4K1W Rules of Engagement.png

The Four Kings One War Rules

 Set up

Figure 1 - Set up For Standard Play - 2-Players

There are two setups for starting Four Kings One War.  The first, shown in Figure 1 is for one on one play.  As you can see by the diagram, one player is situated between the two white armies  and controls them, while the opponent sits opposite to control the two black armies. 






Figure 2 - Set up For Standard Play - Team Play

The second setup shown in Figure 2 is for team play.  Team one sits adjacent to each other, while team two sits in the same manner but opposite.  Each player controlling the army they are situated behind.



One on one

Each player starts the game in control of either the two white armies or the two black armies.  The starting player is determined by the toss of a coin or whatever means you prefer. Each player is allowed two moves per turn. This could be one move from each white army in any order, or two moves from the same white army, it’s up to you. You cannot however move the same piece twice per turn.

Your mission is to get both your opponents kings in checkmate (This does not have to be at the same time. Refer to check and checkmate).  Once this is achieved the game is over.

As soon as the first King is placed in checkmate, then that king becomes a prisoner of war and is held under the watchful eye of your opponent.  The only effect this has on your game however is

  • You are one king closer to game over
  • Should you advance a pawn to your enemy’s back line? This pawn must be used to release your king instead of being promoted (refer pawn promotion)

Each of the different chess pieces has it’s own individual mode of movement and both armies complement each other in both attack and defence to ensure endless combinations of tactical combat.

Team Play

As shown in Figure 2 each player sits next to their prospective partner and controls only the army in which they are situated behind.  Team one controlling the white armies, team two the black.

Your mission is the same as one on one in that your aim is to get both your opponents Kings in checkmate.  The starting player is determined by the toss of a coin or whatever means you prefer.  All players are allowed two moves each, making a total of 4 moves per colour, you cannot however move the same piece twice per turn..  There is no communication allowed during team play apart from the numbers 1-10 which may be used for set plays or manoeuvres already learnt by the team members.

The number one could mean bring the knights out

The number two, I need some help on defence etc.

Should a team mates' King fall to checkmate, his King becomes a prisoner of war, the same as in one on one game play and aside from the actual turn that the King is placed into check mate (refer check and checkmate) game play continues as it started, i.e. two moves per turn per player.


The pieces

The King (priceless)

The King must always start the game on a black square.

The King is in a league of his own, as it is the capture of the King (or Kings) which these battles are based on (refer to paragraph mission) But for now we will just concern ourselves with the limited movements the King is able to achieve.

The King can move one square at a time in any direction providing he does not move to a square that is being threatened by an opposing piece (refer to paragraph check and checkmate).

The Queen (value 9) 

She is the most dominant and powerful piece on the board.

The Queen can move in straight lines along the verticals, horizontals and diagonals.  From anywhere on the board the swift and elegant Queen combines the moves of the Bishop and the Rook.  She demands attention and will deliver a swift and deadly blow if none is given!

Figure 3 How the Knight moves in 4K1W

The Knight (value 7)

In traditional chess the Knights pattern of movement we will refer to as a hop, which could be described as two squares vertically (any direction) followed by one to the side (any direction) or two to the side and one up or down making an “L” shape (see Figure 3).

Traditional chess provides one hop per move for the Knight however in Four Kings One War the individual Knight may have two hops per move if he/she wishes or just take the single hop.

Unlike the Rook, Bishop, Queen and pawn, other opponents in its path do not impede the Knight.  It has the unique ability to jump over its own pieces or its opponent’s pieces to perform its hop. As long as the square at the end of the L shape that it lands on (or touches down on if it is performing a double hop) is not occupied.

To perform a double hop the “transit square” or the square in which the Knight temporally rests after its first hop, must be empty.  If an enemy is on the desired transit square then the Knight must take that piece therefore ending the Knights turn.  If one of your own pieces is on the desired transit square then you may not use that square to perform a double hop.

In Four Kings One War the Knight is a very deadly piece.  It’s double hop provides stealth and powerful attacks and it is not uncommon to find yourself in a position where your opponents Knight is threatening two or more of your army at the same time, insisting you send one or the other to a frustrating and often costly demise.

It always pays to know where your opponents Knights are situated because if you don’t, it will jump out from nowhere and strike without warning.  You do not want an opponent’s Knight running lose on your back line.

The Rook (value 5) 

The Rook’s domain is that of the vertical and horizontal lines and are only restricted by what sits in front of them on the line they wish to travel.  On an empty board the Rooks can travel from end to end if they so desire.  They are a great piece for both defence and attack.  An unmoved Rook may perform the castling manoeuvre with the King (see below for more on Castling).

The Bishop (value 4) 

The bishops seek control of the diagonals and may travel as far as they like along squares of the same colour.  As with the Rook, the Bishop may only travel over empty spaces.  If its path is blocked by another piece, it cannot jump over.  Bishops can never leave the squares of colour in which they started the game.  Bishops power lies in their expendable nature.

The Pawn (value 2)

In traditional chess the pawns basic move is quite simple, it plods along just one square forward at a time.  It is the only warrior in your army which may not move backwards.  On its first move however the pawn may, if desired, be moved two squares forward instead of just one (but only on its first move).  This is providing the two squares for which it wants to advance are unoccupied.

Figure 4 - Green takes White Pawn via its forward diagonal

In Four Kings One War however, the pawns move a little more freely, in the sense that they may move one, two or three squares on every move (not just their first).  Still the same law applies which prevents them from moving backwards. When attacking, the pawn may only capture in a forward diagonal motion and may not capture straightforward or sideways.  This is the same for both traditional and Four Kings One War.  The Pawn can only capture an opponent that has rested on the forward adjacent diagonal, therefore only moving one square. That is to say, if a Pawn was to take an enemy piece it would only have moved one square (see Figure 4).


Figure 5 - Green Pawn attacks White on its forward diagonal to land on terrace

The only time a Pawn can change direction in Four Kings One War is a when a Pawn ends up on an outer terrace by taking an enemy piece.  When this happens that Pawn is now committed to move forward towards that outer terrace’s back line and can now seek promotion from that back line (see Figure 5). There are two special rules involving Pawns and these are described in the paragraphs below.


Pawn Promotion

If you still have both Kings in play and your Pawn succeeds in making its way to any back line, then it may be promoted into any piece of the same colour other than a King.  So if a white Pawn reaches a back line then it is removed and replaced by a Queen, Rook, Knight or Bishop at the discretion of the white player.  Typically a Pawn is promoted to a Queen.  You cannot promote a Pawn to a Queen and then move that Queen in the same turn.

If one of your Kings have been captured (been put in check mate) and is a prisoner of war, then the Pawn that is eligible for promotion is removed and your captured Kings is released and placed back in its original starting position, providing its original starting position is not threatened by an enemy piece as you are never allowed to put you King in check.  It is OK if the Back line that the Pawn promotes to (or reaches to release your King) is threatened due to the King going back to its own starting position and not needing to rest on that back line.


En Passant Capture

As discussed earlier, in Four Kings One War, any Pawn may move one, two or three squares on every move however if in doing so the Pawn passes over a square in which an enemy Pawn could have captured it.  The enemy Pawn on that square may still capture it, just as if it advanced a single square.  Thus, if the Green Pawn in dig 6 advances three squares, it may be captured by white Pawn as indicated by the arrow.

Figure 6 - En Passant Capture

Green Pawn is removed from the board and white is moved to the empty (white) square over which it passed.  In Traditional chess the privilege of capturing En Passant is only extended for the single move following the two square advance of the enemy piece on its first move. In Four Kings One War the En Passant stays in play for the entire game given that a pawn can move one, two or three moves on every turn throughout the game.  As with other captures, the En Passant Pawn capture is optional but the option expires as soon as another move is played on the board.  Only Pawns may capture or be captured En Passant and this is to stop Pawns from marching past each other as they are hand to hand combat pieces and must have the choice to engage another pawn.


Sweeping the En Passant 

Figure 7 - Sweeping the En Passant

In Four Kings One War Pawns have never been more valuable and as such the Sweep manoeuvre allows you to protect it against an En Passant attack.

The diagram to the left shows the white pawn advancing 3 squares and passing a square open to attack by a Green pawn en passant manoeuvre. 

If however, on whites second turn it “sweeps” or passes over the en passant square at threat with any back line piece (in this case a white Bishop). It nullifies the en passant attack. 

It’s like the backline piece covered the pawns advance and blocked any attack from the opposition pawn.

Note: the backline piece must always move after the pawn, not before.  If it moves before then it does not protect the en passant attack.


Check and Checkmate

In Four Kings One War, a King that is said to be in check is exactly the same as in traditional chess.  Where by the King is threatened with capture by an enemy piece and the player whose King is in Check is still able to immediately play a move to nullify the attack on his King (removing his King from check).  He must remove his King from check by the end of his two move turn and it is fine for him to use two moves to do so.

 However the checkmate rule is slightly more involved due to the fact that you have two Kings.  When one of your two Kings is placed in checkmate, which is to say when there is no legal move available which allows a checked King to escape, no piece can interpose or capture the checking piece and the King cannot move anywhere out of attack.  Then the King becomes a prisoner of war and is removed from the board and placed under guard by your opponent.

When your King is placed in checkmate then for your immediate responding turn you must use one of your allocated two move’s to hand over your King and your other move (for that turn) can only be from your other army.  Subsequent turns after that go back to normal where you get two moves per turn and it is at your discretion which two pieces you chose to move.

If you already have a captured King, that is to say that one of your Kings has already been put into checkmate and your other King is then put into checkmate then it is game over and you lose to your opponent.



Figure 8a - How the Castling manoeuvre works

As we have seen, a normal move consists of a player taking one of his/her own pieces and changing its square on the board, with or without the capture of an enemy piece.  There is just one exception to this rule: a double move of King and Rook known as castling.  The privilege of castling is a method to enable the King to escape from the centre of the board and for the Rook to come closer to the middle.  Castling may take place only between a King and a Rook providing both are still unmoved and on the squares upon which they begun the game.

Figure 8b - The result of a Castling manoeuvre

Castling is effected by moving the King two squares along the back rank towards the Rook, then placing the Rook on the square over which the King has passed. Dig below indicates the situation of King and Rook castling.  Castling may take place with either Rook, in each case the King moves towards the desired Rook which seemingly jumps over the King.  In the diagram, white is castling with his Rook on the Queens  side of the board, black with the Rook on the Kings side (a short castle and a long castle) A King may never castle out of check nor can it ever castle through or across a square which is threatened by an enemy piece.  (See DIG on next page)



Finally, what happens if a player is not in check but he has no legal move which does not then place his/her King in check?  In this situation we have reached what is called a stalemate and the game is over with no declared winner.