Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

Life of a pawn

When is a chess pawn not a pawn? When it’s a trading card.

In chess, pawns are everywhere (Because there are eight of them on each side, duh). The game starts with all of them in a row. Their movement is pretty much restricted to moving straight and capturing diagonally (For reasons unknown to me, but I guess there are explanations behind it).

Pawns also define the geography of the board. How a chess battle is fought is determined by the opening moves. Pushing your pawns up front in the the early game allows more maneuvral space for your other pieces and thus better control of the board.

What kind of gameplay would there be if the chess board starts out empty, and players have to lay out pieces in turn order? Every piece, to a certain extent, would be a pawn. Super-pawns, when the queen and rook could run around unhindered and actual pawns not exactly very useful in the late game.

“So what can we do about it?” asked Slade as we were conversing over late lunch. “We went through the cards, but we totally forgot about the board.”

In some way our game is like chess – the fact that it’s played on an 8×8 board. However there are some big differences, like the fact that the board starts out empty, and the fact that you’d have at least 40 random pawns to start with.

“OK, look at this,” I said, “We now have turn structure like chess, progression like any strategy game, and the customizing aspect like, um, something. What we now lack is…”

“Is…” John continued while massaging his temples, “I can’t find a word for it.”

“Synergy. We have strategy, but no synergy yet.” Bingo. “A pawn in chess is a pawn because it’s meant to be like that. It’s role is defined as blah blah blah *scribbles on paper*”

“You’re right so far, so what are we going to do about this?”

Moy, the artist and third person at the lunch table, grabbed a pencil and started to sketch. “What if… the ‘pawns’ in our game defined the terrain like this?” He shaded some grids. “We have field cards, right? Cards that give some effect to a certain number of grids. What if these pawns are like farmers; they ‘plow’ the board to lay fields?”

“You mean, like Dune?” I asked, getting excited about the idea. Dune was an old real-time strategy computer game by Westwood which had scary sandworms that ate your units (And God forbid, harvesters). It had one particularly annoying thing: You had to lay concrete slabs on the ground before you can build your buildings on it, else the building starts out damaged (which sucks).

“Nah, that’ll be too annoying. What I mean is *scribble sketch scribble* these creatures lay fields as they move… they leave a trail. So they actually define the terrain in early game, and since fields can’t be overlaid according to the game rules, there’s actually a fight for territory!”



By the way, you ought to try dark coffee with lemon juice. Very interesting drink.

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January 5, 2007 - Posted by | Encephalon, Game Design, Game Development, Trading Card Game


  1. WOO! Trading card + board game + customization + mmog + franchising. I just want to play it right now damn it. Kuan! code it faster!

    We are looking for two programmers to join us.

    Comment by Slade | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  2. The pawn’s original definition in the board is to portray a true soldier’s valor – vowed under their loyalty to their King to march forward without fear, and to not turn back whatever the circumstances are.

    Comment by Jad [Alt] Kaizer | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  3. So they are supposed to die before the pieces. 😛

    Comment by Slade | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  4. Yupe, for the greater win. 🙂

    Comment by Jad [Alt] Kaizer | January 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. Why is there a possibility for a pawn to get promoted to a piece of its choice?

    Comment by Slade | January 6, 2007 | Reply

  6. For that matter, I will think of it like the way how a character levels up in a role-playing game – experience makes a better person, allowing her/him to learn more new skills.

    Oh well, I just made that up. 😀

    Comment by Jad [Alt] Kaizer | January 8, 2007 | Reply

  7. very nice blog!mary

    Comment by Blogs, news and more! | January 11, 2007 | Reply

  8. Life of a Pawn II is up.

    Comment by Slade | January 17, 2007 | Reply

  9. […] A few weeks back, Hatchlings Games Lead Game Designer no-wing posted an article, Life of a Pawn. The popular article was a by-product of a certain discussion by our game design team. We were […]

    Pingback by Life of a Pawn II - Encephalon v2.1 « Hatchlings Games | January 17, 2007 | Reply

  10. […] problems to solve ahead but we will have to think out of the “BOX” […]

    Pingback by Fighting Noise? « Hatchlings Games | June 21, 2007 | Reply

  11. […] problems to solve ahead but we will have to think out of the “BOX” […]

    Pingback by Noise Vs Iris: Battle Start! « Breaking Through | July 11, 2007 | Reply

  12. […] Life of a Pawn and Life of a Pawn II […]

    Pingback by How to activate your creative state « Hatchlings Games | July 5, 2009 | Reply

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