Free placement ideas

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Piece Placement in Icehouse

The original game of Icehouse was unusual for a lot of reasons, perhaps chief among them the fact that you could place a piece anywhere, in any orientation, on a featureless playing plane, and that orientation could be significant in play. We haven't seen it arise very often since Icehouse, perhaps because it can be such a pain to deal with, requiring "floss calls" and measuring devices.

However, two entries in the latest (fourth, as of this writing) Ice Game Design Competition use free placement in a sense: Jake Davenport's Torpedo uses it very directly in the same way as Icehouse, and Dan Isaac's Armada uses it in the sense of miniatures games such as Warhammer by adding movement.

I think this game space is underexplored. It also interacts interestingly with turnlessness. What else could we throw into the mix?

Free Placement Within Free Placement Games

The first thing that comes to my mind is a non-blank playing field, with meaningful things on its surface. Could be as simple as a chessboard. Such a regular field puts one in mind of a game where territory is staked out, but in a freeform fashion, but still with an easy way to measure. But such a game might just amount to a chessboard game where you get to be fiddly with your placement for no super-great reason.

  • Chessboards are quite interesting spaces - there are the spaces themselves, the edges, the black/white distinction. Problem for free placement is that not all chessboards have the same size spaces, while the pyramids have standard sizes. Of course, the Chessboard Bandana could be the defacto size for a chessboard. - Jeremiah

Piece Movement

The game "Pirates of the Spanish Main" (BoardGameGeek Entry) has a movement mechanic based on two standard distances (called S and L). The ships can be anywhere at all, and the distance they can move or shoot is based on S and L measurements (which correspond to the short and long sides of cards). Perhaps this might be useful in addition to Free Placement? Or perhaps it's too fiddly?

  • I think it's quite the opposite of fiddly. It's in use in Armada. - MiSuBa

Multi-planar Playing Fields

A concept that intrigues me but I have not found a way to incorporate is multi-planar games, ones where the pieces do not need to be placed in the same plane. I know of some games could get away with this, either in theory or in practice since the pieces are only placeholders and location is meaningless, but I'd love to see a game where having multiple planes of play is central to the game design. - Cerulean

  • Heeeyyyy: I like where this is going. Stand three same-size pyramids up on a flat surface and you can set another flat surface on them... hopefully stably. And maybe set another one on that. Now that's a game space, although it requires a trip to TAP Plastics for the surfaces. - MiSuBa
  • In a multi-planar space, upright pyramids can easily point at things on the plane above them. It's pretty tough to make a pyramid point down, though. Maybe this fact could make for an interesting dynamic? -- Jeremiah 21:51, 3 May 2005 (GMT)
  • A version of Icehouse, but you can shrink a pyramid in play in return for moving one down a level. --86.129.87.45 20:38, 8 Jun 2005 (GMT)

Of course, Jeremiah, you could just punch holes in the surface. Works for me!--ManyHills 18:36, 19 Jul 2005 (GMT)]