The Zugzwang (ツークツワンク, Tsūkutsuwanku?) is a group of assassin magi who utilize group spells.
The Zugzwang were formed by the Einskaya (エインスカヤ, Einsukaya?) family of Eastern Europe. The Zugzwang is composed of nine men and women, with their leader called King (王, Ō?), and the others Pawn (ポーン, Pōn?) 1 to 8.
The Zugzwang were tasked with investigating and eliminating any outsider who seeks information about the Fortress of Millennia or Trifas. Utilizing their information network involving relatives of the Yggdmillenia across the world, they were prepared to complete their task within twenty-four hours in any part of the world.
The Zugzwang tracked Reika Rikudou to her apartment building after she called the Romanian government’s tourist bureau and went as far as to request contacting the owner of the Fortress of Millennia to negotiate having a tour. Unaware that Reiku was hoping to lure the Black Faction intro a trap, the Zugzwang found no trace of Bounded Fields, magecraft, or disordered Magical Energy. After surrounding Reika's apartment and activating their shared magic crest, they disabled the surveillance cameras and breached the apartment from multiple directions. However, the Pawns were swiftly eliminated by Assassin of Black, and Assassin declared that King will be killed by her mother. King attacked a shadowy figure with his blowpipe and dagger, mistaking it for Assassin's master, only to find the hanged corpse of Hyouma Sagara. After observing the corpse King found cords tied around the corpse's neck and feet, with the cord around its feet made to detach from the ceiling after some time passed. After a cell-phone clumsily sewn to Sagara’s abdomen rang, King took it and smashed it on the floor with his foot in anger, only for Reika to come from behind him and state "checkmate" before cutting his trachea with a large razor. King slipped on Sagara's entrails in a final and desperate attempt to retaliate against his attacker.
In the world of Fate/strange Fake, Yggdmillennia no longer exists as of the modern age, and Zugzwang became a freelance organization. Although they commanded a high price as enforcers, and took a wide range of requests from politicians and finances unaware of magecraft and magi factions, they were barely able to financially survive.
During the events of the True and False Holy Grail Wars, Zugzwang was hired to steal a Master's authority and join the Snowfield Holy Grail War. Zugzwang had been offered payment several orders of magnitude of what they were used to, and they were deeply interested in the offer. They were however suspicious until they were shown a vision through a familiar of the battle between False Archer and False Lancer and the large crater it left behind.
After spending a day creating an information network across Snowfield, Zugzwang was able to locate the motel Flat Escardos resides in. Although Zugzwang believed they got the information through their own ability, Flat's location was deliberately leaked by Faldeus as a test to measure Flat's strength. Zugzwang found no trace of Bounded Fields, magecraft, or disordered magical energy which they found suspicious since their target was a magus. As Zugzwang was about to split in order to search for Flat, and use suggestion to gain information from the manager and witnesses before disposing of them, False Berserker took the form of King and instructed the Pawns to prepare for the activation of their Magic Crest as he stood amongst them. Through mystical interference the Pawns were unable to notice or hear the real King, and the Pawns collapsed unconscious as they linked arms with Berserker due to a powerful curse, disguised as the wavelength of the real King’s Crest. Berserker disappeared and touched the back of King's head before he too became unconscious.
The members of Zugzwang were kept in a spare room with several other captured magi who had their movement sealed, Carl Lexarm, Silvelt Kotcheff, Avi Dikhail and Hyouma Sagara. When Berserker accidentally took the appearance of Assassin of Black, Zugzwang and the other captives instinctively shudder in fear for reasons unknown, having been tortured and killed by her in the Apocrypha world. Flat decided to seal the captured magi's Magic Circuit for three days and have their movement restored by the evening. To prevent Zugzwang from attacking the other four magi through numerical advantage, the four magi were moved the Flat's room and had their seals break thirty seconds earlier. The captured magi were angered when Flat told Berserker about the value of human life, and were unable to comprehend him.
Their skills as magi was average, but they garnered praise for the ruthless efficiency, and were some of the best when it came to combat experience within the clan. In combat, skill in magecraft wasn't that important as long as there wasn’t an overwhelming difference between the opposing sides. The vital point was how far you understood your own magecraft and applied it to battle.
The Magic Crest of Zugzwang was divided among them. Half of it was possessed by the King, and the other half was split between those designated as Pawns. Normally a Magic Crest split many parts would only provide a slight boost to magical power. However, synchronizing all of the Pawns’ Crests with the King’s will raise the Pawns’ abilities to the same level as the King, in exchange for drastically reducing their life spans and the quality of their Magic Circuits.
The King has a black-coated dagger and a blowpipe, with the dagger and darts coated in paralysis poison that affects both the body and Magic Circuits.
Their name comes from a chess term that denotes a player having to make an obiligatory move that would put them at a disadvantage.