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Gross Chess. A big variant with a small learning curve. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
🕸💡📝Fergus Duniho wrote on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 12:42 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

Since inventing this game 7 years ago, I haven't been very active in creating new games. While part of this is due to having distractions and other interests, it's also because I have been very satisfied with this game. Instead of being an exploration into new territory, which can be an iffy prospect, this game takes what I like about Chess and increases it to a larger scale. Using the guidelines I set out in an article called On Designing Good Chess Variants, it stands up very well.

Playability (Simplicity + Clarity) & Interest (Depth & Challenge)

Because it uses familiar pieces, it is easy to learn, and because of its size and its number and variety of pieces, it offers great depth and challenge. Despite its size, the pieces move in fairly straightforward ways, which makes it easy enough to understand and evaluate a position. One of the reasons I like Chess much more than Checkers is its variety of pieces. Having different pieces makes exchanges more interesting. With this game's several more types of pieces, it has a greater variety of possible exchanges than Chess has. This increases the odds of uneven exchanges happening, where players exchange different pieces. This allows for a greater variety of unequal armies that might face each other during the course of the game.

Enjoyment (Excitement, Decisiveness, Duration, Satisfaction)

As inequalities develop between sides, the game can become more decisive, yet because of the greater variety of pieces, it may be harder to call the game during the mid-game, which can make the game more exciting. Although the large size of the game could delay attacks, the Cannons and Vaos enable attacking even before pieces have made it across Pawn lines. This allows the mid-game to start even sooner in this game than it might in other variants of this size. This makes the game quicker and more exciting from an earlier stage of the game. The triple Pawn moves and the three-rank promotion zone also help speed up the game, which is important for a game this size. Because the game is like Chess in demanding skill, and its larger size and greater number of uncertain exhanges increases the opportunities for players to make mistakes, a player who wins should feel satisfied at winning, and even a player who loses in the end may feel satisfaction in how he played the game.

Fairness (Balance + Control)

While moving first can give White an advantage, I think this advantage diminishes as a game grows larger, and it is also lessened between opponents who have not yet mastered the intricacies of the game. Also, this game offers no particular weakness for either player to exploit early in the game. All pawns start out protected, and most pieces can move someplace else even from the opening position. Because no piece is stronger than a Queen, there are no end-game surprises from a powerful piece like an Amazon getting loose. The game remains a team effort between different pieces rather than one where a star piece takes over. As with Chess, both sides start out equal, and the outcome is determined by the skill and choices of the players.