What the hell is Auto Chess?
Coming off two Assassin’s Creed games in a row, and bracing myself for Watch Dogs 2 (genuinely excited to get into that!), I’ve taken a step back and dipped into Destiny 2 on and off, and the latest sensation, Auto Chess.
Note: there are various versions of the Auto Chess game now. I’ve been playing “Auto Chess” on my Android mobile phone.
After a few hours of playing Auto Chess, I can officially conclude that I half understand it, and can kind of tell you what it is….
I’ll try, of course, and I honestly quite enjoy it. But it feels like it’s more luck than judgement at times.
I’ve won a couple of matches, I’ve lost a couple, and I’ve done alright in a few. Most importantly, though, I’ve started to see underneath the glossy veneer.
There might actually be more to Auto Chess than meets the eye.
In fairness, the name kind of makes sense. In that it’s a game of pieces on a chess board, that automatically play the round.
With 8 people dropped into a match, you’re constantly being pitted against an opponent, until only one of you stands. Noting that you don’t all battle each other at once, rather, you battle multiple 1v1 rounds until you either lose all of your health, or you win.
Starting out, you have minimal cash to purchase a hero/chess piece. So you use your 1 dollar to choose from the random selection that you’re presented with.
Each piece has is part of a specific class (I haven’t worked those out yet), and can be upgraded later on in the game.
Every round sees you earn more money, to then invest in additional pieces, or upgrading them.
You drop your hero onto the board anywhere in your half, the round starts, and then by what seems to be a rock/paper/scissors style system, you win or lose. Depending on the type of piece you played, and the type you played against.
Soon, you’ve got a back-line of a few different heroes to use, and you can switch them in and out of rounds as you see fit.
The further into the match you go, the more pieces are permitted on the board to fight.
Eventually, you’ll have a little army that keeps battling through until the bitter end. Auto Chess indeed….
You end up with more dollars than you need, so you can re-roll the heroes available to you, and you can buy them at will. In fact, part of the strategy lies here. You never really want to have loads of money. You should always be refining your team, improving them and adding variety. Spend those dollars, you don’t keep them!
Deeper than it looks
The first few games I had, I was just dropping-in as many pieces as I could, and upgrading some when I saw the duplicates I needed. It was dumb luck that I won.
Soon thereafter, I decided to use the “re-roll” function when presented with new pieces, and I started to pay attention to the types of hero I had on the board. Then, it started to click a little.
This is Pokemon, mixed with chess, mixed with some kind of micromanagement simulator. That rock/paper/scissors combat, the strategic placement and management of what’s on the board at the beginning of each round. And the financial management, making sure you can invest when you need to, but play the field enough to find what you want.
Wow. Auto Chess. It plays itself out on the board, sure. But the isn’t where the strategy or work lies.
You’re better off likening it to a football management simulator than chess, to be honest. Change your perspective, and the depth of the game increases significantly.
I was absolutely smashing a game. Stayed in the top position all the way until the final few rounds. 98 health all the way. Suddenly, the player in 2nd place was whooping me. They had 17 health, but I had all the wrong pieces, no knowledge on how to counter what they had, and I came second.
A hard lesson to learn, but a great one.
I don’t really care too much for mobile games. Battery draining, data-using and not usually particularly easy to control. Sure, I dabble with some match-three games etc, but only when I’m at a loose end.
Auto Chess matches can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, so it’s not quite a casual mobile app to just play for a few minutes.
On the plus side, I can just play it whilst we watch a film or plough through a TV series. It’s not massively demanding of your attention, but you can’t just let it happen, otherwise you’ll get nowhere.
It strikes a nice balance between a decent in-depth game, and a casual competitive experience.
Will I play it forever? Probably not, but it’s fun, it’s free and it isn’t hogging the TV whilst we watch something on the sofa.
With a slew of variants of the game coming out, there’ll no doubt be a few strong contenders to be “the best”. That’s fine. I’m enjoying this for now, and I’ll play it until I’ve had my fill.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a hands-off game as the “auto” would imply. A few rounds in, and you’ll start to get a handle on things.
Perhaps Auto Chess will be the next “Battle Royale”, or perhaps it’s a passing fad that will have it’s bubble burst before the end of the month.
Let’s see how it goes.