The kind folks at ThinkFun let me know about this one after they saw how much we enjoyed RushHour. They were very sweet and provided a promo code so that we could try this one out too.
Basically this is the peg game – but with chess pieces. You are trying to eliminate every piece except one on your board. Only legal moves are the ones that have a chess piece legally taking out another one.
This is a really fun way to master the different movements of each chess piece for chess newbies. Unlike RushHour, I don’t have the physical game on this one to compare – but right off the bat I’ve got to say that the app version with an option to see the legal moves for your piece is helpful for newbies (and it’s nice you can turn it off if you find it unnecessary). It also, like chess, forces you to think ahead, remembering longer and longer chains of events to get to your end state.
Sal and I spent a lazy saturday morning in bed knocking through the easy challenges. Again, I don’t have the physical version of this – but I found it handy that it automatically didn’t allow moves that didn’t take out a piece. Sal knows the chess piece movements, but he was tempted to get to a piece in 2 moves, where the intermediary move would not have taken out a piece. The game just brings the piece back. It took Sal a bit before he got the hang of this rule, and I think the app version made it easier for him to get it. It’s also fun to just power through the puzzles without delay of setup, reset the board automatically when needed, and when you’re really in a pinch, get a hint.
Sometimes the moves can seem a bit counterintuitive, needing to take out a queen early in order to get to the end state and relying on the other pieces. Kind of forces you to think a bit outside the box. There are some reviews I’ve seen where parents are concerned on how it adds up to chess strategy. Does it map up completely – no, you are not playing another player – but it does have you plan out your moves and I think this is a critical element to playing chess.
Puzzle games. We love them.