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Chess with Area Control and Set Collection

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schmanthony
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Joined: 12/18/2008

I'm in the middle stages of developing my game and I'd like some feedback on its core mechanics. The game borrows the following concepts from chess:

1. The board is grid-like (square/hex/irregular all being considered and tested).

2. Each player has a set of pieces, some of which are visually unique and have unique movement rules. Each player has the same set as the other players.

Now, here are some ways that the idea differs from chess:

1. The board is sectioned off into 8-15 contiguous areas.

2. Removal of your opponents' pieces is not the primary goal.

3. Moving to an occupied space is usually prohibited.

4. Removal of pieces is not permanent. Players can place their pieces back on the board again (for a cost).

5. The main point of moving your pieces is to control areas, thereby collecting various rewards. Some of these rewards are points, some add to sets you collect (majorities scored at end), and some grant certain rule-breaking capabilities.

As simple and dry as this description may seem, I have yet to find any existing designs, published or unpublished, that are very similar. So, I ask of the community:

1. Are you aware of any very similar designs?

2. If this idea were fleshed out into a balanced game with an attractive theme, does the concept sound appealing to you?

3. Do any gameplay problems come to mind as you consider the mechanics that I have described?

Thanks.

-Schmanthony

SiddGames
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Joined: 08/02/2008
Sounds interesting to me. I

Sounds interesting to me. I can't think of anything off-hand that does area control + chess-like pieces. Perhaps the defunct miniature game Dreamblade, in which players win each round by who controls the most point-scoring cells on a 5x5 grid; but a dice-driven combat system is a huge portion of that, and the point majority is only used in the one way.

If by "chess-like" you are also describing a style of game that has perfect information and no random elements, then I think there's a market for that. The game Dungeon Twister is a brain-burning 2p game with a fantasy theme, and it has solid reviews and sold well (I'm guessing, judging by how many expansions they put out, etc).

schmanthony
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Joined: 12/18/2008
Not that much like chess...

The similarities my idea has with chess pretty much end with the set of pieces each with unique movement abilities. The game will most likely have some hidden information and some randomness.

Even so, this borrowed chess mechanic seems to set my idea apart from other designs. I'm not sure why this mechanic is so unpopular. Unlike roll-and-move, which has a long tired history in hundreds of games, I'm hard pressed to think of even one game produced in the last few centuries that makes clear use of the chess mechanic.

Is this mechanic generally disliked? Do designers avoid it for fear of their game being seen as "like chess?"

RTaylor
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Joined: 04/08/2009
chess like

I wonder if part of the hesitation is the concern that it might be too complicated to learn/teach? Depending on how many types of pawns there are, a game like this could have a steep learning curve. That said, I don't know that it really has to be a problem, if you make sure that there is some reason/sense to what each piece can do, or at least that it's clearly indicated.

Personally, any game claiming affinity with chess makes me run screaming, but a game like you are describing intrigues me, because of the hidden information and potential randomness. As long as it doesn't look like chess:)

schmanthony
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Joined: 12/18/2008
I'm currently working with 5

I'm currently working with 5 types of pawns... 1 less than chess. You make a good point about the complexity issue. The general public does seem to have difficulty grasping the rules of chess at first. But this would be a hobby game aimed at the hobby market. These consumers have learned rulesets considerably more complex than chess, and for more than a handful of games.

I wonder if a hobby gamer with, say, an affinity for medium/heavy weight euros would have the same difficulty picking up chess as a non-gamer would.

Further, I hope to use theme to reinforce rules. I totally agree with your suggestion that there should be a reason that each piece does what it does. You could criticize chess having too little of this. There is no reason why a "bishop" would move diagonally, for instance. Each of my pieces will be a "character" of some sort, and its movement abilities will suit its personality.

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
schmanthony wrote:Even so,

schmanthony wrote:
Even so, this borrowed chess mechanic seems to set my idea apart from other designs. I'm not sure why this mechanic is so unpopular. Unlike roll-and-move, which has a long tired history in hundreds of games, I'm hard pressed to think of even one game produced in the last few centuries that makes clear use of the chess mechanic.

Is this mechanic generally disliked? Do designers avoid it for fear of their game being seen as "like chess?"


I don't think it's designers who are avoiding it -- check out http://www.chessvariants.com/ for hundreds of them, which include not only differing pieces, but the addition of dice, cards, etc. -- but instead it's publishers who avoid it. Games that seem like chess variants don't seem to sell well at all. Whether that's a self-fulfilling prophecy or not is hard to say, but I suspect due to that concern, there's less interest.

That said, bgg has nearly 100 games with the word "chess" in them. And there are certainly plenty of games that have pieces with specialized movement, with Hive coming to mind first.

I understand that your game isn't a chess variant per se, but I suspect the perception -- which would come up in reviews of the game -- is enough to make it less appealing to pubishers.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
In hero scape, you can set up

In hero scape, you can set up some special tiles alled glyphs that gives you a special ability to your whole army while you stand on it. But the game is not chess like, it's more a tactical game.

truekid games
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to start with, the base idea

to start with, the base idea sounds fine, though "different pieces with different movement attributes" applies to a LOT of different games.

moreover, i think you underestimate the number of people who use chess as a basis for their design.
in fact, i mark it as one of the MOST common games new designers try to "re-invent" or "fix", along with risk/a&a, magic, d&d, and of course monopoly. because of how often people do that, i agree with the above poster that said he would run screaming at the chess-relation. but since what you described sounds different enough, i say full steam ahead.

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