Savoy / Savoya

Cameron Browne
Nov 2006

Savoy is a race game for two players, similar to Plakoto (a Backgammon variant) played upon a figure-of-eight path.

Savoya is an extension of Savoy for two, three or four players, and is played on two interwoven figure-of-eight paths coloured gold and silver.

Savoy (2 players)
Savoya (2, 3 or 4 players)

Savoy Rules

Equipment: Each player has six pieces of their colour and acces to two six-sided dice. Each player owns the three end cells of their colour (their home).

Aim: The game is won by the first player to get all of their pieces home.

Start: Players start with their pieces stacked across the board from their home, as shown above. Players roll a die each to determine order of play. The player with the highest roll uses that die for the opening move, thereafter all players roll two dice per move.

Movement: Each turn, the current player must move one or more of their pieces according to the dice pips shown. A double entitles the player to use twice the number of pips.

Pieces must move the number of pips shown in any direction allowed by the cell in which they start the move. Pieces on crossings may move in any of four directions, while pieces on all other cells may only move in either of two directions, as shown below.

Once a direction is chosen, the piece must follow the path continuously throughout its move; it may not make sharp turns mid-way through the move even if it steps onto a crossing. If a piece can reach the same cell via a different number of steps depending which direction it takes, the player may choose whichever direction they prefer.

The move may be made by a single piece or split among more than one piece. The maximum number of pips must be used each turn, unless the game is won mid-way through a move. Pieces may not step off the end of the board, and a move must change the board state: a piece cannot simply swap positions with another piece or circle back to the cell from which it started its move.

Capture: If a piece lands on a single differently coloured piece, then the singleton is pinned until the player moves off it, as per Plakoto. Pieces may jump over but not land on any stack owned by a differently coloured piece. For instance, the following diagram shows a legal pinning move (left) and a block (right).

Pieces may stack on same-coloured pieces to any height.

A player who cannot move is forced to pass until they can move again. There is no voluntary passing.

Savoya Rules

Three and four player versions: Played identically to Savoy on the larger Savoya board.

Two player version: One player becomes Gold (horizontal) and the other player becomes Silver (vertical). A player wins by getting both sets of their pieces home; that is, Gold must get the leftmost pieces to the right home and the rightmost pieces to the left home, while Silver must move the topmost pieces to the bottom home and the bottommost pieces to the top home.

All other rules are as per Savoy. Note, however, the subtlety that pieces may be blocked by friendly pieces going in the opposite direction, as the capturing rule specifies that pieces are blocked by "differently coloured" rather than "enemy" stacks. For instance, the following diagram shows a legal stacking move (left) and a piece blocked by a friendly but differently coloured stack (right).

Strategy and Tactics

Simply stepping forwards each turn will traverse the full path and take a long time to get pieces home. Instead, crossings allow shortcuts that can bypass segments of the path.

Crossings are also strong cells to occupy as they threaten four lines of attack at once; the two central crossings are especially powerful. Creating blocks on crossings is usually a good play, and conversely leaving singleton pieces on crossings can be dangerous as this gives the opponent the greatest chance of pinning them.

Beware of bounce-back in which a single remaining piece close to home is forced to move a long way backwards if both dice overshoot the home area. For instance, consider the following example in which Light is one cell away from victory but has just rolled a double 6.

Light's stack of five is blocked, so the move must be made by their singleton piece. However, it is blocked to the left and upwards and cannot move to the right as this would overshoot the end of the board, so it must move downwards. This trajectory takes it all the way back to the Light's starting area - a bad result. If Light had instead rolled any combination of dice that included a 1, 2 or 3 they could have stepped home to win that turn.

The fact that pieces cannot turn corners during a move means that any piece releasing a pin will be threatened by the released piece next turn, unless it lands on a safe stack.

The first player only gets one die for the opening move to reduce any first move advantage. In fact, an opening roll of 5 can be a bad start in Savoya, and an opening roll of 3 can be a bad start in Savoy if the opponent is lucky enough to roll a double 6 next turn.

Savoy and Savoya are at heart non-linear versions of Plakoto. Savoy provides a gentle introduction to this concept, while Savoya provides scope for more complex battles to occur.


Savoy and Savoya board designs and rules copyright (c) Cameron Browne 2006.

The game is called Savoy as the figure-of-eight knot is also known as the savoy knot. It was originally called Genuflect as the paths cross themselves repeatedly.

Savoy and Savoya can be played on Richard's PBeM server - check out the Savoy help file and Savoya help file for more details. Please challenge me (camb) to a game any time.

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Site designed by Cameron Browne © 2006. Last modified 18/7/2007.