The game of Chess has been around since the 6th Century, yet somehow, it remains one of the most played games around the world. But what if that classic game was tweaked and updated for 2018, and blended with, say, a collectible card game like Magic the Gathering? Well, that’s exactly what Eternal Kings, the newest card game to hit Kickstarter, sets out to do.
Eternal Kings is a unique blend of Chess and CCG that takes the classic strategy required for Chess (in fact, it uses many of those elements straight up) and adds the ability to use creative combos and other ideas that you’d find in a collectible card game. First, you’ll construct your own unique deck of cards, each of which contain their own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
If you’re already familiar with Chess, you’ll have no problem setting the game up; the board is laid out like a normal Chess match, with each side having a row of pawns and a row of rooks, knights, bishops, a king and queen. The difference here is that, instead of physical pieces, you’re using the deck of cards that you built using the four included pre-made decks (Strength, Agility, Intelligence, and Wisdom).
Once the board is setup, though, things get complicated quickly. Each of the cards (called Creatures here, by the way) on the board have Attack power, Life, and Discipline (which are points required to perform any ability. You’ll find the available ability at the bottom of each card (including things like draw a card, Shadow/moving through other ally characters, destroying traps set by the other player, etc). At first glance, it feels as though things on the ability side of things aren’t explained thoroughly enough for the players to understand quickly. It’s all a bit overwhelming to new players, so expect to take some time to sort it all out. It can, however, be sorted out, so stick with it, and you and your opponent will be able to get the Eternal Kings after a thorough read of the included handbook.
Anyway, there are two types of abilities you’ll find in Eternal Kings, Whitecast abilities and Redcast abilities. Whitecast abilities can only be used before or after a creature has moved (for example, you can’t use the ability in the middle of moving your Rook from point A to point B). Redcast abilities can be used at any point during the game, whether it is your turn or not. Yes, this means you can interrupt your opponent’s turn to squash their move.
On top of that, there is the Ability Chain, which basically means each ability use results in the potential for rebuttal from your opponent. So you play card X, and then your opponent plays card Y. This chain continues until both players have chosen to stop playing their abilities/exhausted all of their options.
Each turn has three phases: Beginning, Movement, and End. During the beginning phase, all of your creatures’ Discipline points are replenished, and anything that is triggered during “Upkeep” happens (certain ability cards use this phase to do things like require the player to sacrifice one of their creatures).
The movement phase follows, in which you (obviously), move your creatures. Here, you MUST move at least one creature, and can move as many creatures as you legally can during the phase. You can only make your movements one at a time. What’s more, there are abilities like Shadow or Flying that can potentially allow your creature to move in abnormal ways. It is this phase in which you’ll also attack your opponent’s creatures on the board. Now, each Attack sequence has four steps as well: declare an attack, move into the target square, inflict damage, and deciphering the results (called To Kill or Not to Kill). These four steps are all clearly explained in the rule book, and believe it or not, it was the least difficult concept to understand (despite it being presented as a four step process).
The game’s art is great, and each card has a cool-looking image on both its front and back. You’ll find some cool-looking creatures, colorful art, and some imagery that feels like it’s taken out of a video game like the Divinity: Original Sins franchise (for those who have never played Divinity, that should be considered high praise).
One of our biggest gripes with EK is its game board, though. While the physical feel of the board itself is perfect (feels like a nice, thick, high-quality mouse pad), we can see it not lasting long because of how easily the mouse pad-esque material will absorb liquids. I don’t know about you guys, but we like to play board games either drinking beer or drinking coffee (depending on the time of day), and I’m already having nightmares about accidentally knocking over a brew and staining the game board. There’s no word on whether or not replacement boards will be available, nor how much they’d cost, but we hope that’s something that the EK devs have considered.
For brand new players, expect Eternal Kings to last over an hour (our first complete game took roughly an hour and 20 minutes, most of which was spent deciphering the rules and how to play). One you get into the swing of things, games will take about half of that time, coming in at roughly 35-45 minutes.
The experience isn’t necessarily a better game of Chess; the enjoyment and popularity of Chess stems from its relatively simplistic rules that still require some thought and tact. Instead, Eternal Kings is more of an advanced and complicated alternative to the classic game. I’d say it’s the body of Chess with Magic the Gathering pumping through its veins, and the mash-up works quite well. If you like to dig in to something that might take a bit of time to sort out but has a good pay-off, Eternal Kings is a great option for a competitive game night with your significant other.
Read more about Eternal Kings’ Kickstarter here.
See Also: Best Board Games for Couples