Geomancy

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Geomancy
Steve Omodth
AirbornMids.PNG
The Game of Casting and Recasting
:Players Players:
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: 1/player
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 1/player
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Chessboard
Setup time: <1 minute
Playing time:
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: High
Game mechanics:
Theme: Dirt-tossing
BGG Link: Geomancy
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987


Geomancy is the practice of divination through tossing dirt. Perhaps in the same fashion, we can learn more about the world around us by tossing plastic pyramids. Through playing, the subject learns to communicate with the plastic pyramids within.

Status

Finalized and ready for submission in the IGDC!

What you need

  • One stash per player. However, when using treehouse stashes, four or five players may play with only four treehouse stashes.
  • One chessboard. We've been playing with a large chessboard. You may prefer to use the largest chessboard available to you.

Terminology

For the game, we will call the pyramids "stones". (In actual geomancy divination you would be throwing sand or dirt, but calling Icehouse pieces dirt just doesn't do them justice.) Throwing your stones into play is called "casting" the stones. When you cast your stones, you drop or throw your pyramids from a height agreed upon by all players at the beginning of the game. Under certain conditions, a stone may be removed from the board and returned to its owners hand. This stone is called a "recast" (noun) and must be "recast" (verb) on a later turn. This label is temporary, however; after it is returned to the owner's possession, a stone is back to just being a regular piece, and when it is recast, it is simply considered "cast again."

Overview

Geomancy is played in three rounds. In the first round, players take turns casting all of their small stones. The second round is all about casting medium stones. Finally, the game is concluded by casting out the large stones. While some players are recasting, other players are reorienting their pyramids. The goal is to cast and orient in a way that you can capture the other players stones. Points are awarded for your stones on the field at the end of the game along with the stones you have captured.

Setup

Set up a nice, big chess board on a flat surface. Using a smaller chessboard will only make the game slightly more luck based, since it will be hard to get the pieces into the squares desired (not that they ever go into the desired squares anyways). Each player gets a stash of pyramids of a unique colour. If you are playing with more than four players, each player must set aside one piece of each size per player over four. This means that five players can play with only four treehouse stashes.

Place your stones in front of you. Here is where you keep stones that you have yet to cast, and also where you put the stones that are returned for you to recast. Next to your own stones, keep the prisoner stones of the other players that you collect.

Use actual geomancy divination to decide who goes first. If no-one at the table qualifies as a certified mystic, you may cop out and drop a large pyramid on the table. Whoever the stone is pointing at the most will cast his stones first.

Play

Larger pieces start out stronger, but they all fade away eventually.

The game is played in three rounds. In the first round, everyone casts his pawns (smalls). Drones (mediums) are cast in the second round and queens (larges) in the third.

During your turn, you may either cast all of your stones for the round or reorient a single piece. If you have no stones to cast, you may only reorient a single piece or pass your turn.

A round is over when all players have no more pieces of that size in their hand left to cast.

Casting

To cast your stones, toss or drop them from the pre-agreed height onto the chessboard, usually between 6"-12"; when using smaller chessboards, a lower height will be beneficial. All the stones of the round-specific size are cast at once, along with any smaller stones that you have regained. After a player casts his stones once, the board must be cleaned up for the next player. The game proceeds clockwise, with each player getting a single cast (pieces that must be recast have to wait until next turn).

Once stones are cast, it is up to all players to help judge the fate of all stones on the table. All stones--not just the ones that were cast this turn, but also the ones that were moved as a result of the case--are judged alike. At the end of each turn, all stones should be lying down, alone, in the centre of a single square pointing in one of eight orthogonal and diagonal directions. This will require stones to be adjusted and moved. First things first: remove any stones that landed pointing up, along with any that landed entirely outside the sixty-four squares and put them back in the possession of the owner--these must be recast. The rest of the stones must be arranged according to the following rules.

  • Stones that are alone in a square and clearly pointing in an orthogonal or diagonal direction are left alone (although they may be adjusted to more accurately represent their orientation).
  • Stones that are not clearly in a single square must be moved to the single square that best reflects their position. This will often be easy. Other times, a judgement call must be made by a general group agreement. Whichever square has the greatest surface area of the grounded side within its boundaries gets the pyramid. If there seems to be a tie, check to see if one square contains a majority of the length. If there is still a tie, the owner of the piece may break the tie.
  • From here, stones that are not aimed perfectly orthogonally or diagonally must be properly oriented. If a piece is within 22.5° of a direction, it is considered to be pointing in that direction. Often a judgement call must be made by the group. If a stones is truly perfectly between two directions, the player who owns that piece may pick between the tied directions.

Lastly, squares that contain more than one stones must be reduced to one or fewer, using the following rules.

  • If any space contains two stones of the same colour, the player of that colour must decide which one gets to stay. The other one is returned to its owner and must be recast on a later turn.
  • If a square contains two of the same size stone of different colours, both stones are returned to their owners and must be recast.
  • If a square contains two stones of different sizes and different colours, the smaller stone is captured by the player of the larger stone. The capturing stone remains on the field, while the captured stone is given to the capturing player and sits with the other prisoners besides his uncast stones.

What to do About Three or More Pieces in a Square

  • If any two or more of the stones are of the same colour, that player must immediately pick one to stay on the board--the rest must be recast. The remaining stone is on its own to fight the enemy stone by itself.
  • If there is a clear winner (largest pyramid) among the stones, that piece captures all other stones in that square.
  • If there is a tie for largest stone, all pyramids of that size must be recast. All smaller stones remain and fight amongst themselves.
  • Once there are two or fewer stones in a square, they are adjudicated as normal.

Reorienting Your Stones

If you would rather not throw you stones this round, or if you have no more stones of the proper size to throw, you have the option of reorienting a single stone as your turn. You may reorient it in any orthogonal or diagonal direction. You may also pass your turn instead of reorienting.

Capturing Pieces Without Landing on Them

Red captures Green by combining the auras of two stones.

In addition to being captured when a larger pyramid invades its square, a stone can be captured by being pointed at. All pieces send out an aura in the direction they are pointing, and the length and strength of the aura is determined by the size of the piece. (See Fig. 1.) The adjacent square in that direction pointed contains an aura equal to the pip count of the pyramid. The next square in line, for drones and queens, contains an aura of one less than the pip count. The third square in the line, for queens only, contains an aura of the pip count minus two (1, in other words). This can be thought of as a steadily diminishing line of capturing power, continuously shot from the tip of each stone. Auras in the same square emitted by two or more stones of the same color are added together to form a stronger aura; auras of different colors in the same square are not added, but each have claim to that square. Auras always stop if they hit pieces they cannot capture, even your own. In other words, a pyramid's aura will not reach a stone if there is a stone in between. The obstructing piece must first be removed, one way or another. (See Figs. 3 & 4.)

Between turns, in any square in which the stone is overpowered by an enemy aura--where the total aura strength of the square is greater than the pip count of the stone in the square--that stone is captured by the player who controls the attacking aura. (See Fig. 2.) Any number of pieces may be captured in this way between turns. You cannot capture your own stones. If multiple players are targeting the same stone, their stone's auras are not combined--players must capture stones solo.

If a single stone is under fire from two players, enough so that it could be captured by both players, then whoever notices the demise of the stone may decide which player gets the capture.

If two stones are aimed at each other with the ability to capture (with the help of allied stones, of course), both stones are captured at the same time.


GeomancyFig3.PNG


GeomancyFig4.PNG

Ending and Winning the Game

When no player has any more stones to cast in a round, and all players agree that reorienting will no longer be advantageous, the round ends. The next round begins, using pyramids of the next size larger. The player who last made an advantageous move is considered to have gone last, so the next player in order starts the next round.

The game is over at the end of the third round when all players agree that there is nothing left to do. Points are tallied up. The player with the most points wins. This player has the honor of going first in the next game that is played, even if the game is not Geomancy.

Scoring

Players are awarded points based on the value of all pyramids left on the field and captured over the course of the game. Each stone is worth its pip count in points. A player's score can be thought of as the total number of pips he has left on the field, plus the total number of pips he has captured from other players. In the picture below, orange (the right-most player) is the winner.

Geomancy Endgame.PNG

Credits, Copyright, and Licensing

Steve Omodth created this game. Play-testing and revisions came from Blazej, Usopp, Steph and James.

Written rules are transcribed by James.

Entered in the Icehouse Game Design Competition, Summer 2007
Winner: Pylon 2nd: Subdivision 3rd: Zamboni Wars 4th: Geomancy
5th: Penguin Soccer 6th: Moon Shot 7th: Martian Coaster Chaturanga 8th: Trip Away