Copyright (c) 2001 Chris

The game is played on the following board with this setup:

SOLDIER  - Each soldier moves any number of empty cells in a straight orthogonal or diagonal line (like a chess Queen). They do not capture.
They can also move over one or more of his own pieces, landing on an empty cell.
KING - Moves to an adjacent (orthogonal or diagonal) empty cell.
A player may not end his turn with his King on a cell which his opponent - if granted multiple, unanswered moves - could not reach.
GOAL - Looses the player whose King is diagonally or orthogonally adjacent to zero empty cells (ie, it has no liberties left). Stalemate is a loss.

Chris says: The point of the game is to deprive your opponent's King of "liberties", often by driving it to the edges or corners and forcing it up against his own pieces.

An example

Black soldier at c6 moves to cell [1] trying to siege the green army. Green faces a dramatic dilemma, since it cannot open the first row to Black, and at the same time cannot close completely that line, since it would immediately loose the game. 

Other comments by the author: It is a simple game, but it has some good qualities: simple,  fast-paced, a good degree of "tension". I chose the name Ransom, because in order to threaten your opponent's King, you often have to  jeopardize your own. This is similar to a kidnapping situation, which is a species of "prisoner's dilemma", in which you have to make a difficult choice between risk/payoff. Regardless of how well Ransom works, this risk/payoff choice is a good way of achieving tension in a game, and tension is one thing that makes some games better than others. Another thing I like about Ransom is the fact that pieces are "transparent" to "friends" - that you can jump our own pieces, but not your opponents. This is a way of heightening the drama of a game, similar to those chess variants where the turn order is 1 move for white, 2 for black, 3 for white, and so on, or Shogi type games where captured pieces change sides. By allowing pieces to pass through their friends, a single move has both an offensive and a defensive component, a threat and a block. I mention these things not so much to point them out in regard to Ransom, but to show how I think about games, how I judge them, and what I would hope to accomplish by creating a matrix of win conditions, move rules, capturing rules, etc. For instance, one idea not used in Ransom, or in any game that I know of, is what I call the "handcuffed opponents" idea. I considered the possibility of the Kings in Ransom being "handcuffed" together, so that if the white King moved, the black King automatically moved to the square just vacated by the white King. Similar but not quite the same as the "ball and chain" game where pieces of the same color are chained together.

After some play testing I believe that the King has too much mobility and it can easily escape any enemy attack. Perhaps a way to fix that would be to decrease the King movements (e.g., just orthogonal moves).