The Chessboard (Guide)
The Chessboard is the part of Parabola where the Great Game plays out. It is a source for Justificande Coin, Moves in the Great Game, and Vienna Opening, and the only source for Queen Mate, Epaulette Mate, and Stalemate. It is also a good way to increase A Player of Chess, and the only way to raise A Player's Studies, increasing the cap on A Player of Chess.
An important thing to consider in each match is what colour you will play. Which options you can take depend on your Advancing the Liberation of Night, and your colour unlocks related options both on the board and elsewhere. You can change colour at the start of each game, but only within the options allowed to you, or remain your current colour regardless of whether it would be allowed. Betray! Destroy! Take white down from the inside! will change your colour to Black, and failing to Turn one of their spies will change your colour to Red.
- Red is always available. It grants you a +1 opening move, and marks you as neutral. On the Chessboard, it unlocks Play a novel approach. Beyond the Chessboard, it unlocks Tell her you side with Revolutionaries, but not Liberation of Night, Liberate Ealing Gardens, Liberate Jericho Locks, Liberate the Magistracy of the Evenlode.
- White requires you to be advancing the Liberation slowly or not at all. It grants you a +3 opening move and a -3 middle game move, and marks you as aligned to the Judgements. On the Chessboard, it unlocks: Open according to accepted best practices, Sabotage your side (White), and Betray! Destroy! Take white down from the inside!. Beyond the Chessboard, it unlocks Challenge her about siding with Revolutionaries, and Enlighten Ealing Gardens.
- Black requires you to be advancing the Liberation less slowly or faster. It grants you a +0 opening move and a -3 middle game move, and marks you as aligned to the Liberation. On the Chessboard, it unlocks Mirror white's opening, and Sabotage your side (Black). Beyond the Chessboard, it unlcoks Express your commitment to the Liberation of Night, Liberate Ealing Gardens, Liberate the Magistracy of the Evenlode, and Liberate Jericho Locks.
In your first few matches, you'll want to Follow the movements of the pieces to raise your A Player of Chess. Since it doesn't increase simply by making moves, this is your best way to gain it. In the middle game, it doesn't much matter what moves you make until you have it at a high level. Failing a win will earn you Nightmares, so don't go for it just yet unless you need them for something specific such as the Storm-Bird. If you can accept the Wounds, you might Allow yourself to be sacrificed, ending the game faster and getting a Justificande in the bargain; this is a good move even later on if you mess up something needing a specific result.
Later on, once you have your Chess skills at a decent level, you can start playing to win. The result of the match is found by comparing Positional Advantages to Strategic Weaknesses. If you have more Advantages than Weaknesses, you can choose which kind of checkmate you will go for; otherwise, your only options are Stalemate or Resign.
Once you're familiar with the basics of the Game, you can start working toward specific goals on the board. First, try to decide what kind of endgame you want.
|Action||Positional Advantages||Strategic Weaknesses||Total Score1|
|Choose an epaulette mate||At least 1 2||Any||Positive|
|Choose a queen mate||At least 1 2||Any||Positive|
|Stalemate||At least 1||At least 1 2||Exactly zero|
|Recognise new possibilities in the depth of your loss||Any||At least 7||Any|
|Recognise new possibilities in the height of your win||At least 23||At most 6||At least 17 2|
2 Not a strict requirement, but computed from other requirements.
With this in mind, you can start tailoring your strategy toward specific endings.
You have two opening moves before you reach the midgame.
- You can gain Vienna Opening by spending Vital Intelligence, or by having a Shrine to Saint Joshua. Vital Intelligence will gain you more Openings, but the Midnighter's Opening costs only time. Each Opening can be spent in the opening moves of a game (including future games) for +4 score.
- Following the movements of the pieces can increase your chess skills, and possibly gain you an Incisive Observation, at the cost of -1 score. It's only suggested if you need to improve your game, or if you're deliberately playing to lose.
- If you don't have any Openings to spend and aren't interested in gaining any, Open with a familiar move is strictly better than the other options, though with the retirement of social chess, it is now permanently off-limits to characters who do not have enough mastery. Of the default openings, White has the best (potential +3), Red second-best (potential +1) and Black the worst (potential +0). Such are the privileges of the Establishment, and the perils of the Liberation.
Once in the midgame, you have five moves before the game ends.
- If your chess skills are poor and you have Moves in the Great Game to spend, you can get +1 with a move you know will work. Vital Intelligence can also get you +7.
- Playing aggressively will gain you +3 on a success and -3 on a failure. A Crooked-Cross or Licentate can use their special moves for the same benefit, risking only -1 and Wounds or a forced change of color.
- If you have been The Boatman's Opponent for a long time, his move will gain you +5 or -5.
- If you have too many Weaknesses for your intended goal, playing defensively will remove one. It will not gain you any Advantages. If you are a member of the Society of the Three-Fingered Hand, you can set your Weaknesses to 0 at your final move.
- When playing to lose as Black or White, you can sabotage your own side for -3. You can also use your people however proves necessary to gain Moves in the Great Game at the cost of -1 and a Justificande Coin.
- If your goal is unreachable, allowing yourself to be sacrificed will reset the game and give you a Justificande Coin as consolation. This is not counted as a loss, so if you're playing to lose you shouldn't do this.
This section is for specific calculations.
Can I Still Win?
You can (theoretically) win using only the listed move as long as your score is at least the number listed. Whether you can actually win depends on your luck and level of A Player of Chess, so use your judgement.
|Using Move...||5 Moves Left||4 Moves Left||3 Moves Left||2 Moves Left||1 Move Left|
|Take advantage of your Intelligence1 (+7)||-34||-27||-20||-13||-6|
|Play a move you learned from the Boatman (+5)||-24||-19||-14||-9||-4|
|Play aggressively, Turn one of their spies2, Kill another of your kind, in passing2 (+3)||-14||-11||-8||-5||-2|
|Make a move you know will work1,Play defensively3 (+1)||-4||-3||-2||-1||0|
|Use your people however proves necessary1 (-1)||6||5||4||3||2|
|Sabotage your side (Black), Sabotage your side (White) (-3)||16||13||10||7||4|
1 Costs an item.
2 Requires a specific Profession.
3 Only if you already have at least one Positional Advantages.
A Strategic Loss
In order to reach A Player's Studies 1, you need to lose substantially. You need 7 Strategic Weaknesses. Simply Follow the movements of the pieces to gain 2. There are a few different ways to gain the other 5:
- Take A boat trip, and grind The Boatman's Opponent. This will unlock a difficult move that gives you 5 Weaknesses on a failure. Since your maximum A Player of Chess without items at this point is 5, you will fail more often than succeed.
- Play as White or Black, and Sabotage your side. This will give you 3 Weaknesses.
- Save up 5 Justificande Coin, and Use your people however proves necessary. This will give you 1 Weakness each time.
Remember that if you Allow yourself to be sacrificed, you will not see the endgame and cannot trade in your loss.
A Great Triumph
In order to reach A Player's Studies 2, you need to win your match overwhelmingly. You need 23 Positional Advantages and no more than 6 Strategic Weaknesses. To get your 23 Advantages, assuming that your opening moves succeed:
- Spending 2 Vienna Opening will get you +8 regardless of colour, leaving 15. This will allow you to succeed using only +3 moves. If you can get A Player of Chess to 8, Play aggressively is automatic.
- Spending 1, you can start at +5-7 unless you play Black, leaving 16-18. White will need to succeed in a +5 move. Red will need to succeed in 2, or spend Vital Intelligence.
- Spending 1 as Black, you will start at +4, leaving 19. You need to succeed in two +5 moves, or spend Vital Intelligence.
- Spending 0, you can start at +2-6 unless you play Black, leaving 17-21. White still needs to succeed in a +5 move. Red needs to succeed in 3, succeed in 1 and spend 1 Intelligence, or spend 2 Intelligence.
- Spending 0 as Black, you start at 0 and need to earn all 23 points in the mid-game. This requires four +5 moves, two +5 moves and 1 Intelligence, or 2 Intelligence.
Recovering from a failed +3 move requires 1 Vital Intelligence or two +5 moves, and two failed +3 moves requires a +5 move and 1 Vital Intelligence. Recovering from a failed +5 move requires 3 Vital Intelligence. Recovering from more than this is not possible.
If you are willing to commit to spending two Vital Intelligence, play as white and start by Open according to accepted best practices and then anything else (the choice should not matter; just don’t spend your Vital Intelligence). In the midgame Play Aggressively three times. If you fail two or more checks at any point (except the one you wasted to leave the early game), sacrifice yourself and start over. But if you have succeeded in all or all but one check by the time you reach Progress on the Board 5, spend your Vital Intelligence by Taking Advantage of Your Intelligence twice. This will take you to exactly 23 Positional Advantages with the minimal amount of echoes/RNG involved.
Forcing a Stalemate
Stalemates are somewhat tricky as well, since you need to have a score of exactly zero. If you're aiming for a stalemate, you need to carefully plan your actions. Make sure you can pass every A Player of Chess challenge that your plan calls for.
The mathematics of the board are such that you can only produce a stalemate if you begin the middle game with either an odd score or zero with no Weaknesses. This requires you to have an opening move with an even score, and play an odd-score move with your other opening move.
The following sequences have a total score of zero, and any combination of them them will produce a zero game. Keep in mind that in order to actually count as a stalemate, you must have at least one positive move other than Play defensively.
Cheesemonger's Gambit (costs 1 Vienna Opening, requires Black or White)
- Use a "do nothing" move (Recognize an opening, Recognise an opening because of your professional affiliations, Search for a sign of your enemy, Mirror white's opening) (+0)
- Follow the movements of the pieces (-1) or use another "do nothing" move (+0)
- Play defensively (+1, or +0 if no Weaknesses are in play)
Down the Well (costs 1 Justificande Coin)
Slaughterhouse Offense (costs 3 Justificande Coin)
- Play aggressively (+3)
- Use your people however proves necessary (-1)
- Use your people however proves necessary (-1)
- Use your people however proves necessary (-1)
Contrarian's Deadlock (requires White or Black)
This section contains tables outlining the moves available on The Chessboard
- All non-Endgame options increase Progress on the Board unless noted otherwise
- Required items are consumed unless noted otherwise or profession/reward items
- Failures are not noted to avoid cluttering table
- Choosing a colour isn't noted to avoid cluttering table
- All Endgame options reset the board
|Mirror white's opening||Colour 2 (Playing Black)||A Player of Chess 4||0||0|
|Open according to accepted best practices||Colour 3 (Playing White)||A Player of Chess 3||3||0||Only with progress 1|
|Play a novel approach||Colour 1 (Playing Red)||A Player of Chess 3||1||0|
|Open with a strong move||1 x Vienna Opening||None||4||0|
|Recognize an opening||1 x Vital Intelligence||None||0||0||Doesn't increase Progress|
6 x Vienna Opening
|Follow the movements of the pieces||None||Watchful 200||0||1||+2 CP A Player of Chess, more on rare success|
|Recognise an opening because of your professional affiliations||Shrine to Saint Joshua (Midnighter)||None||0||0||1 x Vienna Opening|