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The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Mark Bates. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

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JT K wrote on 2018-03-03 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I've recently had the pleasure of playing a full correspondence game of Sovereign Chess, so I'm now ready to review.  The overall concept is excellent, and I know through conversations that the creator put much thought into all the principles of good game design.

Despite my five star rating I do need to mention a few criticisms, though they are minor - and a person could probably adjust the rules in their own house games anyway:

- I'm not sure if the colored square setup is ideal for creating a lot of different opening sequences, though I could be proven wrong in time.  Although I made a mistake in my game, I do feel that my original idea of occupying red as White was pretty strong and difficult to fight against (for whomever goes 2nd).  The pie rule was implemented to control this, but not sure how well that would pan out in practice.

- The board is 16 x 16, so it can definitely get a bid tedius to use pawns or knights in a genuinely effective way - except for defense.

- The rules about coup d'etat and pawn promotion regime change don't do much for me- and the less rules the better in my opinion.

Having said all that, Sovereign Chess has a lot of well-crafted rules.  The creator made sure that only one piece can control a color at a time, to make things easier to grasp and also prevent stagnant/stalemated positions.  Sliding pieces cannot go too far and gives knights a chance to thrive - or at least control the center.  The varient seems to have a lot of candidate moves at any given stage.  One could abandon their color, could try capturing the controlling piece, or simply attack the controlled pieces as needed.  Defection is a good "regime change" rule, where one decides to abadon his/her controlled pieces in favor of a better army color.  It's a lot of fun to determine the actual VALUE of certain pieces and colors, especially when trading.  An interesting tactic I found was actually abandoning a color to "neutralize it" and create an uncapturable wall around the king as needed.

Overall, I have to say that I'd play it online a lot if available.

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