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Brawl Arcane is the indie Warhammer scene’s answer to chess

This International Chess day, wargamers and chess masters can come together for a game of Brawl Arcane 28, an indie wargame that fits on a chess board.

Brawl Arcane is like weirdo Warhammer chess - converted miniature by Brett Evans, a white-robed wizard with two strange yellow familiars

Brawl Arcane 28 looks like a gnarly Warhammer chess variant that one of the Warhammer 40k factions might use to plan its holy crusades, but it’s actually an indie wargame with a cult following and lively kitbashing scene. The miniature wargame was created by Brett Evans, and pits two wizards against one another in a chaotic arena duel before a baying crowd.

Each player controls a wizard and its minions, and takes it in turns manoeuvring them around a gridded board and casting spells. Unlike DnD Wizards, the spells available to you are randomised each turn, meaning you might be stuck Summoning when you really want to raise a Shield.

The board needs to be at least 8×8 squares – a regulation chess board – but you could equally use a Blood Bowl pitch, your DnD miniatures battlemat, or lined paper. Or you could do what many fans do and create your own arena.

Game designer Evans says: “I mostly set out to make something that people could use as a framework for kitbashes. I also wanted it to be accessible”, both in terms of rules, and the components you need to play. He thinks that’s paid off: “I get a lot of people saying that their kids like it, or their partner who isn’t normally into wargaming”.

Brawl Arcane is like weirdo Warhammer chess - converted miniature by Brett Evans, a banshee with red hands accompanied by three red blood puddle monsters

The game is available on a “pay what you want” basis from Itch.io, and it has an active Discord community . It’s part of the Inq28 scene, a subculture of makers and indie game designers that grew out of Warhammer 40k fandom that’s all about kitbashes, DIY, and hacking rules to create something new.

Evans says: “I was inspired by games like Turnip28, The Weald, and Blood Bowl”. He’s impressed by the creations that fans have made: “I think the coolest creations I’ve seen are resources people have made, like fancy reference cards. I also love the portable arenas people have made”.

We’re big fans of Inq28 games here at Wargamer. Check out Necropolis28, which is like Warhammer meets Dark Souls; the pacifist ‘wargame’ Herding28, part of a wider NonCombatTabletop movement; and watch out for the hardback release of monster hunting wargame The Doomed this Summer.