Chase Board Topology
2016.02.24
3 minutes read

Chase is an interesting boardgame, and it uses dice in an ingenious manner. Rather than simple RNGs, dice are used as playing pieces with corresponding numerical value. The number of each die indicates the distance it travels (dice travel in a straight line, and always the number of spaces displayed). An extra wrinkle is introduced through capturing — when your opponent captures one of your dice, those pip values don’t just disappear into thin air. Instead, they are added to other dice you currently have on the board. Furthermore, there is a possibility to bring new dice onto the board through use of one special square that “splits” the value of an entering die into two exiting dice. There are also some neat rules about bumping dice, but if you want the full rules run-down you can find that elsewhere.

My version of Chase

One of the things that makes Chase an especially compelling game is its board. Above, you can see my (homemade) copy of the game in the starting position. You’ll notice that the board uses tessellated hexagons rather than squares, which is always fun. The colored hex in the center is the “chamber” where high-valued dice can be split into two lower-valued dice. It is not immediate apparent, but this setup is exquisitely constructed — the starting placement of the dice lead to an interesting set of vaguely Chess-like openings, which have their drawbacks and advantages. Play is generally focused (in one way or another) around that center chamber, which gives the game a kind of topography. Additionally, there is one more wrinkle about the board that makes it interesting.

If you look at the edges of the board I designed, you’ll notice that some of the hexes have dashed borders. This is meant to indicate that the hex is actually the same hex as its corresponding partner on the other side of the board. The board “wraps around” as it were, and dice can move freely across this boundary to hexes on the far side of the board. Note, the “top” and “bottom” edges are not connected. In essence, the board is a more of a cylinder than a plane. The game authors have chosen one way to represent this topology on a flat surface, but there are others.

Playing with this notion, allow me to present to you an alternative representation of the Chase board:

The "Constellation" Board

Some observations jump out when you view the board in this manner. Not only is the wrap-around explicitly mapped, but we now see that the central chamber from the original board is no longer so central. What appeared to be a very symmetrical board, is in fact lopsided. This was a quick doodle to illustrate the cylindrical nature of the board, but I think some work could produce a playable iteration of this version. Note that the opponents would start the game on opposing edges of the cylinder — one player on the inner ring, and one player on the outermost ring.

So, there you have it, a different take on the Chase board and its interesting topology. Unfortunately, TSR published Chase in the 80s and it is no longer in print. Fortunately, it is rather easy to construct your own copy as I have done, or to try it out online.


tags:  boardgames  abstract  graphs