Ice Stalks

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Ice Stalks

An Icehouse game by Nate Straight

Overview

In this fairy-tale inspired game, the players draw magic rocks to grow brightly colored ice stalks.

Object

The object is to become the player with the highest scoring collection of ice stalks.

Equipment

7 colored stashes of Icehouse pieces (red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and purple)

5 each of 7 different colors of rocks matching the 7 colored stashes of Icehouse pieces

1 opaque bag or container large enough to hold all 35 of the colored rocks

2 or more players and approximately 15 minutes

Setup

For each of the 7 colored stashes of Icehouse pieces, stack up all of the large pieces, all of the medium pieces, and all of the small pieces, then arrange these stacks into a rainbow, using the cyan pieces for "blue," the blue pieces for "indigo," and the purple pieces for "violet" in the old "ROY G. BIV" acronym for the colors of the rainbow. Place the stacks of medium pieces in front of the stacks of large pieces of the same color, and place the stacks of small pieces in front of the stacks of large and medium pieces of the same color. Place all 35 of the colored rocks into the opaque bag or container and then shake the bag or container in order to mix up and thereby randomize the rocks inside.

Gameplay

On each player's turn, they will draw one magic rock from the bag or container and place an Icehouse piece of that color onto the game surface according to the rules of placement. Upon drawing a magic rock from the bag or container, the player who drew it will place an Icehouse piece of the same color as the magic rock onto the game surface, either as a base for a new ice stalk or as an addition to an already existing ice stalk. The first player to draw may obviously only place their first piece as a base for a new ice stalk. Whenever it is possible to add to an already existing ice stalk, a player must always do so.

To place a piece as a base for a new ice stalk, simply place a large Icehouse piece of the correct color (as determined by the draw) anywhere on the game surface. This marks the beginning of a new ice stalk that all other players (including the player who placed the base to begin with) may be able to build upon later. The base must be a large piece.

To place a piece as an addition to an already existing ice stalk, place an Icehouse piece of the correct color (as determined by the draw) on top of an already existing ice stalk according to these rules of addition. The piece to be placed on top of an already existing ice stalk must either be the same color as and one size smaller than the top piece of the selected ice stalk, or else an adjacent color of the rainbow to and either the same size or one size smaller than the top piece of the selected ice stalk (bases count as top pieces).

For example, a green medium piece may be placed on top a green large base, but never on top of another green medium piece or a green small piece. That same green medium piece may also be placed on top of either a blue or a yellow large piece or base, or even on top of a blue or a yellow medium piece on top of an already existing ice stalk.

There will be two types of ice stalks that will be grown during the game, solid color ice stalks and rainbow colored ice stalks. Once an ice stalk has begun growing from a base, it must remain as the type of ice stalk it has become and, if it is a rainbow colored ice stalk, must continue in the same direction through the rainbow as the direction it began in.

For example, if a red medium piece is placed on top of a red large base, only a red small piece can complete that ice stalk (no other red medium pieces may be added to the ice stalk, since a piece placed on top of piece of the same color must be one size smaller than that piece); no yellow pieces of any size may be placed on top of the red medium piece, even though yellow pieces could have been placed on top of the red large base. Similarly, if a green large piece is placed on top of a blue large base (this is allowed, since adjacently colored pieces may be the same size as the piece they are placed on top of), only a yellow medium or large piece may continue the ice stalk (another blue piece is not allowed, since the rainbow must continue in the direction it began in); no other green pieces of any size may be placed on top of the green large piece, even though green pieces could have been placed on top of the green large piece if it were a base instead.

Whenever a small piece is placed on top of an already existing ice stalk, the player who placed the small piece collects that ice stalk and places it in front of them. Only a small piece can complete an ice stalk, and completed ice stalks are immediately removed from play. All completed solid color ice stalks will be only three pieces tall, but completed rainbow colored ice stalks may be either three, four, five, six, or even up to seven pieces tall. Each player's collection of completed ice stalks will be scored when the game ends.

After placing the piece required by their draw, a player will set the magic rock that they drew aside in full view of all players (preferably next to the stacked Icehouse pieces of the same color), and play will pass to the next player, who will draw and place a piece.

At no point in the game may a player place any piece on top of an already existing ice stalk such that their placement of that piece will make it impossible (given the current situation of the game at the time of their placement) to complete that ice stalk.

For example, if there is a blue large base already in play, and a player draws an indigo magic rock, they may not place an indigo large piece on top of the blue large base, since there would be no way for any other player to complete that ice stalk according to the rules of placement. A violet medium piece could later be placed on top of the indigo large piece, but no small piece of any color (including violet) could then be placed on top of that violet medium piece. The player in this example could only place an indigo medium piece on top of the blue large base, or else place an indigo piece on a different ice stalk.

It is important to remember that the amount of each color of magic rocks drawn and amount of each color of Icehouse pieces placed at any point in the game (as well as the position of each color of piece in the rainbow) can also determine whether a player's placement of any given piece would make any given ice stalk impossible to complete.

For example, if all five yellow magic rocks have already been drawn, and there is an indigo large base already in play, a player who draws a blue magic rock may not place a blue large piece on top of the indigo large base, since there would be no way for any other player to complete that ice stalk according to the rules of placement. A green medium piece could later be placed on top of the blue large piece, but no small yellow piece could complete that ice stalk since there are no more yellow rocks to be drawn. The player in this example could only place a blue medium piece on top of the indigo large base, or else place a blue piece on a different existing ice stalk. Similarly, if all but one of any given color of magic rocks have been drawn, and there is a large base of that color already in play, a player who draws the final magic rock of that color may not place a medium piece of that color on top of the large base of that color, since there would be no way for any other player to complete that ice stalk according to the rules of placement.

If a player is unable to place their required color of piece legally on top of any already existing ice stalks, they must take a large piece of the correct color and place it as a base, even if there are not enough pieces or magic rocks left to complete that new ice stalk.

Ending

The game ends when all of the magic rocks have been drawn. Each player then tallies the score of their collection of ice stalks. Solid color ice stalks are worth 1 point, rainbow colored ice stalks are worth their height in pieces (3-pieces-tall = 3 points, etc) except for full 7-piece-tall rainbow colored ice stalks (as in the title) which are worth 10 points, and a collection of all 7 colors of solid color ice stalks is worth 15 points.

Highest score wins.