While none of the Auto-battlers out there are what we would know as “chess”, their existence did make me think of Khet 2.0 – a digital form of laser chess. Laser chess has you move pieces with mirrors, an the aim is to shoot the opponent’s King (or get them to shoot it themselves with your Machiavellian manoeuvring).
There are only four different types of piece in Khet 2.0. The first are mirrors at right-angles, which deflect lasers. The second is a two-sided mirror that can be shot at either side (they’re usually in the middle of the board and can’t be eliminated). Third, represented by Anubis, will block any laser attack from the front, but is eliminated if hit anywhere else. Finally, there’s the king, which can be attacked at all sides and to be protected.
What makes Khet 2.0 so compelling is that, similar to regular chess, one move could spell disaster at any time. It forces you to think about every little alteration, calculating where the laser beam will land, and what your opponent might do next. The enemy might have left themselves open, exposing their king — but it could be a red herring to win the next turn. Also, in the digital game the pieces explode, making it about as high-stakes as that scene in Harry Potter with giant wizard chess.
Plus, and this is the important bit, it has lasers. Since when have laser beams not been cool?