BY MICHAEL PACHECO
I’m a big fan of remixing, mashing-up, and hacking tabletop games. Sometimes I combine components from multiple games. Sometimes I make action figures an integral part of my 1,000 Blank Cards deck. Somethings I rip the Skills section out of my Star Wars beta and redact everything I don’t like just to see if it’s still playable. It’s not an exact science and there’s no telling what sort of mechanical conflicts will happen. This is my version of “fun”. I call it Frankengaming.
While writing this, I was surprised to find that I had so many chess related games. In all, I found a normal chess set, both sets of Knightmare Chess cards, Proteus, Shuuro and its expansion Turanga, a PDF of Chess 2: The Sequel, and Solitare Chess. This is like having a core game with the expansions all made by different companies. On their own, they don’t play nice with each other, so you have to make them play nice.
Note that these mash-ups got minimal playtesting. And by minimal, I mean one or two games each.
PROTEUS + TURANGA = BRIDGE BATTLE
Here’s a quick remix using the tiles that come with Turanga and the Proteus dice.
- Lay the 4 Turanga tiles in a row.
- Each player places their Proteus dice on their side in a “U” shape, all showing Pawn. These are considered starting spaces for purposes of a Pawn’s double move.
- Play Proteus as normal.
This one plays pretty straight, save for the weird board. Different strategies are needed but the fluid nature of the pieces makes it fairly easy to adapt to.
SOLITAIRE CHESS + TRADITIONAL CHESS = THE BRAWL
- Set up a normal chess game on a normal board.
- Randomly select two Solitaire Chess mats and place them side by side next to the board. This mini-board will determine how to set up the middle of the board.
- White player must move one of their pieces to a square of their choosing on the mini-board that shows the outline of that piece. Black must then move one of their pieces in the same way. Placement continues until all the spaces with outlines are taken. If the player CAN place a piece, they MUST DO SO.
- Kings may not start in check. If a king is already placed in a forward space, the opponent may not place a piece that puts the king in check. This is the only exception to placing pieces until the forward spaces are filled.
- Once both players have completed their forward setup, place those pieces on the chess board in the comparable spaces. The mini-board is no longer needed.
- Pawns in forward positions may not double move on their first turn.
- Play Chess as normal.
- You may not check or checkmate a king on your first turn.
This game implies that a skirmish has already taken place and the normally placed pieces are reinforcements. Because of the close-quarters starting positions, things will get interesting fast. Also, remember to capture en passant. Starting so close to each other makes this a common occurrence.
SHUURO + KNIGHTMARE CHESS = (JUST) KNIGHTMARE
This might be my new go-to game. I’ve been playing Knightmare Chess since it was released and mashing it up with Shuuro just seemed right.
- Construct decks as per Knightmare Chess as part of the Form Armies phase.
- Prepare the battlefield, deploy, and fight as per Shuuro.
- All other rules of Shuuro and Knightmare Chess are followed normally (I think).
I still can’t imagine all the insanity combining these two games might cause. There is more then one card that allow pieces to jump, making the plinths less of a refuge than before. The Bombard card is the most obvious example, but there are other cards that let you place pieces on any square, jump obstacles, or phase through things. Another card that can give a nasty surprise is Onslaught. If you’ve taken the a lot of pawns and then play Onslaught, you’ll be able to move ALL those pawns at once. Finally, if you have some of the blank cards, Shuuro-specific effects can really disrupt the game. There are too many potential snarls to address here, so be a sport and let your opponent redraw or take back their turn if things didn’t work out the way it was intended, but only during the first game.
AND SO ON…
I could do this all day, but some combinations are either unworkable or silly. For example, Knightmare Chess and Chess 2 both offer new pieces. Is a Wild Horse turned into a Paladin just like a knight? And if so, how does that unbalance that army? The armies in Chess 2 are package deals, so transforming them further could kneecap the whole team, or give it an unforeseen advantage. Also, Proteus’ and Shuuro’s point values are different, so while you could use Shuuro’s larger board, you’d be better off “buying” starting pieces per the Wall Street variant. But hey, they’re your games. Try it all and see what works.