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Unicorn Great Chess. Lions have been added to Unicorn Chess! (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Greg Strong wrote on Sun, Jul 24, 2016 12:39 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

This is an excellent game. It is, in my opinion, possibly the best of what I would consider the “standard” genre of decimal chess variants (i.e., orthodox chess expanded to a 10x10 board with extra pieces and nothing too unorthodox added.) I consider it superior even to Grand Chess, which although a great game, suffers from slightly low piece density.

The Lion piece (Betza HFD) is always a good choice for a non-colorbound leaper more powerful than the Knight. A close comparison would be the Champion from Omega Chess. The Lion has a different flavor though. It may feel a little less intuitive, at least at first, but the long (0, 3) leap helps to break through tightly closed positions that can be common in variants of this sort where extra short-range leapers are added. I also use this piece, following Paulowich's choice of piece naming, in Opulent Chess (my own attempt to create a standard decimal chess variant improving upon Grand Chess.)

The Unicorn is also a fun piece, with a value almost identical to the Queen on a 10x10 board. It is slightly stronger than the Queen at the beginning of the game, but the Queen slowly becomes more mobile, (and thus more powerful), as the board clears out. Nightrider pieces are not to everyone's liking, though, being difficult to visualize. The fact that the Queen, Unicorn, and Chancellor are all of very similar value, however, is definitely a plus. I consider that a desirable feature in a game, leading to natural development of different-army situations, increasing the strategy and flavor of the game without starting with different armies (which always raises difficult questions of balance.)

I've always considered David Paulowich one of the most talented creators of chess variants - always carefully analyzing his inventions before releasing them - and this one doesn't disappoint.

As far as piece values go, the table that follows shows some statistics as well as my estimation of the values. The average mobility is a Betza Mobility Calculation assuming a board occupancy of 30%.

PieceAve. Dir. AttackedAve. Safe ChecksAve. MobilityMidgame ValueEndgame Value