For the Crown
For the Crown is a game combining Chess with the "deck-building" mechanics made popular by Dominion(TM). Players use decks of cards to acquire new pieces, make special moves, and to purchase new cards.
For the Crown is published by Victory Point Games. The complete rules, and other supporting documents, are available from the publisher's product page. The highlights of the rules will be summarized below.
Players create a shared Supply of cards to purchase during the game, which includes four piles of Core Cards used in every game plus ten piles of Variable Cards that vary from game to game.
Each player creates a starting deck containing 6 Peon cards and 4 Guard cards, shuffles them, and draws five of them to form his initial hand.
Each player starts with a King in the FIDE starting position (e File, first Rank), but no other pieces.
Players acquire pieces (units) during the game by sacrificing cards from their deck to Train them. Newly-Trained pieces are placed in an off-board area called a Barracks, and can then be Deployed to the player's edge of the board in place of a future move.
The players' initial cards only Train Pawns, but cards exist to Train all six orthodox chess pieces (including extra Kings) and nine fairy pieces. Expansions are in development that introduce even more pieces. However, not every piece is available every game, because only a subset of the cards are placed in the Supply during setup.
Each turn consists of four phases. In the Order Phase, the player can move a piece or Deploy a piece Trained on an earlier turn. In the Action Phase, the player can use a card to Train a new piece. In the Buy Phase, the player purchases a new card from the Supply, which goes into his discard pile. In the Housekeeping Phase, the player draws a new hand of cards to use the following turn. Some cards can be played before or in place of certain steps performed during a turn.
Players reshuffle their discard piles when necessary to draw cards, so they will eventually get to draw and play cards purchased on earlier turns.
Victory is by capturing (not checkmating) the opponent's King. If your opponent Trains and Deploys additional Kings, you must capture all of them to win. Expansions will include other Sovereign-class pieces that count as Kings for victory conditions, but move in different ways.
A Foot-class piece (such as a Pawn) can promote upon reaching the eighth Rank, but only if it arrives by its normal movement (and not a special move using a card). Promotion is to any piece available in the current game (sometimes including Kings).
Each game is different, as players must adapt their strategy to the cards in the Supply and the shuffle of their decks. Some tactics may be highly effective in one game, but weak or even impossible in another game with different cards available.
Stronger pieces are Trained by sacrificing stronger cards, so players frequently need to make trade-offs between strengthening their army and strengthening their deck. Focusing on economy lets you buy the most powerful cards earlier and more often, but that won't necessarily save you if your opponent gains too much board control in the meantime.
The ability to acquire new pieces as the game progresses makes speed very important. Chess is often won by seizing a small advantage and carefully guarding it throughout the game, but in For the Crown a small advantage can easily be lost in the noise as players bring out stronger and stronger pieces. If you don't exploit your advantages quickly, you may find yourself wondering where they went.
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By Jeremy Lennert.
Web page created: 2011-10-23. Web page last updated: 2011-10-23