Sunday, June 14, 2009

Knightmare Chess

To be honest with you, I have never been much of a Chess player. As much as I like playing board games, the subtleties of Chess have always eluded me. It is a popular game, though, so I used to feel like I needed to learn it better, making myself suffer through many humiliating defeats before I was able to find peace with my weakness and peacefully go my own way.

During the time that I was trying to "get" Chess, I picked up a deck of cards called Knightmare Chess, published by Steve Jackson Games a dozen years ago. The basic gist of this add-on is that you have a deck of cards, each of which breaks the rules of Chess in one way or another. The changes are highly varied, from letting you swap pieces on the board, or move a piece differently than they normally move, or my favorite, the Fireball, which blows up one of your pawns and every piece in an adjacent space. That card is awesome. The basic result of playing Knightmare Chess is that while you know how pieces can normally move, you never know what cards your opponent has in his hands, and how that will break the game. Thus, you can end up being more cautious than normal, while trying to put your own pieces in position to do something crazy.

The way that Knightmare Chess is supposed to work is that each player has their own set of cards, and then you create your own play deck. Each card has a points value, from 1 to 10, and you have 150 points with which to build your own deck. Some cards are unique, and you can only have one of them in your deck, while you can have multiple copies of non-unique cards. I have never actually played the game that way, though. I have always used the optional rule where you just use the entire card deck that comes in the box, and both players draw from the same deck. The normal rules add a deck-building aspect to the game that apes collectible card games, but the optional way that I play has easier set-up, and you only need one deck between both players.

I find Knightmare Chess to be a fun diversion, but it is not my favorite game, so I hardly ever break it out. In fact, I think the last time I had played it prior to getting it out just to write this blog post was in 2002, which was the last time I had used my Chess set. If you like Chess, though, and want to add some chaos to your games, then Knightmare Chess is a good way to do that.

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