I’ve already described Camelot – game excellent in many respects. However story of Camelot does not end here. This game has many variants, with boards of different sizes and with varied number of pieces. And there are Camelot variants for 4 players, more strategic than tactic! Let me introduce you to this games.
Camelot is a game developed at the end of the 19th century by George Swinnerton Parker (1866-1952). A purely strategic game, which is supposed to be something between chess and checkers. It was issued by Parker’s companies, won many fans, but was later forgotten. Variants of the game were developed quite early, but even in 21st century some fans developed new versions.
Let me remind you Camelot rules.
The game is played on a special board with 160 squares. Each player has 14 pieces – 10 regular pieces (so called Men) and 4 special pieces (so called Knights). At the beginning of the game pieces are set as shown on the picture below.
- White moves first.
- In one turn a piece (either Knight or Man) may move one square in any direction.
- Knight or Man may jump (in any direction) over a friendly piece (either Knight or Man) without capturing it.
- Capturing is made by jumping in any direction over the enemy piece. In result of capture enemy piece is killed (it’s removed from the board).
- Capturing is mandatory.
- Knight (only Knigts!) have a right to combine a jump over friendly and enemy pieces (necessarily in that order). Such move is not mandatory.
- Player wins if he moves two of his pieces into his opponent’s Castle (two special fields marked by stars in the “niche” on the side of a player).
- Player may enter his own castle only in the result of capture. A player who has jumped into his own Castle, and was unable to continue the jumping out, must move that piece out from his own Castle in the next turn (with no exception).
- Game can be also won by killing or blocking enemy pieces.
It’s just a summary. Detailed rules are described in my article on Camelot.
Now let me describe Camelot variants. I warn this article covers only a part of the existing variants. There are versions of the game which – in my opinion – are quite bizarre and distort the original idea. For example a game called River Camelot requires placing obstacles in the form of trees (neutral pieces) on the board. And a game called Tri-Camelot requires a board with hexagonal fields. Another strange variant – 3D Cam uses a board divided into three levels.
I dislike such quirks so let me describe just those variants that are slightly different from the original game, but still they introduce something new and something special. The following games are just like Camelot – simple, but somehow deeply beautiful in this simplicity.
Game of Chivalry is not truly a variant of Camelot but its ancestor. George S. Parker worked on this game in 1882 already, and five years later the game was released by Geo. S. Parker & Co. In the article on Camelot I mentioned that originally the game was called “Chivalry”.
Chivalry board is bigger – it has 176 squares (Camelot has 160). Additional 16 squares are added on sides. Each player has 12 Men and 8 Knights, so fighting forces are stronger. The picture below shows the board and initial pieces setting.
Rules are the same as in Camelot.
Four-handed Chivalry is played on a Chivalry board, but it’s a game for 4 players. Each player has 8 Knights and no Men.
Rules are changed. Castle fields have no special meaning. The goal of the game is to kill enemy pieces. The initial setting of the Knights on the board is shown on the image below.
This game can be played either in teams or individually.
In the individual game winner is the one, who survived the battle. In a team game, a team that kills all enemy pieces wins. Partners sit opposite each other, so White plays with Red and Yellow plays with Blue. Players take turns clockwise.
This is also a game for 4 players. It was released in 1832 by Parker Brothers. Unlike the Chivalry for 4 players, in this game Castles are important and partnership rules are different.
Grand Camelot board has 180 fields (including 8 Castle fields). Each player has 8 Men and 4 Knights. Each player own a Castle. The initial setting is shown on the image below.
Players in one team sit side by side. Yellow plays with Green, Red plays with Blue. Players make moves in the following order: Red, Green, Blue, Yellow.
The aim of the game for every player is to take the castle on the opposite side. So Red tries to win the Green Castle, Yellow conquers Blue Castle, etc. If only one player reaches this goal – his team wins. The win also occurs if both partners put one Men or Knight into respective opponent’s castle.
Game can be also won by killing all enemy pieces.
If one player loses all his pieces, his partner continues the game, but he won’t get any extra move instead of inactive partner.
This is a down-sized version of Camelot released by Parker Brothers in 1949.
The board has only 67 squares. Each player has 5 Men and 2 Knights. On the other side there is only one Castle square, so game is won by placing only one piece in the Castle.
Camette is extremely down-sized version of the game. It was invented in 2002 by Michael Wortley Nolan – President of World Camelot Federation (WCF).
The board has only 23 fields. Each player has only 3 Men and 1 Knight. In this variant the game continues even when each side has only one piece left. There is always the possibility that someone will enter the castle.
Board and pieces in the initial setting are shown below.
Grand Cam was developed in 2005 by Paul Bramwell Smith, WCF member. His goal was to create a smaller version of the Grand Camelot. Smith designed a board with 97 squares and just like in Cam, each player has 5 Men and 2 Knights. Board and initial setting is shown below.
Rules are similar as in Grand Camelot. Players in one team sit side by side. Yellow plays with Green, Red plays with Blue. Players make moves in the following order: Red, Green, Blue, Yellow.
The aim of the game for each player is to take the Castle on the opposite side. So Red tries to occupy the Green Castle, Yellow – Blue Castle, etc. If only one player reaches this goal – his team wins. Game can be also won by killing all enemy pieces.
If one player loses all his pieces, his partner continues the game, but he won’t get any extra move instead of partner.
Grand Cam designed by Paul Smith has quite unusual board based on a square shape. The World Federation of Camelots has developed 93-square version of the board with a slightly different shape that matches the character of the Camelot family.
Both versions of board are playable and have their benefits.
I emphasize these are not all Camelot variants. I tried all variants described here and I assure you that these are great games. They be treated as interesting “extension” of the original game. The skills acquired in “ordinary Camelot” will be useful in variants.