Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon from Spin Master brings three gaming classics together in one combination. A wooden box serves as a double-sided board as well as carrying case for all of the finely crafted pieces. In an era when new board games are releasing at a faster pace than ever before, this is a chance to take in the centuries-old games that still dominate the tabletop with their wealth of strategy.
Chess and checkers are well-known games, especially chess with a new wave of interest thanks to The Queen’s Gambit. Both are purely strategy games with the same setup for pieces in every game and rules that have been laid down for centuries. Checkers is more straightforward with moving one piece at a time, jumping opposing pieces to eliminate, and enabling backward movement once reaching the other side of the board. Chess features pieces with unique movement patterns, such as bishops, rooks, and queens going in straight lines as far as they wish. Knights and pawns are even more complex, moving in an L-shape or forward to move and diagonal to capture. Rather than eliminating all pieces, the goal is to capture the opponent’s king.
Backgammon is less well known, but many tabletop gamers may find that they like it better than the pure strategy of the other games. Like chess and checkers, backgammon uses pieces in different colors all arranged in the same way at the beginning of the game. Backgammon then introduced randomness by having players roll dice. The numbers rolled determine how many spaces a player may move their pieces that turn on the board.
The goal in backgammon, like chess, is to work one’s opponent into a position where they cannot make a move. Like checkers, this is done by eliminating the opponent’s pieces, in this case landing on a space that has only one opposing piece on it. Unlike checkers, however, in backgammon the pieces come back. Players who have lost a piece must attempt to return it to the board before they can make any other action. With these mechanics, backgammon becomes all about area control. Players may block a point from their opponent to land on by placing two or more of their own pieces on it.
Although the mechanics in backgammon are multifaceted with the use of dice and returning pieces, it is historically a much older game, with archaeologists seeing examples of similar play thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. The mixture of luck and skill through the dice requires players to think of even more possibilities when lining up their next moves. Or, they may simply follow the roll of the dice.
Chess, checkers, and backgammon are all strategy games for two players. The Spin Master rules include the Chouette variant for backgammon, which keeps the game going as an asymmetrical team-play against a single player. Since much of the speed of the game depends on how quickly players decide their moves, they can last anywhere from 10 minutes to nearly an hour. With combined boards and pieces in the single box, strategy-loving players as well as those who like a little chaos will make it a valued part of their game collection.