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Game Reviews by Andrew L Smith

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ABC Chess. A variant with 8 armies of pieces generated by combining 1, 2 or 3 simpler pieces. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Andrew L Smith wrote on Thu, Aug 18, 2022 02:10 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

I like the idea of making an army using various combinations of a few building blocks, though I do have two critiques.

1: Balance. A combination piece is usually wirth more than the sum of its parts (eg: a Queen is worth more than a Rook and a Bishop; a Mann is worth more than a Wazir and a Ferz) which means an army with A+B+C=7.75 is likely to be completely overpowered. For example, look at army 1:
BNW=10, NW=5.25, BW=5.25, W=1.25, B=3.25, N=3.25, BN=8.75 (total: 37).
This is over a full Rook stronger than the regular chess army.

The more equal the components are, the more powerful they are when they work together. For example, army 2 (where one component has most of the value) is only about 2 pawns stronger than the regular chess army. So, armies with wildly unequal component strengths will need to have stronger components than more egalitarian armies to compensate for this.

2: The components should be versatile enough to be fun to play with on their own. For example, an Alfil can only reach 1/8 of the board which is un-fun to play (both with and against). One solution to this would be 'ABCD' chess, with 4 components arranged like this:

AB  CD  AD  ABC   K   BC  BD  AC 

By adding an extra component, one can eliminate the need for components to survive on their own, and can make weak components without having to worry about un-fun Alfil play.

Beautiful Beasts. A new team for Chess with Different Armies based on the Roc.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Andrew L Smith wrote on Sat, Aug 28, 2021 01:16 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

This is a great concept for an army! I like how the Vouivre encourages tactical play with its forking capabilities and ability to do nasty smothered mates, while the Geese are more focused on strategic pawn play in the endgame; similar to how the tactical Knights and the strategic Rooks provide a variety of viable playstyles in the Fabulous FIDEs.

In your opening line, 2.Vg5 doesn't work because of Qxg5.

PS: If you're willing to upload this army to ChessCraft, I'd be happy to playtest them alongside my own Starbound Sliders.

Edit: Upon closer inspection, this army is actually very weak.

  • Ouroboros: 2x5pts Although the Ouroboros is about Rook strength, it's the only one that's as strong as its claimed to be.
  • Roc: 2x3pts+0.5pts colorbound pair bonus The Roc is colorbound and has limited range, making it weak and finnicky even by minor piece standards. Complicated maneuvres are less viable when the board is full of pawns, which further highlights the Roc's difficulty in movement. It is definitely not as strong as a Rook, though its ability to reach 12 squares means it may be slightly stronger than a Knight.
  • Flying Goose: 2x1.5pts The Flying Goose has very little value, and also gives the Beautiful Beasts the very annoying trait that they can't castle without moving one of the three Pawns that will be in front of the King (unless they castle queenside and mave the a pawn). Granted, the Flying Goose is little more than a slightly stronger pawn anyway, but still.
  • Vouvire: 9pts The Vouvire is reasonably strong for a Queen equivalent and it's great for tactical play, the problem is that there's nothing to play tactically against. Knights are fun to use because they're the weakest piece in the army (so when they fork something, you're in business!) while the Vouvire is the strongest piece so it can't fork anything that's protected. Also, it can't go to any of the 8 adjacent squares, which makes maneuvering on a crowded board surprisingly difficult.
  • Total: 28.5pts CwDA armies typically range from 31.5 (Fabulous FIDEs) to 33.5 (Nutty Knights) with more complicated armies needing more value.

ChessXp. 10x10 Chess, strictly derived from the 8x8 architecture.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Andrew L Smith wrote on Mon, Aug 23, 2021 10:05 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

This seems like a nice variant. I especially like the 32221111Q movement of the pawns. The falcons/bison are also fun to play with, their long leaps make for nice tactics.

Pretty much the only thing I'd change is that castling leaves the King too close to the middle. Instead, I would make it so that castling results in the King and the Rook swapping places (White king can go to b1 or i1, black king can go to b10 or i10; rook always goes to the f file) as this gets the King 1 space away from the corner. This would also fix one of the gripes I have with regular chess: queenside castling is usually terrible. Opposite side castling often leads to fun games, so making it happen more often seems like it would be desirable. Also, it would allow players to castle by moving the Rook first, as the ambiguity between O-O and Rg1 is removed.

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