Chess variants worth buying commercial boards for
Calvin Daniels
Canada
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There are about one million and three chess variants out there these days, but which ones are truly worth buying a commercially produced set to play?

For this list seeking true chess variants, not related games such as Camelot (which I love), Citadel, Terran, la trel etc.

Here is my thinking so far, but always searching for others.
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1. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:416] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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OK a GREAT! game, that I would guess more people are familiar with in terms of a game than any other on BGG. Surprising how many people can event name a champion player (like a Bobby Fisher) which is rare with any game.

Most of us likely have a set, or 2, even if we say we don't like the game.

Oh I love it
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2. Board Game: Gothic Chess [Average Rating:6.59 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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The addition of Archbishop (knight/bishop) and Chancellor (knight/rook) adds power to line up and 10X8 board is different too. With a Gothic Chess Federation pushing it, this one is on my Yule list this year.
 
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3. Board Game: Omega Chess [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:7651]
Calvin Daniels
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Created by a Canadian is a plus.

10 X 10 board means you have to look for a different board from standard chess anyway.

New Champion and Wizard pieces look interesting.

A Federation to promote holds hope for game's future.

Another on Yule list 2007.
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4. Board Game: Shogi [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:1082]
Calvin Daniels
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One of the big three of the Chess world.

Pretty much a must to buy.
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5. Board Game: Xiangqi [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1003]
Calvin Daniels
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With Shogi and FIDE Chess this one completes the big three.

Another one that due to unique checker pieces means a commercial set is worthwhile.
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6. Board Game: Hexagonal Chess [Average Rating:6.91 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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The unique board shape makes this one appealing, and worth buying in my mind
 
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7. Board Game: Makruk [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:8629]
Calvin Daniels
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What sweet pieces. Can't pass on a chess game like this.
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8. Board Game: Kartenschach [Average Rating:6.41 Unranked]
Jeffrey D Myers
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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A number of these games are quite nice....
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9. Board Game: Proteus [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:4423]
Calvin Daniels
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Just too fun not to buy one day
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10. Board Game: Navia Dratp [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:1975]
Adam Skinner
United States
Seven Hills
Ohio
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Navia Dratp. I got the game as mini painting fodder, and grew to love the gameplay. It's been called "Chess with Special Powers", and it's quite like that (though more akin to Shogi).

A 7x7 board, and a team constructed of 7 battle pieces from a pool of 44. Each piece needs to be summoned on to the board as your action for your turn to be able to use it thereafter. Each piece has a "dratp cost" that you can pay to activate it's special ability, like giving it movement like a queen, immediately moving to any open space and changing the way you move, or killing an entire file of battle pieces, regardless of who owns them! The entire piece list reference can be found at http://naviadratp.net/battle-piece/list.

There are 3 ways to win the game: kill your opponents Navia (his king), get your own Navia to the other side of the board, or get enough crystals (used to activate the special powers on the battle pieces) to activate your own Navia.

It's varied, the pieces are awesome, and the gameplay rocks. It's not as rote as Chess, either.

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11. Board Game: Noble Celts [Average Rating:5.52 Unranked]
I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Noble Celts is basically chess, but its played on a round board. I don't think its different enough from your standard game, but the pieces and board are terrific.
 
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12. Board Game: Shatar [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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The Mongolian version of chess might be neat to see in a commercial set
 
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13. Board Game: Neo-Chess [Average Rating:6.41 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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One I'd like to find
 
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14. Board Game: Dragon Chess [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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Sweet pieces, huge board, awesome box, Nice idea
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15. Board Game: Hexes Chess [Average Rating:7.47 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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this might be worthwhile depending how different it plays from Hexagonal chess
 
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16. Board Game: Z-Chess [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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The unique board makes it worth a look
 
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17. Board Game: Shahmot [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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supposedly a bad 4-player variant, but board should offer something different as a two player game
 
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18. Board Game: PlunderChess [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Calvin Daniels
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this is sort of a cousin to the drop concept of shogi, looks good
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19. Board Game: Shuuro [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:5328]
alberto giusti
Italy
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Shuuro is a game for two players, which merges the precision and rigour of chess with the creativity and variety of war-gaming.

It does so by attaching a points value to each traditional chess piece and allowing the players to spend a predetermined amount of these points (say, a total of 800 points) to select the chess ‘army’ that they think makes the best use of the points. This creates a feeling of ‘ownership’ towards the particular combination the player thinks is the most effective.

The ‘battle’ will then take place on a large chess board of twelve by twelve squares. This board, however, also introduces a new and unique element to the game. Each of the four six-by-six quadrants of the board contains two plinths that block the movement of the pieces. These plinths are placed randomly at the beginning of every game with the help of a dice, ensuring that every game will be different and present unique challenges. The plinths also help in balancing the game, restricting the movement of Queens, Bishops and Rooks, while at the same time allowing Knights to land onto them and using them as defensive positions (as only an enemy Knight can take them while they’re there).

It is worth noting that game box also includes a normal chessboard and full rules for traditional chess, making it good to learn chess and allowing players to engage in this great classic as well as the innovative Shuuro.
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