Each player has a sufficient number of men in his color, and a number of 'board segments' of 7 cells each.
The board is the most unusual aspect of Mu. It is made up of connected segments and the lay-out phase is an important part of the game. Moreover, the board is layered. Initially every cell of it is covered with a top layer. The applet uses a full hexagon for it, but in over the board play a large draughtsman will do. In addition to there should be black draughtsmen for 'the wall'.
The opening protocol
We'll assume two players with seven segments each. The procedure is the same with more than two players. The lay-out phase establishes a playing area and an initial position. Play usually runs clockwise. Fate may decide who goes first.
- Segments are put on the table one by one, to make up a board. When placing a segment the player puts one of his men in the center. After the first player has laid down his first segment, players take turns. Each new segment must at least have two cells adjacent to the evolving board. After the last segment has been placed it may look something like this:
- When all segments have been placed, the first player proceeds to remove the man of one of his segments and players take turns to do the same, the object being to select the best starting segment by removing lesser ones, one by one. The last remaining segment of each player is then filled with seven men of his color to form the initial position. An example of what it may look like is given here:
- If played with more than two players, Levis is not collusionproof. Any number of players may be eliminated completely.
- Mu is a 'layered' game in more than one respect, and the actual territory - called "The Commonwealth" for reasons unknown even to the inventor - is as yet buried under a visible top layer called "Virginity".
- The blue area is called "The Out of Bounds" because it is: no piece may move onto or over it. Nevertheless having one's segments bordering on the Out of Bounds as much as possible, is at least one of the considerations in this stage. Therefore lakes and creeks emerge naturally.
The object of each player is to obtain as large a piece of territory as possible, counted as cells of the Commonwealth that are under his control. The end comes after successive passes by all, and the player with the largest territory is the winner. The game may end in a draw.
Movement / Capture
- A 'piece' may be a single man or a like colored column. Any number of top men of a piece also make up a piece and may be moved accordingly.
- Players take turns to move one piece. Moving is not compulsory: a player may refrain from moving at any turn.
- A piece moves in a straight line, exactly the number of cells equal to its height. A piece may move onto or over pieces of any color.
- If a piece lands on a piece of like color the two merge to one column.
- If a piece lands on an opponent's piece it captures by replacement, regardless of size.
- A piece may not move over or into the Out of Bounds.
- In the course of the game, Virginity disappears gradually to reveal sections of the Commonwealth. These sections appear and expand until they are limited by the encounter with one another, at which point the "Wall" arises as a natural separation: sections never merge.
- A piece starting from the Commonwealth or Virginity may never move onto a cell of the Wall.
A piece starting from the Commonwealth or Virginity may move over a cell of the Wall, if and only if that cell is occupied by a piece of like color.
If you're wondering how a piece gets onto the Wall, or how the Wall appears in the first place, you're right on the ball.
Capacity and Explosions in Virginity - Growth
- The 'capacity' of a virgin cell is equal to the number of adjacant virgin cells. If a virgin cell gets to hold a piece consisting of a number of men equal to or greater than its capacity, it 'explodes' as part of the same move, thereby distributing its men over the very cells that made up its capacity, one man per cell, while unveiling a cell of the Commonwealth or the Wall. Explosions are compulsory. Pieces landing on other pieces by explosion merge or capture as the case may be.
The applet indicates hot cells thus: and performs an explosion with a mouseclick on the piece.
- If the exploding cell does not border on different sections of the Commonwealth, it either creates or expands such a section. In that case the cell sprouts one new man, immediately after the explosion, that is put onto the cell.
- If the exploding cell does border on different sections of the Commonwealth, it turns into a cell of the Wall. A cell of the Wall does not sprout a new man.
If the exploding piece consisted of a number of men greater than the cells capacity, the remainder is left behind on the original cell. This is called 'overcapacity' and it is the only way to get a piece on the Wall!
Overcapacity does not affect the sprouting of a new man.
- Since an exploding virgin cell gives a man to every virgin neighbor, while at the same time taking a neighbor (i.e. itself) from each, these cells in turn may reach or surpass capacity. In that case the original explosion has triggered a chain reaction that is part of the same move. If more such cells exist at the same time, the player is free to proceed with any of them, till the whole chain reaction has come to rest.
Capacity and Explosions in the Commonwealth
- The capacity of a cell of the Commonwealth is counted in neighbors of both the Commonwealth and Virginity. If a cell of the Commonwealth explodes, nothing special happens except that it distributes its men over the very cells mentioned above, and that overcapacity remains on the original cell. If a cell of the Commonwealth explodes, it does not sprout a new man. Of course the explosion may trigger further explosions and/or make captures in the process.
Capacity and Explosions on the Wall
- Other than in Virginity or the Commonwealth, a cell of the Wall becomes critical (but as yet stable) if it reaches capacity, and explodes only if the cell has overcapacity, distributing its men over the adjacent cells of the Wall and leaving the overcapacity behind.
- A cell of the Wall only counts adjacent cells of the Wall as its neighbors. The maximum column a cell of the Wall can accomodate is four, in an intersection dividing several sections of the Commonwealth.
- A piece on the Wall may move like any piece, but in addition it may move over any cells of the Wall, and may end its move on the Wall, merging, exploding and/or capturing as the case may be. Moving off the Wall is of course a definitive step.
Explosions are immediate
- Explosions are immediate but if there are more cells at or over capacity at the same time, a player is free to choose the order in which to perform them.
Nine pictures tell more than an unspecified number of words, so here's a local example. It's red's turn. His local opponent green is in sight and has already cleared part of Virginity to make place for the Commonwealth:
|So it's red to move. He moves the 3-piece (the required three cells) to a virgin cell of capacity three.|
|The 3-cell explodes, distributing its men over the adjacent virgin cells.|
|After the explosion the uncovered cell of the Commonwealth immediately sprouts a red man, indicated with a small circle. Meanwhile another virgin cell has reached capacity and explodes in a similar fashion, bringing an adjacent cell on one man overcapacity.|
|Now this cell borders on different sections of the Commonwealth, so it explodes to transform into a cell of the Wall.|
The green man on the adjacent virgin cell is captured. The applet leaves the overcapacity in place: subsequent explosions in the same turn may extend the wall and therewith the first cell's capacity, as is the case here. If not, the cell oscillates and is handled accordingly, see below.
|The explosions proceed with the 3-piece on the centercell of the middle segment. Or at least that's wise because the wallcell cannot explode and neither does it have to. If no alternative explosion were available, it would oscillate and be handled accordingly, but now it is spared that fate by the alternative explosion.|
|As a result one adjacent cell reaches capacity, another even overcapacity, and Red may choose which one to explode first. Although here the order is irrelevant, it often isn't.|
|So a new cell of the Wall appears, with a red man on it. At the same time the first cell now has capacity-1 and is no longer 'hot'.|
Note: Creating cells of the Wall with overcapacity is crucial, so red did very well here.
|Here goes the other one, sprouting a man and pushing a neighboring virgin cell to overcapacity.|
|Which leads to the final explosion, where a new man sprouts on top of the overcapacity that has stayed behind. Note that the piece now threatens the green man on the other side of the Wall, and that this cell is protected twice by the green column of two.|
Now you know how to play Mu velox ... well, almost.
Lost in Oscillation
Sections of the Commonwealth or the Wall may contain arrangements of columns that are in a cyclic chain reaction, even if the combined height of the columns does not equal or surpass the total capacity of the section. This is called 'oscillation'. Here's an example of a section with a stable arrangement of 12 men, next to the same section with an unstable arrangement of 10 men:
- If a section shows oscillation the player is obliged to remove a man from one of its hot cells. If this doesn't stop oscillation, the player must remove another man from one of its hot cells, and so on till the chain reaction comes to rest. Removing a man from a hot cell is done by 'shift-clicking' the piece. Terminating oscillation does not count as a move.
To hold at least one man, a section of the Commonwealth must count at least three cells. Cells of a two-cell section both have capacity one and will oscillate if a man is placed on either, while a one-cell section explodes 'at capacity', which is zero. Thus, a one-cell section of the Commonwealth is 'oscillating on empty'.
Virginity Collapsing & further proceedings
Inevitably Virginity is blown up, sprouting more men, creating and expanding sections of the Commonwealth that run into gridlock with one another, leaving them locked between the Wall and the Out of Bounds.
Players may find themselves alone in such a section, or engaged in a fight with other players. Walls may lock a player in, or out. You may find yourself able to invade an adjacent section without any risk of being invaded, or quite the reverse.
Mutual capture may decide who owns a section or end in a stalemate: a piece cannot threaten to capture a piece of equal height without exposing itself. But it can if it is covered by a like colored piece, adding a Chess like flavor to the fights.
Pieces on the Wall may engage in exchanges till one player wins and owns the section, allowing his armies to use it as a bridge. Even stalemates may occur, where the 'bridges' block one another under the threat of capture. Fights will take place to control key positions on the Wall, because of their strategic importance regarding invasions.
End of the Game
The game ends when all players have passed on successive turns. The counting is easy:
- If a section of the Commonwealth holds only a piece or pieces of like color, it is the territory of the corresponding player.
- If a section of the Commonwealth holds pieces of different color, it is neutral territory.
- If a section of the Commonwealth holds no pieces at all, but is accessible from the Wall only by a piece or pieces of like color, it counts as territory for the corresponding player. If pieces of different color are able to jump in, or no piece at all, it is neutral territory.
Note: though not limited to them, this rule typically addresses one- and two-cell sections that will not accept a piece to claim them.
- Fragments of Virginity left inside the Commonwealth at the end of a game count as territory as if they were part of the Commonwealth.
Example game: Ed van Zon- Christian Freeling (0-1)
How I invented … Mu
Using the Mu-levis applet
Mu levis © MindSports
Java applet © Ed van Zon