The Two Pipers

Created by Michael Petty

This is a strategy game with simple rules. The complexity of play could be compared to that of checkers.

You can skip the story if you want, but I figured this one might require a little background to understand what's going on.

The Story

Once upon a time there were two brothers-identical twins-whose love for each other was only matched by their remarkable ability to play the fife. Together they could charm any bird or beast with their songs, and they spent many a spring day doing nothing more.

As fate would have it, when the boys grew a bit older, the king of their country proposed a challenge to the men in the kingdom. He offered his daughter, the princess, to the first man who could cross a dreadful swamp infested with vicious creatures. The twins rose to the challenge, knowing they could easily work the creatures into a trance and cross the swamp safely. It was only a question of which could do it faster.

When the time for the contest had come the forest was filled with the people from the kingdom. The two brothers began on opposite sides of the swamp armed only with their pipes. Never had they played alone before. And never had their been such rivalry in their hearts.

When they started playing the hideous creatures arose from the depths of the swamp and moved in a drowsy trance to the sound of their pipes. Skillfully the boys mesmerized the creatures and began to cross the murky waters walking on the heads of the sleepy beasts.

All went well until the two reached the center of the swamp. There, the light and beautiful sounds of their flutes clashed together in a harsh discord that awakened the creatures. Fearing for their lives, the young pipers realized only a duet could provide escape from the fierce jaws that awaited them below. As they'd done so many times before, they began piping a melody that would make old men dance like children and old women flit about like angels. In unison they played and in unison they turned and walked safely to the side of the swamp.

They laughed and embraced, and without words they apologized for the foolishness which had almost separated them forever. The hand of the princess was not enough to separate them.

Well, with all of the townspeople there to see them, the lads realized the princess was not the only beautiful young lady in the kingdom. Eventually they grew rather fond of old Jay Taylor's twin daughters who were quite skilled at the lute.

Several years later, after the little band of musicians had children of their own, they created a game to remind them of their contest in the swamp. Every time they'd play they'd tell the story again. Then they'd remember that all the wealth in the world couldn't take the place of the love they shared.

The Object

Be the first to move your PIPER across the swamp or to eliminate your opponent's PIPER.


The game requires a standard checker board and eighteen markers for the game. I have a page of graphics that can be very easily cut and pasted to create these game pieces. If you want a more durable version that requires a little more equipment and effort, I also have a sheet of graphics made to fit on standard checkers. If you write to me at and specify which set you want (quick set or checker set), I'll send them to you as .GIFs. Of course, you can easily make your own markers as described below.

A set of markers for one player consists of a PIPER and eight creatures. You'll need two sets, one for each player, in different colors. The creatures' markers are two-sided. One side of the marker shows the creature asleep, and the other shows it attacking. Not surprisingly, these creatures are referred to as "SLEEPERS" and "ATTACKERS" depending on which side is up.

This diagram shows the placement of the two PIPERS and the sixteen creatures (all ATTACKERS at the beginning). Here, the player with the light pieces would be at the top side of the board, sitting across from the "dark" player at the bottom. Capital letters signify the dark pieces and lowercase are the light pieces.


O/o = Empty square

For purposes of the game, the PIPERS are standing on the only squares that represent land. The squares adjacent to this land (on both sides of the board) represent the shallow water areas (marked with lowercase "o"'s).

Movement of the Pieces


1) When not jumping, ATTACKERS move one space at a time diagonally to unoccupied squares.

2) An ATTACKER can jump over another creature if the space he'd land in is unoccupied. Any ATTACKER that jumps immediately falls asleep (Turn the piece over). No multiple jumps are allowed. The effects of jumps are listed below.

3) If an ATTACKER can (without violating any other rules) jump an opponent's SLEEPER, then he must do so. If there's more than one jump to choose from, the choice belongs to the owner of the ATTACKER. No other jumps are mandatory!


1) SLEEPERS move one space at a time horizontally or vertically to unoccupied squares.

2) A SLEEPER carrying the opponent's PIPER can't be moved.

3) If a player's PIPER is on one of his or her own SLEEPERS, then the SLEEPER (along with the PIPER) may be moved just like any other SLEEPER.


1) PIPERS may only move onto (or over) the land squares or squares occupied by SLEEPERS of either color. They may not move over or onto a SLEEPER carrying the opponent's PIPER.

2) PIPERS may move any number of squares in one direction, horizontally, vertically or diagonally, as long as rule 1 is not violated. They can't walk on the water!

3) The PIPERS may not be in adjacent squares once they are both off the land spaces.

4) If a player's PIPER is in danger of being jumped that player MUST move the PIPER to safety if possible. This takes precedence over any other rule.

Effects of Jumping

1) Any creature jumped by an ATTACKER of the same color is unaffected.

2) An ATTACKER jumped by an opponent's ATTACKER falls asleep.

3) A SLEEPER jumped by an opponent's ATTACKER is removed from play.

4) A PIPER is also eliminated from play if the SLEEPER he is standing on is removed. Therefore,

a) Player A cannot jump his own PIPER if he's standing on one of player B's SLEEPERS (Unless he wants to end the game by losing!).

b) Player A can eliminate player B's PIPER if he jumps the PIPER while he's standing on one of player B's SLEEPERS.

These are not exceptions or additions, just significant consequences of the above movement rules.

General Rules

1) Only the PIPERS may occupy land spaces.

2) No player may have more than two of his or her creatures (awake or asleep) in the shallow water area adjacent to a piece of land at the same time.

Game Play

1) Flip a coin or find a similar method to determine who goes first.

2) On a turn, a player may do ONE of the following actions:

a) Move one of his or her pieces according to the above rules OR

b) Change one of his or her creatures by flipping it over. A player may not, however, awaken a SLEEPER carrying a PIPER.

3) Alternate turns until a winning condition is met.

Winning the Game

If a player manages to get his or her PIPER across the swamp to the land where the opponent started, that player wins the game.

A player also wins if he or she eliminates the PIPER belonging to the opponent.

For purposes of winning, it is assumed that both PIPERS could stand on one of the land squares at the same time. In other words, a player can't prevent a win by planting his PIPER on the land and refusing to move it!

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell