What is Cyvasse

Cyvasse is a board game played in the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Martin claims that there are no rules, and that it is a mix of Chess, Stratego, and Blitzkrieg. Looking around the web there are many variations but none are close to complete, and I think they might be overlooking something. Martin himself is very well traveled, and when he says chess, I think he's using the more widely known version (to avoid confusion). I think he's actually thinking Xiangqi or Chinese chess.

Game Board

Cyvasse.pngTo start I'm proposing a board similar to Xianqi, only slightly larger. I'm adding 1 column to either side, and 2 rows to each half. The river remains split the opposing armies, and the Castle will remain centralized in the rear. These additional rows will act as No-Mans land where you may not place pieces within at the beginning of the game. This allows for either side to build their halves of the board without being directly engaged at the start of the game. The additional columns are just to allow for more pieces. The board has 3 colors, green, blue and red. Green is normal terrain, blue is the river in the middle, and red are the mountains which are pieces placed by the players but then never moved.


  • A screen is used, or the board is separated into halves, allowing each player to setup their side of the battle without their opponent seeing. No pieces may be set within the no-man's land. Spears, and King must start within the castle.


There are 10 pieces, each with their own unique abilities...


  • Units - 1
  • Movement - 1 orthogonal (as General)
  • Capture - Same as Movement
  • Special Rules - Cannot leave Castle, Game is lost when the king is killed (checkmate)


  • Units - 1
  • Movement - as Modern Queen
  • Capture - Same as Movement
  • Special Rules - Can pass over mountains[1]


  • Units - 2
  • Movement - Always 2 diagonally, ignoring intervening pieces.
  • Capture - Same as Movement


  • Units - 2
  • Movement - As Rook, but unable to capture in this way
  • Capture - To capture the Catapult must pass over exactly 1 unit (the platform) first, before capturing. A Catapult may use your own mountain, but not an opponent's mountain as a platform.


  • Units - 2
  • Movement - 1 any direction[2]
  • Capture - Captures a target within 3 squares orthogonally without moving.
  • Special Rules - Cannot cross river.

Heavy Horse/Chariot

  • Units - 2
  • Movement - Othogonally as Rook
  • Capture - Same as Movement
  • Special Rules -

Light Horse

  • Units - 2
  • Movement - One square Orthogonally, then one square diagonally, cannot leap over pieces.
  • Capture - Same as Movement
  • Special Rules -


  • Units - 2
  • Movement - 1 square orthogonally or diagonally
  • Capture - Same as Movement
  • Special Rules - May not leave the castle except to capture an adjacent piece outside of castle, but when outside of castle the only allowed movement is to return to the castle.


  • Units - 5
  • Movement - 1 forward until past the river, then horizontal movement is allowed as well
  • Capture - As Movement
  • Special Rules -


  • Units - 4
  • Movement - N/A
  • Capture - N/A
  • Special Rules - Cannot be Captured, or passed over by opponent


  1. ^ ADwD pg 152
  2. ^ ADwD pg 156

Book Quotes

Any page references, and quotes you find in the books regarding Cyvasse please list here.

Feast of Crows

  • Introduction
    • "There were ten different pieces, each with its own attributes and powers, and the board would change from game to game, depending on how the players arrayed their home squares." pg 226
  • Myrcella vs. Prince
    • "He always sets his squares up the same way, with all the mountains in the front and his elephants in the passes...So I send my dragon through to eat his elephants." pg 373
  • Arianne and Prince Doran
    • "She touched one of the cyvasse pieces, the heavy horse." pg 719

  • Chapter 40

Dance with Dragons

  • Tyrion vs. Haldon
    • "as they arranged their tiles on either side of a carved wooden screen...Tyrion almost grabbed his dragon but thought better of it. Last game he had brought her out too soon and lost her to a trebuchet...He moved his light horse toward Haldon's mountains...The Halfmaester moved his spears." pg 105
  • Tyrion vs. Griff
    • "Young Griff arrayed his army for attack, with dragon, elephants, and heavy horse up front...Tyrion moved his elephants." pg 151
    • "He picked up his heavy horse...Tyrion moved his crossbows...The dwarf pushed his black dragon across a range of mountains..." pg 152
    • "Smiling he seized his dragon, flew it across the board...Your king is trapped. Death in four." pg 153
  • Qavo Nogarys vs. Big Man
    • "onyx elephant...alabaster army...He moved his heavy horse." pg 155
  • Qavo Nogarys vs. Tyrion
    • Tyrion advanced his spearmen. Qavo replied with his light horse. Tyrion moved his crossbowmen up a square...toying with his rabble...plucking up his dragon. 'The most powerful piece in the game," he announced, as he removed one of Qavo's elephants...He moved his catapult again, closed his hand around Tyrion's alabaster dragon, removed it from the board." pg 156
    • "Near the end of that final contest, with his fortress in ruins, his dragon dead, elephants before him and heavy horse circling around his rear..." pg 325