Syba Chess


Team: 1 Designer
My Role: Designer
Made with: Cardboard/Photoshop/Google/Boardgamesmaker
Project Duration: 240 hours

As with Tidnder and Amantha’s Day Off, this board game was also made as part of the celebration of sint nicholas, as wrapper for a present for a friend. The game is an asymmetrical non luck game based on risk and chess, and inspired by one of our many dnd campaigns.

My Task:
I have made the entire game from scratch, although the art (not the card design) is admittedly the result of many google searches.
Project Date: 7-12-2019



One of the campaigns that I run as a dungeon master takes place in the made-up world of Syba, a continent with many cities and cultures, all huddled together. Players have visited most of these, and one of the recurring elements in these cities was a complex gambling game, named Syba Chess. As I didn’t expect players to actually play it (I made the game Syba Chess up on the spot when players asked what people are doing in the city in terms of hobbies), I quickly described it as a combination of Risk and Chess. A player starts the game with one of Syba’s many cities, gaining benefits appropriately, and must use that city (and any city they capture during the course of the game) to slowly but certainly take over the entire board and thus win the game. The chess part of the game was simply that there was no single instance of luck in the game. Everything was decided with skill and strategy. And every game was intrinsically different, because any amount of players could join, players could effectively work with or against each other, and they could strategically choose there starting positions (and thus their benefits and play styles) from up to 40 cities.

This year, I got the honor to give a present to the person who, in character, played this game the most of all. So I decided to finally make this vague description of a board game an actual playable game. And to do so, I spend 2 hours each day for four months to re-figure all of the thousands of rules that were thought of during the course of the campaign down to a simple 7 page rule book. To make all of these thousands of rule clear, I also made three decks of cards with cities that could be conquered (which also listed their benefits if you started with one of these), a deck with all the units that have special abilities (in case the player wants to use some of the more strategic options in warfare) and a deck with all the upgrades the player could buy (for progression during the game). As all of these cards are all constantly available (there is no shuffling of the deck), the requirement of no luck involved was still upheld. And of course, no die was used to ensure this specific requirement.

I have play tested this game before the final presentation, and we played a short game during the day itself, and surprisingly enough even a quick explanation of the rules was enough to not just make people understand it, but to make people enjoy it. They kicked my ass like they have been playing the game their entire life, came up with strategies and solutions I haven’t come up with, and one of the players already asked me to make an expansion, so they might even be able to play it alone, against an AI.

It is a challenge I am willing to take on.


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