Heads up D&D fans, there’s a new board game on the market called Dragon Chess. It takes traditional chess and makes it more exciting by adding new pieces – namely Dragons – and expanding and reshaping the chess board. Adding a new piece to chess and calling it a new game might seem like a strange and possibly disastrous idea, but it’s not. In fact it’s brilliant! By adding the new pieces and changing the configuration of the board it becomes an entire different game than the chess you’re used to playing.
Dragon Chess uses the same rules as traditional chess, but the board has 124 squares. The “field” has two extra rows and two extra columns, so the main play area is 10 x 10 rather than the normal 8 x 8. There are also two flanks each with 12 squares located on either side of the main playing area.
The expanded board makes room for additional pieces and that’s where the Dragons come in. They are placed in the new columns, next to the Rook. The Dragon moves just like the Queen, except that the Dragon can only move a maximum of three squares.
When I was at the Great Canadian Game & Hobby Show a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to play Dragon Chess. I like chess but don’t play very often. I know the basic rules of the game, and how to move all the pieces, but I have no knowledge of advanced strategy. I’m about as novice as it gets when it comes to chess.
My opponent was a novice chess player much like me, so it was a pretty even match. We exchanged piece after piece with neither of us gaining a huge advantage. At fist it didn’t feel any different than normal chess. However, once we got the new pieces into the mix and actually started using the additional squares things got interesting. A few times one of us put the other into check and didn’t even realize it because we kept forgetting about the Dragon and its threat range. But once we got the hang of the new piece and started using it to attack, the level of excitement you normally get from chess went up a couple of notches.
Although I only played the one game I was thoroughly impressed. I was hesitant to use the new piece because I didn’t know what to expect. But once I lost a few of the other good pieces (a Rook, Bishop and Knight) I realized just how versatile the new Dragon piece really was. I think that in future games I’ll try to get my Dragons into play more quickly.
The additional squares made pieces like the Bishop and Rook a lot more powerful. On a typical chess board the most any one piece can move is 8 squares. With the new configuration a Rook can move up to 16 squares and the Bishop 10. The Bishop also becomes more versatile as it can use the new squares on the sides to strike deeper into the opponent’s rank and file without putting itself in as much risk. It’s also more likely to move further when it moves.
I found that my lack of chess strategy was helpful when I sat down to play Dragon Chess. I wasn’t trying to make classic chess strategies fit onto the bigger board. I looked at this as a new game that just borrowed some of chess’s mechanics. I’ll bet that people who know (or think they know) a lot about chess will take longer to master this new game.
Don’t forget that a Dragon Chess set can also be used to play regular chess. The traditional 64-square board is clearly marked. So even if you’re not sure how much Dragon Chess you’ll play, it never hurts to have a traditional chess set in your board game inventory.
If you like chess or are thinking about getting into chess, this might be a good option for you. With Christmas just around the corner you could always ask for a Dragon Chess set for Christmas. I know I’ve already added it to my wish list.