High Ground

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High Ground
High Ground is a game of Strategy and luck that uses playing cards as the board (gnostica fans unite!), and Icehouse pyramids as the player's pieces.
:Players Players:
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: [[Number of colors::2 Treehouse sets]]
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: [[Stashes::2 Treehouse sets]]
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
1 deck of normal playing cards or optionally, a gnostica deck and a Treehouse die.
Setup time: 1–3 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: High
Random chance: Medium
Game mechanics:
Theme: King of the Hill / War game
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987


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.


High Ground is a game of Strategy and luck that uses playing cards as the board (gnostica fans unite!), and Icehouse pyramids as the players' pieces. A player makes moves only onto cards that have a lower value than the card it's currently on and attempts to either eradicate the enemy or take over a player's King card. So, how does a piece move on to a higher card? Enter the Treehouse die!

What You will Need

2 nests of one color for each player, 1 deck of cards, 1 Tree House die.


Here's some terminology that will be helpful..

  • Territory = A card in play on the table.
  • Attacking = When a piece is moved onto any other piece, it is considered an attacking piece.
  • Trapped = When a larger piece attacks a smaller piece, regardless of its color, the smaller piece (being covered by the bigger piece) is trapped and may not move until it is no longer trapped.
  • Hobbled = When a piece attacks a larger piece, the larger piece is Hobbled and cannot move onto any higher cards even if they get a HOP.
  • Killed = When a piece attacks another piece of the same size, the victim is removed from play.
  • Free = Free refers to any piece on the board that is not Trapped or Hobbled.


Remove all four Kings from the deck of cards. Shuffle and deal 9 cards face down onto the table. Give a King card to each player. These cards will form the beginning of the board. Take turns turning over one card from the pile of 9 and placing them on the table. All cards following the first should be placed face-up, next to the first in a fashion similar to Gnostica (long sides up against short sides). Here's a ridiculously simplified graphical example..: If card is like this: | Then a card placed to the right, left or above it must be like this: --- And so on. After all cards have been placed, the Board should look like this:

High Ground Board layout.jpg

When this is done, each player should place their king card face up in one of the four orthogonal directions like so: Picture3.jpg

All four Kings should be placed regardless of the number of players. The Kings are the player's starting cards. All players should now take 2 nests of one color. One of the nests should be arranged into a tree. Now put your tree and nest onto the King card closest to you. Now deal an additional 3 cards to each player and you are ready to begin.

So, Who Goes First?

The youngest player may choose who begins and play continues to the left from the beginning player.


Every card in play on the table is considered a "territory" and serves as a space that pieces can move into. All the cards in play have a numeric value that indicates their "level". It might make things easier to think of each card as a column with the number indicating how "tall" it is. Pieces can only move into higher territories with the HOP roll. Following is the hierarchy of cards:

  • Aces are the lowest cards
  • Kings are the highest cards
  • Jokers are whatever level a player chooses except Kings..

Game Play

A player may take one of four actions on his/her turn.

  • Move a piece: A player can move any one of his free or hobbled pieces to any adjacent card that has an equal or lower numerical value than the card it is moving from. A piece may continue moving in this way until either it runs out of lower territories or until the player is happy with the piece's posistion. If there are free or hobbled enemy pieces in a card being moved into, you may also attack any of those pieces. Instead of moving, you may choose to have one of your pieces just attack an opponent's piece in the same territory. If you attack with a piece at any time during its move, then your turn is over.
  • Play a card(s): A player can choose to play one or more cards onto the board either on top of already existing cards (that are not occupied by enemy pieces), or into blank spaces at the outside of the board (following the orientation pattern listed above.).
  • Discard/Draw Cards: A player may discard as many cards as he/she wants and/or draw up to his hand max of 3 cards.
  • Roll The Die: A player may roll the die and immediately carry out the action indicated. The Actions are as follows:
  • HOP = Immediately move one of your free pieces to any adjacent card. If this card is occupied by enemy pieces, you may attack them as part of the move.
  • SWAP = On a swap roll, one of your pieces may trade places with any other piece on an adjacent card, even if the other piece is higher. No attacks can be made by pieces involved in a swap. They must go onto their new cards by themselves.
  • TIP = On a tip roll, you can choose one of your pyramids and tip off any pyramids that are on top of it. Pieces that are tipped off should be re-oriented upright singly even if they were previously hobbling or trapping another piece. Note: Trapped pieces cannot TIP.
  • AIM = An aim roll allows a piece of any size to kill any other piece if it is already on top of it.
  • DIG = Dig allows the player to retrieve a card from the draw pile and immediately play it on the board.
  • WILD = This is the nasty one.. Pick any result from above.

A Word on Attacking

Whenever you move a piece onto a card with an enemy piece in it (with the exception of the SWAP) you may make an attack on that piece. To do this, just drop your pyramid on top of the victims'. If your piece is smaller than the victim, then you have hobbled the victim. If your piece is the same size, you may immediately remove the victim piece from play. If your piece is larger than the victim, you have trapped it.
Moving After Attacking: You may move any of your attacking pieces off of a victim on your next turn if it has not been attacked by a larger piece itself. Example: Jonathan attacked and hobbled one of Cassidy's large pieces with a small piece on his last turn. If, on Cassidy's turn, she attacks Jonathan's piece with a medium (or a large), then Jonathan's attacking small is considered to be trapped. However, if she does not attack his little piece, then he can move it on his next turn.

So, How Do I Win?

There are two winning conditions in this game :

  • 1. Annihilate all other player's pieces!


  • 2. Be the only color left on an opponent's King on the start of your turn.

Possible Strategies

I invite any one who wishes to help with this section!

Mini-High Ground (single Treehouse stash variant)

High Ground can also be played as a single stash game. All of the rules of High Ground remain the same with the following exceptions in the game's setup.

  • Each player will only use 1 nest of his/her color
  • The "board" will be a bit smaller. The board will be a total of 9 cards with the Kings in the corners. The example below has arrows showing where the kings should be deployed.


  • Each player's maximum number of cards goes down to 2 instead of 3.