Balaur Go Variant

  Difficulty: Beginner   Keywords: Rules, Variant


Balaur Go ("balaur" is "dragon" translation in lang:ro) is a Go game variant. You may call it also Dragon Go (but can quite confusing as the term is used for so many other purposes) or Draco Go (a reference to [ext] Most characteristic feature of this variant is that a player is constraint to play adjacent to own color stones. But that's too dry... and I prefer to describe it as a game where players lay dragon eggs in Hoshi points and send born dragons to fight those of opposite color. All standard (Japanese) rules of the Go game remain valid except overwritten by below rules or made not applicable by below rules.

Informative: Invented by [ext] on a game theme inspired by [ext] (many thanks!) to whom it's dedicated but also to [ext] (why not? an username making it the best choice for a dedication).


Each player can issue in the game a set of few dragons and make them grow to fight the opponent’s dragons with usual Go game win goals. A dragon is a group of stones of same color strongly OR weakly connected (kind of [ext] Any played stone either gives birth to baby dragons or must be connected to their own dragons for their growth.

Sample dragons  

Detailed description of these two move types:

Birth moves

  • RB1 Give birth to a new dragon by placing one stone in any of the available Hoshi points ([ext] There is no constraint on being linked to another own dragon but constraint to use a Hoshi point, a free one at the moment the move is played.
  • RB2 Each player has a limited/maximum number of dragon eggs of the same color that can be used in a game to issue a new dragon. This limit depends on goban size with below recommended default values but players may agree some other distribution of eggs or handicap eggs in some other points:
   - for board sizes 9x9, 13x13: max 2 dragon eggs per player that can be used in the 5 Hoshi Points available
   - for board sizes 19x19: max 4 dragon eggs per player that can be used in the 9 Hoshi Points available
  • RB3 Birth moves can be played at any chosen time during the game.
  • CB4 Of course, each player shall start game with at least one birth move.
  • CB5 “Traditionally”, the players shall assign a name to each of their dragons and share that in the game chat.

Growth moves

  • RG1 Grow a dragon by placing a stone linked to one of your existing dragons. Links among stones of a dragon's body can be either strong or weak e.g. any location marked with X in the diagram "Sample dragons" is a valid dragon growth move for the valid black dragon - there are no other valid growth moves for this dragon. Sample strong links are (B1-B3,B3-B5) and sample weak links are (B5-B7,W2-W6).
  • RG2 A dragon growth move may be played in a free Hoshi point.
  • CG3 By current move, a player may join multiple own dragons in a mega-dragon. A legend says that Godzilla was born like this from few tiny dragons Riri, Fifi and Loulou.
  • CG4 By current move, an enemy dragon may be captured entirely or partially, either having a part removed completely or split in multiple disconnected chunks which will become live standalone dragons. Again, feel free to play with names for the alive chunks!
  • CG5 “Traditionally”, the chat contains a the epic story of the dragons battle. :-)


  • So you can have more or less dragons during the game than initial limited eggs.

Score counting

  • RC1 Like in standard Go, a dragon is alive if it cannot be capture while respecting above modified play rules.


  • There is no enough historical data to tune the Komi. Be sure you agree with your opponent before the game starts, possibly negotiating also some handicap eggs.
  • You may notice that a dragon with one unique eye may be considered alive if it has an eye well protected by strong links. Let's call it a cyclope dragon.

Sample games

First two games played following above rules can be seen in OGS at:

Thanks for daring to try!

Some lessons learned from these games:

  • Dragons may fly faster than you expect.
  • Think long term for teritory as you need some time to reach it.
  • Captures may be not so frequent if no one takes some risks.
  • Cyclope dragons may stay alive even if tiny.
  • Make up some fantasy stories around the game for fun.

I hope that beginners may enjoy some simple games and, at least for the first games, non beginner Go players may be surprised about some new unexpected game dynamics.

Let it be epic and fun!

Balaur Go Variant last edited by 2a04:cec0:11a5:de1a on July 22, 2022 - 06:40
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