Murus Gallicus

Designed in 2005. Copyright 2009, Phil Leduc

Murus Gallicus is a two-player breakthrough game in which players try to create impenetrable walls of stone as menacing formations approach, reminiscent of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

Components

  • Two sets of 16 tokens (referred to as stones); one light set (Romans) and one dark set (Gauls)

  • One rectangular game board consisting of 8 x 7 cells

Setup

Set up the board between players so that there are seven rows and eight columns. Each player takes a set of stones and stacks two stones on each of their eight home cells – their nearest row. See Figure 1.

Basic Units

Two stones of the same color stacked in one cell are referred to as a tower. Towers can block movement and can be disassembled into stones and redistributed. The stacking limit is two and opposing stones may not occupy the same cell.

A single stone occupying a cell is called a wall. Walls do not move. Their main function is to block the opponent’s movement. Walls can be built up into towers.

Game Play

Starting with the Roman player, the players alternate taking turns.

On a player’s turn he or she must perform one of the following actions:

  • Move a tower by distributing its two stones from its initial cell into the two nearest cells in any one direction (orthogonal or diagonal). Each destination cell must be empty or contain a friendly wall.

  • Sacrifice a tower stone to remove an adjacent (orthogonal or diagonal) enemy wall. Sacrifice is not forced by the presence of an adjacent enemy wall.

A player may not pass a turn.

Winning the Game

A player wins by reaching any cell of his or her opponent’s home row, or by stalemating his or her opponent. An opponent is stalemated, if at the start of his or her turn, he or she cannot move or sacrifice any towers stones.

Download and Play

Click here to download a Flash version of the game but before you do read the following:

  • The Flash game is not a "finished" product. The Rules button does not work but everything else works well enough.

  • To play the game, select Roman and Gaul players. Player 1 and 2 are human players. The other selections are bots. After the players are selected, click on New Game to start a game.

  • The bots do not always see an obvious win. On the other hands sometimes they will surprise you. The bots play at three different levels and can play bot versus bot! To get a good feel for the game play all six bots and see if you can wins six games in a row.

Variants

Advanced Murus Gallicus

This variant adds catapults to the mix. All the standard rules above apply but the stacking limit is raised to three stones of like color. These stacks of three are the catapults. Towers can distribute onto other towers to create catapults. On a turn a player may fire a catapult instead of using a tower.

Catapults:

  • Do not move,

  • They block movement similar to a tower, and

  • They can throw one of their stones two or three spaces away in all five forward and sideways directions into an empty or opponent occupied cell. Intervening cells may be occupied by either player or empty. See Figure 5. After firing the catapults becomes towers.

    • If the stone lands on an opponent occupied cell, one of the opponent stones and the thrown stone are removed from the game - the material balance is maintained!

    • If the thrown stone lands in an empty cell, it becomes a wall.

Towers can sacrifice a stone to reduce an adjacent opponent catapult to a tower or sacrifice themselves (two stones) to reduce an adjacent catapult to a wall.

Pie Rule

On the Romans first turn only, instead of using the normal tower movement, the player must select one of his or her home row towers and distribute its stones as walls (not as a tower) anywhere on his or her second row. The Gaul player can then decide to switch sides and play as the Roman or not. Whatever is decided, the Gaul player also uses the same special tower movement rules on his or her first turn. The rest of the game continues using the standard rules. These special movement rules increase the number of possible opening moves from 20 to 224 (only 10 to 112 when considering symmetry) and make the second player’s decision a bit more difficult.

Escape

Murus Gallicus becomes a more challenging game when the winning conditions are reduced to stalemate and resignation only. All other rules apply. The strategy here is to divide, isolate, and conquer.

Multi-player Escape

The escape variant can be played with four players around a square game board, for example a checkerboard. During the initial setup, players do not put towers on the four corner cells. When a player is stalemated, he or she is eliminated and his or her stones remain on the board. The escape variant rules also apply well to regular hexagonal game boards, making three-player games feasible.

Designer Comments

I consider Murus Gallicus my best game. It blends two rarely used game mechanics, stepping stone movement and sacrificial captures plus it has a classic feel. The movement has a one-way aspect that requires foresight and the captures maintain material equality which ensure a positional battle.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Arty Sandler for adding Murus Gallicus to his popular online gaming site, IGGAMECENTER. I also want to thank all the game center players who played Murus Gallicus. And last but not least, thanks goes to Néstor Romeral Andrés for publishing Murus Gallicus. Please visit his outstanding "fun to take away" games site, NestorGames.

Figure 1. Starting setup. Players place a tower (a stack of two stones) in each cell of their home row.
Figure 2. Movement. The Roman player (light stones) has played d1-d3, e1-e3 and f1-d3, while the Gaul player has played d7-d5, f7-d5 and h7-f5.
Figure 3. Movement Obstacles. Tower stones may not be sown off the board, onto any towers, friendly or otherwise, or onto any opponent walls. The tower on b4 can not in any the eight cardinal directions!
Figure 4. Sacrificing a tower stone. In Figure 3, the Roman player is unable to move a tower but can sacrifice a tower stone at b4. This figure shows the resulting position after b4xc5
Figure 5. Catapult range. Catapults fire forward or sideways, two or three space. The projectile can land in empty or opponent occupied cells, but not on own walls, towers or catapults.
In this example, if it is the Roman's turn, he or she wins by throwing a stone into the Gaul's home row. If it is the Gaul player's turn, he or she could use the upper catapult to reduce both catapults to towers but this would lose after d4-f6 with a new tower on e5. Better would be to sacrifice the tower at d5 to reduce the catapult at d4 to a wall which wins in three by stalemate! B4-b6 and b4-d4 are answered with a projectile.

Copyright 2009, Phil Leduc

Please note that these game rules may be duplicated and distributed via the web but the rules may not be altered and full credit must be given to the designer, Phil Leduc. Otherwise, all rights are reserved. Those that wish to program or sell this game in any form should contact the author at philleduc.pled@gmail.com for permission or a license to do so.