3Stica ("Threestica") is a quick little abstract territory-based war game, being the unholy union of the original Gnostica rules (and, by extension, a Tarot deck), a set of FATE/Fudge dice, and a "3house" set of Looney Pyramids. The cards make up an oft-changing board, and players move Looney Pyramids around the board as minions. Every card has a power, and when a player has one of his pyramids on a card, he or she may use the power of that card through the minion. Players also have a hand of cards which allow them to use those powers through any of their minions. Cards are worth points while occupied, and the game ends when the deck is exhausted an agreed-upon number of times (once per player, for a normal game). Playing time: 15-30 minutes
Each player starts with a complete set of nine pyramids. Deal out five cards to each player, then tile nine cards face-up in a three-by-three grid. These are the first nine territories comprising the play area; place the remaining cards face down as the draw pile (leave room for discards).
To start the game, every player ‘bids’ a card at once. The player with the highest value Major card wins the bid; if nobody bid one, then the player with the highest value Minor card wins the bid. If there is still a tie, set aside the bid cards and repeat until someone wins the bid. The player to the right of the winner fills his hand to five from the bid cards, as does each player anticlockwise around the table. Finally, the winner claims the remaining card(s) and takes the first turn, with play proceeding clockwise.
Your score is the total value of territory occupied solely by your pyramids: Major territories are each worth 2 points, while Minor ones are 1 point. Wastelands count for nothing.
When the discard pile must be reshuffled, flip the turn marker; once the cards have been exhausted again, the players each take another turn, the game ends, and players take score. The player with the highest score wins the game.</.
On your turn, you must choose *ONE* of the following:
Then, give the turn marker to the next player, clockwise.
MINOR CARD POWERS
CREATEAdd one of your pawns to the target territory, but only if there are fewer than three pyramids — of any ownership — in that territory already. It may be placed in any orientation. If no pawn is available in your stash, you may not create a new one on the board.
Alternatively, create a territory by placing a Minor card from your hand into a targeted unoccupied (or friendly) wasteland. You may not create in the void — nothing lives in the void. Any pyramids on the target wasteland remain there in the same orientations, even though the territory under them has changed. If you don't have a Minor card in your hand, you cannot create a territory.
MOVEMove the minion in the direction the minion is pointing, or push a target enemy pyramid in that same direction. It may be moved or pushed at least one space, up to as many spaces as the minion has pips. The moved pyramid may never end in a territory with three or more pyramids in it, nor may it end in the void. If the pyramid moved is yours, you may orient it; enemy pyramids retain orientation. Note that a minion standing upright may not use a move action.
Alternatively, you may push a territory in the direction the minion is pointing, but only if the territory is not occupied by enemy pyramids. When a territory is pushed, all pyramids remain in their original space, with orientations intact. The territory may be pushed up to as many spaces as the minion has pips. The territory may be pushed through any space, but must land in an unoccupied (or friendly) wasteland. If a territory lands in a wasteland you control, place the territory under your pyramids. You may not push a territory into the void.
GROWThe target pyramid is replaced by the next size up of the same color. If it is yours, you may orient it, but not otherwise. If there isn't a pyramid of the next size up in the appropriate stash, you cannot take this action.
Alternatively, you may grow the target unoccupied (or friendly) territory. Discard it and replace with one from your hand worth more than the original territory; thus, a Minor card can be grown into a Major territory, while any card may be replaced with a higher-value card of the same type. Any pyramids on the targeted space remain there, in the same orientations, even though the territory under them has changed. If you don't have an appropriate card in your hand, you cannot grow that territory.
ATTACKRoll as many fudge/Fate dice as pips on the attacking and defending minion(s). If the defender's player rolls lower (each "+" is worth one, each "-" is worth negative one, and a blank side is worth nothing), they are reduced by the difference between rolls (if the attacker rolls 3, and the defender rolls 1, a queen would be reduced to a pawn). Any roll less than zero counts as zero, and if both rolls are equal, nothing happens. If the defender rolls a higher score than the attacker, they may shrink the attacker by one size; if any pyramid would be reduced below one pip, it is destroyed. If no pyramids of the correct size are in target player's stash, it shrinks to the next smaller one. Attacking pyramids roll one time per attack, and each defending pyramid rolls separately. Any minion may target itself without rolling and regardless of orientation; it may shrink itself by up to as many pips as it started the turn with. If you attack your pyramid in this manner, you may orient after shrinking.
Alternatively, you may attack the target unoccupied (or friendly) territory. Discard the it and replace with one from your hand worth one less point than the original; thus, a Major card can be shrunk to a Minor territory and a Minor can be reduced to a wasteland. Any card may be replaced with a lower-value card of the same type. Any pyramids on the targeted space remain there, in the same orientations, even though the territory under them has changed, unless you destroy a territory and it leaves minions in the void (remember — nothing lives in the Void). If you don't have an appropriate card in your hand, you cannot use this action.
MAJOR CARD POWERS
When a Major card is played or activated, multiple actions may be taken by a single minion, or multiple minions may each take a single action. When playing Death, two different minions may attack, or one minion could attack twice; if Lovers is activated, one of your pyramids could move off of the Lovers and can still use Lovers' grow action, or a pyramid on Lovers could use move to push away one of your pyramids, and that minion could still use grow.
Please note that you may not reverse the order of a Major card with two different powers — the Hanged Man is always an attack followed by trading hands, and never the other way around!
†A "3HOUSE" set is three Looney Pyramid stash sets. If you already have your own pyramids, you need three of each size of one color, per player.
‡Originally, Gnostica was played with a Tarot deck; if playing 3stica with them, Cups = create, Rods/Wands = move, Discs/Coins/Pentacles = grow, and Swords = attack. My thanks to Andrew Looney for his Pyramids, John Cooper for his original Gnostica rules, and this fine designer for being the main inspiration behind this game.
₮Fudge dice are six-sided dice with 1:3 odds of getting each symbol: a plus (+), a minus (-), and a blank face. Anything with identical odds — like a deck of cards with one suit removed, three chips in a bag, et cetera — may be substituted.