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Game Reviews by Daniel Zacharias

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Hex Shogi 91. A hexagonal Shogi variant on a 91-space board. (Cells: 91) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2021-08-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I've only played this once, but it feels right somehow. The hexagonal board, oriented horizontally like this, gives a distinct chess experience that square boards generally lack. It feels more natural than square shogi to me.

Grande Acedrex. A large variant from 13th century Europe. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2021-06-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I wish this game were more popular. It seems like an excellent design. The piece selection seems strange at first but after thinking about it I can see the beauty of it.

I imagine the aanca could have originated as an enhanced ferz, to go with the bigger board. Then the knights could have become unicorns by gaining a diagonal slide after their leap to complement the aanca. The crocodile is a fairly obvious addition. The giraffe and Lion both make knight-like leaps, suitable for the large board, and the Lion includes and extra 3,0 leap which removes it's color binding and forms a nice looking pattern.

The result of all that is eight pieces with a nice range of power and an aesthetically consistent set of moves. There are all of the 2,1 3,1 and 3,2 leaping moves, the rook and bishop moves, and bent rook and bishop moves (unicorn and aanca). The leaping pieces are differentiated in power by some of them having additional movements, but they don't ever feel like arbitrary combinations.

The initial setup is also elegant. The Pawns start as far apart as they do on the 8x8 board, and the pieces are all on the back rank. The promotion rule fits well with this setup and is another great innovation.

I think the main weak points, if there are any, would be the pawns and the king's leap. It seems unlikely that the king would benefit much from a 2 square leap on such a big board with so much empty space; and perhaps modern pawns would be better. But overall this variant appears to be carefully designed.

Apothecary Chess-Classic. Large board variant obtained through tinkering with known games.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2021-01-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This is a very good game. Everything fits together well. The random setup provides variety without being completely chaotic. The brouhaha squares are a great way to add more pieces without making the board so big it feels empty. The promotion rule encourages more variety in promotion, which is something I look for particularly; and I like the auxiliary pieces used here. The Mameluk especially is fun.

I think I might slightly prefer the Modern Apothecary game, for it's Dragon and Griffin, which to me are more interesting than the Chancellor and Archbishop, but I like the Siege Elephant and Mameluk as auxiliaries, so it's hard to choose one game over the other. I don't know if I'd agree with the statement that the Joker can't defend well. It seems to me that it's ability to mimic an attacker's move makes it particularly good at defending and more difficult to use aggressively. I'm not great at chess (in any form), though, so I could be wrong about that.

I'm interested to see what the next games in this series will be like!

Horseman's Chess. Game where pieces mount and dismount.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2021-01-06 UTCGood ★★★★

This looks fun

Metamachy. Large game with a variety of regular fairy pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2020-12-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Metamachy is fun. The historical pieces are all interesting to play with, and the fast pawns keep the game from slowing down too much.

Shatranj of Troy. A Shatranj variant with Shogi-like drops, a Trojan Horse (with 6 pieces inside),. (9x9, Cells: 81) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2020-12-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This looks like an amazing game! It combines shogi drops with a beautifully simple setup and set of pieces.

Reading the rules makes me want to play it; and also to design something similar, but it seems impossible to make anything quite as elegant as this.

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