Kickstarter Table Alert: Beguile: Spice Up Your Chess Game

My eldest daughter has been getting interested in chess again lately, but she quickly finds out that it’s quite difficult to play against someone who has a lot more experience. And although I’m not very good at chess myself, I can calculate enough moves in advance to figure out what she’s trying to do.

The problem with chess is that because it has been around for so long, there are a lot of openings and established moves. It can become a game of memory and pattern recognition rather than developing your own strategy. After all, how often does a novice player come up with unique moves that surprise an experienced player?

It’s no wonder, then, that chess has inspired so many spin-offs. Many games other than chess borrow the movement rules from chess, but change things up here and there: fewer pieces, a different board, etc. Some change the rules of chess, making a new game but using the same pieces and the same board (David Sirlin’s Chess 2.0, for example). Still others add layers on top of chess to add elements of luck or additional abilities. While some of these variations on chess take away the perfect aspect of information, they add fun ideas that may attract new players, perhaps long enough for them to stick with the original game as well.

Seduce is one such variant that is currently on Kickstarter. It’s a unique 52-card deck that you play with a standard chess set (using standard chess rules). Each player starts with 5 cards. Some cards (marked “T”) count for your entire turn; the others (marked “C”) are played in conjunction with a moved piece.

Misleading cards
Some examples of Beguile maps.

There are some restrictions: you only play once in the deck and only one card can be played per turn. Most of them prevent you from taking the king directly with the card, although you can use special moves to check the king. You also get a free attempt to escape a checkmate: if you can’t use any cards in your hand to escape, you can draw a card from the deck in a last ditch effort to save yourself.

Playing Beguile with my 10 year old daughter. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Seduce is definitely for players who want to introduce a bit of chess fun, as you can see from the artwork and available card types. There’s always strategy involved, but there’s also a big element of chance in the cards you draw. For example, there’s even a Turn the Tables card that lets you switch sides, or a Sir Charles Roundhouse (think Chuck Norris) that lets you win in the event of a stalemate.

Seduce wall map
The wall is played on the board itself and prevents objects from passing through it. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

It’s fun to play chess with the Seduce deck, even with that bit of randomness added. For playing against my daughter means she can do moves where I’m really not sure what she’s doing – is she putting this piece at risk because she doesn’t didn’t realize or because she has a card in her hand? And she knows the same thing about me: if I put a piece to sacrifice, she’s more suspicious and doesn’t take it right away.

Seduce is not an entirely unique idea—Spell Chess (funded by Kickstarter last fall) and Knightmare Chess (circa 1994 and now in production for a reprint) both use cards that affect basic chess. There are some differences, of course. Spell Chess lets you draw a card and put it into play each time you take a coin. Knightmare Chess also allows each player to put together a deck of cards before playing, with point values ​​that make it easier to balance games or a player’s handicap. Where there is chess headswhich uses a collectible card game format but also essentially offers new abilities using cards.

Still, while all of these games have a similar mechanic, they each have different flavors in play, and if you like a lot of variety with your chess, they’re worth checking out. SeduceThe illustrations of make it a little more lighthearted and funny, although I will mention that there is violence in the cartoons, you might want to preview the maps in case you are playing with younger kids.

Seduce is currently on Kickstarter with about two weeks left. It has a modest target of CAD$3,000, and you can sign up for a copy of the game for CAD$20 (plus shipping outside of Canada). Oh, and I almost forgot: there are premium tiers for extra bonuses, including this awesome knight armor hoodie:

Beguile armor hoodie
Come on, you know you want one.

Disclosure: GeekDad received a prototype demo copy of Beguile for review.

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