Martian Coaster Chaturanga

From IcehouseOrg
Jump to: navigation, search
Martian Coaster Chaturanga
Jeff Zeitlin
Martian Chess-like game; get the most points at end
:Players Players: 2 - 4
:Time Length: Long
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 1
Number of colors: 5
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes:
Five-color sets: 1
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Set of Martian Coasters, Treehouse die
Setup time: 2 min
Playing time: 10 min
0.167 Hr
- 60 min
1 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Special
Game mechanics: Dynamic board
Theme: Abstract
BGG Link: [1]
Status: Complete (v2.0), Year released: 2007

Martian Coaster Chaturanga is a game for two or four players using a Treehouse set and a set of Martian Coasters. Players move and capture pieces on the board, with the objective of having the greatest number of points at the end of the game.

Initial Setup

Arrange the four coasters from the Martian Coasters set in a square, with the small alignment dots on the outer corners of the square. There is no preferred arrangement of colors. Each player chooses a different coaster to start play on; the color of this coaster is designated as the player's color.

One color of pyramid from the Treehouse set is not represented on the coasters. Set the pyramids of that color aside. Each player gets all of the pyramids of one color other than his/her own color, and places them on the coaster of his/her color: The queen (largest pyramid) on the outer corner square (nearest the alignment dot), and the drone (medium) and pawn (smallest) on the two squares orthogonally adjacent to his/her queen. The photograph below shows both possible setups: The blue and yellow pieces (on the green and red coasters respectively) are using the same setup, with the drone to the left of the queen (as seen by the player on whose color the pieces are); the other two colors use the alternative, with the drone to the right of the queen.


Either setup may be used by any player at that player's option, and there is no requirement that all players in the game use the same setup.

Special Terms

Portal: This is the marked square in the center of the coaster.


The players decide who takes the first turn using any method that seems good to them. Play procedes counterclockwise around the board.

A player's turn consists of first rolling the Treehouse die, then moving a piece on the board and acting on the result of the Treehouse die, in either order. The player may move any piece of his color, regardless of its location on the board, or may move any piece that is on the coaster of his color, regardless of the color of the piece. There are two special moves, portalling and re-entry, both described below. Also see below, Treehouse Die Actions, for what the meaning of the various Treehouse die results are.

If both the Treehouse Die Action and a move as described below are possible, either (but not both) may be omitted (in other words, the player may do the Treehouse Die Action but not move a piece, or may move a piece but not do the Treehouse Die Action, or may both move a piece and do the Treehouse Die Action in either order.)

Other than the special moves, pieces are moved only as indicated by the arrows between spaces. The maximum distance that a piece may move is determined by the number of pips on the piece (i.e., Queen, 3; Drone, 2; Pawn, 1). A piece may move a smaller distance than its maximum.

If a piece ends its move on a space occupied by another piece, that piece is captured, and held off the board by the player. A player may not capture a piece of his own color, nor may he capture a piece of the same color as the piece doing the capturing.

Ending the Game

The game ends when, at the beginning of his turn, a player has no pieces of his own color on the board. The winner of the game is determined as described below.

Special Moves

Instead of moving a piece as described above, a player may choose to make one of the following special moves:


If a piece starts on or is moved onto the center square of any coaster (called the portal), and has not moved its maximum distance, at the player's option, it may be moved directly to the portal of any other coaster. This is the equivalent of moving one space, and is called portalling. After portalling, if the piece has still not been moved its maximum distance, it must be moved at least one additional space, to Clear the portal. It may be moved additional spaces up to what remains, at the player's option.


If a player is holding pieces off the board, on his/her turn, instead of moving a piece, he/she may take one of the pieces being held, and place it on the portal of his color. This is the entire move; the player does not move the piece off the portal in this turn.

Required Moves

Clearing the Portal: If a player's portal is occupied at the beginning of the turn, the player must move the piece off the portal, and must do so before taking the Treehouse die action. This counts as the part of the move other than the Treehouse die action (in other words, the player may not move another piece unless permitted to do so by the Treehouse die action).

Re-entering Own Piece: If a player is holding a piece of his own color, and his portal is vacant, the player must re-enter the piece as described above. This must be done before taking the Treehouse die action. (If the player's portal is not vacant, he must Clear his Portal as described in the previous paragraph.)

Treehouse Die Actions

Depending on what the Treehouse Die shows when rolled, the player may take one of the following actions:

  • AIM: The player may rotate the entire board, maintaining the relative positions of the coasters to each other, so that each player is facing a different color than before. Alternatively, it may be easier for the players to simply move around the board to a new position. This changes each player's color!
  • DIG: The player must take a piece of his own color that has been captured by another player and hold it as if he had captured it. This must be done before the normal move, and if done, the DIGged piece must immediately be re-entered (or the player's portal Cleared if it is not Clear). If no opponent is holding a piece of the player's color, this is a null action.
  • HOP: The player may take any piece that he/she could legally move normally, and place it directly onto any portal. Unlike re-entry, the player is not compelled to move the piece off the portal after HOPping it, unless the piece was HOPped to the player's own portal.
  • SWAP: The player may exchange the positions of any two coasters, making sure that the alignment dots conform to the current arrangement (i.e., if the alignment dots are currently on the inner corners of the coasters, after the swap, they should remain on the inner corners of the coasters). Any pieces on the affected coasters stay with the coasters. This changes the colors of the players whose coasters were swapped!.
  • TIP: The player may rotate all coasters in place to change their orientation, as shown by the alignment dots. All coasters are affected. The positions of the coasters are not affected, and thus all players keep their current colors. The alignment dots for all coasters must be changed similarly (i.e., all to outer, all to inner, all to left, or all to right).
  • WILD: The player may choose any other Treehouse Die Action, OR may make a second normal move.

Winning the Game

The game is over when a player has no pieces of his color on the board, as stated above. If a game appears to be running for an excessive length of time, or if a limited amount of time for play is available, it may also be ended by mutual agreement of the players at any time, or after a fixed time limit, or after a fixed number of moves by each player.

When the game is ended, by any means, the winner is determined as follows: Each player scores one point for each pip on a piece of a color other than his own that he is holding off the board, and subtracts one point for each pip on a piece of his own color that he is holding off the board. The player with the most points wins. In case of a tie in a context that doesn't permit ties, use the following tiebreakers in order:

  1. number pips of the player's own color on the board
  2. largest piece of the player's own color on the board
  3. number of pieces of the player's own color on the board
  4. player whose turn is earlier in the sequence.

Variant: Partnership Play

Players seated at diagonally-opposite corners of the board are partners. Play procedes normally, but with the following additional rule:

  • You may neither move nor capture your partner's pieces, regardless of where they are located.

The end condition remains the same, and the win condition is based on the combined score of the partnership.

Variant: Two Players

Essentially, the Partnership Play scenario as described above, but one player plays both partners, alternating between colors on his turn.

License Information This work is distributed by Jeff Zeitlin under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Revision History

  • 2007-01-13 Version 1.0 posted
  • 2007-10-21 Version 2.0 posted

The rules here are version 2.0. Version 1.0 of Martian Coaster Chaturanga was entered into the Icehouse Game Design Competition of Summer 2007.

Martian Coaster Chaturanga is listed on BoardGameGeek

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