What is Sovereign Chess?
Sovereign Chess is a two-player game, Black versus White, but with armies of ten different colors located around the board. These pieces are neutral, and can not be moved or captured, until one of the players lands on a square of a matching color. Multiple armies can be controlled by landing on many different colored squares, or by a chain of control.
For example, if you land on a Red square, and then move a Red piece onto a Navy square, then you control both the Red and Navy armies simultaneously. However, if your opponent captures your piece on the Red square, then they would instantly control both those armies.
Since pieces in Sovereign Chess move like traditional chess, there is not a steep learning curve. There are only minor adjustments for movement, given the arrangement of the board, and rules that govern the control of additional armies.
If you know how to play chess, it usually takes about 5-10 minutes to learn Sovereign Chess, no matter whether you're 6 or 66!
You can explore the full rules here.
In Sovereign Chess, you can...
- Promote your pawn to a king!
- Attack your opponent from the side!
- Checkmate your opponent with pieces of multiple colors!
In my years of watching others play Sovereign Chess, I have seen that there are about as many strategies as there are players.
Tactics also play a key role in the game. One experienced chess player noted, "Sovereign Chess is surprisingly tactical. The battle for control of the added armies starts right at the beginning of the game, and 'turnovers' happen all the time. The rich tactical possibilities make Sovereign Chess exciting to play."
Find your own way to checkmate your opponent and reign Sovereign over your kingdom!
Sovereign Chess is loosely based on the Cold War, where two superpowers would often threaten each other through smaller, "controlled" countries. In Sovereign Chess, if you are being attacked by, say, the Pink pieces, you have the opportunity to control the Pink square, take over the Pink army, and checkmate your opponent back.
You can even defect, by changing your king to a different color when your situation is dire, thus saving your Sovereign kingdom!
Sovereign Chess has been a featured game in the TBS series "King of the Nerds" for the past three seasons. If you are a fan of the show, then you have seen contestants discuss strategy, plot alliances, and just have fun hanging around the game.
Our standard Kickstarter board measures 22 x 22 inches, but we are offering a limited number of boards in the King Of The Nerds size (40 x 40 inches) during this Kickstarter campaign!
Sovereign Chess is made to be displayed in your home, your office, or at your next game night. We plan to make Sovereign Chess with the most vivid materials, so that your friends will simply say, "Wow!"
Our goal with this Kickstarter campaign is to provide Sovereign Chess for you to enjoy in your home. The game will include:
- A full color quad-fold board (22 x 22 inches) The board is also designed so that anyone can setup the board easily without referring to the rules.
- 124 plastic pieces--the number of pieces in nearly four complete chess sets! 112 are used in the initial setup of the game, plus extra White and Black queens (for frequent pawn promotion), and ten kings of the remaining colors (for defections).
- Full Rules, which can also be downloaded here.
- A decorative box, which allows you to store your game, and organize your pieces by color.
One of my core values is giving back to the next generation, in this case younger players who would love to have access to Sovereign Chess. You may know schools, nonprofits, or chess clubs that would thrive from a Sovereign Chess set.
So, with this Kickstarter, I am making a pledge:
For every $1000 we raise, I will donate one Sovereign Chess set to a group where kids who may not be able to afford Sovereign Chess, can play the game.
$50,000 raised = 50 donated sets
$100,000 raised = 100 donated sets
With a donation at the Queen Level ($250), you have the opportunity to name an organization who will receive Sovereign Chess for free.
From early childhood, I have always loved games. Besides playing them with my friends, I enjoy buying interesting games to read how they are designed. Of course, I have a deep love and appreciation for chess, and like many people, discovered how a game with six simple pieces can lead to a lifetime of learning and enjoyment.
Also, I have always loved design. Some games have an elegant form, but are kind of boring to play--others play great, but don't have that "look" that draws players in.
Many years ago, I thought about what a chess game would look like with pieces of many different colors. The only chess games that had more than two colors also required more than two players, which is not what I wanted. So, as I created ten other colors around the board, I asked myself, "How would players move these colors?", and came up with the ideas of squares of color; a player could move pieces of a certain color as long as they had a piece on the matching color square.
By 2005, I had developed most of the rules of the game, but had never actually played it. My "board" was a Word file on my computer, and I began to play with my friend, Nate Conklin, by moving a piece on the "board" and emailing our moves back and forth. (When I was on vacation one summer, I printed the board on a piece of paper, and moved the paper "pieces" that were stuck to the board with chewing gum!)
What we found was surprising--this game was fun to play! We would battle again and again, devising new strategies and rediscovering the depth of chess itself. The only thing that was missing was an actual Sovereign Chess set.
Nate and I went two separate directions to make a set. I bought tournament-sized chess pieces, hand painted them, and made a board of tiles glued onto a giant oak base. Weighing in at over 40 pounds, it never leaves my garage.
Nate's idea was to take small kitchen magnets and glue pictures of chess pieces, and then place them onto a small magnetic board. He was the first person to see how to make the game portable, and we began playing games on this board.
A huge break came in 2009, when I was visiting Santa Cruz. A local game store was getting rid of a large box of portable chess sets, and on a hunch, I bought them all. At the end of our vacation, I went home, hand-painted a number of the magnetic pieces, and printed a board, which I was able to lay over a magnetic sign. Voila!
I began to take Sovereign Chess on vacation, to parties, and any place else my friends would be, and it's from this set that many of the first Sovereign Chess players learned the game. The board is only 12 x 12 inches, so the pieces were pretty small, which is a disadvantage--although many think I should keep this in the back of my mind as a "travel version" of Sovereign Chess.
In 2011, I brought this game to a small game convention in Northern California. Adults liked it, but kids loved it! For some reason, I thought the added rules would be too much for kids, but I discovered that if anyone knew how to play chess already, the "learning curve" for Sovereign Chess was 5 to 10 minutes.
The next year, I bought more magnetic travel sets and quickly painted three more sets for a massive game convention in Los Angeles. Not only did adults and kids alike flock to the sets (we even held our first mini-tournament there), but a man approached me and introduced himself as a producer of a yet-to-be-created series called "King of the Nerds". He said that they were building a house for the contestants--Nerdvana--and he was looking for games to use for decoration. He asked if he could have a copy of the game for the show. When I faithfully handed him one of my prototypes, he said, "No, I want you to make a big copy of Sovereign Chess that everyone can see."
Thus was born the "King of the Nerds" set, which consists of tournament-sized pieces, and a board that measures 40 x 40 inches! My daughter and I mixed and hand-painted all of the colors, and once the first season ended (and our "huge board" was returned), it became a hit at future conventions. Soon after, we also received a glowing review from Giant Fire Breathing Robot.
By now, I had successfully filed for a copyright and trademark to protect the game. I was attending multiple conventions, and people began (or continued) asking me, "Where can I get Sovereign Chess for myself?" So, I began discussing sizes; the magnetic version was too small, and the "King of the Nerds" board was too huge. So I asked a local sign company to print and mount a board of a more reasonable size--the set you see today.
By this time, the number of requests became ridiculous. People were telling me that they hadn't played chess since high school, but would buy Sovereign Chess just to put in their home. People who didn't play chess said they wanted to learn after seeing others playing this game. Hordes of kids would flock to Sovereign Chess at game conventions to play their friends, followed by desperate parents asking me to make them a set.
So, here you find me on Kickstarter. I have done more research on plastics manufacturing than I ever thought possible. I have researched exactly what colors would make this game pop in your home. I have spoken to numerous printing companies to get a quad-fold board that is beautiful, but makes your game portable. And, if funded, I will do whatever it takes to ensure that this game makes it to your home, and that you love it!
...for your support, your questions and feedback, and most of all, for your interest in Sovereign Chess.
Many people have helped to make this Kickstarter a reality:
All Things Web: Nate Conklin (about.me/nateconklin)
Video Production: Brad Elliott (bradelliott.smugmug.com)
Gameplay Revisions: Nate Conklin, David Vander Laan
Demo Preparation: Olivia Bates
Playtesters: Bob Avery, Andy Bates, April Bates, Molly Bates, Olivia Bates, Trevor Bates, Andrew Blaisdell, Dick Bush, Evan Collins, Nate Conklin, Amanda Elliott, Jake Elliott, Jason Groenink, Keenan Kibrick, Patrick Knowles, Judah Luberto, Nolan Lundgaard, Elijah Raymond, Paul Reimenschneider, Andy Saleh, Caleb Severson, Josiah Severson, Noah Severson, Jeff Schwartz, Geordie Shafer, Russell Smelley, Travis Smelley, David Sutayo, David Vander Laan, and many others I have met along the way...
App Development: Robin Hamilton-Pennell
Video Interviewees: Nate Conklin, Amanda Elliott, Jake Elliott, Patrick Knowles, Nolan Lundgaard, Caleb Severson, Josiah Severson, Noah Severson, David Vander Laan
Soul Mate and Moral Support: Colleen Hurley-Bates
So many other friends, who have helped provide input and support along the way.
Risks and challenges
If you have made it to the My Story section of the Project Description, you know that I have put in five years of preparation to make this Kickstarter a reality. While this is my first Kickstarter campaign, I feel ahead of the curve in a number of areas.
The trickiest part of making this game in bulk is mass-producing chess pieces in color. The colors must be vibrant, and the contrast must be significant enough for effective gameplay. I have found a domestic company that will be using some overseas partners, achieving both a reasonable price (for 124 pieces per set!), and the quality that a backer should deserve.
I have also had some competitive bids on the printing costs (board, rules, and box), and will be working closely so that the boards are quality, and also vibrant in color.
I am trying to incorporate the various random costs that come with a project like this (shipping, Kickstarter fees, and cost overruns), so that you pay a reasonable price, without fear that the project will not be fulfilled.
I am estimating the timeframe for completion to be anywhere from nine to twelve months from the end of the campaign, with the goal of coming in earlier, rather than later. I value communication, so will keep in touch with all backers as progress occurs, without flooding you with unnecessary updates.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)