Arimaa/Attacking/Overview

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With Gold's superior strength in the east in this middlegame, attacking the f6 trap with elephant, horse and dog is a promising plan for Gold. Gold aims to occupy key squares around f6.

Attacking refers to advancing multiple pieces with a threat to take control of an opponent's trap. In the opening, attacking ideas exist in conjunction with more cautious strategies such as pulling pieces to one's own home traps; an elephant and horse might advance but then pull pieces down, setting the stage for an attack or a home capture depending on how things develop.

A strong attack can force multiple captures and then a goal, or can at least force the enemy elephant to defend its own home trap, creating a space advantage for the attacker.


The attacker wants to occupy at least two key squares, including a decentralized one, so the defender's placement of pieces is important. As long as Silver herself is not attacking, she typically occupies the crucial b6 and g6 squares with a horse or camel (the initial setup should prepare for this). The camel is an excellent defender, but is vulnerable to the attacking elephant; pieces must be carefully positioned to support one's camel.

Silver could defend the c6 trap by placing horses on both the vital b6 and c7 squares. However, this would leave the f6 trap without a defending horse, and also make the c7 horse passive. Instead, most players will place a minor piece on c7 and also keep pieces on b7, c8, and d7 to prevent an enemy horse or camel from pushing its way through c6 onto c7. With the b6 and c7 entry points well defended, Gold will have to spend time disrupting Silver’s defenses before commencing an attack. For example, a gold elephant on d6 might flip a silver piece from d7 to d5. This creates an entry point at c7 for a strong piece while also perhaps making the flipped piece vulnerable.

The defender should watch for opportunities to take an attacker hostage or frame a piece on the trap square, thus turning the tables on the attacker.

If the attacker has more strength locally than the defender, and so will inevitably make progress, the right response to an attack is usually to counterattack against the attacker's home traps, defending as solidly as possible in the meantime. Such positions can become extremely sharp.


The elephant must often be available to support an attack. Beyond that, what pieces are needed for an attack depends on the defenders present. It must not be possible for the opponent to take the first attacker as a strong hostage; for example, it is very dangerous to attack with a horse on the opponent's camel wing. Similarly, it is difficult to lead an attack with a camel because of the risk of a camel hostage. Attackers advancing behind the first are safer, although a double hostage or frame-hostage could be devastating. Efficiency is also important: for instance, with a horse available, it would be wasteful to use a camel to attack a trap whose strongest defender is a dog. Using too much strength risks leaving the home traps weak.

In the opening, attacks are most common when each side has a horse on each wing, and camels are on opposite wings. Each side advances the horse on the wing where their camel lies, and tries to get it into a key square around the opposing trap with the help of their elephant and camel. These situations are known as EMH attacks. In contrast, if camels are on the same wing the game tends to be slower and attacking harder.

If the opponent defends solidly against an attack, it may be time to switch gears. Advanced pieces have multiple uses; if not actively attacking, they could pull down an enemy rabbit. One wants to have potential threats in two different traps, which could be an away trap and a home trap.

Positioning