What is ochmir?
Ochmir is a board game described in two books by Mary Gentle,
Golden Witchbreed and Ancient Light. The game is a metaphor for
the political system of the Orthean Southlands in those novels.
The game itself is played on a hexagonal board divided into triangles, and
the pieces are double sided. The goal is to occupy more spaces on the board
than your opponent. Pieces can be played anywhere on the board, and your
opponent's pieces can be turned over to your colour by occupying a majority of
spaces in a minor hexagon (that is, a group of spaces formed by six triangles
sharing a vertex).
The players each make their moves from a hand of six pieces drawn from a
tile bag, and on each turn may either place a piece or move any mobile piece
they own. There are three piece types:
ferrorn - stays put once played. The most common piece.
thurin - may move one space. Rarer than the ferrorn, but
still reasonably numerous.
leremoc - "has complete freedom of movement". Very rare.
That's the core of the game. I want to develop a full set of rules, but
haven't done so yet.
There are a number of outstanding questions about the game:
how do thurin move? - the game descriptions talk about
thurin moving one space per turn, but is this across an edge only?
how do leremoc move? - what does "complete freedom of
movement" mean? Can a leremoc move to any other open space on the
how does the three handed game work? - two variations of
ochmir are described, one for two players and one for three. It is
difficult to imagine how a game based on flipping pieces would work for a
three player game...
what's the turn structure? - a hand of six pieces is drawn, but
is thie replenished whenever a piece is placed? Only when the last piece
from the hand is put down?
what's the piece distribution? - no hard numbers are given for
the relative frequency of the three piece types. All that's stated
definitively is the ferrorn are more common than thurin,
which are themselves more common that leremoc. How these relative
distributions can be applied to the three handed game is another huge
what about cheating? - as described in the book, cheating is
seen as an integral part of social play. It's not allowed, but if you can
get away with it it's not frowned upon either. I have no idea if this is
something which should be codifed!
how playable is the game? - my instinct is that this should be
an interesting game to play, and should play something like a cross
between go and reversi, but there are a lot of variations which will
All of these questions can be answered in several ways, depending on
authenticity and playability.