Blue Section/Blue General) can declare war to any section of the board that is not part of its alliances. All teams then have a chance to quickly nullify and reform alliances based on the Krath’s Declaration of War. Because the Blue Section is the only one that can "Declare War" this section is generally the first chosen when playing Soldier’s A’charil. Any section the Krath Empire declares war on will be termed the Enemy for the rest of the game. Players are allowed to align themselves with the Krath Empire, the Enemy or remain neutral. Neutral players are generally termed Mercenaries and may serve their own purpose during the game.
Rules. Universal rule of A’charil in both forms is that the game must respect the nature of the land. Geographic knowledge therefore comes in handy because if a piece crosses a territory which it cannot cross, the piece dies and is removed from the board.
Squares are labeled according to the kind of land which occupies them most. If a square is more the half consumed by any one particular land feature, it is in general categorized by that prominent geographic feature. The following are the types squares:
Half water, half land.
More than half mountain. Elevation and whether or not the mountain can be climbed or passed, depends on the actual mountain range.
Half mountain, half not. Any square which is divided in half by mountains, or has less than half a mountain range in that area is hilly.
More than half wooded. Considered deep forest when most of the square is covered in woods, and a glade when only some of the square is wooded.
Any square that is relatively flat, and has no other geographic distinction.
The types of pieces depict what moves a specific piece can make:
The Ships (Navy)
Can move up to 3 places per turn. Ships can move on water and Port squares. Ships may also attack a piece on land squares if the land square is flat, and is immediately next to a Water square. If a ship attacks a piece on land, the player must move the ship off of the land their next turn or the ship is lost. Ships may freely attack without fear of removal any piece in a Port or water.
The Knights (Cavalry)
Knights can move up to 2 places of a move, but cannot strike the same turn they move. Cavalry may not move through heavily forested areas, areas of unusually high elevation or low elevation, or heavily rocky areas. Basically, anywhere a riding beast cannot be ridden, the Cavalry cannot move into that square. Cavalry can move in Glades (lightly forested areas), Ports, Plain, and Hilly Squares.
The Hunters (Aerial
Aerial units can moved anywhere over the board, and can fly up to 4 places a turn. However, there are certain limits to the movement of the aerial unit. For each place the bird moves, the bird is obligated to "rest" or to remain for equal of turns. Aerial units can also not fly over water for more then one turn, and this the only exception when a player may move the Aerial unit the next turn, although if this is the case all other moves are forfeit, and the player may only move his aerial piece.
The Peasants (Infantry)
Peasants can move any number of places within a turn up to 8 places, and are often used as scouts in this manner. In order to avoid the detection of their movements/intentions, players often do not move their peasants more than one place per turn. Infantry pieces may move into shallow water, forests, mountains (if elevation is passable for humans), plains, and hilly areas. Peasants are the most moveable pieces aside from Hunter pieces.
To begin the game, the Sticks called
"Spears" are thrown into the Circle or
Raised Disk set aside for this purpose. The number of white sides are showing
depict how many places a player can move, but to begin the game the number
determines which player can go first. Any throws which land outside the circle
or off the raised disk are disqualified and do not count towards the throw.
Position of play already determined, the first player then picks up the Spears and throws them in the circle again. Players must stand at least two fores away from the disk, and stand to their full height while throwing the sticks. Lines are often inscribed in front of the Throwing Circle for this purpose. If a player is closer than rules allow when he throws the Spears, then that player looses his turn, and the next person goes.
Once the Spears are thrown, the Peace Maker counts the number of white sides showing on the sticks that are within/on the circle/disk. Trustworthy players often do this service for themselves, however. The number of white sides showing determine how many moves the player may move. For example if a player throws all eight spears in the circle, and 3 white sides are showing, then the player may move three spaces.
Moves can be divided up in between pieces or can be dedicated to a single piece. The First Rule of A’charil that natural boundaries must be obeyed, control where a player may move, but other than that cardinal rule, no rule tells players where or how to move their pieces.
All pieces may strike any piece that is immediately one place beside them if that opposing piece is in a territory in which that type of piece can enter. To strike a piece, a player first moves into a place where an opponents piece is already positioned and loudly declares, "Battle". All normal play is suspended until a Battle is finished. - Battle Sequences are played as follows:
Advantages are determined
Players each gain a Spear for each advantage they have. Advantages include:
- A Spear is given for the player with or coming from the highest elevation (if the player attacks from a higher ground to a level ground or if the player is attacking from a lower ground to a higher or if the elevation is equal).
- Greater number of units (for example Player A attacks with three units against Player B’s two, therefore Player A gains a Spear)
- For natural advantage:
* Navy gain advantage when attacking in water from water.
* Knights gain advantage when attacking on ground level.
* Infantry gains advantage when attacking in the mountains.
* Aerial gains advantage when attacking in the forest or jungle areas.
Once all Spears of Advantage have been handed out, each General/Lord rolls the dice. Determination of who wins is based whether Soldier's A’charil is being played or The Krathaszar. When playing The Krathaszar, winning a battle is strictly determined of the total number of Spears added to the number rolled with the dice. Highest Roll Spear combination wins.
In Soldier’s A’charil pieces more commonly represent actually units, companies, and legions within the actual army. Much detail goes into who is the general of this company, the companies experience, etc. Players are allowed to freely express how the imaginary armies would act if they actually encountered one another. Discussion are usually loud and lengthy. Even Generals/Lords not involved to winning a battle are free to join into the debate. At the end of the discussion based on Military and Real Life Factors that would be present, a decision of what would actually happen in the battle is reached in between players. If the players cannot reach a mutual decision, the Peace Maker is sought out to make the decision. If a decision still cannot be reached, the players will then base the determination of who wins. Once the Battle is determined, the game then proceeds based on who wins.
Winning a Battle
If the Striker or opponent wins the "Battle", the ‘struck’ piece is either removed from the board and the area now remains occupied by at least one of the Striker’s pieces that is consider part of that player's Kingdom/Province. Strikers also have the option of buying the ‘struck piece’ for half the rate Mercenaries went for at the beginning of the game. If bought, the piece is now that of the player and can be used until the next talking session (which occurs every ten turns). After the talking session, the player must re-buy the piece again and is obligated to either re-buy or discard the "Battle Gained" piece every Talking Session that occurs throughout the game.
The number of pieces lost by the losers is determined by the difference of the rolls of the players. For example if the Striking Player rolls a 6 and the Struck rolls a 5, only one piece is lost. A player can only lose the pieces within the place or area that the battle occurred.
If the losing player has any remaining pieces they are allowed to 'retreat' immediately up to the number of Spears they gained at the beginning of the battle.
Losing a Battle
If the Striking Player loses the Battle, that piece must then retreat out of the area immediately. The Striking Player can retreat any number of moves backwards up to the number of Spears the player was given in the Battle. Both pieces remain and no losses occur. In Soldier’s A’charil where pieces are counted as units of men, however, a random tally of men lost to that unit will be agreed to based on the difference between the number rolled by each player. This Soldier Tallies are carefully kept by the Peace Maker and can be also used to determine win or loss based on the number of men in the unit rather then by chance alone.
In the case of a tie, Spears are no longer counted, and the die is recast. The highest roll in between the players will win the battle.
Once a Battle is complete, game play proceeds
as normal. Battles include the striking, the awarding of
Spears, the roll, the debate, the decision,
and the loss/retreat of pieces as necessary.
Also noticeable is that every ten Rounds or when 10 turns have been taken by each player, Talking Sessions occur. In Talking Sessions Alliances can be formed, reformed, or nullified. Battle Won pieces must be re-bought at this time in order for the player who won them to keep them. Discussions are also allowed over the game so far, and in fact it is encouraged to talk about strategy during these periods of the game since there is very little opportunity to do so during game playing.
Winning the game depends on the number of players on the board and which version of the game is being played. However in both versions of the game, if there are only two players playing the game, the first one to successfully capture their opponent's Camp/Manor wins.
To capture Camps/Manors, players stick the Camp/Manor the same way they would strike a normal piece. If no other piece is in the area/place then the Striker is declared winner. If there are forces in the same area/place that are acting as defenders of the area however, a Battle ensues. Losing the battle for the Manor/Camp is the only time a Striker’s piece is forfeit. If the attacker loses his/her piece in the battle for the Camp/Manor the Stricken player cannot buy the piece, and the piece is set aside and counted as ‘Dead’ or ‘Imprisoned’. The different kinds of games can be won as follows:
A’charil or Low A'charil
In Soldier’s A’charil players are usually striving to accomplish some goal set by themselves or their team at the beginning of the game. Usually in Soldier's A’charil there is a main battle in between two sections of the board which are allotted according to colour. The Blue section is generally considered to represent the Krath Armies and all other sections are counted as either enemies or allies. Proclamations of war can be made by the Krath Empire (Blue). These proclamations can be uttered at the beginning of the game or during any of the talking sessions. Generals are allowed to either ally themselves with the Krath Empire or the “Enemy” or whoever the Empire is fighting, or they can keep natural and be termed ‘mercenaries’. Natural parties, if they do not sell their services to either side generally quickly become the Krath Empire's enemies after all the Declared Enemy and its allies have been defeated.
In the case of the Krath Empire (Blue Section and its allies), winning the game involves capturing all the Camps/Kingdoms who are not aligned with themselves usually begging with the enemy kingdoms, then the enemies allies, followed by defeating all neutral people.
In the case of the Enemy of the Krath Empire (declared at the beginning of the game by the Krath Empire), winning the game involves capturing all the Camps/Kingdoms of the Krath Empire (Blue Section), its allies, and then followed by neutral parties.
Neutral parties win by selling their services temporarily to whatever side they wish, whether that side is the Krath Empire or the Enemy. Once the opposite party of their temporary alliance has been captured, the Neutral parties are then free to ‘betray’ their alliance by trying in turn to capture/conquer the party with whom they were once aligned.
If a Camp is captured by any party, that entire section is then part of the Capturer's Kingdom. The Kingdom includes only the territory, but not the losing player's pieces. If a player captures a Camp/Kingdom, they have the option of buying all the loser's pieces for a flat fee of double the rate Mercenary pieces cost at the beginning of the game. This is a deadly risk however because other Generals can ‘capture’ or buy all the pieces for double what the winner of the pieces paid. The winner of the pieces can ‘redeem’ the pieces by paying another double of what the other general paid, etc. This process can continue throughout the game and can become quite expensive very fast.
Winning The Krathaszar
or High A'charil
Winning The Krathaszar is simply a matter of winning by capturing the appropriate number of Manors/Provinces.
-3 players: A Lord wins by capturing 2 providences/manors.
-4 players: A Lord wins by capturing 3 providences/manors.
-5 players: A Lord wins by capturing 4 providences/ manors.
-6 players: A Lord wins by capturing 5 providences/manors.
It must be noted that in either case, a Lord/General looses the game regardless of the wins he has achieved so far if his own camp is captured. All resources gained through war (including enemy territories and enemy pieces) are then forfeit to the player who captured their Manor/Camp. If this is the case, the same process of paying double the rate of mercenary pieces proceeds as described in Soldier’s A’charil.
Further Notes. Games of A'charil,
particularly in the case of The Krathaszar, are often hosted by turns at
various households. When the game is hosted, the host will provide all pieces
necessary for the game. It is believed that it is considered a grave insult not
to offer to play A'charil with a noted guest or for a guest to refuse using
their host's board.
Often A'charil games have no time limit and many games can last for days at a time. One famous game in-between two Lord's house lasted for 3 generations of children before the game was declared a draw. If players wish to end the game, the board remains the same until the players meet again to play A'charil.
Some players with outstanding games with friends will set up their home boards to depict the current battle, and thus a single game of A'charil can be played at many different locations.