Have you ever tried playing a board game when really tired, or slap-happy, or just generally lazy and not feeling like adhering to the sacred rule booklet? Suddenly Trivial Pursuit is just rapid-fire quizzing without wedges, Scrabble is sticking your hand in the bag to see who gets the crudest collection of letters, and Clue is a makeshift tiny-candlestick-knife fight. Really Bad Chess looks like reaching that point of the night, but you happen to have ten chess boards lying around.
Each match is still recognizably chess—the double rows of 16 pieces each, black and white—with the same general rules. Unlike another chess variation favorite of ours, Chesh, pieces maintain their standard appearance and movement: Pawns will still advance a single space at a time, Rooks can go anywhere in a straight line, Knights in an L-shape, etc. But if you look at the board more closely, something is definitely different: does that player have four Queens? That guy doesn’t have any Pawns. What will a person even do with nine Bishops?
We are, actually, super excited to find out the answer to that. Really Bad Chess’s totally random selection of pieces and positioning seem like they’ll open the game up to all sorts of crazy moves and counters, yet developer Zach Gage claims that the result is still very much chess: “As much as random pieces change the game in some ways, I was really surprised to notice how much the game remains the same, and how powerful some pieces are — you’ve never truly struggled against a pawn until you’ve struggled against a pawn in the back row.”
Gage has proven himself something of an expert at clever game hybrids with SpellTower’s crossword-meets-match-3, Sage Solitaire’s solo-poker, and Bit Pilot’s dual-stick endless runner, so we have high hopes for randomized mega-chess. For any chessperts out there thinking four Queens and similar combinations will make matches ridiculously easy, there will be daily challenges and ranked games to keep you on your toes. And hey, maybe you’ll end up with fifteen Pawns—let’s see how that goes when Really Bad Chess launches on mobile October 13th.