Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Suuboq: Continued

Finally, at the highest level of play, the two sides are evenly matched. Neither has an advantage, and victory comes not through the inherent qualities of the pieces but through skill alone. The purpose of suuboq is to mimic war, to learn the strategies and tactics that will serve a commander well in the heat of battle. This is the goal of suuboq. Sometimes a commander controls a force of infantrymen or artillery: slow, but very powerful. Other times he commands over recon ships and helicopters: fast, but weak, and unable to press the attack. Only by learning to control both types can the aspiring general hope to achieve victory. For this reason games among my people are considered a noble pursuit, and as a gentlemen one is expected to be conversant in the playing of many games. On more than one occasion, my very life depended on the outcome of a game of suuboq.

Suuboq: The Pillars

This brings me to the pillars. The pillars are the other side of Suuboq. Slow but strong, few but with great range, it takes years of play to master them. For this reason, during the "middle" game, where both players are intermediate in skill, the pillars dominate the board. All suuboq matches consist of two games. One player starts as orbs, the other pillars. Then they switch. Both players are forced to develop their strategy at both sides. If one solely develops his orb play, his pillar play will suffer, and he will lose his matches.

Suuboq: The Orbs

There are two sides to suuboq. First side is the orbs. The orbs are numerous but weak, speedy but with no range. For two players who are both beginners, the orbs tend to dominate the board, seizing territory with ease and capturing many of the enemy. To many who have never played the game before, this seems to make the game unbalanced. Will not the orbs win every time?

Suuboq: A Primer

Lately I have been trying to teach Xavier to play suuboq. Suuboq is a very old game, played all over Anakhjur, and among the Primatics it is one of the seven civilized virtues. Suuboq can be learned in an hour, but so far I have been playing it for my whole life and I am not so presumptuous as to think I have mastered it. There is always something new to learn. The first rule of play is "Position is the master." How do I describe suuboq to you, who has never seen it? Among humans, the great game of strategy is chess. Well, suuboq is the great game among my people. But it is not like chess; or not much like it. Nor is it like the other great game of Go. Rather it is a seeming hybrid of the two. Movement, combined with stasis. Like water and iron together. Is it any wonder that the game has been taught amongst the cadets and young soldiers of my people for three thousand years? To learn suuboq is to learn to command.