Martian Chess

It’s kind of like chess, but your pieces change ownership as soon as you attack with them.
Downloadable Rules: 
Andrew Looney
Year Created: 
Available In: 
Stuff You Need To Play: 
3 Trios of an assortment of colors for each player
Martian Chessboard (or regular Chessboard for 4 players)


Martian Chess - Sample Game

Publication History

  • Martian Chess was first published in 1996, in a booklet of 5 new pyramid games called More Icehouse Games.
  • Martian Chess is one of the 4 games featured in 1999's Icehouse: The Martian Chess Set.
  • Martian Chess is one of 12 games featured in Playing with Pyramids, published in 2002.
  • Martian Chess was one of the 3 games in the small booklet, 3HOUSE, published in 2007.
  • Martian Chess was included in Pyramid Primer #1. The rules from that version are still availble in this PDF.
  • Martian Chess is one of the 22 games featured in Pyramid Arcade.
  • Martian Chess was published in a standalone edition in Fall 2020, as part of Pyramid Quartet. It features a new color, opaque Martian Red.
  • A limited special edition was also released, featuring shiny silver-coated pyramids, but beware the sticky residue.

Other Notes

  • The most recent version of the rules (as published in the 2020 standalone edition) include the following new rulings about Deadlocks and Ties:
    • Ending a Deadlock: During the final stages of the game, the action slows down and may become stagnated. If any player feels the game has reached a state of deadlock, during their turn they may “call the clock.” From that point on, if seven moves go by in which neither player captures a piece, the game ends and the final score is computed. If someone makes a capture, the counter is reset.
    • Resolving a Tie: If the final score is tied, and one Zone is empty, the player who ended the game is the winner. But if the game ends in a deadlock with a tie, the result is simply a tie. Play again!
  • The Looney Labs FAQ page has a section for Questions about this game.
  • Martian Chess was the second game invented for the pyramids, and was based on Monochrome Chess.
  • Andy wrote a short story about the fictional origins of this game as well, which was included as an afterward in the print edition of The Empty City. It's called The Martian Archeological Society.
  • This game is listed on Wikipedia.
  • Eeyore' page about 3 player Martian Chess