A board game, named for the unusual form of the board.

As with games like Othello and Abalone, the rules of play are few and simple, but form a complex game. Unlike most games (and offhand I can't think of another one), there are two distinctly different ways to win, which could be thought of as being offensive and defensive.

This is my second favorite board game, after chess. I highly recommend it!

Note: This writeup was originally done using HTML tables with colored cells, which made it much easier to visualize the three-dimensionalness of the board, which is an integral part of the game, before I knew that that wasn't allowed in E2. You can find that version of this writeup at http://www.silcom.com/~clarence/terrace.html

The Board and Pieces

The board is an 8x8 grid, like a chess board, except that the four quadrants are terraced. Letting 8 be the level of the highest square and 1 the lowest, the board is built like this:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
2  2  3  4  5  6  7  7
3  3  3  4  5  6  6  6
4  4  4  4  5  5  5  5
5  5  5  5  4  4  4  4
6  6  6  5  4  3  3  3
7  7  6  5  4  3  2  2
8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

To help you visualize it, note the L-shapes formed by neighboring squares with the same number, for example the 3s. That L consists of five squares all at the same level, with three squares "inside" the L at a lower level, and seven squares "outside" the L at a higher level.

There are four kinds of pieces, which are hemispheres of differing sizes. In the normal two-player game, each side starts off with four of each size. Letting A, B, C, and D denote the largest through the smallest pieces respectively, the pieces are originally arranged as follows.

T  D  C  C  B  B  A  A
A  A  B  B  C  C  D  D

D  D  C  C  B  B  A  A
A  A  B  B  C  C  D  T

Again, to help you visualize, remember the steppes on the board, and see that each player has the row closest to him filled with large pieces at his left, shrinking as you proceed to the right side of the board while the levels also become lower. In a symmetric fashion, the second row from each player starts with a small piece at the left, growing to the largest size at the right.

You'll notice that one of the Ds for each side (the one on the lowest square) has been replaced by a T. The T is the same size as a D, but is special because it is involved in winning or losing the game.

How Pieces Move

 | A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H
1|       l        A
2|       l     B  u
3| l  B  l     l  u
4| u  u  u     l  C  C
5|             x
6|          B  d
7|             D
Here, the uppercase letters represent pieces, the lowercase letters are used only to identify vacant squares.

On each turn, a player can move one piece. The possible kinds of moves are:

  1. Level: You may move a piece along the level it is on, as many spaces as you like, except that it cannot move past an opponent's piece, or one of your own larger than the piece being moved. For example, the B on B3 has four possible level moves (marked with a l). However, the C on 4F has only two level moves available to it, because it can pass neither its own B (it's bigger) nor the opponent's C.
  2. Up: You may move a piece to the next higher level, either straight up or diagonally, to an empty square . The B on B3 has 3 available up moves, marked with a u. The B on E2 has only two up moves, because one of its up neighbors (F1) is occupied.
  3. Down: You may move a piece straight down to the next lower level to an empty square. You may also move a piece down diagonally, but only onto a square occupied by a piece the same size or smaller. This is the capturing move in Terrace. The B on 6D can move straight down to 6E, or can capture the D on 7E because it is down and diagonal, and not larger; however, it cannot move to 5E (marked with an x) because a down diagonal move must capture a piece.
Note that you can equally well capture a piece of your own as one of your opponent's! Thus, the A on F1 can move to E2, capturing its own B.
Also, a piece cannot move from 4D to 5E (or vice-versa) (even though they're at the same level).

Winning the Game

As mentioned at the beginning, there are two ways to win the game. Offensively, you win if you capture the opponent's T; defensively, you win if you move your T to the opposite corner of the board from where it started (i.e., to where your opponent's T started).

Ter"race (?), n. [F. terrasse (cf. Sp. terraza, It. terrazza), fr. L. terra the earth, probably for tersa, originally meaning, dry land, and akin to torrere to parch, E. torrid, and thirst. See Thirst, and cf. Fumitory, Inter, v., Patterre, Terrier, Trass, Tureen, Turmeric.]


A raised level space, shelf, or platform of earth, supported on one or more sides by a wall, a bank of tuft, or the like, whether designed for use or pleasure.


A balcony, especially a large and uncovered one.


A flat roof to a house; as, the buildings of the Oriental nations are covered with terraces.


A street, or a row of houses, on a bank or the side of a hill; hence, any street, or row of houses.

5. Geol.

A level plain, usually with a steep front, bordering a river, a lake, or sometimes the sea.

⇒ Many rivers are bordered by a series of terraces at different levels, indicating the flood plains at successive periods in their history.

Terrace epoch. Geol. See Drift epoch, under Drift, a.


© Webster 1913.

Ter"race, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Terraced (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Terracing (?).]

To form into a terrace or terraces; to furnish with a terrace or terraces, as, to terrace a garden, or a building.

Sir H. Wotton.

Clermont's terraced height, and Esher's groves. Thomson.


© Webster 1913.

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