How much chess is in "Auto Chess"?

by Arne Kaehler
4/6/2020 – Chess enjoys a good reputation and the creators of the popular online game "Auto Chess" probably wanted to use this reputation when naming their product. However, chess players might wonder how much chess really is in "Auto Chess"? A bit but not that much. | Photo: Courtesy of Drodo Studio

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A game with a chess theme

Almost 20 years ago the online strategy game Warcraft 3 (which now comes in a remastered though controversial edition) hit the stores to become a big success. Soon players added modes and modifications to the original and DOTA, the "Defense of the Ancients", turned out to be the most popular of these modifications.

Therefore, the Valve Corporation, the creator of games like Half-Life and Counter Strike, decided to go ahead with a follow-up of DOTA, namely DOTA 2. But DOTA 2 was a game itself and not just a modification of a game. And just as its predecessor DOTA2 turned out to be tremendously successful and indeed became one of the most popular online games. Even some grandmasters of chess were playing the game.

Of course, it did not take fans long to create modifications for DOTA 2. One of them was "DOTA – Auto Chess".

What is Auto Chess?

In the game Auto Chess which Drodo Studios developed as a stand-alone version, eight players fight against each other on eight different chess boards with up to 50 different "chess pieces". The pieces have various strengths and abilities and can merge into stronger pieces.

However, in contrast to over-the-board chess the players can buy certain pieces but cannot control them – once a piece is bought and set up the program takes over and the players can only watch as the pieces battle it out. Players can influence the game by deciding which pieces to buy and how to set them up but luck still plays a considerable part in this game.

How popular is Auto Chess?

This concept proved popular and experts estimate that 20 to 30 million people play Auto Chess or a clone of it. And these numbers are rising quickly. The majority of these players are from Asia where Auto Chess tournaments are shown on TV Channels, Twitch and YouTube.

How much chess is in Auto Chess?

Well, though the name suggests differently, Auto Chess does not have much in common with chess. Sure, the battlefield is a chess board of sorts but the Auto Chess pieces behave not at all like pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queen and king in regular chess. And it is not mate that ends the game.

Probably, the word "Chess" in "Auto Chess" was chosen to attract people who are interested in games with tactical and strategic elements. Which is how I got interested.

Is it worth trying out Auto Chess?

Well, as Auto Chess really has nothing much in common with chess you might enjoy the game whether your are chess player or not. But don't get fooled by the name.

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Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.