FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ABOUT GENERAL CAMELOT TOPICS
(You can find Frequently Asked Questions about Camelot rules here.)
Click on any question below, and you will be linked to the answer.
Question: I donít know anything about Camelot. What kind of game is it?
Answer: Camelot is an abstract strategy board game for two players, like Chess, Go, Checkers, and Mancala. (An abstract strategy game involves no chance, hidden information, or random elements.) Camelot can be roughly described as a cross between American Checkers (British Draughts) and Halma (Chinese Checkers). It is played on a board with 160 squares. Each player has 14 pieces, four Knights and ten Men. The pieces move in three different ways: Plain Move, Canter, or Jump. Knights can combine Canter and Jump in one move. The object is either to capture all of the opponentís pieces, or to move two pieces into the opponentís Castle (two special squares on the opponentís side of the board). You can see the official rules here.
Question: I had never heard of Camelot before. Whatís its history? Why is it virtually unknown?
Answer: Camelot has a long history. It was invented in the 1880s by George S. Parker. It was originally called Chivalry, and had a slightly bigger board and a few more pieces than Camelot. Parker made a few changes to the game in 1930 and renamed it Camelot. Camelot was very popular for many years, but was eventually discontinued by Parker Brothers in 1968. During the past 40 years, it has unfortunately slipped into relative obscurityóa status that is much undeserved. You can learn more about Camelot's history here.
Question: I donít like complicated games. How hard is it to learn how to play Camelot?
Answer: Camelot, like checkers, is quite easy to learn to play. Although it is a challenge to play Camelot at an advanced level, expert play is not a requirement for full enjoyment of the game. Far from it, Camelot is a wonderful choice for the novice since, for him, it is far more fun to play than either chess or checkers, and is much quicker to play to conclusion than those games. An abbreviated set of rules, with diagrams, is available for the beginner here.
Question: How long does a game of Camelot take to play?
Answer: A typical game of Camelot entails each player making an average of twenty moves. Games between players of medium skill level usually take from five minutes to thirty minutes to complete. Games lasting longer than that are the exception.
Question: Iíd like to play Camelot, but donít have a set. Where can I buy one? How much will it cost?
Answer: There currently is only one source for buying a brand new Camelot or Cam set. You can find information about that source here. There is also only one source for buying a brand new Grand Camelot set. You can find information about that source here. Camelot sets were once widely sold in department stores and toy & game stores by Parker Brothers. Occasionally, you can find one of those sets in an antique store, but they are almost always grossly overpriced. The best place to buy a used Parker Brothers set is by bidding on eBay. At any given time, there are usually 15 or 20 Camelot and Inside Moves sets up for auction, most of them selling in the $10-$25 range. There are also many choices for inexpensively making your own set. For example, here is a set I made from a Parker Brothers board and two sets of chess pieces; here is a set I made out of LEGO blocks; here is a set I made out of a piece of wood and two sets of peg chess pieces; and here is a set I made from plywood, ceramic tiles, and two sets of chess pieces. Simplest of all is making a set out of paper. Here is a free downloadable Word file that will provide board and pieces.
Question: Iíd like to play Camelot, but donít know anyone in my area who plays the game. Can you help?
Answer: The easiest place to find a game is on the Internet. There are three websites that allow you to play Camelot and its variants in contests against opponents from around the world: ig Game Center, BrainKing, and GoldToken. Playing on the ig Game Center site is free, but contributions are very welcome. The ig Game Center is a real-time site. The free membership at BrainKing allows you to play up to 20 games simultaneously; you can play more games if you purchase an advanced membership. The free membership at GoldToken allows you to play up to 15 games simultaneously; you can play more games if you purchase an advanced membership. BrainKing and GoldToken are turn-based sites. All three sites offer many different games, and all three sites are excellent. In addition, you can easily play by email. To facilitate that method, there are three different mechanisms that were created to facilitate play by email: Cyberboard, Thoth, and ZunTzu. Also, if youíre looking for a game, feel free to post a request on this siteís message board.
Question: Are there computer programs that play Camelot?
Answer: Yes, there are! If you purchase the Zillions game engine, you can play Camelot, Cam, Camette, Grand Camelot, and Chivalry, as well as many other games (Chess, Checkers, etc.) against your computer. In addition, a computer program dedicated specifically to Camelot has been written. In the near future, that program, CHAXX, will challenge Dan Troyka, the current World Champion, to a match for the WCF Man vs. Machine Camelot World Championship.
Question: I donít have much time to play Camelot, today. Is there a version thatís faster to play?
Answer: Yes! You can play Cam, a smaller version of Camelot with a smaller board and fewer pieces. Learn more about it here.
Question: Iíve read the rules, so I know that there are two different ways to winóeliminating all of the opponentís pieces, or getting two pieces into the opponentís Castleóbut which one is better?
Answer: The more times you play, the clearer the answer to that question becomes. Getting two of your pieces into the opponentís Castle, by some type of end-run for instance, is simply not possible to accomplish early in the game against even a moderately weak opponent. It quickly becomes evident that success only follows from building a strong opening position, then winning material, then trading down material, and then either forcing entrance into the opposing Castle or eliminating all of the opponent's remaining pieces.
Question: How can I improve my play at Camelot?
Answer: Play! Unfortunately, there are no books of instruction on opening theory, middlegame tactics, or endgame strategy for Camelot like there are for Chess, Checkers, and other games. However, there are many games on this site that you can replay, from which you can learn much. The six games of the most recent World Championship final match are even presented in the form of a Camelot ďmovieĒ where the position after every move is shown in a diagram. You can easily view them by going to: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5, and Game 6. The very best way to get better, though, is to just play, and play often.
Question: Iíve heard that Checkers has been ďsolvedĒ (that its outcome with perfect play has been determinedóitís a draw). Has Camelot been solved?
Answer: Solving Camelot appears to be unthinkable. No one is close to solving Chess, and Camelot would clearly be significantly more difficult to solve. Thatís because Camelot has a bigger board than Chess (160 squares vs. 64 squares), and Camelot positions have, on average, many more possible moves than Chess (a maximum of over 3,500 possible moves vs. a maximum of less than 200).
Question: There are four of us who would like to play Camelot. Can four play at the same time?
Answer: Yes. A Camelot variant, Grand Camelot is a great game for four players. Learn more about it here.
Question: Iíd like to teach my young child a simpler version of Camelot. Is there such a thing?
Answer: Yes! You can play Camette, a mini version of Camelot with a very small board and just a few pieces, that still uses all of the basic Camelot rules, and teaches all of the basic Camelot concepts. Learn more about Camette here. See some children playing Camette and Camelot here.
Question: What is the history of the World Camelot Federation?
Answer: I obtained my first Camelot set in 1959, but rarely could find an opponent. Forty years later, in 1999, I discovered someone who lived thousands of miles away who also loved Camelot. We happily played a number of games by email. Later that year, I formed the World Camelot Federation as an international non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, popularization, and play of Camelot. I created the WCF Website in 2000. Camelot and Cam are now played regularly on two Internet game sites. The WCF has held two World Championship Tournaments. In addition, the WCF now has over 200 members, worldwide.
Question: I have no experience playing Camelot. Am I welcome to join the WCF?
Answer: Yes! You donít have to ever play a single game of Camelot in order to join. All thatís required is that you have some type of interest in the game. For instance, you might be interested in game design and the development of a new Camelot variant, or you might be interested in writing a Camelot computer program, or you might collect Camelot sets, or you might be interested in the history of Parker Brothers games. Any type of interest is encouraged!
Question: Iíd like to join the WCF, but I donít want to spend any money, and I donít have much available free time. Can I still join?
Answer: Yes, you certainly can! First of all, membership is free. Secondly, spend as much or as little time as you wish with your membership. The only thing that will happen if you become a member is that you will receive an occasional informational email from me. The rest is completely up to you!
Question: How do I join the WCF?
Simply send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: What if I have a question that isnít answered here?
Answer: I promise that no question will go unanswered! Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions you have, no matter how simple, no matter how complex.