A chess variant. Knightmare Chess is a set of cards sold by Steve Jackson Games; there is also a Knightmare Chess 2 set that contains completely different cards. Knightmare Chess is not a collectible card game (CCG); each set contains one of each card. Knightmare Chess is an Americanized version of the French game Tempête sur l'Echiquier, published by Ludodelire, though the cards and artwork are different.

Game Setup: You must have a chess set (board and pieces) to play; one is not included with the cards. The game may be played using a common deck, where both players draw from the same deck (useful if there's only one set), or with personal decks. For personal decks, each card has a point value, and decks are made for a specific total. In addition, some cards are marked as unique, and are only allowed to be in a deck once.

Playing The Game: Each player draws five cards. The game is played as normal chess, except on each turn, you may play a single card from your hand (some cards are played before your move, some after your move, some instead of your move, and some after your opponent's move. This is specified in the card text). Most cards are one shot; they take effect and are done, but some are continuing effects, and stay around. With the exception of the rules below, the card text has all the information required to play it. Some examples:

At the end of the turn, players draw back up to five.

To keep the game balanced, some rules are in place so that the King is not easily captured by the whim of the card:


Opinion: Games of Knightmare Chess tend to be chaotic affairs; a player with a large lead can still be brought down by a well placed fireball, and the well-planned checkmate can be averted by any number of cards. This keeps the game exciting, compared to regular chess, where a significant lead usually snowballs. On the other hand, the cards are not especially balanced. In common deck games, it may come down to a matter of luck as one player draws powerful cards and the other one draws weak cards. Using personal decks removes this problem, as each player can design their own deck, but this leads to overpowered decks, where half of the pieces on the board are decimated in the first three moves. Still, it's quite enjoyable and definitely a change of pace; in my experience, removing three or four of the instadeath cards helps matters tremendously.

And now, for your reading enjoyment, is a transcript of a Knightmare Log steel cage death match, from Steve Jackson Games' website. My explanatory comments in parenthesis. Note that this transcript contains no less than four checkmates.




Knightmare Chess Steel Cage Death Match Log

White 1 -- played "Onslaught" (all pawns may move forward) -- moved pawns a7-a6, b7-b6, c7-c6, d7-d6, e7-e6, f7-f6, g7-g6 and h7-h6.

Black 1 -- pawn d2-d4, played "Challenge," named Rook (opponent must move the named piece or forfeit their turn).

White 2 -- rook h8-h7.

Black 2 -- pawn h2-h4, played "Dungeon," moved rook a8-h8 (the selected piece is moved to an empty corner of the board and may not move next turn).

White 3 -- pawn g7-g5.

Black 3 -- pawn h4-h5, played "Fortification," created barrier between g7/g8 and h7/h8 (a continuing effect; pieces cannot cross the two lines that have been fortified, unless they can jump like a knight).

White 4 -- pawn g5-g4.

Black 4 -- played "Squaring the Circle," moved rook a1-a8 (if three corners are occupied, may move any piece to the fourth).

White 5 -- knight b8-d7.

Black 5 -- queen e1-c3.

White 6 -- played "Holy War," moved knight d7-c8 and bishop c8-d7 (switch position of a knight and a bishop).

Black 6 -- pawn e2-e4.

White 7 -- played "Dark Mirror," pawn g4-h5, taking pawn (a pawn may capture by moving backwards diagonally).

Black 7 -- knight g1-f3.

White 8 -- pawn c6-c5.

Black 8 -- bishop f1-a6, taking pawn. White played "Revenge," removed black pawn a2 (played when a piece is captured; one of the opponent's pawns is also captured).

White 9 -- queen e8-g6, played "Earthquake," turned board 90 degrees clockwise, promoted pawns at h5 and h6 to queens (a continuing effect; turns the board ninety degrees without changing the direction pieces move. Any pawn that is now on the new last rank promotes).

Black 9 -- rook h1-h5, taking queen.

White 10 -- played "Betrayal," converted pawn at b2 from black to white (replace an opponent's pawn on your half of the board with one of your captured pawns). Then queen h6-c1, taking bishop, check.

Black 10 -- king d1-e2.

White 11 -- pawn b2-c3, taking queen.

Black 11 -- Played "Charge!", knight f3-e5-g6, taking queen (a knight who does not capture may move again).

White 12 -- rook h7-h5, taking rook; played "Siege," swapping rook h8-g8 and knight g8-h8 (swap position of a rook and a knight).

Black 12 -- bishop a6-c8, taking knight; played "Anathema," swapping white rook g8-d7 and white bishop d7-g8 (swap position of an opponent's rook and bishop).

White 13 -- queen c1-c2, taking pawn. Check.

Black 13 -- king e2-f3, played "Forbidden City," creating dead spot at c7 (a continuing effect; no piece may move into or through the named square).

White 14 -- played "Bombard," rook d7-d4, taking pawn (rook may move over one obstruction, and still capture).

Black 14 -- played "Passing in the Night," swapped black pawn f2-b6 and white pawn b6-f2 (swap the position of one of your pawns with one of your opponents); then pawn b6-a6, promoted to queen.

White 15 -- rook h5-h3. Check.

Black 15 -- king f3-f4, played "Peace Talks," (removes a continuing effect card from play) cancelling "Earthquake" effects, restoring board to proper orientation.

White 16 -- queen c2-e4, taking pawn. Checkmate.

Black 16 -- knight b1-a3, played "Coup." King at f4 is now "Prince" (a continuing effect; moves like king, but not the target of checkmate), knight at a3 is new "King" (still moves like knight, but must be checkmated for opponent to win).

White 17 -- played "Ghostwalk," bishop f8-b4 (the piece may pass through other pieces, but may not capture). Check.

Black 17 -- knight/king a3-b5.

White 18 -- pawn f2-f1, promoted to queen. Check.

Black 18 -- knight/king b5-a7.

White 19 -- queen e4-a8, taking rook. Checkmate. Black played "Think Again!" (opponent must take back their move and make another one), forcing white to make a different move. Queen f1-a6, taking queen. Check.

Black 19 -- bishop c8-b7, played "Rebirth," (return a piece to a square it could have occupied at the beginning of the game) moved white queen a6-e8. Check.

White 20 -- queen e4-g6, taking knight; played "Figure Dance," moving black rook a8-a1 and white knight h8-a8 (all pieces in the corners move counter-clockwise to the next corner).

Black 20 -- bishop b7-a8, taking knight; played "Cathedral," (swap position of a bishop and a rook) swapping bishop a8-a1 and rook a1-a8. Check. White played "Hostage," (when a piece is captured, replace one of your pawns with the just captured piece) returning captured knight to e6, losing pawn instead.

White 21 -- king d8-e7.

Black 21 -- rook a8-e8, taking queen. Check.

White 22 -- queen g6-e8, taking rook.

Black 22 -- pawn g2-h3, taking rook.

White 23 -- queen e8-a8. Check. Black played "Knightmare!", (opponent must take back the move and make a different one) forcing White to take move back and make a different move. Rook d4-f4, taking prince.

Black 23 -- played "Riposte!", (when a piece is captured, replace it on the board and remove the capturing piece instead. Lose a turn.) removing white rook at f4 from board and putting black prince in its place.

White 24 -- queen e8-a8. Check.

Black 24 -- knight/king a7-b5.

White 25 -- knight e6-d4. Checkmate.

Black 25 -- prince f4-e5. Played "Fireball," (move a piece without capturing; that piece and all adjacent pieces are captured) destroying prince, white knight at d4 and white pawns at d6 and f6.

White 26 -- queen a8-a5. Checkmate.

Black has no response. GAME OVER!

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