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Subject: Circular chess rss

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Noble Celts in a different way of approaching chess. Instead of the normal 8X8 board, you play on a circular board. This type of chess is sometimes referred to as siege chess, as the white player is attempting to siege the black player's stronghold. While a novel concept, is the game good enough to deserve a place in your collection?


Rules

This game uses that same rules as chess, but the board is layed out differently. All the normal chess rules apply with the additional rule that pieces may not move through the middle. Other than that, everything you know about chess is applied to Noble Celts.


Components

Hands down, the best thing about Noble Celts is the pieces and the board. The board is a gorgeous faux-suede with wonderful Celtic artwork.



The texture of the board is great and adds a nice tactile sensation to playing the game. The space are connected by ropes so there is no question about which space is diagonal or orthoganal to any other space.

The pieces are made of a heavy duty plastic. They have a surprisingly heavy weight for their size which makes them feel more like a stone piece than plastic. The detail is very nice but unfortunately, the rooks, bishops, and King and Queen look very similar.





The box is large and flat and comes with a great insert to keep your pieces organized. This insert is almost too tight and it becomes difficult to get pieces in and out.



There is also a beautifully laid out rule sheet which gives new players some basics on chess. The other side is adorned with a history of the Noble Celts style of chess. This is done on a nicely detailed heavy stock paper and is also adorned with the same Celtic artwork.


Gameplay

If you know how to play chess, you already know how to play Noble Celts. While this should make approaching the game easier, it doesn't really help.

The abstract nature of this board makes this standard game something completely different. The normal visualizations of a chess board are completely skewed by the circular layout. Envisioning your next moves becomes very difficult because the spaces almost seem disconnected. If not for the ropes showing the connection, it would be practically impossible. Moves in rows and colums are fairly easy, but the diagonals are quite difficult to see. I personaly feel like most of the action in chess takes place on the diagonals, this is a real problem for me. "Seeing" the board is much harder than in standard chess which makes it much harder to plan ahead.

The game plays fairly different because of the way the pieces are laid out. There are moves and setups that are just not possible on a normal chessboard which happen quite frequently in Noble Celts. The first few plays will certainly not feel like any chess game you have ever played.


Compare it to...

Chess, obviously. This game is chess with a different board.


Overall

I need to really rate this game in two seperate categories. The first category is components and for that, I would rate Noble Celts an 8/10. If I had a decent chess board, I would love to use these pieces to play despite the fact that some of them look similar. The board itself is so pretty that it would actually make a really nice wall hanging. Its pretty and doesn't really look like a chessboard but more like a work of art. I wouldn't hesitate to put this one up for display.

As for gameplay, I rate this a 3/10. I appreciate the different approach, but unless you play this game constantly, its just too hard to visualize the board. While being similar, the gameplay is quite different and its tough to wrap my mind around the fact that these are chess pieces on a different board. If chess is an abstract game, Noble Celts is an uber-abstract, taking a standard game and warping it into something completely different.

For me, I'll take normal chess over Noble Celts any day. If you are a casual chess player, Noble Celts will probably prove much too difficult. Its the combination of familiar rules on a completely different board that makes this game a tough one to play on occassion. Hardcore chess fans might really enjoy this one as they will find something unique and different from the game they've played so many times before. This will appeal to some, but will certainly appaul chess purists. I think Noble Celts will have a hard time finding a home in many gamer's collections, but I also believe there's a really rewarding experience to be had. It just takes a long time to find it. I personally can't justify that time when I can pull out a normal chess board and be playing in about 5 minutes.


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Gavin Schmitt
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I totally agree! the ropes barely help tie the diagonals together (it can be very hard to even see which rope you are following) and don't work at all when dealing with Knights.

I feel like anything this game does, can be done better with minor modifications to a standard chess board.

thanks for the review
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raymond northcut
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Nope. I totally disagree. I am perhaps more than a casual chess player but I am not at all a serious a player and moreover I haven't played in many years. I found the play very easy once you get used to it. In fact my 11 year old daughter, who only understands the movements of the pieces in chess was playing her brothers in Noble Celts and doing very well after only a couple of short trial games.

It looked inscrutible to me at first but after I got into the action I realized it's really no different than chess at all. In fact I think there are a couple of rules you can put in place (such as limiting the the distance of horizontal moves of pieces around the circle (rook, queen, etc) that renders it mathematically exactly equivalent to chess. I see no difference and I'll wager the set of possible games are the same for both (assuming the limitation I mentioned). It's just a reshaping of the board, while retaining the same pieces and rules for their movements. Nothing more. Something to get used to, but not fundementally different, or even different at all.

The twist in perception adds to the fun.
 
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David Bornus
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I played this with my father-in-law and had an easy win because of the spatial distortion of the board layout. In this version, the bishop and queen become extremely powerful because their diagonal move ability on this board can essentially become a never-ending spiral around the board until they encounter a target. I thought that this feature really added a fun new element to chess and can cause devastation if one is not constantly aware of the opponent's queen and bishops (conversely, losing those pieces is even more crippling than in the regular game).
 
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