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When Chess Gets Too
Trying, Try These
Instead
 

Chess is a game that has stood the test of time. It's the ultimate test of strategy, forward planning and cunning. While there are some games that offer a computer chess experience, more interesting are games that use chess as inspiration.

These games use the familiar movement of the pieces, the ability to plan ahead and the standard grid layout as part of their video game challenge. Although this may sound like a bad idea (why not just play proper chess) many offer a nuanced and intriguing experience. They also have the benefit of being an on-ramp to the world of chess that can be unapproachable.

The games in this list all have chess-like elements, are turn-based and are usually played in a grid playfield.
 
This list includes 56 games from the last 30 years, with 326 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to enjoy chess-like play.

Related Lists
 

Advance Wars (Series)

Release Date: 10/09/2001, updated in 2023

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GBA, Switch, Wii and Wii U

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Advance Wars is a classic turn-based strategy game re-released as Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp on Nintendo Switch. You take charge of an army in strategic, turn-based combat. With land, air, and naval units across the battlefield, you work to take...

Chessplosion

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Chessplosion is an action, puzzle game where you drop chess pieces on a board to trigger bombs in the shape of their related chess moves. Your aim is to use the different pieces (and bomb attacks) to trap opponents like Bomberman. No prior chess...

Pocket Card Jockey

Release Date: 05/05/2016, updated in 2023

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, Apple TV, Mac, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Grid

Pocket Card Jockey is a horse racing game you participate in by playing a series of Solitaire card games. You race, breed and nurture a stable of horses for a range of owners, trainers and other interesting individuals. It stands out as both a brilliant...

Imbroglio

Release Date: 18/05/2016, updated in 2020

Out Now: iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Imbroglio is a puzzle game where you take a character into a dungeon and progress by collecting stars. The twist is that combat is focused not only your abilities but the tile you are standing on when you attack. Although each character has different...

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Out Now: PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop to send you bottle around the map. You combine ingredients, fire and water to move your bottle along the map to the target location and brew a potion to help...

Bad North

Release Date: 31/10/2018, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Grid

Bad North is a stylised strategy fighting game. You control an army defending an island and must train and develop your forces efficiently. The simple visuals and knife-edge Viking combat along with the jeopardy of losing precious troops make this a lot...

Transformers: Battlegrounds

Release Date: 23/10/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Transformers: Battlegrounds is a strategy game that's accessible for a range of abilities. It offers a robot-themed XCOM-style game for younger players.

Patrick's Parabox

Release Date: 29/03/2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Patrick's Parabox is a puzzle game where you move, and move through, boxes within boxes. Like a Russian doll, inside each box is another level that you can navigate to create a nested set of puzzles. It's an equally mind-bending and elegant experience...

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Release Date: 29/08/2017

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon and Grid

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a chess-like strategy game where you control cartoon rabbits (the Rabbids) and Nintendo characters in turn-based battles with fantastical weapons through four different worlds.

Into The Breach

Release Date: 27/02/2018, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Stadia, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid, Hand-Made and Pixels

Into the Breach is a fantasy turn-based battle. It's set in a future where humanity fights an army of giant monsters. You control mechs equipped with a variety of weapons and armour in carefully coordinated actions played out on super-small tile-based...

XCOM (Series)

Release Date: 01/01/1994, updated in 2017

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

XCOM is a science fiction strategic battle game where you control units to stop an alien invasion. The long-running series has come in many forms, but always has in common the finely tuned turn-based ground combat where you control a squad of soldiers...

Babble Royale

Release Date: 15/12/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Text

Babble Royale is a puzzle word game played against 16 other players online. You simultaneously race to make words as in Scrabble. Here though, you do this to inch across the board and stay out of the encroaching storm.

Clubhouse Games (Series)

Release Date: 29/09/2006, updated in 2020

Out Now: DS and Switch

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Clubhouse Games is a series that offers classic board and card games in one large bundle. It's not only great value but introduces children to a wide range of real-world games to play with the family.

Marvel's Midnight Suns

Release Date: 07/10/2022, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Marvel's Midnight Suns is an action-strategy game set within the Marvel universe. You interact with and play alongside famous Marvel superheroes in turn-based battles, where cards dictate the attacks you can use. It's the way you must adjust your...

Stormbound Kingdom Wars

Release Date: 18/09/2017, updated in 2019

Out Now: Android and iOS

Components: 2D Overhead, Cards, Grid and Weather

Stormbound Kingdom Wars is a strategic battle game combining Chess and Clash Of Clans gameplay. You build an army by earning cards for different units, defences and abilities. These have to be carefully chosen to do well in...

Wargroove

Release Date: 01/02/2019

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cartoon and Grid

Wargroove is a fantasy war game, similar to Advanced Wars from the Gameboy era, where players take turns in a variety of battles. Computer-controlled and human opponents compete to achieve objectives and be the last player remaining.

No Plan B

Release Date: 01/12/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

No Plan B is a tactical role-play game where you plan missions to neutralise various threats. Unusually, you don't directly control your team during the action. Instead, you plan orders for them ahead of time then watch as they execute your commands in...

How To Say Goodbye

Release Date: 03/11/2022

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

How to Say Goodbye is a narrative puzzle game where you interact with the illustrations to help a group of ghosts reach the other side. As you progress you discover the story of a character recently turned into a ghost and lost in an unknown world. Your...

Not Chess

Release Date: 15/11/2020, updated in 2021

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Board and Grid

Not Chess is a puzzle game similar to Chess, but you only have one piece, which morphs into whatever piece you take. It's a simple way of getting to grips with some of the basic rules of chess in a low-pressure, single-player environment, while also...

Auto Chess

Release Date: 18/04/2019

Out Now: Android, PC, PS4 and iOS

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Auto Chess is a strategy game where you set up automated actions to gain a competitive advantage. As you play you purchase units that will battle for you, each unit has different attributes that can collaborate with other units. The goal ultimately is...

Pawnbarian

Release Date: 24/09/2021

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Board and Grid

Pawnbarian is a puzzle game where you attack enemies in a dungeon based on chess moves. You build a deck of different pieces and use them in battles

Bonfire Peaks

Release Date: 30/09/2021

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Grid

Bonfire Peaks is a puzzle game where you explore a Minecraft-looking world. Unlike the generalised blocks of that game, here the landscape is lovingly crafted and pulsing with life. It's a tightly designed puzzle game about closure, that invites you to...

Shotgun King (Punkcake)

Release Date: 12/05/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Shotgun King is a gruesome game of chess where you play a single piece with a shotgun. It combines turn-based strategic runs with classic chess moves. It's a game of Chess where all your comrades have gone to the other side (and you found a firearm).

Tres Undos

Release Date: 03/01/2022

Out Now: Web

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Tres Undos is a hard puzzle game where you move blocks around a maze to fill holes and progress. The twist is that you can rewind time. On top of this the game layers the rewind ability to affect different elements differently. Then there are locations...

Bomb Club

Release Date: 02/08/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Bomb Club is a puzzle game where you use an arsenal of whacky bombs to clear the board with a chain reaction. You place and trigger the bombs to ensure a single chain and complete the level. It's a novel combination of fun explosions and puzzle solving...

Cinco Paus

Release Date: 25/12/2017, updated in 2021

Out Now: iOS

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Cinco Paus is a puzzle game where you try and get through 5 rooms picking up treasure as you go. What makes it unusual are the magic wands that help you do this. What appears to be a maze game turns out to be a challenge to discover the effects of each...

Corrypt

Release Date: 18/12/2012, updated in 2017

Out Now: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Pixels

Corrypt is a role-playing puzzle game where you collect items and interact with characters in a maze filled with moveable boxes. In a novel twist, you can push and pull the boxes, but they stick to you, making it a challenge to move them out of the way...

Dungeons of Dreadrock

Release Date: 15/03/2022

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Dungeons of Dreadrock is a retro adventure game that adds puzzle-solving to the usual exploration and fighting. Play involves working your way through a series of single-screen levels to find your brother. Each level presents a unique challenge...

Floppy Knights

Release Date: 24/05/2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cards, Grid and Hand-Made

Floppy Knights is an adventure where you battle enemies using cards and turn-based strategy. With your robot, Carlton, and a group of virtual knights, you must liberate your town from hostile invaders. It looks like Advance Wars but has a unique blend...

Hearthstone: Battlegrounds

Release Date: 12/11/2019

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Grid

Hearthstone: Battlegrounds is a strategic fighting game mode in Hearthstone, where you collect and upgrade cards and pit your deck against 7 other players. Buy and sell the best cards, upgrade their abilities and more as you uncover winning strategies...

Really Bad Chess

Release Date: 13/10/2016, updated in 2017

Out Now: Android, iOS and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Text

Really Bad Chess is like chess, but with random pieces selected for each player. Try 8 Knights, 4 Bishops, and 3 pawns. Starting positions are also non-standard. It sounds like a bad idea (hence the name) but actually opens the imposing chess challenge...

Seven Scrolls

Release Date: 16/03/2020

Out Now: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Hand-Made

Seven Scrolls is a puzzle game where you explore a dungeon, kill enemies and get to the exit. What's unusual is that the rules of the game change as you pick up scrolls.

Snakebird

Release Date: 04/05/2015

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Blocks

Snakebird is a puzzle game about movement, shapes and gravity. You control multiple snakes on a quest for fruit. You move around the world by directing each one to collect fruit. It looks simple, but the novelty is that you soon have to create specific...

Storybook Brawl

Release Date: 11/06/2021

Out Now: PC

Components: 2D Side-On, Cards and Grid

Storybook Brawl is a fighting card game where you choose a unique hero to lead an expanding team of storybook characters in a short 8-player tournaments. Recruit and upgrade a characters from your favourite stories and fairy tales that take advantage of...

Tactical Breach Wizards

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Tactical Breach Wizards is a small-scale, turn-based fighting and shooting game. You play a team of wizards in modern-day tactical gear, breaching and clearing rooms full of enemies with a combination of guns, abilities and spells.

Twinfold

Release Date: 14/11/2018, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Grid

Twinfold is a puzzle fighting game played in a small maze. You move around the maze with your square character merging into golden baby cubes to gain energy and squashing angry enemy cubes.

Bloks (Sokpop)

Release Date: 30/12/2020

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Grid

Bloks is a strategy puzzle game where you place Tetris-style blocks to construct a planet. You place different elements and land so that you can create humans and build them a spaceship. A unique combination of Tetris-style block puzzle, element...

Checkmate Showdown

Release Date: 15/11/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and 2D Side-On

Checkmate Showdown is a strategic fighting game where you move your pieces on a chess board and then use them in fights to try and take off enemy pieces. You use fists, kicks, and weapons to defeat opponents in combat, and the winning piece gets to stay...

Chezzle

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Board and Grid

Chezzle is similar to chess, but here you only have one piece that changes to whatever you take. It features a relaxing soundscape and encouraging messages, and allows you to get the grips of the rules of chess at your own pace while also creating a...

Chroma Squad

Release Date: 30/04/2015, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Chroma Squad is a strategy game themed around the The Power Rangers TV show. Rather than the heroes, you play the stunt actors who quit the show to start their own Power Rangers-inspired series. Rather than kill enemies in the turn based encounters,...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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