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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 15-45 minutes 2

Designer(s): Francis K Lalumiere

Publisher(s): Steve Jackson Games

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Product Description

From the folks who brought you Knightmare Chess comes Proteus--a dice game that plays a little like chess and a lot like nothing you've ever seen before! Played on a standard chess board, each side gets 8 dice, with a different piece on each face. You start with 8 pawns, but each turn you get to change one of your dice to a more powerful piece. But as your pieces get more powerful, they become worth more points to your opponent! The game is easy to learn, but mastering the intricate strategies will prove much harder...

Product Awards

Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 5 reviews

by Kirk Andersen
The best chess variant I have ever played.
January 26, 2011

I recently found this game for a low price at a gaming store and decided to pick it up because it wasn't available on the internet anywhere. Boy, was I glad I did! This is by far the best chess variant I have ever played. The rules are balanced out very well but I noticed that the knight is worth more than the bishop. I have heard from my dad (who is a chess expert) that according to the chess federation bishops are actually a little more valuable than knights. Nevertheless, the game has multiple strategies and decisions that you can make with equal advantages and disadvantages to what kind of chess army you wish to "build" (which is another fascinating feature of the game). If you like chess (and chess variants) this is definitely more bang for your buck than any other game I know.

Proteus is fast
August 19, 2003

I wont bother to summarize the game, if you havent figured it out your not going to. I usually dont go for chess variants, its like trying to improve the thermos. But this game kicks monkey ba**z, because its small and fast. You could sit down and play it while waiting for your food at a restaurant. And in spite of this fact it doesnt kill strategy. My fiance just played with me and I was very pleased with the $4.99 purchase.

A new twist to an old favorite
September 24, 2002

Sat down and played a game with my brother in about 15 minutes. Initial reaction: 'Let's play again.' And again. The simple mechanics coupled with familiar strategies made this game an instant favorite for us: we have yet to try all the variants but each brings unique challenges that we both found distinct strategies for.

Hard to find a better value for the cost. For those who need a gift exchange idea, this is a must for any gaming enthusiast.

A nice chess variant, but more than good enough on its own.
December 18, 2001

I used to play chess when I was younger. However, I never had the determination/interest to put enough time into it to become a really good player, and I find the game a little bit dry compared to all the offerings from Germany.

When I heard about Proteus, I was intrigued. The game seemed to have all the strategic qualities of chess, but without the overall complexity or length, so I picked it up. Since then, I have had no reason to regret that purchase.

For 8 dollars, you receive 16 custom dice (8 white, 8 black), which isn't really expensive when you compare this to the price of regular dice. These dice represent your chess pieces, and depending on their facing will be your regular Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook or Queen pieces. The six face is the traditional Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid, which is a piece which cannot move, but cannot be captured either.

At the beginning of the game, you place all your dice as Pawns on the black spaces of the first two rows. You then alternate playing with your opponent, white going first as in chess. On his/her turn, a player must do the following:

  • Move a piece.
  • Rotate a different piece.

Moving a piece is the same as in chess, including capturing opponent's pieces. Rotating a piece is changing its value up or down by one level (from Rook to Queen, or from Pawn to Pyramid, for example). As there is no King to checkmate, the game finishes when a player is unable to move (in which case he loses) or when he has only one piece left. At that point, players calculate the worth of the opponent's pieces captured (Pawns being worth 2 points, up to Queens being worth 6), with the highest total winning the game.

A nice touch in the game is the concept of 'backstabbing': you can capture a Queen by moving to the space right behind her. This compensates for the strength of the piece, and makes a strategy of having multiple Queens risky: you could give your opponent a lot of points easily that way. This is due to the fact it is possible to mount double attacks in the game by moving a piece in position to capture another and rotating a second piece to a new one which can also capture from its current position. I found that aspect an interesting twist on regular chess. The game is also more dynamic than chess as the board changes more between players' turns.

Several variants are provided in the rules, so the game can stay fresh for a long time. These variants can also add more randomness to the game, which is good for people who want less strategy and more action.

The only problem with the game is that a playing mat isn't included. While you can print one on Steve Jackson's Games web site, it would have been better to have the game ready to play when you buy it.

The other problem people can point to, being that you could play the game with regular dice, isn't an issue for me. I tried it before buying the game to see if I'd like the concept, and I found that it is a lot more difficult to visualize the board when only dots represent the pieces. Since the game is quite cheap, it isn't worth the bother of trying to do so when you could simply buy the dice.

All in all, Proteus is a good game for its price, bridging the gap between chess and non-chess fans. You can play a game quite quickly, and I'm always willing to play another one afterward.

by M Petty
Simple and fun chess related game.
September 04, 2001

Proteus is the latest chess-related game from Steve Jackson Games. For about $10, you get the pieces and the rules. You have to supply the chess board.

Speaking of the pieces, all you get is 16 dice (8 Black, 8 White). Instead of numbers on the dice, there are icons representing 5 standard chess pieces (pawn, bishop, knight, rook and queen) and also a pyramid. The pyramid is a defensive piece that can't be moved or captured.

The rules are simple. Players pick a color and set their 8 dice to pawns. The pieces start in the 8 black squares of the chess board closest to the player controlling them.

On a turn, a player moves a piece (with standard movement rules from chess for the 5 chess pieces) and then 'rotates' a different piece up or down one step. The pieces are ranked in the order I listed them above. So, for example, you could move a pawn, then rotate one of your knights up to a rook or down to a bishop. That's it, end of turn.

Why not just move them all up to queens and send them over for an attack? Well, the more powerful pieces have a higher point value. Players score these points by capturing the pieces. Having several high ranking pieces risks losing more points.

Furthermore, the queen is not only the highest valued piece, it also can be captured by pieces landing on the square behind it (called 'backstabbing'). If you're used to guarding your queen carefully in regular chess, imagine how you'll keep an eye on two or three of them when they're this vulnerable!

Players play until one player can't move (and thus loses) or until a player has only one piece (in which case scores are compared). As I hope my rule summary reveals, this is a very simple game. Still, there has been plenty of strategy and thinking ahead in the games I've played so far. There are seven variants included that promise various degrees of fun or strategy.

In summary, I enjoy Proteus quite a bit, and I look forward to many more plays. My wife won't play chess with me, but she'll play Proteus, and she has beaten me at it. You'll likely find it to be a middle ground for chess and non-chess players as well. If you like chess or chess-like games, I strongly recommend Proteus.

Other Resources for Proteus:

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