Really Bad Chess

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Random setups are always the best

Long ago, when I was being inducted in the fledgling new community of Magic: The Gathering in my hometown, I often heard players compare M:TG to Chess. Now, I know that avid players are prone to intellectually elevate their lifestyle game of choice to the absolute pinnacle of strategic value. However, likening a card game to a perfect information game is, in my opinion, misleading, in my humble opinion. It's true that during high-level M:TG matches you need to think several turns in advance, but the random nature of the card draw is nevertheless an uncontrollable factor. In this respect, I could only accept the Magic-Chess comparison if we were talking about Raindrop Chess maybe, or in this instance, the game of Really Bad Chess (pardon the inference).

What am I even talking about? Well, imagine throwing out every book on Chess opening strategies and fixed patterns, because in RBC they're nigh useless. Chess aficionados may be familiar with Bobby Fischer's variant, where the second row of pieces is randomized and mirrored on the other side. Really Bad Chess, however, goes several steps further, where it randomizes not only both rows, but also the army composition, and for both players individually, the only rule being that you always get a single King. What you're left with is, very likely, a completely unbalanced set-up and more akin to what an M:TG player experiences on a day to day basis on seeing their opening hand.

Really Bad Chess

What I found fascinating in Really Bad Chess is not only the joyous absurdity of playing against insanely overpowered armies, such as impenetrable defenses of eight knights and three queens but also the way in which the AI behaves. Compared to other Chess games out there, the AI in RBC is emergent and takes a very long time to act. You sometimes have to wait fifteen seconds or more for a move. I would have categorized this issue as a con, but surprisingly enough, it raises the overall tension to a delightful degree and gives the impression that you're playing against a real human being (or maybe an intelligent alien for that matter). Furthermore, the AI is powerful so those seconds can get agonizing while you wait in the hope that it won't notice the plan you just hatched (it almost never works).

Funny enough, the developer had no reason to scale the AI to different difficulties. In free play mode, you can choose between fifteen "board ranks." The higher the rank, the better the composition of pieces your opponent will have and vice-versa. Beyond this, you can play in ranked mode, where you will have to win against increasingly unfair board ranks.

There are also the daily and weekly challenge modes, in which every user will have to battle the same board setup, and then compare the results across the entire user base.

Finally, there's also the "1v1" option or hotseat in other words, but only if you unlock the app's full features, which is roughly the price of a Starbucks coffee.

Final Thoughts

Really Bad Chess provided me with some of the most intense mobile chess experiences ever. The very noticeable AI wait times are an unexpected blessing as far as I'm concerned. Also, having the opportunity to tackle daily and weekly challenges is perfect for any Chess player who values the balanced nature of the original game. So stop whining and try it!

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Release Date: 2018-10-10
Publisher: Noodlecake Studios Inc
Operating System: android
Type: Free