When this set was first announced from Bandai’s premium retail web shop, I was pretty curious about it since it looked like it’d be a great collector’s item for hardcore Fate/ZERO or TYPE-MOON fans, but like usual for many great and unique anime merchandise, the stores that carries them often don’t ship internationally; which was the case for this. I used Noppin’s proxy shopping service to obtain the set which ended up costing me about $150-160AUD minus a big hefty shipping fee. The RRP was 9, 980 yen (about $105AUD at current exchange rate).
My pre-order for this set was put in with Noppin about 4 months ago even though it wasn’t released until the 27th of December last year. Ended up leaving it in storage with them for a month since there were a few other stuff I had been buying shortly after that required my funds. Now that it’s here though, expect a whole plethora of photos!
The contents. One box contained the servant pieces and the holy grail while the other one had pieces representing the masters as well as the weapons for Saber, Archer, Lancer and Caster.
Inside the packaging of the box, there was a flyer that gives a guide on setting up the board as well descriptions and visual aids on inserting the weapons to the servant pieces. The bottom right hand corner states the obvious in that you cannot play actual chess with this set because the board is not 8 x 8 squares and recommends you to use a real chessboard if you want to use the pieces for play.
The back of the flyer shows which servant pieces should be used as in a real game of chess. Saber represents the Queen, Lancer and Berserker are the rooks, Archer and Caster represents the bishops while Rider and Assassin takes place as the knights. It also shows that the pieces representing the masters should be used as pawns.
Now for individual photos of the pieces!
The Holy Grail
Seems like the chessboard ended up looking different from the prototype version when it was first announced (link). You can see that there isn’t a light border around the outer squares compared to linked image and the actual border here is maroon coloured instead of matching the red squares. Guess Bandai wanted to save production costs. Would’ve been awesome if the board was made in marble stone as it appeared to be in the anime but one can only imagine how heavy and costly it would’ve been to make.
My display of the set! I actually bought a new tempered glass desk and dark red table cloth for a better display rather than my usual lazy way of putting it on the floor and taking photos from the top.
Having also obtained all 7 chibi prize figures of the servants from Ichiban Kuji’s part 1 line of Fate/ZERO, I thought it’d look pretty cool to display them on the board in place of the servant pieces from the set.
My Original Fate/ZERO Board Game Idea
Now back when I made the pre-order for this set, I knew that you couldn’t play actual chess on it due to the board only having 7 x 7 squares as opposed to the required 8 x 8. To make use of it rather than just leaving it for display, I thought out of a game that I worked on for a few months where it’s similar to the battle for the holy grail. Actually came up with two methods on how to play this game in the process, one being a simple and direct play method while the other one is a more strategy based game but still using the same outline of the simple one. You can also use a normal chess board and its pieces to give this game a try if you’d like, this particular chessboard set of Fate/ZERO and the pieces/figures are not a necessity to be able to play but as long as you have the usual chess pieces and things below then you’re good to go.
Things Needed For The Game
- 6-sided Dice
- 7 Servant Pieces
- 1 Holy Grail Piece
Simple Play Method
The general aim of the simple play method is to defeat all the other servants by reducing their mana points to zero until you are the remaining one on the board. A lot of this is relied on chance by the number the dice lands on as well so everyone has a fair chance regardless of which servant you pick. There can be up to a maximum of 7 players for both the simple and strategy based play methods. The holy grail will always be placed in the centre of the board and cannot be moved.
Step 1) All players can place their servant on any squares on the outer square ends of the board to start.
Step 2) Each player rolls the dice and will move their servant around on the board according to the number it lands on.
Step 3) If a player has their servant directly facing another servant, the player in turn can choose to initiate a battle between the two.
Step 4) Once a battle has been initiated, the two players in the battle will each get to roll the dice three times.
Step 5) Each player will reduce their opponent’s servant’s mana by each roll according to the number the dice lands on. (e.g. 1st roll lands on 4, 2nd roll lands on 2, 3rd roll lands on 6 = 12 mana points damage)
- All servants start off with 50 mana points each (can be higher if you want the game to last longer but 50 sounds good enough for a quick game)
- Servants can move forward, backwards, left, right and diagonally on the squares but cannot jump over other servants or be on the same square as them.
- If a player chooses not to initiate a battle with another servant, then their turn will be skipped in the next round.
- Should a player have multiple servants directly facing their own servant (photo below), then they can choose which servant to apply their damage on on their 3 rolls if a battle has been initiated.
- Players that are currently not in turn but once have their servant attacked from rule #4 will be able to enter the battle and have their 3 turns at rolling the dice.
So to be a bit more clear on the 4th rule, an example of the situation is shown in the photo above. Archer and Rider can choose to apply their attack damage on each other or on Caster and Berserker because they’re facing them directly (yes, including the diagonal direction) while both Berserker and Caster can only attack at Archer and Rider and not each other since they’re not facing each other directly. Likewise for Saber and Lancer, they can only attack Assassin since they’re both blocked by that servant but Assassin can attack both Saber and Lancer. This will probably spice things up it will be possible to have a 3+ way battle in this game.
So that’s that for the simple play method! Now for the more strategic-based play method.
Strategic Play Method
This method is overall similar to the simple play method in terms of moving around and how the battles are done, but there are a few more things added on to make the players evaluate their servant’s situation and how it will affect the game, which might require some heavy thinking and possibly create alliances. You will have to be smart about when to and when not to initiate a battle since the strength of the servants will come into play early on. The starting positions for the servants will be different in which they will all line up at one end of the board while the holy grail will be placed in the centre square on the other side.
Step 1) Each player starts off with zero mana points for their servants and will roll the dice to build it up while also moving around on the board according to the number the dice lands on. (e.g. player 1 rolls a 4 on the dice from the 1st turn and rolls a 3 on the 2nd turn = 7 mana points for their servant)
Step 2) Players can initiate battles like in the simple play method but can recover from their damages taken by other servants when it is their turn to roll the dice to move their servant. (e.g. player 1 has 32 mana points remaining after taking 12 point damages from a previous battle, but recovers to 38 points after rolling a 6 from the dice)
Again, the aim is to defeat all the other servants by reducing their mana to zero, but with the addition of mana recovery, it should provide an interesting and strategical game aspect for the players. For the possible 3+ way battles, the rules remain the same although it would be pretty epic if something like this happened below.
Strategic Play Method: Obtaining The Holy Grail
So you think that was all to it for the strategic play method? Not quite. In order to actually win the game, the holy grail needs to be acquired by the servant on the board. I’ve done a little diagram below with another set of rules on this final part of the game. Right click to enlarge.
Similar to how the battle ended for the grail in Fate/ZERO, no clear winner will be announced unless the last remaining servant is able to reach the holy grail on the board!
Well that’s it for this self-personal long-awaited post of mine lol, hope you guys actually enjoyed reading as much as I did making this. Would love to get some feedback or suggestions for the game if you think it can be improved or even letting me know if you’ve tried it out. I’m hoping to be able to record some video footage of people playing this Fate/ZERO board game of mine sometime in the future so I can upload it to my youtube channel, since I think it’d be explained better with a video example, perhaps with a few small friends of mine who have also watched the anime haha.