Chess Evolved Online – Tactic and Strategy Guide

This guide simply lists and describes some principles and motifs, which are known from chess and can be applied to CEO.

Guide to Tactics and Strategy


Opening principles

  • Develop your pieces (move them to more favorable positions. For short range pieces, that usually means forward and/ or towards the center.).
  • First develop minor pieces, then major pieces.
  • Be careful with moving pawns or generally entropic pieces* forward.
  • Don’t overextend your major pieces, especially queen class pieces (this still applies to some extend in later stages of the game too).
  • Only move a piece multiple times, if you have a concrete reason to do so.

General strategy

  • Getting material good, losing material bad.
  • Try to generate tempo, and deny enemy tempo.
  • (Essentially this means you don’t wanna waste your moves on useless things and if there are multiple ways to achieve a desired position, you choose the one, which takes the least moves; a central way of achieving tempo is threatening* enemy pieces; space and initiative usually lead to a tempo advantage)
  • Try to generate space (space can be roughly defined as the squares a player controls. You also control space in that sense, if you deny the opponents access to it)→ results in piece mobility (the pieces being able to maneuver as freely as possible.)
  • Control and occupy the center. Don’t leave unprotected pieces → prophylaxis. Initiative (be the one who creates threats the opponent has to react to) [can be i.e. Crucial with forcing infinite move repetitions in ceo with ninja/ ranger etc.]. Piece exchanges/ trades (each side takes one or more pieces of the opponent in a sequence; strategically interesting are exchanges including equal or nearly equal material) [simple examples include getting rid of enemy free kill if your winning condition is a lich].
  • Keep your king safe [in difference to chess you will rarely come into a material endgame* in ceo, in which you would need to support your pieces with the king].

Endgame strategy

In CEO we have to differentiate among material and morale endgame*, and material endgames often can and will be avoided or come so late, that they correlate with the morale endgame, thus making a majority of chess endgame strategy obsolete].

Promotion (Not only is promoting a minion obviously good and can be a winning condition in itself, in a material endgame the threat of promoting also has the capability of binding enemy pieces).

Other/ specific stuff

  • Pawn/ Axemen and similar minions: Avoid bad structure and create it for opponent, i.e. doubled or isolated minions.
  • Bishop and other Bishop-like and colourbound pieces: They are stronger in pairs and weaker alone. Basically you want to have them equalized among square colors.
  • Rook and Rook like pieces: They like open and half open files, but also supporting your minions in their own file [Minions like Pawns, Spearmen and Hoplites for example are great in front of them]

Notice how many structural ideas are applicable in army building and while playing.


Basic (of the basic)

  • Capturing/ attacking → protecting/ defending* own pieces and attacking enemy ones.
  • Hanging pieces. Counting (for correct counting usually one has to pay attention to the value of the involved pieces as well.) [Many things can be solved by correct counting.].
  • Check* (moving out, blocking, attacking the piece which gives check).
  • Knowing the piece value (the prize you pay in army building for a piece is usually pretty close to its value. But minions value is a little higher [~2 morale] than their cost would imply compared to champions).

Mate in 1,2,3 etc. (There are several mate motifs with their own names, and literally all of them can be used in CEO too.).

Basic Endgames/ elementary mates

Stuff like knowing how to latter mate, Mate with one Rook/ short rook and King, with two Bishops etc. [could also be seen as strategy to some extend]).

Tactic Motifs


  • Fork and double attack: Threatening two things at once.
  • Pin: Threatening a piece in such a way on a line, that a more valuable piece gets threatened if it moves away, thus making the first piece being pinned to its current position
  • Skewer: Threatening one piece on a line in such a way, that if it moves away another piece is threatened.


  • Discovered attack: Move an ally piece out of a line, so that you threaten an enemy piece behind it with another allied piece.
  • Do the same with king getting threatened instead of a random enemy piece and that’s a discovered check.
  • Deflection: Force an enemy piece away, which was defending a piece or important square.
  • Overloading/overworking: A piece has multiple responsibilities at once, for example it defends two pieces. This can be exploited, since it usually has to give up the defense of one piece/ square, when recapturing on the other. (please refer deflection)
  • X-Ray: A piece threatens/ defends a square, despite an enemy piece blocking its sight on the line to that square, since when that enemy piece captures there, our pieces sight now is free to there, and it can capture there too.
  • Zwischenzug: When there’s an obvious tactic on the board, a Zwischenzug is playing another move before, which makes another threat, the opponent has to react to, and once he reacted to that one, you continue with the obvious tactic
  • A specific Zwischenzug is the Zwischenschach, it’s the same, but this time the Zwischenzug is a check, and thus more binding for the enemy than any lesser threat.


  • Zugzwang: Forcing the opponent to make a move they don’t want to, imply the unwanted move or moves being the only legal choice.
  • Interference: An enemy piece or important square is defended by another enemy rider* , you place an ally piece into its line of sight (usually this ally needs to be protected) and sacrifice it, so that the capturing fourth piece blocks the enemy line of sight, so that the protection on the originally defended piece/ square is lost.
  • Attraction/ decoy: Forcing an enemy piece to a bad square, typically the king.
  • Desperado: An ally piece which is threatened or trapped attacks an enemy piece, so that it gets some value. You do this, while the opponent has another piece, which you could profitably capture, but instead capture after the desperado move.
  • clearance and clearance sacrifice: Vacating a square or line, which you got a piece on, by moving it away, so you can follow up with a tactic on that square or line with another piece. The blocking piece might also be sacrificed.
  • Counter-check: Blocking a check and giving check with the blocking piece. This results in an immediate swap of initiative. [gets additional meaning with morale involved, since reacting to chess is not mandatory and thus the second check is about as valuable as the first given check]
  • Removing the defender/ undermining: Capturing a piece, which defends another piece or important square.

Also: Practically motifs often get combined with each other.

Notice: For really learning to apply motifs, there’s no better way, than doing tactic puzzles focused on the motifs and then mixed puzzles.


  • Minor piece: Piece in the value range of Bishop and Knight.
  • Major piece: Piece in the value range of Rook and Queen.
  • Entropic piece (CEO term): Piece which can’t move backwards.
  • Threat: An enemy piece is threatened, if your piece could attack/ capture it, if it would be your turn.
  • Center: Four central squares of the board: e4, e5, d4, d5 (The expanded center includes the 16 central square of the board).
  • Free kill (CEO term): A piece which has a (Magic) or (Ranged) killing ability, with range two or more and thus being able to kill entropic minions, without them being able to do anything against it alone.
  • Material endgame (CEO term): A majority of the pieces is gone.
  • Morale endgame (CEO term): A majority of the players morale is gone, leading to the threat of lethal kills becoming relevant to the game.
  • Defending/ protecting your piece: Placing another piece in such a way, that if an opponent piece would capture your ally piece, you could recapture the enemy piece. You do this by “threatening” your own piece.
  • Hanging piece: A piece is hanging if it is not protected, but threatened by an enemy piece.
  • Counting: Counting refers to counting how many pieces threaten and defend a piece.
  • Check: Well, threaten da enemy King, ya know?
  • Rider (Chess Variant term): A piece, which acts on a blockable line (for example Queen, Rook, Bishop).
Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 7128 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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