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Designer(s): Fred Beutschler

Manufacturer(s): Avalon Hill

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Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 7 reviews

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Resistance is Feudal
November 26, 2003

Put a barrier between a super inflated chess board with terrain features and special men. Devise your own openning. Then let this game take you to it's exciting conclusion. Wargamers said it was unrealistic. Chess purist ignored it. The rest of us just had a lot of fun. While these German games are heralded on year and out of print the next, this classic will go on!

Chess squared
September 16, 2003

This has always been a favorite of mine. I purchased it when i was 12 and have played off and on for 23 yrs since. I think chess is incredibly boring in comparison. And yes, many people that i've played with have had the notion of expanding it...more boards, more armies, etc., but I still love the original format. I still have my original set too.

As a side note,(for those who have tinkered with designing new boards) there IS a mehtod to the madness of creating different boards. (study it, its a puzzle onto itself)


Chess on steriods if you've got the imagination
March 31, 2003

We (other gamers and myself) rapidly found the game to be limiting compared to what it could be.

Out of the box, the game came with 4 connected boards, which open to form a square. Pieces (described by another reviewer) fit into holes and have various movement rules, just as in chess. Limitations exist, according to the rules - 12 place limit on verticle/horizontal and diagonal pieces, 3 for archers and other limits apply as well.

Then we expanded its capabilities by first adding additional set(s!), unattaching the delivered 4 piece board (making selection of landscape part of the setup, merging pieces (archers and horsemen to create horse-archers), adding capability to existing pieces (Kings became like Queens in Chess - no limit to number of space to move) and so on. We've increased the 'distance' pieces can move as we've expanded the board. The favorite configuration of the board is 3x3 where each player (there are only two of us that continue) gets 3 boards wide by 1 1/2 deep. We've varied the set up from all the way to touching each of us at the 6th row of the middle board to only setting up on one row of boards (a 3x1 strategy) and letting the middle row of boards determine our 'attack points'. Note that in this instance, never see the middle row.

From a strategy point of view, we rapidly discoverd that multiple points of contact were necessary in order to deplete the opponent's (and your own) army to win. It's a game of attrition and strategy. Archers can shoot over your pieces, freeing up another piece to take a second opponent's piece. This continues at each attack point until attrition begins to determine a winner. But don't think that the attacker has the upper hand. Many games become a counter-attack rout, resulting in a complete turn of events. This typically happens 2-3 times a game.

We also noted the 3x3 game provided some very long diagonals, which lead to some interesting turn of events. Some territory is mountains, which no piece can cross (we're still discussing the climber pieces), and other is dessert - where only foot pieces (the majority, but there are many horse-pieces as well) can cross. These desserts lead to many change of events as well.

We did keep some fundamental rules such as taking a castle is the primary objective of the game (short of taking all the opponent's pieces). And have played multiple castles to complicate matters even more.

Our imaginations took us to new levels as the above challenges lead us to even more capabilities. With 6 sets under out wing, we now had close to 150 pieces each - all capable of moving during a single turn. Difficult to remember which has been moved perhaps, but a welcome challenge.

With modifications, it takes a bit longer to play. Even today, one friend and reminisce and consider new developments, but alas, at 14 hours a game, it's difficult to find the time...

If you've got an old set you wish to dispose of, please let me know...

An Avalon Hill Classic
June 01, 2000

I learned to play Feudal more than twenty years ago while working as a sailor on the Great Lakes. It helped to pass the time at sea, and didn't cost me as much as did the nightly poker games.

Once I left the maritime life, I placed my copy of Feudal on a bookshelf and forgot about it. Then, ten years ago, I found another copy at a yard sale and picked it up. I rediscovered the fun of the game and then re-invented it by combining the two game boards(!).

This 'FrankenFeudal' version doubled the size of the game world and doubled the sizes of the armies. Moreover, I experimented with the game board layout so it no longer appeared square; using the eight individual boards, I left 'trenches' between some of the boards and narrow passageways between others. I found this enhanced the overall playability, though the games tended to take longer to complete.

I recommend this game to anyone with an affinity for chess, and recommend you locate an additional copy for the experimentation value.

Chess with zing.
February 24, 2000

Way back when, I found out that smart people don't play chess, because smart people don't like to be bored to death. Feudal, on the other hand is chess-like, but with a interesting options like terrain, and random board (and player) setup.

Game play tends to proceed much more quickly than chess, especially with more than 2 players. Still thought provoking, and intense, but without that static, unchanging, mechanical feel you get from fixed position board games (like chess, checkers, etc). Pretty much, it's just fun.

abstract chess like game
October 31, 1999

This game was originally a 3M game, (before they turned bad glue into post-it notes). The game goes back to the early 1960s.

It is an abstract game, with the map a checkered board. Simple to play, hard to master.

Chess on a Map
April 28, 2002

In its basic form, Feudal is a two-player game. (Rules for team play are also given.) Each player commands 13 medieval warriors consisting of one King, one Prince, one Duke, two Knights, two Sergeants, one Squire, one Archer, and four Pikeman. As in chess, each type of piece has different movement capabilities yet each piece is capable of defeating any other in battle. The game is played on a 24 by 24 field, composed of valleys, rough terrain, and mountains.

The object of Feudal is to either invade and capture your opponent's Castle OR slay all three members of his Royalty - King, Prince, and Duke.

Both players initially position their army in secret, on their half of the board. A Divider Screen is supplied to facilitate this. As soon as each player is ready, the Divider Screen is removed and the location of all warriors and pieces are then known to both players for the rest of the game.

Once placed, the Castle may not be moved again for the rest of the game. (This is similar to each player not being able to move their Flag in Stratego after it is initially placed.)

Again as in chess, each player's King has limited mobility compared to the other men. After a game or two you'll discover he is good for nothing but defens. In fact, a player should always position his King inside his own Castle. That way his opponent would, in effect, have to satisfy BOTH criteria of victory.

Speaking of the Castle, each player should position it to minimize the number of entrances to it. Since Mounted Men (Knights, Prince, Duke) may not move over rough terrain, it makes sense to position your Castle Green (the first step into the Castle) so at least one of the neighboring squares is next to rough terrain, thereby preventing any Mounted Men from entering it from that side.

Players take turns moving, maneuvering, and attempting to capture their opponent's men in an attempt to satisfy one of the two criteria for victory.

Jon Freeman in 'The PlayBoy Winners's Guide to Board Games' writes: 'one of Feudals biggest flaws is on any turn, a player is capable of moving any or ALL of his men! This rule replaces any type of advance planning found in many other games with a great deal of inconsequential skulking and impromptu skirmishing.'

I agree. Imagine a chess or checker game in which you could completely reposition all of your pieces in one turn! This just doesn't work for me. Jon suggests allowing each player to move just HALF of his men each turn but I don't think this solution is much better. Why not just allow one piece to move per turn, like chess, checkers, Stratego, Go, and hundreds of other games?

Furthermore, with 13 men, after you've moved several of them it's often difficult to remember which men you've already moved and which men are still capable of being moved that turn. If you're not careful or not paying attention, you can easily move the same man twice.

Another flaw: Since Mounted Men are capable of moving ANY number of spaces horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, in practice this makes them too hard for the other pieces to capture.

Finally, your opponent can position his Castle in such a way (using the board's rough terrain and mountains to assist him) to make it VERY difficult to gain access to it. And as mentioned above, you'll HAVE to gain access to it to win if his King is inside. Such difficult access reminds me of a flaw in the basic game of Abalone, where a player can clump his marbles together and adopt a 'do-nothing' strategy while his energetic opponent shakes his head back and forth because he can't make any progress. I remember a Feudal game with a friend when neither of us were making much progress... both of our Castles were positioned so well, with a man inside poised for defense, that gaining access was almost impossible.

Feudal has too much in common with chess to be a coincidence. The movement capabilities of the Sergeants resemble a chess bishop. The Pikemen move similar to rooks. Squires move exactly like a chess knight. Feudal was probably designed as a game that would combine the best of both chess and various war games. In fact, some have called Feudal 'chess on a map' a description that is only somewhat accurate. However, with the given pieces and published rules I think Feudal can't hold a candle to chess in any way. Even WITHOUT comparing it to chess and evaluating the game on its own, Feudal SHOULD be more fun than it is! So why isn't it? If you can find the answer to this question then Feudal has MUCH potential for you, given your own rule changes and variations.

Feudal's components, although inexpensive and simple, are actually quite attractive and when the game is set up, the plastic board and playing pieces look visually appealing and actually INVITE gameplay!

It's a shame this interest is lost soon after play begins. Two and a half stars.

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