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Under development

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

Jonathan Leistiko
A miniatures-oriented, arena duel game with an unusual character creation format.
:Players Players: 2 - 4
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: 5 out of 10
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: 4 (red, green, blue, and yellow)
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 4 (red, green, blue, and yellow)
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
a Chessboard plus one more per player, a unique pawn for each player, 4 tokens for each player, an 8-sided die, a tarot deck (or a poker deck)
Setup time: 15 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: 7 out of 10
Random chance: 4 out of 10
Game mechanics: color powers
Theme: dimensional travel
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

Design objectives:

  • Players create unique game avatars (characters) by placing Icehouse pieces (traits) on a grid (character matrix) at the start of the game.
  • The game environment shifts and changes during the course of the game (think of it as gradually morphing from one reality to another - from magic to mundane - from primitive tech to super-science), activating and deactivating traits depending on their location on the character matrix.

IceDuel: A conflict-oriented game for two to four players. (I suspect that two teams of two will work out best.)

You need:

  • A full stash of each of the following colors: red, green, blue, and yellow (character traits)
  • A chessboard for each player (character matrix, plural: character matrices)
  • A tarot deck or a poker deck - poker decks will be less interesting (game mechanics)
  • Another chessboard (the dueling arena)
  • A distinctive pawn for each player (to represent your character in the dueling arena)
  • Four beads for each player (to mark what reality vectors are active on the four edges of your character matrix)
  • An eight-sided die (to randomize the starting locations of the reality vector markers)
  • Things that might get included in the rules, but aren't needed yet: black and white stashes, stashes from any other colors you desire, dice, extra tokens, pencil and paper, a timer...

Setting up:

  • Set up one chessboard in the center of the table where everyone can reach it. This is the IceDuel arena.
  • Shuffle the deck of cards. Deal a hand of five cards to each player. Set the remaining cards face-down where all players can reach them. This is the draw pile. The vacant space directly next to it is where discarded and played cards go. That is the discard pile.
  • Claim a chessboard. Set your chessboard in front of you, flat edge toward you. This is your character matrix.
  • Claim a pawn. This is your character. Put it in a vacant corner of the IceDuel arena.
  • Claim four beads and set them aside for now. These are your reality vector markers (RVMs). You'll be using them to mark the edges of your character matrix during the game.
  • Put the four stashes where everyone can reach them (it's okay to put them on the IceDuel arena - you'll be moving them off of it before the dueling part of the game starts). Individually these pieces are referred to as character traits, or just traits. Massed collectively like they are right now, they're called the trait pool.

Pre-Game Character Creation:

  • Pick a player to go first.
  • During your turn, pick up to three pips worth of traits from the trait pool and put them on your character grid. (*** This might change in future versions of the rules. I may want players to place the pieces after all picks have been made. I may also want all placement to be concealed from the other players by large screens. ***) If the space is occupied, put smaller pieces on top of larger ones; color sequence is unimportant.
  • Turns pass clockwise until the last player takes a turn. The last player gets to take another turn, then the turn passes counter-clockwise. Turns pass counter-clockwise for the rest of character creation.
  • Starting with the top edge of your character matrix and proceeding clockwise, roll the eight-sided die once. Place one of your unplaced RVMs next to that row or column of that edge of your character matrix. All other players must place one of their unplaced RVMs in the corresponding space next to their character matrix. For the rest of the game, a change made to an RVM on one side of a character matrix moves the corresponding RVMs on all other character matrices identically.

About Traits, the Character Matrix, and the Cards:

      • This is where I'm a little fuzzy. The four colors correspond to four basic character abilities or actions. I figure they'll be moving, fighting, and two others I'm not so sure about. I'm tempted to go with the Gnostica powers (swords/spades = attack, pentacles/diamonds = grow/transform, rods/clubs = push/modify, and cups/hearts = create/heal).
      • The four edges of the character matrix correspond to the four Tarot suits, starting at the top edge and going 'round alphabetically clockwise; top = cups, right = pentacles, bottom = rods, left = swords. The four colors also correlate accordingly, so top = blue, right = green, bottom = red, left = yellow.
      • Summing it all up:
  • top - cups - blue = creation and healing
  • right - pentacles - green = growth and transformation
  • bottom - rods - red = attacking
  • left - swords - yellow = pushing and movement
  • (***Alternate trait ideas: move, attack, defend, heal)
      • Traits with more pips create effects of greater magnitude than ones with less pips. If you have a one-pip yellow trait active, it lets you move one space. If you have a three-pip yellow trait active, it lets you move up to three spaces. Note that you don't have to use the full effect of an activated trait, but you do have to generate some effect (you can't generate a zero-point effect).
      • Traits are only active when the row or column they are in on your character matrix is marked with a reality vector marker (RVM). I suppose that you should get an increased effect if a trait is activated by two or more RVMs. Whether that should be one pip per RVM or a per-RVM multiplier is still not clear to me. Perhaps this is what happens: Each RVM activates, starting with the top one and going clockwise. You get to use any traits that are activated by that RVM.
      • How do RVMs adjust during the game?
  • I figure you can play a card to adjust the position of an RVM. Taking a cue from Gnostica, numbered cards move an RVM one step, royal cards move it up to two steps, and Major Arcana move an RVM up to three steps. Note that you don't have to use the full effect of a card played to adjust an RVM, but you do have to generate some effect (you can't generate a zero-point effect). Cards with suits only move the RVM that corresponds to their suit, while a Major Arcana can move any RVM.
  • Moving an RVM affects all character matrices identically. If the cups RVM is in the third column and you play a Queen of Cups to move it two steps to the left, all players must move their top edge RVMs to the first column.
  • RVM movement "wraps". If the swords RVM is in the first row and you play a seven of swords to move it one space, you can move it to the eighth row or the second row.

May 7th ' 05: Time for me to stop. I thought of this as I woke up and came here to type it up within 15 minutes of waking. It's 9:10 now and I should get on with my day. There's plenty more, but this should be enough to get the idea across. I'm looking for ideas on other abilities, the possibility of incorporating other colors for other powers, and wondering if just using the Major Arcana abilities from Gnostica or Zarcana straight up would work or not. - Jonathan