Over the years there have been literally hundreds of attempts to improve on the game of chess.
Most are at best a momentary diversion for players, something new to try, but soon to be forgotten.
There are a few which, at least to me, have elevated themselves to being worthy standalone games; Omega Chess, Plunder Chess, Spartan Chess and Knightmare Chess among them.
Eternal Kings appears poised to join that group of worthy games built upon the foundation of chess.
The game is recently created by Rolando Issa, and he has come up with a rather interesting take on chess; one with a fantasy theme attached.
“Shambahala looked out over the muddy field. A few hundred yards apart, the two armies stood arrayed for battle. Considering the band of miscreants and rogues he had collected, his own army looked pretty good. Only a little nervousness was to be seen among the less-experienced men. Across the field, however, the opposing force appeared skittish, constantly shifting position. It was not fear though, that made his foes so restless. Rather, the horde of the earth’s elemental army was merely eager for the slaughter to begin,” states the ruleset ‘fluff.
“Still, if he were to have any hope of pressing his claim, he must pass through this unseemly horde. After all, one must be victorious on the field of battle, if one hopes to claim his rightful place among the eternal Kings …”
To begin with Eternal Kings is a card game.
Now that is not new, but it does provide a lot of options in terms of game play.
Here players create an array of chess pieces based on cards; the pawn card moving, at least initially as a pawn, etc. While the game comes with pre-constructed lay-outs, there is the ability, once you know the game, to customize your pieces (cards).
The cards here are very nice. The art is outstanding. If there is an issue, it is that the borders are black. Black bordered cards tend to end up with the finish chipping and scratching, and because that reveals the white paper and the smallest nicks show. What that all means is that you may want to immediately sleeve these gorgeous cards.
On a positive side, the board is mouse pad material (lesser density rubber composites -- open cell styrene, butadiene rubber or open cell SBR) with fabric bonded to the upper surface). The material is an ideal material for almost any abstract strategy game, (my Omega Chess and Onitama being existing examples in my collection).
In the case of Eternal Kings the board is large (8X8), and highly functional.
Now back to the game play. You start by constructing your own unique deck of cards, (once you grasp the basics as noted), then by using the card abilities you attack opponent cards via well-known chess moves.
Each player builds an ‘army’ of eight pawns, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, a queen and a king, and places those cards (creatures) on the board. When building your army, you can choose from over 48 unique types of creatures. Each type of creature has a unique move set and abilities that they can perform.
If you are already familiar with chess, you will recognize many of the mechanics in Eternal Kings, but there are some fun twists. In addition to the basic piece movements, special ability cards chance how an attack takes place, and what the result may ultimately be.
It changes the pure abstract nature, because the special cars are held in hand. That may not sit well with a diehard chess player, but it does even the playing field a bit between players of different chess skill levels.
The ability deck is also customizable before playing. These ‘ability cards’ are cards that you can randomly draw from during the game that allow your creatures to perform additional actions. There are over 40 unique ability cards to choose from.
Thanks to the customizable aspect of Eternal Kings this one is hugely re-playable, since chess itself offers so much variation game-to-game to start with.
That the cards are gorgeous also certainly helps in terms of aesthetics, especially when on the aforementioned board.
If you like chess, but want a bit of a boost via cards, with that pregame deck build to explore, Eternal Kings is a definite winner.