Made in a week for 7DRL.

Rock Paper Shotgun: "a stylish, clever little browser game that mashes Chess together with Slay the Spire"

Free Game Planet: "it takes a couple of goes to get the hang of Pawnbarian, but once you do it’s an addictive and cerebral dungeon crawler"

PAWNBARIAN is going to be extended into a full game for PC and mobile.

Follow me here on itch and @_j4nw on twitter for updates!

I suggest just jumping into it, but here are some tips if you feel lost:

  • You have a deck of cards with chess moves. You draw 4 every turn.
  • Drag on a card and highlight a direction to perform the corresponding chess move.
  • Kill enemies by attacking them like you would with a chess piece.
  • Red crosshairs are tiles targeted by enemies, you'll lose lives if you end your turn there.
  • Clear the board to progress through the game.

Being familiar with the basics of chess obviously helps.

You'll need to figure out enemy behaviours and attack patterns on your own. Good luck!

All icons from (CC BY 3.0) by Carl Olsen, DarkZaitev, Guard13007, Lorc, Skoll

Updated 4 hours ago
Published 9 days ago
PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux, HTML5
GenreCard Game, Puzzle
TagsChess, Deck Building, Roguelike


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

pawnbarian_v0.0.1 (outdated! embed is the current version) 4 MB

Development log


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Beautiful game, well done! Would love to see some kind of Confirm Move feature similar to Enter the Breach so that misclicks are not as punishing. 


Fun game, boss was a really fun fight. Pawns are the worst cards, so it seems that getting more cards is always better to reduce the chance of 4 pawn hands.


I like the concept of integrating chess into a roguelike game. I finished the game once after maybe 5 tries, understanding attack patterns of enemies. 

The strategy for the virus looking enemy (Honestly don't know how else to describe) is to kill them last.  (So there'll be less enemies on the board.) Wait till it touches the sides of the board, reducing the spawn upon death by 2. Better if it's in the corner, where only 1 would spawn on death. Either escape to a safe tile (if the one you're on after attacking the virus is attacked) or just end the turn. Do not attack the spawns as they leave a 3x3 attack pattern from where they die. Only engage one of them for the start of each turn, while escaping to a safe tile the next turn with bishop/knight/queen/rook. If unable to escape on second turn, don't attack the first turn and move to a safe tile.

Attack the ninja enemy first. It doesn't leave a 3x3 attack pattern unlike the virus spawns and it usually stays away from you while attacking tiles from far.

What I hope could be improved are :

1. A tutorial. I almost quit after trying to drag the card onto the board. Wasn't really intuitive for me. I knew how chess pieces move but would be great for players new to chess to have a tutorial on how each piece moves too. (The direction "arrows" after clicking a card may not be intuitive for new players.)

2. 4 pawns in one hand. When you get stuck on the top rank and the tile is under attack, isn't really fair.  Increasing the card pool may decrease the chances, but maybe some sort of guarantee would be good. (Maybe every 2 card gain reduces the maximum number of the same pieces you can get in a hand from 4 by 1.)

3. Background music.  


This is a really amazing game! Love the design, everything is great!


It is cool idea. I find however really annoying that sometimes after killing enemy there appears more enemies or red crosshairs. Or rather that itself isn't such problem, but rather that there is no indicator whatsoever for that kind of behaviour. With proper indicator player could prepare for that, but now it just feels bad, when you thought you could end your turn to safe square or kill all enemies, but something like this happens. Otherwise really nice game. It would be nice to see your current deck and health when picking boons.


This is just awesome.

I'd love to see a "mate in k" puzzle mode, where the sequence of available cards is fixed and the player must win in k turns.


Great game concept! Good choice to extend this into a full game! I'm curious to see how you are going to design the game to make it more challenging and complex, just more types of enemies and bigger maps or maybe also more units or units upgrades. Might also be cool to have extra energy card usage as a boon.


I love this. Great job building it. I am really looking forward to an iOS release.


all around greatness!
any chance of this landing in the google play store? (please say yes!)


Thank you! And yes! So far I'm only brainstorming ideas, but I intend to flesh this out into a full release for PC and mobile.


you just made my day :)
best of luck with the development process, if you need any testing power, please consider getting in touch!


Simple game in appearance but with a lots of strategy involved ! Had a great time playing it! 

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Fantastic idea! Especially loved the moment I realized pawns are trash because they can't move backward :D

I'm torn on whether bishops/rooks should move you the maximum distance. It's simpler to control but limits combo ability!


i really like it. everyone with almost no chess experience can play this :)


I wondered if chess could be good for a roguelike and this is a great way to do it.  I didn't understand why I would take damage after clearing all the enemies so that's something that could be indicated better.  Great job!


Loved this game, quick and simple but with alot of strategy.   One helpful addition for new players would be to highlight what tile you'll end on while hovering over the directional arrow on the card.  This woulda helped to tell the difference between king and queen cards too (cause I kept mixing them up, thinking I could escape the death explosions on my first run)

Hey, thanks! That's a common request and something I'll have to implement, but you can also tell the difference by looking at the center of the directional dial - cards that keep moving until they hit something have an infinity icon, cards that only move once have a dot

Ahhhh that makes sense, I did notice the infinity but it sorta became a blindspot. After seeing it on most pieces, I didn't notice when cards didn't have it.


Loved the game!

It would help tremendously in figuring out how all the different enemies attack if there were different indicators for when a tile is attacked once or multiple times. I've now consistently ("easily") gotten to the boss twice, but i'm still not 100% sure what tiles it attacks, so lost both fights.

Cheers! That's a piece of UX that will need work for any sort of post-jam patch, for sure. The boss attack pattern cycles between inner ring, outer ring, light tiles, and dark tiles.

(figured out and defeated the boss on the third time getting to it, just in case).


WOW! Nice one! Very intersting game memechanics even if the "controls" are not that intuitive at first. It could have been better to just play the card and then move on the board.

Anyway, again, NICE ONE!


'Once you figure it out'? It is not very encouraging.. I do not see how to play in this game.


You have to know how to play chess, then it's quite simple

(1 edit) (+1)(-1)

aaaa! so...I won't play it, I do not know the chess' rules…. ;( :D grazie! ;)


Sorry - that definitely sounded patronizing, I removed the line from the description. I simply meant to say that it is consistently beatable and I'm not just playing a cruel joke on the player.

However, I strongly believe that letting people figure things out on their own by fiddling with the game is a big part of the charm of roguelikes!

:) thanks for reply :)  I got an answer from Luca that I need to know how to play chess to understand your is a pity that I am not familiar with the chess' rules...anyway I hope that people that know them are stunned with your work :)

Sure, thanks for trying it out anyway!