Sáto

The Dawajian game of stones 

 The Dawajian Game

Sáto is a game originally played in the old Ragij Empire, probably originating from the main-mountlands to the south of modern Dawaj. It is probably over a thousand years old, and is still, in its many forms and variants, popular in the western hemisphere of Venus. Earthborn first discovered this game, naturally, in Dawaj, where it had a sizeable presence along-side the card-tile games, the more sportier games, and of course Venerean chess. The variant of sáto presented here is the usual dawajian version of the game.

The Board

The sáto board (press-image attached) is, like many other venerean board-games, made out of hexagonal tiles. The sáto board is usually hexagonal in shape and four hexagons in radius, counting the central hexagon: all in all, there are 37 tiles, arranged around a central tile. The centre tile is one colour, the six tiles surrounding it are another colour, the twelve surrounding those are the same colour as the centre tile, and the outermost tiles are again the second colour. The board is vaguely round, as much as a hexagon can be round.

The Pieces

Sáto (dawajian) is played with fourteen pieces, seven dark and seven light ones. They are usually flattish and round stones, much resembling terrestrial Go stones, though occasionally one can find checkers-like wooden pieces. Sáto pieces are almost never ones with chess piece-like ascenders, seeing as how, according to general rumour, raising a piece from the game-board would facilitate cheating.

 The Rules of the Game

Starting positions

The game's starting position in dawajian sáto is simple: the seven stones are arranged against one of the six sides of the hexagonal game board, so that four pieces are on the outer-most circles, and three are next to the them in the third circle from the centre. The opponents pieces are arranged in an identical formation on the opposite side of the board.  Sometimes a three-player variant of this game is played, with seven additional, usually coloured, stones. Then the starting formation is the same, except that the players positions are arranged so that each player has one side of the board with the others two to their sides one side away.

Turns

Each player takes a turn, during which he can move one (1) piece of his own on the board. 

Movement

The pieces move on the board in two different ways. The first way is like the rook or queen in chess - the piece can move in any direction from the original tile is occupied, as far as it can move. Unlike the queen or bishop in chess, though, there are no "diagonal" movements in sáto - the  hexagonal tiles already provide six directions to move in (in a 'rook-like' movement), and doing a "diagonal" move on a hexagonal gaming board is counter-intuitive because 'diagonal' tiles are one tile removed from each other.

The second way the pieces move is circular. Because the hexagonal board and hexagonal tiles are vaguely round in their placement, it is easier to imagine that the different circles (which are coloured to differentiate them) are round in shape, and thus meant to be contiguous. A piece can move any number of steps around the centre within the circle it is located in, until it hits another piece and is blocked.

Capturing opponent pieces

A player captures an opponent's piece by surrounding an enemy piece with two of his own. The player moves one of his own pieces so that it is attached to an enemy piece, whilst at least one of his own pieces is attached to the enemy piece at the same time, and that particular ally piece is NOT attached to the moved pieces; the two pieces capturing the enemy piece must be on opposite sides of each other relative to the captured enemy piece, not next to each other.

A player does not perform suicide by moving his own piece between two enemy pieces - only the capturing player can capture a piece.

The End of the Game

The game is ended when one player loses by only having one remaining piece left, or if one of the player forfeits.