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Batalo Inventor

Scott Harmon invented Batalo in 1983. He designed it as a simplification of chess, changing the square grid to the hex grid popular with war gaming.

He also simplified the class structure of the pieces into queen and pawns. This reduced the movement styles to that of queen (any direction, unlimited until impeded) and king (any direction, one space).

Rather than have the goal be to chase the king, the goal became to capture the throne. This focused strategy around the center of the board and also gave pawns the power to win. This also constrained the amount of pieces to seven: one queen on the throne and six pawns forming a wall around it.

The class dichotomy of the pieces was increased by having only the queen able to remove opposing pieces. This power was balanced by having the queen be the only piece able to occupy the throne, thus needing to simultaneously attack and defend.

The pawns could alternate as attackers trying to reach the throne, or defenders blocking access to their own throne. To speed up the game, they were given the power to leap over other pawns of their own side (as in Chinese checkers); so they could move quickly across the board if lined up correctly.

With those simplifications, Batalo came into it's own as a strategy game. The pieces were made more abstract and given names suggesting they were part of the castle rather than people. The thrones were called bases and the name Batalo (meaning battle in Esperanto) was chosen for the game.

Scott is also a professional Graphics Production Artist.

The Harmony Games website is part of his Digital Harmonics portfolio. He can be reached at scott@digitalharmonics.org.

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