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The Jungle Game

The Jungle Game, or Dou Shou Qi, is a traditional Chinese game for children, the board and starting layout of which is illustrated below:

The basic rules of this game are:

There are some exceptions to these general rules.

There are some variations in the rules of this game from one account to another. Since this is a game intended for young children, the fact that some versions of the rules allow an easy way to prevent the opponent from winning does not necessarily mean that such a version of the rules cannot be correct.

One variation is exchanging the strengths of the Wolf and the Dog. This not only seems reasonable from what is known of the animals in real life, it would seem to produce a more symmetrical layout. Since most accounts do not do this, and instead it seems only to be an error in one computer implementation of the game, my inclination would simply be to rename the Dog as the Hyena to achieve plausibility.

Another variation is not allowing the Elephant to capture the Mouse. This is said to improve the game. However, from the way the initial layout of the board is set up, it seems to me that it is very unlikely that it was intended for the Mouse to be immune to capture by the Elephant.

The most critical part of the rules is what happens to a piece on one of one's own trap squares. In some accounts of the rules, these pieces are immune to capture by the enemy, because enemy pieces are weak on those squares.

This rule is the one which creates a trivial drawing strategy for the game, and, thus, it should be avoided. The two squares which are each next to two of the trap squares are already very powerful locations from which to defend one's den.

Because there are only three narrow corridors between the lakes which connect the two halves of the board, one can't send two pieces across the board side by side; if one is sending a piece to the opposite side of the board to attack, the opponent has the opportunity to bring the appropriate piece into position to counteract that piece.

This makes the Lion and the Tiger, which can jump over the lakes, very important and powerful pieces indeed.

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