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Richard Hutnik
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One thing that has marked my time around games is an attempt to do things that had been seen as impossible. They usually hadn't really worked, but I press on.

So, now I have been bitten by this impulse again, and am working om some game system that I hope will generate a market for chess variant pieces, and I could use some input here, and also signs of interest. The game system would be able to stand by itself, but I want to have it so that the equipment would be usable by those who do chess variants, and also allow players to bring in outside equipment into the game, to help the game system develop. I have a number of objectives in mind, which I will list below, but I welcome more. Below are some of the objectives (please list some others):
* Creation of a back story and lore, to be able to explain why the equipment exists, and also give players a framework for being involved. I am thinking in terms of the game Magic: The Gathering here. I would have the lore be such that there actually history of game pieces and equipment would be explained.
* Have all equipment and expansions be able to work together in a common environment, but also have it so players can use them independently of the game system. One thing I have seen, when chess variants hit the market, is they don't work with other things. With this, the equipment would be able to allow something like the introduction of the Xiangqi Cannon to FIDE Chess.
* Be able to play current chess variants and other games like FIDE Chess, with the equipment. With the initial set for the system, I see it also having a rule book, which would list games like Shogi and Xiangqi in it, and the equipment would be able to play these games.
* Have a balancing mechanism, and other mechanics, to enable games to work together for new games.
* Allow for introduction of new play mechanics, and even mutators in the game. Have a way to do a shuffle mechanism also with the game, but also be also play in a pure abstract strategy way. I am thinking having a more balanced mechanism than the Shuffle for the board, that would challenge players to have to deal with new conditions, but in a controlled manner, that would be fair.

I have a bunch in mind how to do this, and am currently playtesting some things. I have an idea for an approach to the equipment which would enable units to be able to end also having an advantage of being able to be concealed, and also combined together. The approach also would enable them to be produced inexpensively and allow players to create equipment with them.

Again, I welcome feedback here, and input into what you want to see here. I am trying to gauge interest on this.

Thank you for your time.
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Clark D. Rodeffer
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This does not sound impossible, Richard. With some thought, you (or your team) should be able to come up with a way to create physical pieces that allow for the flexibility you seek. There may, however, be a trade-off between the visual / physical representations and the amount of flexibility. Have you considered, for example, small Shogi-shaped pieces embedded with tiny E Ink displays?
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Richard Hutnik
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CDRodeffer wrote:
This does not sound impossible, Richard. With some thought, you (or your team) should be able to come up with a way to create physical pieces that allow for the flexibility you seek. There may, however, be a trade-off between the visual / physical representations and the amount of flexibility. Have you considered, for example, small Shogi-shaped pieces embedded with tiny E Ink displays?


I have the how to. I am now trying ringside want and interest, posting here and out in the world. I now have lore and also backstory for it to.
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Stephen Tavener
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Your description reminds me of Navia Dratp.
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Richard Hutnik
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mrraow wrote:
Your description reminds me of Navia Dratp.


That is one attempt but the pieces have problems working outside of the game. One simple thing I would like to have is black and white pieces you can have the can work with regular chess pieces.
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I'd be interested in Fairy Chess pieces that would work with a standard chess set, perhaps accompanied by a card that explains new piece and it's movement rules.

There are literally 100s of preexisting Fairy Chess pieces on the Chess Varient webpage.

No back story needed.

Your biggest problem will be calculating the value of the new pieces compared to standard chess pieces.

I toyed with the idea of making these pieces with the cards as a collectable chess expansion a couple of years ago. The biggest problem I had was calculating the value of each piece.
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Richard Hutnik
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Springheeledjack wrote:
I'd be interested in Fairy Chess pieces that would work with a standard chess set, perhaps accompanied by a card that explains new piece and it's movement rules.

There are literally 100s of preexisting Fairy Chess pieces on the Chess Varient webpage.

No back story needed.

Your biggest problem will be calculating the value of the new pieces compared to standard chess pieces.

I toyed with the idea of making these pieces with the cards as a collectable chess expansion a couple of years ago. The biggest problem I had was calculating the value of each piece.


The idea I have would be something like this. I am thinking of doing the pieces, and a card that explains them. I was considering then shuffling the cards together to end up saying which pieces would be used and then the piece mix used for a game. With the cards, I was also considering, adding mutators for them, that can also change how the games are played. There are ways to balance things, without having to try to evaluate everything.

As for the calculating the values, the methods I am looking at don't make that necessarily. All I can say is, as a hint, look at what I have done with Formations Chess.

What I have in mind will allow for even different types of boards also.

Reason why I am running into Lore or backstory for it, is that is one thing I managed to get out of feedback on it, in that players want to have the chrome involved, for the world explained.

I also would like to dip into the Chess Variants website, and see if I can also maybe use the game as a way to fund the site being up.
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Sounds a bit like For the Crown (Second edition).
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Stephen Tavener
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docreason wrote:
I am thinking of doing the pieces, and a card that explains them. I was considering then shuffling the cards together to end up saying which pieces would be used and then the piece mix used for a game.

Also take a look at Cheaoss (my game) and Tempête sur l'Échiquier/Knightmare Chess (third edition).
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Robert Bracey
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Chess players won't play variants and boardgamers won't play chess. To succeed with one of these you have to repackage the game in a format that screams 'I'm not chess'. That's why, despite having very similar tactical interests, and the possibility of multi-player, and being out earlier, Steve Jackson's tile chess never got anything like the interest of Hive.
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John
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Springheeledjack wrote:
I'd be interested in Fairy Chess pieces that would work with a standard chess set, perhaps accompanied by a card that explains new piece and it's movement rules.

There are some available: House of Staunton sell the following (in the US, no idea if anything is available in the anywhere else):

Dragon and Spider
Cannon and Leopard
Fortress and Unicorn
Chancellor & Archbishop

I have no connection to them, don't own these, I just remembered seeing an ad on chess variants.
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John
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RobertBr wrote:

Chess players won't play variants and boardgamers won't play chess.

A generalisation which has some truth I'm sure. I'd guess serious Chess players don't play variants, and many boardgamers won't play chess for a variant of reasons. However I don't think you need to put things in a foramt that says "not Chess" (well presumably avoids any connection to Chess) - All Queens Chess used Chess in the name despite the only connecting to Chess being that it's an abstract strategy game played on a square board with pieces which move like Chess queens - it's like calling Connect Four "All Lances Shogi".

I think some of the problems Chess has for boardgamers (or the population in general) i.e. anyone playing it fairly casually are (obviously all don't apply to everyone):

Some people have bad memories of playing it as a child - perhaps repeatedly losing to their old (or in my case younger) brother.

Game length. I think long game length is more of a problem for casual gamers when playing zero luck abstracts as there is more pressure - you know that it's entirely your fault if you lose and you can't hope for on a good draw to get you back into the game.

Chess is often linked to intelligence so people may take a Chess game more seriously than they would other similar games. People don't like feeling stupid so if losing Chess makes them feel stupid they are unlikely to want to play.

The fact that it's an established game with opening theory etc so someone with some knowledge of that or experience playing Chess has a huge advantage over someone who hasn't. Hive is new enough that many people buying it will be playing against other new players so the games are likely to be closer & thus more enjoyable. This was certainly our experience, (well actually my wife won more often to star with but it wasn't totally one sided). I've only played Chess with my wife a couple of times and the games were very one sided in my favour - I'm not a good Chess played and in most other board games we're fairly even. Part of the reason I'm interested in Chess variants and games like Hive & Shogi is that they are likely to be more even when playing with my wife or children.

The biggest problem with Chess variants is that the are loads of the things and it's difficult to work out which ones to play.
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John
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docreason wrote:
Reason why I am running into Lore or backstory for it, is that is one thing I managed to get out of feedback on it, in that players want to have the chrome involved, for the world explained.


Fair enough - but I think designing it so it appeals to people who don't care about that and prefer the aesthetics of a standard Chess set would be good too... (and not just because I'm in that category) . I'd also consider whether you think it's likely that the people who said that would buy/play a Chess variant that have Lore & backstory or whether that's just one (possibly minor) reason in a list of reasons why they don't play Chess. Of course Navia Dratp seems to have a cult following - and that has Lore & backstory and looks more like a miniatures game than the Chess/Shogi variant that it is.

I'll stop wittering on now
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Nick Bentley
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My recommendation: if your goal is to not lose money, don't do it. You'll almost certainly lose money if you do.

The market for this kind thing is nearly non-existent, and the prospects for cultivating interest in it that isn't already there are bad. Abort.
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milomilo122 wrote:

My recommendation: if your goal is to not lose money, don't do it.

If you start with a big one, you can make a small fortune with it!
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RobertBr wrote:

Chess players won't play variants and boardgamers won't play chess.

I am an exception to both of those rules. And I'm not the only one.

And another obstacle to overcome with board gamers is the social aspect. Chess and most of it's variants (and the vast majority of its good variants)is only a two-player game, and a significant appeal for most boardgamers is the ability to play with 3+ people.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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I am going to do one reply to a number of posts here, rather than reply to each. See points below:

* I did work on playtesting some of the For the Crown expansions, and found it interesting. For what I have in mind, and I actually used some For the Crown stuff as part of what I am working on, I would need the colors to be black and white to start, so they can be used elsewhere. I also want to go more pure abstract strategy here, and drop the luck elements to it, during play. I do have ideas for hidden units, whose values is unknown during play until revealed, but their position is seen. Think of Kriegspiel but with the positions known, so it is playable without a ref. This is OPTIONAL to play. I want to try to reduce the luck element during play, but also have a controlled increase in variety.

* Knightmare Chess, and others, came to mind. My thoughts were, and I was tempted to also pitch this to Steve Jackson, is that what I have in mind would create a place for his Chess variants.

* I am glad to see House of Staunton is doing this. Here is a link to their pieces:
- http://www.houseofstaunton.com/chess-variant-kit-spider-drag...
- And more here:
http://www.houseofstaunton.com/musketeer-chess-leopard-and-c...
- And more here:
http://musketeerchess.net/site/
- I do recall they were discussing it. What I want out of what I have is to provide a framework to bring all this together.
- However, what I am seeing with House of Staunton is the same issues you usually run into other variants put out, the naming convention, etc... ends up undermining combining. I see they have a cannon, but it isn't the Xiangqi cannon.

* As for why Chess variants haven't been viable, I see issues impacting abstract games in general and lack of theming to give context players can get attached to. They fact they also don't work together is another. I would say they also don't generally capture the whole appeal that would go into the likes of Magic, where players are challenged to combine things together, and try new things. An issue with that, is trying to come up with balancing of pieces for the name of fairness, which is like next to impossible. There are others, but also the fact there isn't a track record behind it, to produce stuff. What I usually seeing by efforts that end up being buried is someone tries to hijack chess with what they think is the "next chess" and then go off and try to sell it, and fail. Motivations people have to join in aren't there. I do seek to try to change this by doing some other stuff, and get buy in, and hope I have a community that can shape things. The very nature of what I have in mind, calls people to innovate and use the innovating as a way to get a strategic advantage. I actually have a role for innovators in the lore of the game I have in mind, and a title for them.

* I am aware of the burn rate on the cash, and I want to avoid that. I can knock out a lot of prototype pieces really cheap actually, based on what I have in mind. The idea now is to get core people involved here, and see what goes. The idea isn't really to have THE next Chess, or the next game, or whatever, and try to own it, but to try to tilt things so there is a viable market with pieces that can work together, from anyone who wants to make them, and make it viable it can be sustained.

* For now, I have basic idea for a 2 player game to start, but I can go with teams to have teams collectively shape things for their side, and also be involved. I will have game lore to explain this. I will also have room for more side in play later. Heck, you want a social angle, I can add a traitor mechanism to the game.

Anyhow, I will do one more reply here on this, and see what others have to say. I will look to see if anyone wants to join in to make this so, and join a private group conversation to shape this, where I can exchange ideas and make something happen. The goal here is to get something sustainable that can hit the tabletop and go from there. Heck, you could end up having something where you can see what Chess would be like in the Game of Thrones universe, and then have it so that those pieces could be used in other game universes. And yes, "The Duke" is also doing this.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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Please send me a private message here if you want to input into this and help to get chess variant pieces to the market, and create a viable market for the equipment and a framework for having the stuff played, and build a community for this. I want to share ideas, but really want to have some to act as a sounding board, and go ahead and do things for this.
 
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Interesting discussion.

I do like chess as well as chess variants (including Navia Dratp).
So far my favorite game system for chess vriant eqeuipment is my set of Superschaak pieces. Two of each of the full set of pieces released give a good number of variant pieces to play with.





Notice, not all of the released pieces are listed under "available pieces" (http://www.superchess.nl/indexengels.htm) at the Superschaak homepage.

Sets 5 and 6 are hidden under news in the Duch part of the page: http://www.superchess.nl/indexNL.htm. Especially set 6 contains some interesing pieces (walls, pyramids, etc.) which work as blocking peices on the board.

I am looking forward to see what you will come up with.
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Richard Hutnik
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I am still working out stuff for it. I would be up for taking the conversation more private for now, for those who want to work on this. I was thinking of maybe starting a chess variants guild on here. One more idea I have in mind us modular, where everything in the system can be used by players for their own purposes. I am thinking mire open source with the system, the proprietary, so community can drive the content.
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Rio Malaschitz
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Maybe special stones for Crazyhouse could be successful. This variant is in last years very popular and is not easily played with standard chess set (at least you need two sets).

 
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Richard Hutnik
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Malaschitz wrote:
Maybe special stones for Crazyhouse could be successful. This variant is in last years very popular and is not easily played with standard chess set (at least you need two sets).



Do you mean coming up with variant pieces for Crazyhouse? Is there a sudden interest in Crazyhouse or Bughouse? I always thought the Chess community should take Bughouse more seriously.

I hadn't thought of going Crazyhouse with my game, but that could be a possibility. I actually have a universal mutator idea that is a bit like Crazyhouse, which I call Competitive Simul:



You can also have players play a number of simul games. Using piece capture and drop from the 'house games would be very interesting. I am thinking my game idea might want to have Bughouse type conversion as a mutator.
 
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