Checkers is a game as old as time itself, with records dating back at least 5,000 years. What could be simpler? Two players face off on opposing sides of the 8x8 checkered board with 12 discs. Pieces move diagonally, jumping over - or taking - opponent pieces when a gap is available on the other side. You don’t need any special equipment; you can make a board on paper or in the dirt, you can play with stones or coins.
That said, making a game is one thing; having a combatant is another. Here’s where GamoVation's Quick Checkers game comes in for iOS and Android, with no shortage of competitors across all skills levels and rule variations, reading for you to pit yourself against. It also tracks your progress and statistics, rewards you with achievements, and allows you to progressively customise, personalise, and enhance your cosmetics so you stand out among everyone else.
The game is free, paid for by advertising and purchases. The purchases are for in-app currency that allows you to buy cosmetic features. There’s no pay-to-win - you can be sure the only difference between you and your opponent is your own ability to plan and think ahead.
Another in-app purchase allows you to remove advertising from the game. However, the ads are not intrusive nor are they excessive. You can remove them forever (and support the developer) for a one-off purchase, but you can also choose to watch five videos to remove ads for 24 hours.
The cosmetics allow you to change your stone, your crown (when your counter reaches the last row), and your player avatar. The game has pleasant and calming graphics, music, and sound effects.
However, where it really stands out is with the rich set of rules you can change. The default is American Checkers / English Draughts, on an 8x8 board and with mandatory captures. The mandatory captures are a common rule but can be frustrating when planning a strategy because your opponent can force you into a position where you are compelled to take their piece and then lose your own next go.
If you're not a fan you can turn mandatory capture off or on again, but you can also change the rules to any of a range of geographic standards - international Checkers, Spanish Draughts, Brazilian Checkers, Russian, Turkish Dama, Thai, Czech, and Italian.
For example, International Checkers allows your Kings - the crowned tokens you receive when you move a counter to the end row, or crownhead - to move forwards and backwards diagonally as far as they wish even when not capturing a piece, known as “flying Kings”. Other options affect the board size and whether your regular counters can capture backwards or if only Kings may do so.
Once you've picked your favourite visuals and rules, you can then play with a random player online, play with your friends, or play offline against the computer. I found the wait time for a random player was very quick. If you enjoy playing with someone, in particular, the game allows you to invite them to be a friend so you can re-match whenever you like.
The game prompts you where you want to play - for example, New York or Paris - which really means what skill level do you want to play against? To unlock cities (and skill levels) you need to rank up by playing games. Each game also has a certain entry fee, and you receive these coins by winning games, unlocking achievements, and by optionally watching ads. The achievements aren’t onerous; within a short while I’d already reached several, and one set of achievements is simply from playing games. So, even if you’re a rotten player you will be able to keep trying.
When playing, you can clearly see which counters you can move, and when you select one, where they can move to, so there’s no worry about being confused or not knowing what to play. Of course, when you have mandatory captures turned on your only choice will be to capture an opponent’s counter if they move next to you and there is a gap on the other side of them.
All in all, GamoVation has made a relaxing game of Checkers that you can pick and play anytime, whether online or not. It comes with pleasing aesthetics, a great range of play styles to keep you on your toes, and great options to make your counters stand out as your own.
The game is free with no pressure to buy in-app items, but with the option to do so if you’d like to support the developer and remove ads, or if you want to get a specific cosmetic option sooner.
There's a reason a game like this, as old as civilisation itself, is still played to this day. It is both casual and strategic, and GamoVation’s version puts the definitive edition into your hands.