A new way to play Chess
I made a very surprising discovery yesterday. After some guys in my game group would not let us use their Chess board, I went ahead and bought the only Chess set the store had. When I first saw it, I thought it would just be a Chess board with some cards you keep by your side to illustrate how it plays. While you could use it that way, it goes far out of its way to ease people into Chess in a way I would never have conceived. I played it with someone close to my skill level (I'd say I'm a good casual player), and while we were skeptical about it, it turned out to be very interesting and fed into a different kind of mind-reading that we're actually used to. I definitely recommend picking it up regardless of your skill level. Read more to find out what makes this so special.
The game comes with a deck of 56 cards: 7 Kings, 8 of other pieces, 11 pawns, 6 kinda wild (top card of the discard pile). There's 3 levels to it. At the very basic level, you turn over the top card of the deck and move that piece if you are able. For those who know how Chess works, yes, this system does allow the capture of the king. Sure, it's not Chess as we know it, but it still makes for a good entry considering new players often just pick a random piece to move. At least this forces players to choose which of that piece to move.
Then it starts to get interesting. At level 2, players get hands of 3 cards, draw a card on their turn and then play a card to move that piece. We played level 3 with 5 cards. It was also important to note that if your hand was thoroughly unplayable (the pieces were all too blocked) or you had 3 identical cards, you could pass your turn to get a new hand of cards. Playing through this type of game turned it into something else entirely, and the two of us starting guessing as to what type of cards the other was holding in their hand. Unfortunately for me, I was correctly guessing my opponent did not have the appropriate cards to counter me early on, but he top-decked what he needed.
We only had issues with a couple rules: castling and hand changing. We were rather unclear about whether you would go to the 6 cards you would have upon drawing or 5 as would be the standard size. We opted for "common sense" (a term I hate using) to make it 5. There was also no specification on what card allows for castling. While I believe King would be the good choice, the book references castling as an ability the Rook has, so we kept it to be Rook.
No Stress Chess is a well-kept secret, so although its initial retail price was $20, you can probably get it for less than that. Toys R US has it at $13 online, though of course that's pre-shipping.