Conquest of Mars

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Under development


This game is currently under development, in the Playtesting stage. Feedback is strongly encouraged! Feel free to give comments on game design or structure on the talk page.

Conquest of Mars
Ryan Hackel
abstract wargame using pyramids, cards, and dice
:Players Players: 2 - 4
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 3
Number of colors: 5
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes:
Five-color sets: 3
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
handful of assorted polyhedral dice, playing cards
Setup time: 5 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Moderate
Game mechanics: dice combat, poker hands
Theme: War
BGG Link: N/A
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

INTRODUCTION

Friends, Martians, countrymen, lend me your antennae! We must do battle against our enemies, those who wish to destroy us. If green blood must be spilled upon red soil, let it be the green blood of our noble foes! The time for words is over, and the time for action is now! Amass your hordes of tripods, polish your rayguns, and power up your saucer fleets!

Conquest of Mars is an abstract wargame using pyramids, playing cards, and assorted dice. Any dice with numerical values on each face will do. Beginners may want to use just D6's, but the game is better with a mixture of polyhedral dice.

Orignial game design by Ryan Hackel, 2008. (v2.0 2013)

SETUP

Shuffle the poker deck, and deal a 7x7 grid facedown. Remove the center card and each of the four corner cards and add them to the unused cards. Deal two of the unused cards to each player, and set the rest aside face-down.

Each player gets three nests of pyramids.

You will need a few handfuls of dice for this game. Polyhedra (RPG dice) work best for this, but you can get by with just D6s. Dice with non-standard faces or unusual sequences (like the polyhedra that come with "Formula D") should not be used. For D10s, you should treat any zero faces as a "10" result. Any D10 labeled as "10, 20, 30..." should be treated as "1, 2, 3...".

Put all the dice in a pile off to the side, forming the "common dice pool".

Each player chooses a die from the common dice pool, and with it creates their own "personal dice pool". The player who chose the die with the fewest faces goes first (roll to break ties).

Dice Notation

"Smallest" or "largest" die means as measured by face count (4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, etc.) rather than physical size or weight.

TURN OPTIONS

On your turn, you must do one of the following:

  • Take the smallest size die available in the common dice pool, and add it to your personal dice pool.
  • Trade two or more of your personal dice for a larger die from the common pool. The selected die cannot be larger than the sum of the faces of all smaller dice turned in. (For example, you can trade two D4s for a D6 or a D8, but not a D10. Four D6s can be traded in for a D20.) You don't get to make change, nor can you save up excessive value for future trades.
  • Spawn your small pyramid upright on a card that you already occupy. (If you do not occupy any cards on the board, you may place it on any card.)
  • Grow your upright pyramid exactly one size larger.
  • Reorient any or all of your pyramids. Each pyramid can either stand upright on a card or lay flat, pointing at a neighboring orthogonally adjacent card.
  • Move your flat pyramid onto the card it points at. Your pyramid arrives standing up.
  • Declare an attack.

When a card becomes occupied for the first time (by any player), turn it face up. It will remain face up for the rest of the game.

ATTACKING

To attack, one or more of your pyramids must be flat and must point at a card occupied by one or more opposing pyramids. The attacking pyramids can be from up to four cards, as long as they point at the same targeted card. (Other pyramids that happen to be on the same card(s) as attacking pyramids, but happen to be upright or pointing elsewhere, are disregarded.) You can even combine attacks with other players, if they also have pyramids pointing at the card you wish to attack, but other players may opt out of participating in the attack.

The defending pyramids are any pyramids that occupy the targeted card, either upright or pointing.

(If an attacking player has any pyramids on the targeted card, those pyramids are immediately destroyed.)

To resolve the attack, each player does the following:

1) Each player in the attack, whether attacking or defending, chooses X dice from their personal dice pool, where X is the pip count of all of his or her pyramids involved. Each player then rolls their chosen dice.

2) Each player arranges their rolled dice from highest value to lowest value, and reveals their results to all players.

3) Now comes death. All players compare their highest die roll result. (A player with no dice is treated as having rolled a zero.) The player with the lowest value removes one of their attacking or defending pyramids (as applicable) from the board). If there is a tie for lowest roll, all tied players lose one pyramid. All dice compared in this step are then returned to the common dice pool.

EXCEPTION: A defending pyramid that points at a card that does not contain attacking pieces may make an immediate move instead of being destroyed.

4) If at least one attacking or defending player has no dice remaining in their personal dice pool, stop now. This is the end of combat. If not, repeat step 3 above with the remaining dice.

END OF GAME and WINNING

When at least one player has all nine of their pyramids on the board, the game ends. Each player picks up the cards that he or she solely occupies, and combines them with the cards they were dealt at the beginning of the game. The player who can form the highest five-card poker hand wins the game!

Poker hands, from worst to best:

  1. highest valued single card
  2. pair of cards (higher valued pair breaks ties)
  3. two pairs
  4. three of a kind
  5. flush (all five cards of same suit)
  6. full house (three of a kind AND a pair)

(Aces are always low, never outranking Kings.)

If no player is able to form a poker hand, then the player with the highest value card in hand wins. If highest card is still a tie, continue comparing cards in hand until a clear outcome is reached.

STRATEGY

If you think you're going to be attacked, trade smaller dice in for larger dice. Big dice can roll larger numbers, and can intimidate a foe through their potential. However, big dice can also roll low values. A D4 can best a D20, a possible but unlikely outcome.

Large dice, those with many sides, can be powerful, but also unpredictable.

Don't let your dice pool get too low. Without dice to roll, your troops will run out of steam. A small force with one low die will defeat a large force with no dice at all.

Keep in mind that you're building a poker hand, and that you have secret cards to bluff with. Just remember that the game ends when that ninth pyramid hits the board... don't let that sneak up on you!

Running out of dice stops combat. You can buy a turn or two for a group of defenders by letting your dice pool empty and accepting some attrition.

VARIANTS

Play Conquest of Mars with a Decktet: Deal out a 6x6 board without the four corners, then deal one unused card to each player. Instead of having the highest poker hand, the winner is the first player to assemble a set of cards (any combination of dealt and/or solely occupied cards) that have exactly one of each of all six suits with no repetitions. (I call such a set a "suitcase".)

Credits and Copyright

designed by Ryan Hackel, distributed exclusively via IcehouseGames.org wiki.

v1.0, http://creativecommons.org/images/public/somerights20.png 20 March 2008. v2.0, http://creativecommons.org/images/public/somerights20.png 6 December 2013.

Comment and Questions