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Have You Played... Pawnbarian?

Knights vs Orcs

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A tiny and mighty game. Pawnbarian is a chessy rougelike with a bit of card-flinging deckbuilding thrown in. It’s a simple shuffle around the ancient black and white board of yore but with the tiniest sprinkle of new age videogamery. It’s real good, and it is free.

Well, this version is free, anyway. A more complex and shiny version is coming out next year to buy. When the time comes, I will put some quids in that pot. If only as thanks for the amount of times I have idly started up some chessy roguishness while wondering what to do.

You are a barbaric chess piece, a big horned helmetman on a 5 x 5 board. There are monstrous enemies here. Orcs, slime balls, ninja guys. But you move and attack these baddies by playing cards illustrated with chess piece symbols. Play a pawn card, for example, and you can attack diagonally. So yeah, it helps to know what the little horsies and castles do. But you only need to know the basic movement rules of proper Chess.

It’s a wee puzzle board of joy. The enemy pieces will telegraph the squares they’re about to attack. So you have to figure out how best to hit and run. Get in, attack that wolfman, but then also escape from the blast of that blob monster. Hmmm, let’s see. Okay, zoom in with a bishop, strike with the pawn card, then alley-oop to a nearby safe square with the knight.

What a small, kingly game. I’m looking forward to seeing how the full version turns out.

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Who am I?

Brendan Caldwell

List Goblin

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.

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