Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fantasy Chess Pre-Review

So while we getting ready to leave Strategicon, we noticed the Fantasy Chess demo, it looked interesting if a bit 1970s in overall execution. The game it put out by Shadowhex in booklet form, con pricing was $12 for the rulebook. Now the rulebook is very retro in appearance, 11x17 printing folded and stapled. It has some very interesting rules which we'll be trying out over summer, we'll have to see how everything plays out, first we'll need to get a board assembled, shouldn't be difficult using CAD, pop over to Staples get it printed, then head over to Lakeshore Learning to get it laminated. 

Remember never judge a book by it's cover, well done artwork can hide the worst game ever, while poor artwork can hide one of the best gems ever. It has the appearance of a game that was printed on the cheap so it doesn't have to cost $60 for a rulebook...and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Though looking at the diagrams in the book can be a bit daunting...they're not 300dpi graphic images from a computer. I look forward to trying this game out and seeing how it works, especially the campaign rules and some of the variants.

Here's what the creator has to say on it from his website:

I made Fantasy Chess to be an interesting variant on chess. It is traditional chess with a layer of wargaming (or Role-Playing Game) mechanics layered on top. It uses traditional pieces (Pawn, Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King) with their traditional moves. What makes it different is the ability of pieces to share the squares and instead of taking a piece, you fight for the square using dice and statistics.

You say traditional chess is tough enough as it is without adding more things to complicate it? Perhaps. But chess is actually very simple:
Six different pieces with six different moves.

A playing surface of 8 squares by 8 squares.

Move your pieces in such a way as to be able to get one to enter the enemy kings square, thus winning the game while avoiding his pieces from getting at your king. Remove those enemy pieces that get in your way.
Children have been taught to play traditional chess and its easy for them.
If you remove the daunting thought that traditional chess is hard because there are so many ways the pieces can interact, that if I make the wrong it'll be over so I have to worry over this move for 10 minutes, that its an intellectual bully game, you are on your way to having fun with Traditional Chess.
Well, that is what Fantasy Chess is doing. Its having fun with Traditional Chess by adding some flavor to it. In the core game, all it does is add the ability to co-occupy the square of your own troops. It does replace the taking of pieces with a dice procedure that notes hit points and each piece's ability to hit, but once you learn the combat system (a common concept for most miniature games and role-playing games), it isn't really that complicated.
Children have been taught to play Fantasy Chess and its easy for them.

Having playtested Fantasy Chess over the years with hundreds of players, I know I have a playable, exciting chess variant. If you give it a try, I think you will agree
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             - John Paul, Creator of Fantasy Chess