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Breakthrough - Designed by Dan Troyka

This free board game won the 8x8 Game Design Competition


For 2 players


One 8x8 game board (a Chess/Checkers board), 16 black counters and 16 white counters. Other colors may be substituted.

You can print this 8x8 game board (PDF) with black and white squares, this one (PDF) with gray and white squares, or this one (PDF) with blue and white squares.

Initial Board Setup

Each player -- black and white -- has 16 counters occupying two rows on opposite sides of the board (exactly as Chess is set up).


Choose the start player randomly.

A player wins by moving one piece to the opposite side.

Pieces move one space forward or diagonally forward, and capture diagonally forward.

Features of the Game

Breakthrough has one of the simplest rule sets among boardgames. The game develops quickly because pieces have no choice but to move forward. Draws are mathematically impossible, which is a rare feature for move-based games.

The game strategy is novel and sophisticated. A piece can "skirt" around an opponent piece by moving directly in front of it, where it cannot be captured, then moving diagonally around it. As a result, a single piece cannot by itself prevent an opponent piece from "breaking through" the ranks.

Defense consists of arranging pieces in tandem so that the opponent cannot skirt around them. Basic offense consists of attacking opponent pieces that guard multiple attack routes, which may open up a route.

The game is intuitive and immediately playable, but very difficult to master.

Breakthrough is © 2001 Dan Troyka.

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