Crusade and Conquer is a new chess variant from Canada that I ran across at GTS this year and finally got a chance to take it out for a spin. The board is a standard chess board with a couple of exceptions; castles! Yes, there are little foam castles that stand on either side of the battlefield. Familiar pieces all are in place, bishops, knights, pawns, et al and they move in the traditional way. However, there are also two new pieces, a dragon and flag bearer for each side. Castles add a level of complexity because pieces must stop as they reach each level. So a bishop at the foot of the opposing castle must use two separate turns to reach the top, irrespective of how far a piece can move on the “flat” part of the board. It allows the defender time to mount a defense against an attack.
This is critical because “C&C” adds another victory condition beyond checkmate. On the King’s platform is an “X” square. If the opposing flag bearer piece on to this square you win. This is more likely than one might imagine as the flag bearer is effectively immortal. Only a king may kill a flag bearer, so they wander across the field with relative impunity. The rules mention using them as “blockers” and they do the job quite well. Oh, they are not allowed to take any piece besides the opposing king.
Dragons in the game move as a king, but have the additional advantage of a flight ability. Dragons fly over their own pieces. Imagine three pawns in a row (on any axis) and an opposing knight at the end of the row. A dragon moves along the line and take the knight. Dragons also can traverse the levels of the opposing castle in the same way.
Production quality on the box and pieces is very good. I am especially fond of the dragon pieces.
This game comes from Canada, so contains both French and English rules.
One of the reasons I am not a huge chess fan is it is a game with a thousand years of books, theory and strategies. I am a casual gamer and do not read strategy guides for board games I play. So, anyone with any interest in chess as a hobby will utterly crush me. The idea of some new pieces and terrain appeals to me as a way to level the playing field for the non-chess geeks. “Crusade and Conquer” does this very well. And should you want a traditional chess game, simply exclude the castles and extra pieces to get a quite nice conventional chess set.
“Crusade and Conquer” is a chess game that I enjoyed and that is a rare thing indeed.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer