hist-games: Latrunculi

Mats Winther mwi9 at swipnet.se
Wed Nov 23 04:46:24 PST 2005

Den 2005-11-22 18:10:31 skrev Mats Winther <mwi9 at swipnet.se>:

> Den 2005-11-22 09:03:18 skrev <u.schaedler at museedujeu.com>:
>> This is unfortunately not a good article about the Latrunculi game.
>> Concerning the game board found in Stanway it is mere conjecture to
>> interpret this as an interrupted Latrunculi game. There will be an
>> extensive discussion of the find in the forthcoming final excavation
>> report. The excavator Philip Crummy told me that all what has been said by
>> himself previously will be left aside. The game was certainly not played
>> with two different types of pieces.
>> Concerning the website in question see a commentary under
>> www.boardgamesstudies.org/research notes.
>> About the game see the most detailed study on the subject: U. Schädler,
>> Latrunculi, ein verlorenes strategisches Brettspiel der Römer, in: Homo
>> Ludens IV, 1994, 47-67 with a complete discusssion of all the important
>> literary and archaeological sources.
>> Best
>> Ulrich
> Aha! The initial moves in this archaeological "game in progress"
> doesn't make much sense, if rook moves are allowed. One shouldn't
> waste moves with the strongest piece in this way in the opening phase.
> The overly cautious soldier moves are tempo losses, too. So it's
> probably not a game in progress.
> Roger Cooper also made the conclusion that pieces move only one square
> orthogonally, capture by interception, and that  pieces can leap
> over adjacent pieces, even one's own.
> However, he argues that there existed two different versions of Latrunculi,
> one "civil" and one "military". In the former, which is the oldest, there exists
> only one type of piece. In "Military Latrunculi," however, the king was
> introduced. I took his article from his implementation for Zillions
> and publish it temporarily here:
> http://hem.passagen.se/melki9/MilitaryLatrunculi.htm
> Mats

Interestingly, there is an obvious kinship with Egyptian Siga and
Latrunculi in Ulrich Schädler's interpretation (which is quite different from
other ones that I've found on the net.)

Latrunculi rules:

The field is an 8x8 grid.  Each player start with 24 identical Ordinarii, or
"regulars", Gold or Silver.

The game begins with each player placing all their Ordinarii, in alternating
turns. The Gold player is the first to place.  Placements are to any vacant
cell.  No Alligati or "slaves" may be formed on the playing field until after
all Ordinarii have been placed.  Alligati are only created by a moving piece.
During this phase the Ordinarii are commonly referred to as Vagi, or

After all the Ordinarii are placed upon the field, the players take turns
either moving an Ordinarius or capturing an Alligatus.

Ordinarii are moved orthogonally to any vacant adjacent cell or they may
orthogonally jump any Ordinarius or Alligatus to a vacant cell.  Several
jumps in a single turn are possible, like in Draughts or Checkers.

An Ordinarius which is subsequently 'trapped' between two opposing Ordinarii
becomes an Alligatus.  Such Alligati cannot be moved.  An Alligatus may be
captured, removed from play, as a turn.

An Alligatus can be freed, if one of its two opposing Ordinarii becomes an
Alligatus or moves away.  As long as an Alligatus is flanked by two opposing
Ordinarii, it will remain an Alligatus.

A player can only move an Ordinarius between two opposing Ordinarii if this
move causes one of these to become an Alligatus.

The first player to be reduced to only one Ordinarius or Alligatus loses the
game.  Since this would logically prevent the player from creating any
further Alligatus.  When a stalemate occurs, the player with the most pieces
on the field wins.  After the placing phase, if there are forty consecutive
turns without the removal of any Alligati from the field the player with the
most pieces on the field wins.  All of the player's pieces on the field,
Ordinarii and Alligati, are considered in these counts.  Three-time
repetition of position is considered a loss.
(the text is from L. Lynn Smith's implementation).

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