Agon (Also called Queen’s Guard, Queen’s Guards, Royal Guards) is a strategy game for two players, played on a 6×6×6 hexagonal gameboard.
Agon is thought to be the oldest board game played on a hexagonal board, first appearing in France as early as the late eighteenth century. The game reached its greatest popularity a century later when the Victorians embraced it for its blend of simple rules and complex strategy.
A 6x6x6 hexagonal playing board
2 sets of playing pieces each consisting of 1 Queen and 6 guards
Each player has one queen and six guards. Players determine who moves first, then turns alternate. On each turn, a player moves one of his pieces. The object of the game is to be first to manoeuvre one’s queen to the central hex (the throne) at the centre of the board (signified with a crown in this version) and surround her with all six of her guards.
The gameboard is a series of concentric rings of hex cells (highlighted by rings of color). Pieces move one step at a time to an adjacent cell, either sideways in the same ring, or towards the throne to the next ring. The cell moved to must be vacant. Only the queen may move to the throne.
The initial setup places the queens opposite each other on one of the points. An opposing guard is then placed after a gap of one cell on each side followed by guards of the queen’s side after a further gap of one cell and then further guards of the opposing side after another one cell gap. This results in the setup as shown below.
Each player moves one of her own counters per turn.
Any counter may move to an adjacent vacant cell. Any movement, however, must be sideways to a cell of the same colour or inwards to a cell closer to the throne, but never backwards toward the perimeter.
Only a queen may obtain the centre position.
Counters may not jump or pass other counters.
A piece is captured when two enemy pieces are on adjacent sides of it, in a straight line. The player whose piece is captured must use his next turn to relocate the captured piece:
A player cannot relocate a counter and move a counter in the same turn.
If a counter moves between two enemy counters, it also gets trapped (in some versions of the game’s rules, this move is not allowed). It is possible that a player may capture more than one opposing counter in a single move by moving into a position that simultaneously traps multiple counters.
If more than one counter becomes trapped as a result of their enemy’s move, that player must then take more than one turn to move trapped counters back to the outer ring. If the Queen and a Guard are trapped at the same time, then the Queen must be moved first.
A player forfeits the game if he leaves the centre hexagon empty but surrounds it with all six of his guards, as neither player may now obtain the objective.
Variations – Any numbers of the variations may be used at the same time by agreement of both players before the start of the game.
Variation 1. – Instead of using the opening position described above, players can enter their counters one at a time to any vacant position on the outer ring of board before commencing normal play. Here, the queen must be entered first and some rules state that the queens must be entered at exact opposite ends of the board.
Variation 2. – Captures can only take place where all three pieces involved in the capture are on the same ring – in this case the capture can take place around a corner.
Variation 3. – If a player touches one of his pieces, he must move that piece, or forfeit his turn.
Variation 4. – The queen is not allowed to move to the throne as a result of a capture.
Variation 5. – The opposing player determines the new position of a captured queen – this is not allowed to be a position which results in an immediate capture.