There's something inherently satisfying about turn-based strategy games -- the fact you can spend minutes to hours planning out the perfect strategy before watching it unfold in front of you -- or, sometimes, fall apart completely due to one thing you didn't take into account.
This experience is all the more enjoyable when you're sharing it with other players, as any avid players of either tabletop board games or titles such as the Civilization series will happily attest. And so it was with Julian "XCOM" Gollop's 1985 Games Workshop-licensed ZX Spectrum game Chaos: The Battle of Wizards, a game which allowed up to eight prospective archmages the opportunity to battle for supremacy using their own personal armies of increasingly ridiculous fantasy creatures.
Chaos was essentially a board game at heart; unfolding in a confined space, its mechanics determined by a combination of hard rules and an element of random chance, it would have made a great tabletop game. But it was a computer game, and that made it stand out even on its original release for a number of reasons: its endearing but simplistic animated characters that stirred the imagination; its hugely competitive nature; and the fact that it was considerably deeper than many of the other games available at the time. It later went on to spawn a sequel known as Lords of Chaos in 1990 -- a game that would play an important role in the genesis of the XCOM series -- and a spiritual successor (omitting the Chaos brand) known as Magic & Mayhem in 1999, though the latter took a real-time approach rather than the earlier installments' tactical turn-based gameplay.
Gollop has been working on a variety of projects in recent years, including Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars for 3DS in 2011 and Assassin's Creed: Liberation last year. Longtime gamers have often requested that Gollop return to one of his most fondly remembered games, though -- that's Chaos, as you probably worked out by now -- and some have even attempted to make a remake themselves.
Thankfully, Gollop eventually did start work on such a reboot, dubbed Chaos Reborn. It's not a straight pixel-for-pixel remake of the original, mind; there will be a number of different ways to play in the final product, including the original rules from the Spectrum version along with a customizable card game-style mode in which you gradually add new spells to your "deck" as you progress, with a new "hand" being drawn each time you cast one. Some creatures will also have abilities they didn't have in the Spectrum original, too -- Eagles, for example, will be able to "swoop" and deal additional damage when attacking from a higher-elevation space into a lower one, with bigger bonuses for bigger changes in elevation.
Chaos Reborn has been in development for a while -- we last reported on it two months ago -- but it seems Gollop is inching ever closer to a playable release, as he notes in a recent update that an online, browser-based multiplayer demo will be available for everyone to play soon.
The demo will include the ability to play 2, 3 or 4 player games (including 2 vs 2 team games), optionally with turn timers to facilitate speedy play. You'll either be able to play random match-ups or create a private, password-protected game, and you'll have an online profile, presumably to track various statistics and save your progress in the final game.
Gollop notes that there's still some work to be done on the interface side of things, but the demo is otherwise feature-complete and ready to play, so we should probably watch out for it soon. You can follow development progress on Gollop's blog.