Cyvasse originates from Volantis. Ben Plumm learned the game when Volantis contracted the Second Sons. Around 299 AC, the game came to Westeros, starting in Dorne, where a trading galley from Volantis introduced the game. It was spread from Planky Town up and down the Greenblood by the orphans.
- See also: Images of Cyvasse
Cyvasse is played on a board which changes from game to game. The players arrange the tiles on the board, with a screen in the middle, so neither can see how the other arranges their board. Amongst the squares that the players can place themselves, are mountains. In turn, the players move their pieces across the board. In Volantis there are cyvasse parlors.
There are ten different pieces available:
- Light Horse
- Heavy Horse
The dragon is the most powerful piece in the game. While it isn't exactly known how many pieces each player has of each different kind, one player has multiple elephants. The goal of the game is to "kill" the King.
The pieces are onyx and alabaster/ivory.
Several rules are shortly mentioned in the novels:
- A dragon can remove elephants from the board.
- A catapult can remove a dragon from the board.
- A trebuchet can remove a dragon from the board.
A Feast for Crows
Myrcella Baratheon learns the game from her betrothed, Trystane Martell, when she comes to live with him in Dorne. Ser Arys Oakheart finds the game maddening. Myrcella takes to the game quickly, and wins more often that Trystane, though he does not seem to mind. When riding through the desert with Princess Arianne Martell, Myrcella comments on how Trystane always places his squares the same way. Prince Doran Martell places a cyvasse table in Princess Arianne's chambers so she can learn the game. She, however, ignores it. When Arianne is summoned to her fathers rooms after her imprisonment, she finds him sitting across a cyvasse table, studying the pieces.
A Dance with Dragons
While is in Lys, Quentyn Martell spots cyvasse pieces being sold. Cyvasse is played during Tyrion Lannister's voyage on the Shy Maid with Haldon and Young Griff. While playing against Haldon, Tyrion places a bet, and wins the game, thereby learning from Haldon the true identity of Young Griff. In the game against Young Griff, Tyrion tells the boy to go to Westeros, instead of seeking the hand of Daenerys Targaryen. Later on, when he is separated from Young Griff's group, Tyrion learns that Young Griff actually listened. Tyrion, under Haldon's direction, plays against the custom officer Qavo Nogarys in Volantis, in order to gain information from him. On board of the Selaesori Qhoran, Tyrion attempts to teach Penny how to play cyvasse, though he soon realizes it is a lost cause. When Tyrion is enslaved and displayed on the slave market, he boasts about his cyvasse skills as a selling point. After Tyrion is bought by Yezzan zo Qaggaz, he plays a game of cyvasse against a man who had originally wanted to buy him (and remembered his claims), and later against Ben Plumm.
The Winds of Winter
As the Second Siege of Meereen is commencing a Yunkish nobleman enters Brown Ben's tent during a meeting. When he recognises Tyrion he demands that the the dwarf be surrendered for punishment. Ser Jorah opens the Yunkish nobleman's throat with his longsword. The man takes two wobbly steps, falls across the cyvasse board, scatters the wooden armies everywhere and dies on the carpet. A cyvasse piece ends up at Tyrion's feet. It is the white dragon. He scoops it off the carpet and wipes it on his sleeve, but some of the Yunkish blood has collected in the fine grooves of the carving, so the pale wood appears to be veined with red.
Cyvasse, the game was called. It had come to the Planky Town on a trading galley from Volantis, and the orphans had spread it up and down the Greenblood. The Dornish court was mad for it.
- Ser Arys Oakheart on cyvasse
I hope Your Grace will pardon me. Your king is trapped. Death in four.
Ser Arys just found it maddening.
- Ser Arys Oakheart's thoughts about cyvasse
"You have other pieces beside the dragon, princess. Try moving them sometime."
References and Notes
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 47, Tyrion X.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 22, Tyrion VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 14, Tyrion IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII.
- So Spake Martin: Cyvasse
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 36, Cersei VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 27, Tyrion VII.