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Knightmare Chess: A review

by Steffan O'Sullivan

I picked up Knightmare Chess from SJG at GenCon - great game! I confess the artwork is not to my tastes, so I won't comment further on it. I'm also a bit annoyed that the font is a bit too small and doesn't have a high enough contrast with the background - a bit of eyestrain for my middle-aged eyes. There: that's the negative, whole and complete. Everything eles about it is a great game that I highly recommend to anyone who likes a high degree of skill with a little luck.

Basically, the game is regular chess with the addition of cards. Each card allows you to break a chess rule in a specific way. Thus, you may have a pawn seemingly locked out of being able to promote, but if you draw "Crab", that pawn can move diagonally sideways to evade the trap - and so on. Eighty different cards, complete in one box. The luck I mentioned above is in the draw of the cards. The game becomes very different than regular chess, especially in intensity and playing time. It's hard to plan more than three turns ahead, since card play can radically alter things long before then, so it has a much lighter and freer feel than regular chess - and plays more quickly.

There are various variants given - the basic rule is to give each player roughly half the deck, and each create a 150-point deck. (Each card has a point cost assigned to it.) You then shuffle your deck, draw five cards, and begin play. Every time you play a card, you may draw a replacement. Some cards can only be played in your turn; others during your opponent's turn.

The main variant is to simply use a common deck, dealing out five cards to each player and drawing a replacement as needed. This is how the original French game worked, BTW: Knightmare Chess is a licensed edition of a French game.

Ask your local retailer for it - great game, very entertaining, high replay value. You need a chess set to play.

Steffan O'Sullivan (email removed contact us for address) com Plymouth, NH, USA

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WWW page created: August 19, 1996. Last modified: February 27, 1997.