one of the "cool" factors of the old Battle Chess game was the battle animations.
unfortunatly people these days demand alot of their games. i believe in order to give some similar "cool" to the animations there could be defined seperate animations depending on who is killing who, and from what angle.
i know this would require the creation of alot of animations on the artists part. so a particular animation would be a stand in for animations not present yet.
even if nobody actually creates the artwork for some time at least the functionality would be there, and that would be "cool"
check out "Mars, Land of No Mercy"
i would definatly export and animate the models from mars to work with your game for sure :o)