The digital version of Chess 2 is coming out Q4 2013 as a timed exclusive for the OUYA console (other platforms will follow later). It will be shown at the OUYA installation during E3 in two weeks.
Chess 1 was a big hit, no question there, but a few issues have cropped up over the years. First, the original game ends in a draw uncomfortably often. Second, memorization (rather than on-the-spot intuition) ended up being much more important than the original developers intended. Even top players such as Fischer and Capablanca complained about this. Third, because it has no hidden information, the ability to capitalize on reading your opponent is more limited than it could be. And finally, the first version offered only a single army and one matchup.
Chess 2 addresses each of those concerns. (And the rules pdf is here.) A new win condition (in addition to the old one) allows a victory if your king crosses the midline of the board. This practically eliminates draws, and it also cuts down on having to walk through book-solved endgame situations, and eliminates the need to concede far before the game really ends. In Chess 2, there's action right up until the end, and the end is unlikely to be a draw.
A double-blind bidding mechanic when you capture pieces allows for some "yomi" or mind reading of the opponent's intentions. It also greatly disrupts scripted openings allowing for more emphasis on intuition. It's also quite skill-testing in measuring how much each player values each piece. If your opponent has an incorrect opinion about how much a particular piece is really worth in this particular game situation, you can capitalize on that by making him bid incorrectly in an effort to save that piece.
There are six armies to choose from, creating 21 matchups rather than just 1. While each army has its own twist, none are completely alien to chess. Each army modifies only a few (significant) things so that remembering what everything does isn't too hard. The six armies are:
- Classic (back by popular demand)
- Nemesis (favors pawns)
- Empowered (favors knights, bishops, and rooks)
- Reaper (favors queen)
- Two Kings (favors kings)
- Animals (wild card!)
The digital version of Chess 2 is being developed by Ludeme Games. You can follow them on twitter @LudemeGames and #Chess2 for updates. Ludeme Games would also like to thank their families, dogs, and legal counsel for making all this possible.
The production values of the game are really coming along. Ludeme Games created wonderful looking sculpts for all the interesting new pieces in the game. I'm not quite sure, but I think Chess 2 might end up being the best looking title that comes out near launch on the OUYA. That's one of the advantages of doing a "small scale" game: fewer elements means it's easier to polish the production values. (Easier to focus on the game design too!)
I'll leave you with this shot of the Reaper queen, who can teleport to almost any space on the board: