Aquarius Rising

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Aquarius Rising
Designed by Matthew "Carthoris" Rogers
Aquarius Rising
Connect your elements to the higher planes
:Players Players: 2 - 5
:Time Length: Medium?
:Complexity Complexity: Low
Trios per color: 4
Number of colors: 5
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 5
Five-color sets: 4
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Aquarius deck (any vintage)
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: 20 minutes
0.333 Hr
- 40 minutes
0.667 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Medium
Game mechanics: placement, hidden goals
Theme: getting higher
BGG Link: Aquarius Rising
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

Looney Pyramids make it possible for a game of Aquarius to build up as well as out. In Aquarius Rising, the goal is to get your goal element to the top of an ascending house of cards with pyramid supports. As in the original Aquarius game, your goal Element can change -- to your advantage or dismay.

Equipment and Setup

Use either an old-style (1.0) Aquarius deck, or the current version. If you use the newer version, remove and set aside the new Element cards, i.e. take out the diagonal Element cards, the wild card, and one full-panel card of each Element, so that only the 40 Element cards of the original deck remain. Keep all of whatever action cards are in your deck.

Divide four Rainbow pyramid sets evenly among the players; i.e. two 15-pyramid, 5-color sets each for two players; or one set each for four. For three players, give each player one full set, plus five random pyramids from the fourth set. For five players, each should receive twelve pyramids (omit a different color from each full set, thus forming a fifth quasi-set).

The pyramid colors correspond to the Elements: red pyramids are Fire, blue are Water, yellow are Air, green are Earth, and black are Space.

Deal one face-down goal card to each player, who secretly inspects it (unless they are playing Aqua-Chicken Rising). Deal a hand of three Element/Action cards to each player.

Take the first card off the top of the shuffled deck. If it is an Action card, discard it. Continue until an Element card is reached, and place this card face-up in the center of the play area. Alternately: Start with the Aquarius Dragon (promo card from Looney Labs) face-up on the table to start play.

The player with the longest middle name goes first, and play proceeds in turns as described in the next section.

Turn Sequence

Completion of a two-handed game of Aquarius Rising

Each player's turn consists of the following three actions in the same sequence:

  1. Draw a card
  2. Play a card
  3. Play a pyramid

Each action is mandatory, unless game circumstances forbid it.

Draw a Card

Take one face-down card from the top of the deck. If the deck is exhausted, then continue without drawing.

Play a Card

Play an Action card or an Element card from your hand. If you have no permitted play available for any card from your hand, then continue without doing so.

Action Cards

Action cards play the same as they do in ordinary Aquarius, with two important exceptions:

  • Zap a Card instead allows the player to trade all un-played pyramids with one other player. (There is no zapping of played cards from the table in Aquarius Rising.)
  • Move a Card allows the player to place two pyramids instead of one during the “play a pyramid” action for that turn. (Cards played to the table remain in place until the end of the game in Aquarius Rising.)

Element Cards

Element cards play the same as they do in ordinary Aquarius, with one important addition: A card can be placed on top of another card that has four pyramids there to support the new card. The new card must match at least one element to the pyramids/card below it, so that, for example, a green pyramid is below the earth panel of a new card. The vertical "house" thus established can continue to rise for multiple stories.

Multi-Connection Bonus

The Aquarius 2.0 multi-connection bonus rule only applies to vertical connections. I.e. a card that matches two different elements to the pyramids beneath it will generate a bonus draw, and so forth. Do not award bonus draws for multiple connections made at "ground level."

Play a Pyramid

Play a pyramid from your supply by placing it upright on one of the Element cards on the table. The following rules limit the placement of pyramids:

  • A pyramid fills one corner/quarter of a card. There can be no more than four pyramids on any one Element card.
  • The color of the pyramid must match the element in that corner of the card: red pyramids go on Fire, blue on Water, yellow on Air, green on Earth, and black on Space. (No pyramids can be played on the Aquarius Dragon, if it is used!)
  • Once one pyramid has been played on a card, the other three pyramids on that card can only be of the same size as the original pyramid.
  • No pyramid can be played on a card that is orthogonally adjacent to a card that has a pyramid on it already.

If you cannot legally play a pyramid, pass the remainder of your turn.

Crash Ruling

Aquarius Rising was not intended to be a dexterity game, and houses built with four pyramidal supports are surprisingly stable. It should be rare for a house to suffer serious damage by player accident.

If pyramids or cards are dislodged from a house, and they can be replaced to the agreement of all players, then the game should continue thus. When agreement cannot be reached about the accurate reconstruction of the game arrangement, the game is sadly cut short, and the person responsible for the crash is the loser, although with three or more players there will be no individual winner.

Ending the Game

In this completed game, Water would be the clear winner -- but the players have Fire and Air goals. Though it's hard to confirm from this angle, Air wins, by virtue of the small pyramids in the penultimate story of the second-tallest house (right), edging out the large fire pyramid in the tallest house (left).

The game ends when no one can do any of the three actions any more.

Determining the Winner

Players reveal their goals.

The Element that is highest (in real height from the table) wins. Height includes pyramids placed on top of cards, all the way to the pyramid tips. All pyramids of the same size category are assumed to be of uniform height, and all cards of uniform thickness, so that within a given house, pyramids on the same story will tie.

If two (or more) Elements have the same altitude, count and compare the number of pyramid pips of the contending Elements in the house(s) that their highest Element card/pyramid is atop. The greater score wins.

If that too is a tie, then see which of the contending Elements has the next highest card/pyramid; that Element wins.

If that too is a tie, count and compare pips for the secondary altitude.

If that too is a tie, then see which of those contending Elements has the largest number of connected panels on the tabletop.

If that too is a tie, then the game is well and truly drawn between those players.


Aquarius Rising to the Clouds towers above a housecat.

The following variants increase the material available for building, as well as the flexibility of pyramid placement, and thus lead to more and taller houses. The two can even be combined for Aquarius Rising Sky High to the Clouds.

"To the Clouds"

In addition to their basic Elemental pyramids, give each player a single trio of white pyramids at the start of the game. The white pyramids are "wild" and can be played on any Element. They are not wild for purposes of cards set on top of them; cards on top must connect to a corner/quarter other than the "cloud" beneath them. (Ergo, a house cannot rise above a set of four white pyramids on a card -- a situation that is only possible in a four- or five-player game.)

"Sky High"

In addition to their basic Elemental pyramids, give each player a single trio of clear pyramids at the start of the game. The clear pyramids are "wild" and can be played on any Element. They assume the Elemental identity of whatever corner/quarter they occupy for purposes of setting cards on top. E.g. a clear pyramid on an water panel is treated as blue for purposes of further building.


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