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Gross Chess. A big variant with a small learning curve. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Greg Strong wrote on 2018-09-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This is an excellent game. I avoided it for a long time because I thought the large amount of power on the board would make it too difficult for me to deal with. It turns out I find it very playable, although it does require me to spend more time thinking before making a move for most of the game. Midgame positions can be exceptionally complex.

The opening starts out feeling nice and slow, as though the first 10 or so moves don’t matter too much. While I think it’s true that there is a very large amount of flexibility to how you can play the opening, those moves are still very important. At some point, typically around move 20, the game breaks open and becomes tactical and violent quickly. You want your pieces well-positioned when that happens. There is some contention for the e4/e9 and h4/h9 squares. All three of the light leapers – Champion, Wizard, and Knight – are good to develop early and all three are natural to develop to those squares, so you must choose which to develop there. I find that typically one of these three piece types doesn’t get developed in the opening before the game gets wild. I think it’s important to get the Vaos developed early. By the endgame, they are the weakest piece, but their low material value and ability to make long-range jumps gives them significant power to harass the heavier pieces as the game progresses. Developing the Vaos generally requires developing the Knights.

I like the promotion rules overall but the 14 extra pieces each player starts with in reserve seem unnecessary. There is tremendous carnage before any pawns are in a position to promote so lack of replacements is not an issue. The extra Queens are the only pieces that have any realistic possibility of being used.

Well-played games are typically nail-biters and the dynamic between the two players can reverse several times before it’s over. Having the momentum is very important – you want to be the one forcing the opponent to react, and the longer you can keep it that way, the more advantage you will accumulate.

My estimage of the piece values:

Piece Ave. Dir. Attacked Ave. Safe Checks Ave. Mobility Midgame Value Endgame Value
Queen 7.03 29.03 17.33 12.5 13.5
Marshall 9.78 24.44 15.79 10 11
Archbishop 9.47 16.81 13.76 8.5 9
Rook 3.67 18.33 9.68 6.5 7.5
Champion 9.78 6.11 9.78 6 6
Wizard 8.86 5.50 8.86 6 5.5
Bishop 3.36 10.69 7.65 5 5.5
Cannon          5 2.5
Vao          3.5 1.5
Knight 6.11 6.11 6.11 2.5 2.5
Pawn 1.68 0.00 1.68 1 1.25