More Knightmare Chess Variants

Knightmare Chess players continue to submit ideas for variant games. Here are some of the best we've received over the last year . . .

Card Buying

The players start without cards. All the cards are in a single deck, face-down.

Turn three cards face up.

After each turn, the moving player receives 2 (or 3) points (which accumulate over turns). The player may then purchase a single face-up card by paying its point value. This card goes into your own hand, and one more card is turned up. Or you may pay 1 point to discard any card.

You may not play a card on the turn you buy it, and you may not buy more than one card per turn. You may, if you like, buy a card and pay for a discard on the same turn.

You are limited to a five-card hand, regardless of how many points you are holding.

For balance, white should get no points on his first turn.

-- Geoff Hopcroft,

Give-Away Knightmare Chess

The object is to lose all of your pieces. The King may be captured just like any other piece (and the Checkmate Rule is moot). The "Vendetta"-effect is in force throughout the game (if you have a legal capture, you have to make a capture). The actual "Vendetta" card becomes "Anti-Vendetta," a regular card (instead of a Continuing Effect) with this text:

Make a legal, non-capturing Move, even if you have a capture available.
Play this card on your move, instead of making a regular move.

-- J. Hunter Johnson,


This variant works best if each player has his own set of cards. It removes the last bit of luck from the game, but the results are still unpredictable!

The players have free choice over the cards in the deck they play with and the order in which they appear in the deck, as with the Stacked Deck rule by Rich Shipley. In that game the top five cards in your deck will be your opening hand.

The players bid with the top card(s) in your deck for who gets to be white. The decks are placed on the table face down and each player turns the top card over at the same time. This card is discarded for game purposes but can still be brought back by "Legacy." The player who discarded the highest value card gets to choose which color to be. If both cards are the same value, each turns a second card over, and so on until players bid different card values.

Then each takes the top five cards from their deck and play begins as normal.

A player who really wishes to be white will bid a high card . . . which will be fine unless his opponent also really wants white (because they both have nasty opening moves planned). At that point they will both end up throwing away their opening attack cards.

Similarly, if neither player cares about being white, they may each discard "Doomsayer" and then be forced to throw away the next card in their deck. The point is, if you stack a deck in a way that guarantees a certain card in your opening hand, you may have to discard it in this bidding round. Not a nice thing to happen.

Of course, this could be applied to a non-stacked deck game, but then it merely adds to the luck factor.

-- Richard Forster,


(Note that this can be combined with other variants!)

The 150 points for a deck is now the maximum rather than the set value. The players do not reveal the value of their deck before the game starts. They may, if they choose, reveal the points value during the game, once the decks are set, for psychological purposes!

Each player builds his deck by whatever rules are chosen (stacked or shuffled) and the game begins.

The point value comes into effect only in the event of a stalemate . . . when the player with the cheapest deck claims victory.

The "Truce" card can still be played, but any stalemate reached with that effect in play doesn't count and the game proceeds as normal under the "Truce" rules. (Otherwise you just put "Truce" and "Fog of War" in your deck and hope your opponent doesn't have "Vendetta" and "Peace Talks.")

A stalemate win in this kind of situation counts for a half win if playing a "first to three games is the winner" game series.

-- Richard Forster,

One Hand

Each player chooses a hand of five cards or 40 points, whichever is more. There is no draw deck . . . the starting hand is all you get. You may not choose any cards that cancel other cards, that cancel moves, that expose or interfere with your opponent's hand, or that prevent the free play of his cards.

This gives a game with long stretches of normality and an occasional strategic interference with the rules.

-- Steve Jackson,

Article publication date: January 1, 1999

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