The Story of James Workshop

Once there was a poor carpenter named James. James lived in a small village, working out of his own shop, called James’ Workshop.
James was somewhat popular, fixing a lot of things for people. One day, James was extremely bored, and decided to invent a new game. He went into his Workshop and after a lot of hammering, sawing and painting, he stepped out of his Workshop. He had created a new game, called Sledgehammer Fantasy Chess.
He had painted a board with 64 squares, 32 black and 32 white, alternating. To play this magnificent game, he had carved 16 pieces, 8 black and 8 white. All the pieces were identical, and James named them ‘Pawns’. Each Pawn could move forward one square, 2 from it’s starting square and attack 1 square, but only diagonically.
Everyone in the village played James’ new game and thought it to be marvellous fun. As time went by, people thought it a bit dull, though, and pleaded James to make new pieces.

So James went into his Workshop, and 2 days later he produced 4 new pieces, 2 black and 2 white. They were shaped like small knights, so he named them ‘Knights’. These new pieces could move 2 squares in any direction and then 1 square to the side. And it could leap over any intervening piece! People were amazed. Pieces that could move in any direction were totally unheard of, and it brought a lot of excitement to the village. A few were worried, though, this new piece rendered all the old pieces obsolete. Others disagreed, these new ‘Knights’ could not attack pieces next to them, so the Pawns were still quite good.

A few weeks later, James emerged from his Workshop. This time, he had created 4 new pieces, 2 black and 2 white. They had crosses on them, and James named them ‘Bishops’. People in the village did not believe their ears; men of the church could not fight! As James explained their abilities, to move in any diagonal direction, always keeping to the same color of squares, people mumbled about ‘piece escallation’ and ‘just because the pawn came out first, it was the weakest piece’.

The people of the village still played the game and had fun. Everyone eagerly awaited the next ‘James Workshop’-release. James thought something was missing, so he made 4 new pieces, again 2 black and 2 white. He named them ‘Rooks’ and they could move like the bishops, except they only moved in straight lines. The people were outraged. Some laughed, others were angry. Who had ever heard of moving fortifications? Surely, James was loosing it. Playtesting proved them to be quite more powerful than all the other pieces, and collecters of Pawns and Knights were very angry.

And then just as people had discoved how to beat a Rook, James had the nerve to create 2 new pieces. 1 Black and 1 white. And what a piece it was. People did not believe their eyes. It looked like….surely it couldn’t be…but it was…..A WOMAN!!!! All the men laughed, surely, this was some joke. But James explained them the rules for the ‘Queen’, and nobody laughed anymore. She could move in any direction. Cries of ‘power-character’, ‘hero-hammer’ and ‘cheesy-piece’ were heard. She could defeat an entire army. Why include the other pieces now, they were just ‘cannon fodder’ for the opposing Queen? And another thing, pointed out by the village blacksmith, the ‘deployment zone’ was getting a bit crowded. Surely, James could not produce any more pieces now!

But James produced 2 more pieces, for a total of 32. 16 black pieces would fight 16 white. This piece was made taller and more magnificent than the rest. There were Oh’s and Ah’s as he showed the people of the village the new pieces. James explained the rules. This ‘King’ could move only 1 square, but in any direction. And if he was lost, the game was lost! There were silence for a minute, then everybody started yelling at James. People had come to expect a new ‘Power-piece’ so why did he create such a weak piece? And if he died, the whole army crumbled! People tore their hair and cried. But James thought the piece to balance off the game. But he agreed that the King might be a bit weak, so he allowed it to ‘Castle’ in one of the corners of the board.

And then, after people had tried the game using all the pieces, and some rule modifications had been made, like Pawns reaching the opposing end of the board being transformed into other pieces, everybody agreed that the game was well balanced and very enjoyable.

And some even started painting their pieces!