At high levels of skill, chess takes over an hour to play, requires memorization of solved openings and end-games, and ends in a draw about 60% of the time. How do you fix that? That’s the question Zachary Burns of Ludeme Games and veteran game designer David Sirlin asked. They took on the challenge of changing the rules for chess to reduce draws and the need for memorization while keeping the essential chess-ness. Chess 2: The Sequel is what they came up with. Eurogamer reports that the rules they’ve written can be played with a traditional chess board and pieces, but the game is unabashedly modern. There is another victory condition added to the game that lets a player win if they cross the midline of the field with their king. There are six army rosters with special abilities. Finally, they added duels with a double-blind bidding mechanic. If it sounds unbalanced to you, that’s part of the point.
“I just really like asymmetric games,” Sirlin admits. “After being involved with them for so long, it’s hard for me to play a symmetric game. There’s a richness you get to having several sides or characters to choose from. All the different match-ups, and the specialists that become really good at a certain match-up. The different game dynamics you get from those match-ups are interesting too, giving you different feels when you go up against a different side. A generally good property of asymmetric games is that you only have to learn one side or character in order to participate in all the interesting dynamics of different match-ups. In other words, learning how to adjust your game against different armies is much less work than learning how to be good at your own army. So that’s a good bang for your buck in variety that you get from an asymmetric game. It seemed natural to give chess the asymmetry that we see in other popular games such as Street Fighter, Starcraft, or Magic: the Gathering.”
Although the videogame version of Chess 2 doesn’t launch until later this year, you can play with the rules now using your chess set and the free pdf rules.