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For Minetest 5.5 and above

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The Unexpected Gambit

by Flederossi and NO11

Game for the Minetest-Game-Jam 2023 The Unexpected Gambit is a chess game for Minetest featuring some unexpected game mechanics which you will discover while playing against a real player in multiplayer mode or a custom chess engine.

How to play

Open the chat (Press 'T') and type one of the following commands:

  • /start [Player2] - Play the game as it was intendet.
  • /start_normal [Player2] - Play a normal game of chess.

The Player2 Parameter is optional but needed, if you want to play against another player. Without it the engine is picked as opponent.

Fly mode is activated by default and should be used to get a better overview!

Change strength of the engine

If you want to change the strength of the engine (How far the engine looks into the future) you can use the following commands:

  • /strength - Display the current strength of the engine.
  • /strength [Depth] - Change the strength of the engine to a desired value.

The Depth Parameter must be an odd number.



Do you recommend this game?

  • Best chess implementation in minetest to date

    Didn't expect to see a Chess game in this year's Game Jam, that's for sure! This is the most polished chess implementation I've seen yet in minetest and proved to be a lot of fun. Normal chess rules are all here, unlike the other minetest implementations: en passant logic, three-fold repetition, and correct castling! Only one thing I didn't notice was the 50-move rule, but that's not really necessary in a minetest subgame. I would absolutely love to see a Fischer Chess implementation in this game (with proper castling) someday :) Multiplayer chess is pretty cool, but it really needs timers to be at it's full potential, since your opponent can just stall forever. I think it would improve the game a lot if that was added.

    The bot itself is OK and interesting to play with, but it's not very smart and could use a lot of work: it is extremely materialistic, and simply can't see most checkmating attacks and pin attacks. It makes decent, solid moves in the opening, but if you set up a decent attack against it, you've basically won the game (Also, it always picks the same opening, which is a little dissapointing). It will usually always take material over a decent defense, which means that if you find tricks in the position, you're going to have a very high success rate. The bot also, most of the time, can't convert winning positions: even if the bot has many pawns and pieces and all you've got is a king, it still somehow manages to find a way to repeat moves and end in a draw. It can definitely win though - if there's a checkmate in immediate sight, it can usually find it.

    The unexpected changes to the board were pretty awesome to play a game with, although they could use some highlighting, as I had to search the board for what happened many times. Maybe a 3 second highlighting of the affected pieces would improve the gameplay.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I think it's currently the best minetest has to offer in terms of chess.

  • Very nice chess for minetest

    This deserves a thumbs up just for the chess implementation itsself which I think would be nice as a standalone mod as well (particularly the multi player variant could be nice for servers). The bot is extremely weak but that is to be expected. And the unexpected events actually kind of make up for it because no matter how good you are at regular chess calculating doesn't really help a lot usually bc eventually something like "remove all pawns" happens and everything is different anyways.

  • Wow!

    OVERVIEW - This was very well made! This might be my favourite game this Game Jam. I like playing chess already, and this implimitation of it in Minetest was very well-made and polished. The little "unexpected"s fit in with the theme well also; the AI was also very good! Great job NO11!


    1 - Not a fan 2 - Meh 3 - Okay 4 - Good 5 - Love it!

    GAMEPLAY - 5

    GRAPHICS - 5


    PERFORMANCE - 4 (I got a texture error)

    SOUNDS & MUSIC - 5

    THEME - 4

    TOTAL - 28 (Love it!)

  • Unexpected!

    True that the bot is alternatively gifted, but that's totally ok, it was still fun because of unexpected swaps and what not. Maybe you can't plan too much like this, but its like having a new puzzle setup every few turns. Seriously didn't expect that these mechanics which are basically game-breaking for chess will make for refreshing fun gameplay

  • Chess, but less boring and more frustrating (in a good way)

    I can only agree with the other reviewer(s): This is by far the best chess implementation in Minetest to date. It's nicely usable; you get a 3d view of the board. The engine works and actually picks decent moves.

    Now, that's where the unexpected part comes in: Random "events" can completely change the course of the game. Strategies that work against the engine in "normal" chess don't work anymore. Beating the engine at "normal" chess is doable, but the "unexpected" version will give you a much harder time. It can be pretty frustrating if you worked hard on getting your pawns into good positions and suddenly they all just evaporate :P

    Suggestions: Highlight the last move / action somehow (maybe using particle effects?). Otherwise it is at times hard to see what just happened. Also, please give the player a moment to review a checkmate.

    Overall, a very good game!

  • Fun, but flawed

    Biggest issues:

    • Bad contrast ratio when you disable dynamic shadows, especially for white pieces, it's just hard to see what piece I am looking at without constantly changing perspective to guess. Some kind of outline or 2d mode would be appreciated.
    • Showdown event just ends game in draw in a most of cases (because queens are out and two kings alone make engine guess it's a draw).

    In general, it's a fun expirience, not really balanced but it doesn't take away from it, IMHO.

  • Chess with a twist.

    I always have loved chess, so this was rather fun. The random effects aren't exactly great (at the time of this review) though. Maybe more things more often would make it a little more interesting.

    Update to my review, as I found a rather hilarious (and most certainly unexpected) problem: The "swap pieces" random change put my knight in range of my opponent's king when it was my move. So — I took it. And nothing else happened exept the queen taking my knight. Now the bot is unbeatable unless I defeat all of its pieces. Maybe something can be added/changed to make sure things like that don't happen? Or should that be kept because it's a pretty cool twist?

    Lists and ratings:

    Scores rate how good different aspects of the game are.

    Effects is mostly how the game looks and is built. If a game doesn’t have good-looking textures, particle effects, or architecture that is actually plot-relevant, it can get a low Effects score.

    Gameplay involves how good, fun, interesting or effective the gameplay is. If a game doesn’t have well-designed puzzles that are something a gamer actually feels they can figure out with obvious end results, it can get a low Gameplay score.

    Plot, of course, is how good the plot is, how well it fits with the game itself, and whether it is interesting enough to keep players interested. If a game doesn’t have an obvious plot or goals, it can get a low Plot score.

    Theme is how the game feels and is laid out. If a game doesn’t feel right, have a theme that fits its plot or gameplay, or is too bland or empty-feeling, it can get a low Theme score.

    Unexpected Theme is only how a game fits the theme of the 2024 Game Jam.

    All of these are rated out of ten (#/10), and the final result will be a combination of all these scores out of fifty (#/50).

    Effects: 4/10

    Gameplay: 7/10

    Plot: 9/10

    Theme: 5/10

    Unexpected Theme: 10/10

    Overall: 35/50

  • Chess with wild rules

    (Disclaimer: This review was made in the context of the game jam 2023. May contain spoilers.)

    • Messes with settings: Sets time_speed to 0, viewing_range to 50.
    • Good chess implementation.
    • It's hard to see what happened in a turn.
    • Fits theme.
  • Chess with luck ... way too much luck

    This is a very simple but clean Chess implementation. The pieces look nice, you know whose turn it is. En passant works. Castling works. Basic draw conditions work. And the computer opponent is stronger than me, but then, I'm terrible at Chess, rofl. Dead position detection is incomplete but that's a known problem in Chess software. Also, promotions always promote to queen, you can't choose.

    What I criticize is that you must use a chat command to start the game. Why not use blocks or buttons or something on the chessboard instead?

    But this isn't Chess. It's Chess with luck. Every few turns, something random happens. A piece disappears or gets added. Two pieces are swapped. A lot of pieces disappear. Night mode gets activated. You travel back in time. And so on.

    While this is an "unexpected" idea, I think the random events are just too random. Worst, they are just very poorly balanced. The developer just took a few simple ideas and threw them in. Any random event can make or break the game at any time. The Showdown events removes all pieces except kings and queens and is probably the most broken event lol (in terms of gameplay). One random events leaves the board in an seemingly "illegal" state: Sfter two pieces are swapped, it can happen a pawn ends up at the other side of the board but it does not promote so it can't do anything anymore.

    Another UX criticism I have of the luck element is that you don't see which pieces got removed/added/swapped/etc. You have to recall it from memory somehow (VERY hard). This makes it awkward to play. So the luck is not only too random, but also too confusing.

    I give this a negative rating because the luck elements kinda ruin the game. If the luck elements would have been more balanced or be more fun, that would be different. To be fair, there's a "normal chess" mode but this wasn't the point of this game.

  • It fits the theme very well

    The effects that happen throughout the game are very unexpected and the bot is unexpectedly good at chess. Its a simple yet great game!

  • 7.5/10 anarchy chess

    Chess... ehhh. Now chess with random events? Sure. I'm not a chess expert by any means, but i did find the random events fun regardless. Very polished implementation, along with its own engine! Sometimes the game can be unfair but that's a major part of the fun, seeing a random horsey just disappear only later on to not matter because i lost from a queen spawn. Another fun round is at turn 3, it became a showdown. didn't even get a chance to play chess normally lmao. Another fun thing that happened is how i'm definitely losing in the endgame but it doesn't matter cuz the chess gods smite the leftover computer's rook, leaving me for an easy queen promotion.

  • Funny

    A bit buggy (throws red text at me for some reason), but cool overall. Looking forward to play this in multiplayer

  • Chess but confusing

    I appreciate how the author wanted to experiment but at the same time I wouldn't feel like recommending it either. It's basically chess with unexpected things happening on the board (e.g. pieces swapping), so your skill doesn't really matter much. I also think that games like chess work better through an UI rather than having an in-world representation with the player floating around to move the pieces



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