Imperial Shuffle

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Imperial Shuffle
Thomas R. Brendel
Block your opponent's Emperor from being able to move
:Players Players:
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: [[Trios per color::5 or 4 (Emperors capped with black [or other] commoners)]]
Number of colors: 4
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 4
Five-color sets: [[Sets::5 or 4 (Emperors capped with black [or other] commoners)]]
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
custom board of partial Chessboard
Setup time: 5 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Some
Game mechanics:
Theme: abstract
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

Imperial Shuffle

an Icehouse game about pushing people around

by Thomas R. Brendel


Here's What You Need
You and your opponent (let's call him Johnny-John Other-Guy) will each need a four-by-four board with spaces big enough for a medium pyramid to lie flat. These can be two physically distinct boards, or just quadrants of a standard chessboard. You will also each have a separate set of pieces, consisting of the following: eight Commoners (smalls; two in each color), six Nobles (mediums; two each in any three colors), and a High Priest (large) and an Emperor (large capped with a small) which should be colored differently from Johnny-John's.

The opposing forces

The opposing forces

(Colors may vary)

You may find this asymmetric coloration to be aesthetically unappealing to an astonishing degree, in which case, fine, go right ahead, make 'em the same color. Of course, then you'll need to alter the forthcoming definition of a "match" to include the clause "unless it's a High Priest or an Emperor", and you'll throw the internal logic of the game all to hell, but hey, as long as you're happy, what do you need with internal logic, anyway?


The Set-Up
When Natalie Wood drops her scarf (or, failing that, when some other arbitrary signal is given) you and Johnny-John should begin simultaneously placing your pieces upright on your own boards. If you finish placing first, you'll get the first turn in the Shuffle, and you can expedite the process by grabbing whatever pieces Johnny-John hasn't gotten to yet and putting them wherever you damn well please. There is only one restriction on placement: Once a piece has been placed, an identical piece cannot be placed in the corresponding square, the square that would coincide if the boards were placed on top of each other. This is what we, gifted as we are in the art of clever terminology, call a "match". If a match is discovered after all the pieces have been placed, and you placed your piece after Johnny-John's, you'll have to swap its location with another piece so that everything is nice and legal. If you can't tell who placed second, you'll both need to make a swap.


The Shuffle
Here's where the real fun begins. On your turn, your Emperor will move one square in any direction, pushing any pieces ahead of him. (What are you gonna do, Emperors are rude like that.) One piece will be pushed clear off the board in the process; it should be retrieved and placed in the newly-vacated square. If this shift causes any matches, the matching pieces on Johnny-John's board will die. Cackle with glee as you place them on their sides. Dead pieces can't be pushed, so his Emperor's movement will be blocked in that direction. Of course, just like the bad guy in a cheesy horror flick, a dead piece doesn't always stay dead. Whenever Johnny-John moves his High Priest, take a look at the piece in the corresponding location on your board. If he has any dead pieces of the same color and type, he can yank one of them back onto this mortal coil. (At such a juncture, use of the term "reanimated voodoo zombie" is not only welcomed, but actively encouraged.) If this back-from-the-grave piece forms a match, bad news - your piece will immediately kick the bucket.


How's It Going to End?
If it's your turn, and your Emperor is unable to move because there are just too damn many corpses lying around, you lose. Johnny-John Other-Guy should feel free to say derogatory things about your mother, and you can't do anything about it. You know why? Because you lost, that's why.


A Typical Game Begins

One possible starting position
This is just one of the thousands of ways the boards could look at the top of the game.

The first move
You got your pieces on the board fastest, so you get the first move. Seeing that
Johnny-John has a yellow Noble in the square where you'e got your Emperor, you
cleverly move so as to push one of your own yellow Nobles off the board. When it is
placed in the square your Emperor just left, it forms a match, instantly killing
Johnny-John's Noble. Congratulations! You are now officially a murderer.


The second move
But what's this? Johnny-John makes a move that kills off one of your green
Commoners - but what's more, it also moves his High Priest into conjunction with
your other yellow Noble! Now it appears that his Noble wasn't dead after all,
only stunned. It springs to its feet, and your first Noble keels over as a result.
Perhaps this Johnny-John isn't the pushover you thought he was going to be...


One Possible Losing Position

Game Over
If this is what your board looks like at the beginning of your turn,
well, sorry, pal, your goose is cooked. Your Emperor is blocked in at
every turn by the stiffening bodies of his loyal followers, and that can mean
only one thing: Johnny-John's gonna be crackin' wise about your momma.