I love chess, I'm not the greatest player but it is a pure game of one mind against another. There's no chance element except the players themselves. Beyond that the beauty of the game exists in the sets themselves. They make a wonderful gift both for players and as decorative items. There are many fine chess sets in the world, but for something truly special why not commission a unique set.
As well as creating sets for sale on the Old Ones Productions store I can create a chess set to your specifications and in this article I will outline the elements needed to build the set and determine its budget.
The overall theme for the chess set determines the style of the pieces and board. The theme can be anything and should be your starting point. Common themes can be historical periods or events, works of fiction, or even more abstract concepts. For the examples shown in this article I picked a Cthulhu theme (Lovecraft is one of my favourite writers) and a Fantasy Football game (Blood Bowl more specifically).
A chess set is composed of the game pieces and the board and the theme will guide the presentation of both.
Fantasy Football Chess Set
Chess is a game of two sides (although other variants exist if you are feeling adventurous!) with both sets being equal. Each piece has it's own identity and in conjunction with your chosen theme will set the style for your set.
Here your available budget will also be a deciding factor as there are many options to consider. If the set is to be used for playing rather than for display purposes only then extra care must be taken to ensure that the pieces are identifiable for their positions in the game.
Typically the pieces on each side reflect each other exactly, but as can be seen in the Fantasy Football set each side can have its own style which in this case reflects the two opposing teams.
For these sets I source figures of different scales and materials depending on the theme. Some themes such as those popular in wargaming, model making or table top gaming are easier to source than others. This can vary in price from £100 to over £500 for the 32 pieces to be needed.
Detail Painted King Piece
Size is important here, the most suitable is 25/28mm scales as these fit the most commonly available boards. However other sizes are available.
Bases for the pieces also need to be considered, these can be plain, or textured, usually depending on what works best with the board.
The finish of the pieces also factors heavily into the budget. Chess sets are usually duo-tone (white versus black) and similar colour scheme is effective. Further detail can be applied, although care must be taken to keep the two distinctive.
If you want something truly special then you can have the pieces designed, 3D sculpted and printed. This can cost upwards of £200 per piece depending on the design and materials used.
The chess board is the battlefield upon which the game is played. As with the pieces this ties into the theme. Typically for chess sets it's the colour of the pieces that is reflected in the board. This doesn't have to be the case, but as with the pieces the two colours should be distinct.
Nightmare Chess Set
The material of the chess board is dependent on budget, wooden chess boards tend to start at around £50. The hand made stone chess board for the Cthulhu themed set cost over £200 and is very heavy - but really makes the set stand out!
The pieces will determine the tile size for the board. Whether the set will be used for playing also factors in, a display set can have slightly smaller tiles, but for playing you really need adequate space around the pieces for comfortable play.
As well as materials more exotic options are available. You can really let the theme dictate the form of the board, an example here would be a Battle of Waterloo chess set with British soldiers in red facing off against French soldiers in blue and the fields of Waterloo as the board. The Nightmare chess set has a hand crafted leather board which really suits it!
So if you'd like to commission a chess set of your own then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can take it from there.