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The Eternal Struggle (Baduk, or Go)

In ancient Mazhan, there existed a game taught to children and studied by adults. The rules were so simple even a child of four or five years can understand, but play is complex enough that very few ever mastered it. Most sets consist of a bamboo board intersected with 361 points (a 19 by 19 grid) and two sets of stones: one black, from the mines of Crucible, and one white made from the polished shells found on the beaches at Tower Shell. The intersections represented the infinite combinations of choices to be made over the course of a human life. The stones represented the lives of the subjects of Mazhan, great and small. Each had a part to play in the eternal struggle with the shadow.

The players would battle on the field by each taking turns placing a stone on one of the intersections. A stone was killed when all lines leading away from it were surrounded by stones of the other color. There being a near infinite number of combinations and possible plays, it was said that no two identical games of Baduk had ever been played. Some claimed the game was given to the first paladin queen directly from the Light of Heaven to prepare the leaders to teach strategy and tactics in the course of her holy crusade. Others simply considered it a great game that proved the paladin kings and queens of Mazhan were masterful tacticians. The game quickly spread in popularity from the spiritual to the secular portions of Mazhan as well. Great matches where held in which entire fortunes were wagered. The highest stakes recorded in a single game were 10 acres of land per point. However the game was so close that the black player ended up only winning by half of a point and thus gaining 5 acres of land.

This game has started to gain again in popularity, with the Return of Mazhani enthusiasts, although a similar game, called Reversal, is played in Gaunt, and to a lesser extent, in Oresund and the Eisenmark.

Rules of Play

  1. The board is empty at the onset of the game (unless players agree to place a handicap).
  2. Black makes the first move, after which White and Black alternate.
  3. A move consists of placing one stone of one's own color on an empty intersection on the board.
  4. A player may pass their turn at any time.
  5. A stone or solidly connected group of stones of one color is captured and removed from the board when all the intersections directly adjacent to it are occupied by the enemy. (Capture of the enemy takes precedence over self-capture.)
  6. No stone may be played so as to recreate a former board position.
  7. Two consecutive passes (both players passing) end the game.
  8. A player's territory consists of all the points the player has either occupied or surrounded. The player with more territory wins.
  9. These rules rely on common sense to make notions such as "connected group" and "surround" precise. What is here called a "solidly connected group of stones" is also called a chain.

Additional information may be found on wikipedia's page on 'go'.