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  1. #1

    Knightmare Chess



    I bought this for my wife and me, as a dual-Christmas gift from Rudolf!!!

    The game features approximately 160, beautifully rendered cards
    each painted by Rogério Vilela, which break the rules in wild and unpredictable ways. Knightmare Chess adds a whole new element of unpredictability to the game of standard Chess by giving players cards that they can play before, after, or sometimes instead of their turns. Some cards affect only a single move, while others change the entire game. Each card is assigned a point value, so you can build custom decks based on an agreed point total or handicap the match so that the better player has fewer powerful cards. Multiple variants are included in the rules.

    Knightmare Chess is said to play quickly out of the box, but it also includes variants; and opens itself up to a great deal of customization. There are also two bonus, blank cards for those who want to create their own fiendish, clever rules.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what brand of wackiness this brings to our chess games!
    If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

  2. #2

    Handicapping in Knightmare Chess

    by Steve Jackson


    One advantage of Knightmare Chess is that there are several ways to handicap it, giving the weaker player an advantage to balance out the game. As explained in the basic rules, the stronger player can take a smaller deck, giving up 25, 50 or even more points. But what if it's a common-deck game? This article will discuss several handicapping systems that can work in any Knightmare Chess game, even if the players are drawing from the same deck.


    "I'll Spot You A Knight"


    To start with, don't forget the classic handicap system from standard chess . . . the stronger player can start the game "down" by a Knight, Bishop, or Rook. The structure of Knightmare Chess actually makes it easier for a player to recover from this situation, since standard openings don't apply!




    Reduced Hand


    In any game, common-deck or individual deck, the stronger player can work from a hand of four (or even three) cards. You can also let the weaker player have a six-card hand. This is fine for adults, but younger players may find six cards too many to deal with at once.




    Panic Tokens




    Give the weaker player one or more Panic Tokens - you can just use coins. These work like the Panic card in the game . . . when you give your opponent a Panic Token, he has 15 seconds to make his move. If he doesn't move within that time, he loses his move!

    The basic Panic Token must be played on your move, instead of a card - you cannot use a card and play a Panic Token. You could also allow a Super Panic Token, playable along with a card!

    Each Panic Token can only be used once. A Panic Token cannot be counteracted by any card.


    This variant was suggested by Laz Zanger.







    Vulture Tokens

    These use the same basic idea as Panic Tokens, but they work like the Vulture card. Play a Vulture Token when your opponent discards a card, and take that card!
    You cannot play a Vulture Token and a card on the same turn. But most of your opponent's discards will be made on his own turn, and you are less likely to want to play another card then.
    Each Vulture Token can only be used once. A Vulture Token cannot be counteracted by any card.





    And Yet More Tokens


    Any generally useful card can be "tokened" to give both variety and game balance in one package. In particular, Knightmare! or Fog of War tokens could be very powerful. Challenge, Mystic Shield, Hostage, Peace Talks, Rebirth, and Resurrection are generally useful. And Man of Straw, Hidden Passage, or Under Elf Hill tokens would let a weaker player escape the jaws of defeat again and again.





    Reserved Cards




    The weaker player picks from one to six cards before the game starts, depending on how big a handicap you want to allow. He can use these cards, and his opponent can't. The exact mechanism depends on the kind of deck you're using.



    Common Deck


    If it's a common-deck game, he takes his reserved cards from the common deck, and sets them aside in a separate stack. At any time he chooses, he may draw from his reserved stack instead of from the common deck.


    Standard Deck-Building


    If both players are building their decks from the same 80-card set, the weaker player pulls his chosen cards out, and then the players split the remaining cards and build their decks. Note that the weaker player does not have to use his chosen cards in his own deck - he may just choose to deny them to his opponent!


    Personal Sets


    If each player has his own set, the weaker player simply names up to six cards that his opponent may not use in his own deck. Note that Chaos, Knightmare and Think Again! are all separate cards . . .





    Theft


    The weaker player may draw from the opponent's hand, rather than from the deck, when he discards or uses a card. The opponent then replaces his card by drawing from the deck in the normal way.

    This makes it much harder for the stronger player to use card-based strategies, since he can't depend on keeping a card to use it later!

    If both players have this ability, you have a wild-and-wooly variant in which advance planning becomes very difficult.
    Beware: If your cards don't all belong to the same set, this is a really good way to get them mixed up.
    If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

  3. #3

    Variants

    by Steve Jackson and J. Hunter Johnson


    As if the game wasn't wild enough right out of the box . . . here are some different ways to play!


    Stacked Deck


    Players build their own decks . . . but instead of shuffling, they place their cards in the exact sequence they wish to draw them. When used with the Personal Sets variant, luck is completely removed from the game. Stacked Deck adds another level of strategy to Knightmare Chess and leads to some deadly games!
    This variant was suggested by Rich Shipley of Round Table Games




    No Discards


    You cannot get rid of a card except by using it. Exception: You may still discard a card if it requires a piece that you do not have! For instance, you could discard Split Knight if you have no Knights. When a discard is allowed, discard rules work normally. This variant moves more slowly than regular Knightmare Chess, because more turns will pass without the play of a card.





    Customized Back Row


    In one variation on standard chess, the Pawns are placed on the board normally. Then the players alternate placing one piece at a time on their first ranks until all pieces are placed. With Knightmare Chess, this would be done after examining the initial hands.





    The Teaching Game


    New players may have a lot to grasp in that initial hand. There's no need to spring it on them all at once. Instead, no cards are dealt at the beginning of the game. Each player draws one card at the end of each of his moves, until five have been drawn. Played cards are replaced immediately, as usual. Once each player has a five-card hand, the game proceeds normally.

    A different mechanism would be to have each player start without cards, and draw one card each time he loses a piece, until he's reached a five-card hand.





    What Was Yours Is Mine


    This variation will probably require additional pieces. Instead of making a normal chess move, each player has the option of instead taking an opponent's captured piece as his own. The captured piece is then considered dead, and the moving player may place a corresponding piece of his own color on the board, in a square it could have started in. (This is reminiscent of shogi.)





    Arsenal


    Another non-random variation, with the added bonus that no information is hidden: Each player has access to a full deck of 80 cards, and starts the game with all of the cards "in his hand"! Since you probably won't want to literally hold all of the cards, just set them to the side as your arsenal (preferably sorted, so the card you need will be easy to find). This variation is best reserved for players who are very familiar with the cards and their effects.
    If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

  4. #4

    Multi-Player Variants

    by Steffan O'Sullivan


    Knightmare Chess is such a fun game it's a shame to limit it to just two players. Fortunately, there are many multi-player chess variants - Knightmare Chess can be played with most of them with the same delight.


    I've played many variants, but Knightmare Chess inspired me to write my own. My four-player variants owe their basic format to Richard Hutnik's Corner Chess, but have significant differences, and so are different games. My three-player variant was inspired after playing some of the others on expanded boards - I wanted a game in which there was more interaction more quickly.

    You'll need to get more pieces to play these variants. Fortunately, inexpensive chess sets are readily available at most large chain stores which carry games at all. Pressman makes a very inexpensive set with brown and tan pieces, while there are many sets with white and black, or white and red pieces. Or you can get some fancy sets and play, for example, the Simpsons against a Samurai army. All of these variants use a standard chess board.
    General Rules

    There are some general rules when using Knightmare Chess with three or four players.



    • Deck-Building: it is probably best to play with the Common-Deck rules if you only have one deck. When the draw pile is empty, finish the game with the cards in your hands - unless the players agree before the game begins that they will reshuffle when the draw pile is empty. If each player (or team) has his own deck, you may build 150-point hands from those.
    • Victory: the last player with an uncheckmated king wins. It doesn't matter who checkmated the earlier victims - only the last one to survive is the victor.
    • Checkmate: if you find yourself checkmated on your turn, remove your king but leave the rest of your pieces on the board. Your opponent does not have to actually capture your king - simply checkmating it is enough to cause it to be removed from the board. The remaining pieces of a checkmated king are left standing. They may be captured by moving into their spaces, but you may not move through them. They may not move and do not exert a check - an opponent's King may move right by them with impunity.
      • Even if you are in a position to capture an opponent's king at the beginning of your turn (through another opponent having moved a piece out of the way, most likely), you may NOT capture the king. You may try to strengthen the check, or attack another piece of the same player while leaving your checking piece where it is, etc. If you leave the king in check, say "Check" at the end of your turn. If he is then checkmated, his action is to remove his king.

    • Timing: "Play this card immediately after your opponent's move" - these cards may be played after any opponent has made his move. You may play one after each opponent has moved, in fact.
    • "Your Opponent" - in general, such cards only refer to one opponent or another - White may play Challenge, for example, and require either Black or Red to move a specific piece, but not both. A card such as Vendetta affects all players, however, as does Abduction. (That is, all other players must look away for ten seconds when Abduction is played, and a piece may be abducted from any ONE of your opponents!) This also means, however, that something like Doppelganger can refer to any opponent, not just the most recent one to move.
    • Any card, such as Revenge, which specifies doing something to your opponent when he does something to you can only refer to the opponent whose action triggers the use of the card.
    • Any card, such as Anathema or Holy Quest, which requires you to swap the position of two of your opponent's pieces, must be two pieces of the same opponent. (In the four-player Team-Play variant, however, you may affect a piece from one opponent and a piece from his team member. For example, Black could switch the position of Red's bishop with White's knight by playing Holy Quest.)
    • Neutrality: a piece can only be moved by one opponent between two of the owning player's turns. That is, if Black's rook is Neutral, either White or Red (or Brown) could move it during their turns, but not more than one of them.
    • Fireball: the reduced number of pieces per player, but increased crowdedness of the board make it too deadly - it is recommended that you remove Fireball from the deck before play. Awwww . . . All right, you could instead reduce its effectiveness: allow each affected opponent to remove any two pieces it is adjacent to when it explodes. Note that these do not have to be their own pieces.







    The Three Player Chess Variant


    Pieces:

    White has twelve pieces: six Pawns, two Bishops, one each of Knight, Rook, Queen, and King.
    Red and Black each have ten pieces: four Pawns, two Bishops, one each of Knight, Rook, Queen, and King.
    Board:

    -- Equator
    Midline: line dividing the board between Black and Red starting positions.
    Impassible Barrier: no piece may cross this barrier or check across it. Diagonal movement is allowed through the corner. That is, a Bishop could move from d2 to e1, for example, and Knights are not affected by the barrier at all.



    Rules for the Three-Player Variant:


    Normal chess rules apply except where noted. White plays first, followed by Red then Black. Play proceeds clockwise around the table.
    Only White may Castle - move the King one space, and place the Rook on the King's starting space. Neither may have moved beforehand, and the King must not be in check at the time of castling. (In Knightmare Chess, Black or Red may castle by playing the Sanctuary card.)
    Black and Red Pawns move towards White's position, not toward each other.

    Any pawn that begins the game in the second rank may move two spaces on its initial move. En passant rules apply. Any pawn that begins the game in the third rank may only move one space at a time (unless a Knightmare Chess card is played that allows otherwise).


    Note that in order for the Black a3 pawn and Red h3 pawn to promote, they must somehow be moved over at least one lane.


    The Black d2 pawn may not capture the Red e2 pawn until one or both are across the Equator. Likewise, the Red e2 pawn may not capture the Black d2 pawn until one or both are across the Equator. However, such a pawn may capture any other piece across the midline in a normal pawn capture, and then is free to move and capture without restriction. No other Black or Red piece has any restriction regarding the midline or equator. White's pieces have no midline or equator restrictions at all.

    Knightmare Chess specific rules:

    The corners of the board, for cards such as Squaring the Circle and Figure Dance, are a1, b8, g8, and h1.
    Toll and Betrayal: White's territory is everything on his side of the equator. Black and Red have territory defined by the equator and the midline.






    The Four-Player Chess Variant: Free-for-All


    Pieces:

    Each of the four sides (White, Black, Red, Brown) has nine pieces: one King, one Queen, one Rook, one Knight, and five pawns.
    Board:

    X You may not move or capture diagonally through this vertex. For example, you may not move from d4 to e5 directly. It has no effect on knights or on any orthogonal movement. Use a penny or similar object to show the impassible vertext.



    Rules for the Four-Player Free-for-All Variant:


    Normal chess rules apply except where noted. White plays first, followed by Black, Red and Brown. Play proceeds clockwise around the table.
    Castling is only allowed by play of the Sanctuary card.

    Pawns may move one space orthogonally in one of two directions: away from the owning player's corner. That is, a pawn on a3 may move to a4, or it may move to b3 should that space become empty. Capturing is still only diagonally, but a pawn on b3 may capture at a4, c4, or c2. A pawn may move vertically one turn, and horizontally on the next. Note that the pawns are thus very powerful and flexible, being able to change file as well as rank.


    No pawn may move more than one space in a given turn except as allowed by a Knightmare Chess card. There is no en passant. When a pawn does move more than one space with use of a card, it must move in a straight line.


    Promotion takes place in the furthest rank or the furthest file. That is, Brown's pawns may promote in either rank 8 or file h. You may promote to any piece, even a bishop.

    Knightmare Chess specific rules:

    Toll and Betrayal: each player's territory is one quarter of the board.

    Cards that require a bishop to be usable, such as Holy War or Crusade, may be handled in one of three ways:



    • Such cards are simply dead-weight, and must be discarded to get them out of your hand. This is the default condition, if no other method is chosen beforehand.
    • Such cards may be removed from the deck beforehand - or simply discarded as drawn, and an immediate replacement card drawn. Note that this would only apply to cards that REQUIRE a bishop to be usable.
    • Since pawns in this game are more powerful, allow them to be used on pawns instead of bishops! Note that since there are more pawns in this version than bishops in two-player chess, this makes those cards worth more points if using the point-cost system.





    The Four-Player Chess Variant: Team Play


    Pieces:

    Each of the four sides (White, Black, Red, Brown) has nine pieces: one King, one Queen, one Rook, one Knight, one Bishop, and four pawns.
    Board:

    Note that there is no obstruction to the center vertex in the team version.

    Rules for the Four-Player Team-Play Variant:

    Normal chess rules apply except where noted. White plays first, followed by Black, Red and Brown. Play proceeds clockwise around the table.

    The two teams are White-Red versus Black-Brown. You must checkmate both opposing Kings to win. You may not normally capture your team member's pieces - however, a card such as Assassin or Distintegration allows you to capture your team member's piece. If your team member has been checkmated, you may also capture his remaining pieces.


    Castling is only allowed by play of the Sanctuary card.


    Pawns may move one space orthogonally in one of two directions: away from the owning player's corner. That is, a pawn on a3 may move to a4, or it may move to b3 should that space become empty. Capturing is still only diagonally, but a pawn on b3 may capture at a4, c4, or c2. A pawn may move vertically one turn, and horizontally on the next. Note that the pawns are thus very powerful and flexible, being able to change file as well as rank.


    No pawn may move more than one space in a given turn except as allowed by a Knightmare Chess card. There is no en passant. When a pawn does move more than one space with use of a card, it must move in a straight line.


    Promotion takes place in the furthest rank or the furthest file. That is, Brown's pawns may promote in either rank 8 or file h.



    Knightmare Chess specific rules:


    Toll and Betrayal: each player's territory is one quarter of the board.
    If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

  5. #5
    Super Moderator josta59's Avatar
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    Sounds complicated but very interesting.

  6. #6
    I used to very much enjoy Knightmare Chess. I got rid of my copy a couple years ago because I couldn't find opponents.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan View Post
    I used to very much enjoy Knightmare Chess. I got rid of my copy a couple years ago because I couldn't find opponents.
    I hear you on that! I’ve not played it yet, but am hopeful I can get my wife into it over my Christmas’s vacation!
    If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

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