Valheim mod lets you play chess to the death

The Seventh Seal
(Image credit: AB Svensk Filmindustri)

PvP has never been the focus of Viking survival game Valheim, which is far more fun if you're cooperating with other players. But it can be fun to turn on PvP from time to time for skirmishes or duels with your friends, if only to take a break from hacking up greydwarfs and draugrs.

But what about a more refined and thoughtful way to duel with other players? Well, put down your frostner and fang spear and pull up a seat at the chess table. The Civilized Duels mod lets you challenge another player to a game of chess. To the death.

The mod operates on real-life chess rules: One player must challenge another player to the chess deathmatch by slapping them with a fish. That's just standard, boilerplate chess procedure. You think Garry Kasparov got where he is without slapping a few grandmasters with a fish? That's just naive.

Once the other player has been smacked, and provided they both have PvP enabled, they'll be able to play a browser version of chess right there in Valheim. It's timed, with each player having a total of three minutes to make their moves. Whoever loses the match dies an honorable Viking death (by exploding and leaving all their possessions in a tombstone.)

Have a look at the Vi-King's Gambit in action:

The mod is considered "highly experimental" by its creator, DickDangerJustice, and you may encounter a few speedbumps during your chess deathmatches. "Chess is supported by a centralized server, so if it goes down the mod may stop working correctly," DDJ says on the Civilized Duels page on Nexus Mods. "If you get stuck in duel mode, the default escape hotkey is 'P'. You will die and lose the chess game if you press it. I may be able to come up with a better solution, but it works for now."

As for the challenge-issuing fish, it can be built at your crafting table out of wood so you don't even need to go fishing first. Fun fact: Kasparov's chess fish were always hand-crafted from the finest red oak. Red oak slaps good.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.