Martian Pachisi

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Martian Pachisi
by Stephen Rogers
An Icehouse version of Pachisi
:Players Players: 2 - 10
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Low
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: 1 per player
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 1 per player
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
One die (d6 recommended).
Setup time: 2-3 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: Moderate
Random chance: Moderate
Game mechanics:
Theme: Race around the board
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987


Martian Pachisi is based upon American parcheesi (Caupur, or Ludo), using Icehouse pieces. In this game, players will move their pieces around a "board" of Icehouse pieces in an attempt to be the first one to get all their pieces "home".

These rules are complete as of 4:45 AM GMT Fri June 16, 2006.

Object

To be the first player to successfully get all their pieces home. To do this, pieces must be stacked atop of a matching pyramid which makes up the "home row" of the board. Alternatively, the game can be played in teams; the object in this case is for all the members of a given team to finish moving their pieces home before the other teams manage to do so.


Status

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.

Setup

The setup for Martian Pachisi is highly variable, and is dependent upon two things: how many players are in the game and whether or not the players want to play with interlocking corners or not. These factors will directly affect how the board is set up.

That said, here are the setup rules in general:

  • Each player takes one stash of pieces for use during the entire game. Players should (but are not required to) divide their stashes up into stacks of equal sizes.
  • If there are three or more players playing the game, spacers must be used in order to be sure there is enough space to move the large pyramids around the board. A spacer is a large (3-point)pyramid used solely for board setup. All spacers are reclaimed by their player once the board is set up. Each player places a spacer such that an isometric shape is formed (equilateral triangle for three players, square for four, right pentagon for five and so forth) by the edges of those spacers.
  • Additional spacers, if necessary, are placed with the edges touching, radiating outward away from the center. A single spacer can be used by as many as seven players (though the corners will be interlocked for five, six and seven players). Games of 5-7 players that wish to be played with non-interlocked corners will require two spacers. With eight or more players, two spacers will be needed, or three if non-interlocking corners are desired.
  • Once the initial shape is created, each player places a large pyramid next to the outermost spacer, edges touching. With this piece in place, the spacers can then be (carefully) picked up and the remainder of the board can be set into place. To do this, a medium piece is set next to the remaining large pyramid such that a corner of the medium piece touches the centerpoint of the outward side of the large piece (the medium pyramid is set this way so that the difficulty in moving large pyramids around the board is minimalized). Finally, a small piece is set next to the medium piece, such that the edge of the small piece is in contact with the outward corner of the medium piece.
  • Once all of the small board pyramids have been placed, the game can begin.


4p nospace.jpg

Four-player setup, with traditional Pachisi colors. This setup has interlocking corners, which shortens the overall length of the board. The Go pieces indicate where the individual "spaces" are around the board.


4p space.jpg

Also a four-player setup, but with non-interlocked corners. The orange pieces are "spacers", which add enough room around the board pieces in order to move other pieces around them.


2p a.jpg

A two-player setup. The Go pieces again represent the spaces around the board. Two-player boards can't have interlocked spaces. This is the smallest board possible in the course of the whole game.


10p space.jpg

The big enchilada: a ten-player non-interlocked setup. Even though the spacers are still in place in this image, it'd be impossible to actually play the game without either having multiple Icehouse sets or without removing the spacers.


10p nospace.jpg

The same ten-player non-interlocked board, with the spacers removed. This is the largest setup currently possible. RPG dice are highly recommended for this setup.

Game Play

On their turn, a player rolls the die. The player may then move any of their pieces on the board the exact number indicated on the die, moving clockwise. If a player cannot move any of their pieces the number of spaces indicated and cannot perform any other action, they forfeit their turn.

If a player has no pieces on the board (including the first turn of the game), the player's die roll determines if a new piece can be placed and what size it may be. On a three or less, the player may place a new small piece. On two or less, a player may place a new medium piece. On a roll of one, a large piece can be placed on the board. New pieces are placed immediately to the "left" of the same size and color piece on the board.

Stacking

A player is allowed to stack their own pieces atop one another in either a nest or a tree. If two pieces of the same size are stacked, the player still has the option to make a nest or tree, but once a different sized piece has been added to the stack, the direction the stack can take is set. If a stack is later hit by an opponent, the top piece is the subject of any capturing or kicking action; the rest of the stack is removed from the board.

Hitting

A player may hit other player's pieces during the course of movement. What happens when a piece is hit depends on several possible conditions.

If a piece is sitting next to a board pyramid of its own size, it is safe and cannot be hit unless it is hit by a piece of that color. Pieces sitting next to an identical pyramid are safe and cannot be hit under any circumstances.

If a smaller piece hits a larger one, it kicks off of that piece. The dice is rolled and the smaller piece moves forward the indicated number of spaces, while the larger piece must move backward the same number of spaces. If for some reason the larger piece cannot move to the space indicated, it is removed from the board and returned to its owner. If the smaller piece cannot move the number of spaces indicated, it can move as far forward as it can.

If a larger-sized piece hits a smaller one, or if a piece hits a piece of the same size, the smaller piece is captured by the larger one. The pyramids remain nested as the hitting piece moves around the board. The captured piece will remain trapped by the larger one until it is removed from the board for some reason, a smaller piece kicks off of the hitter, or until the hitter is ready to move into the home row. If the hitter is removed, the captured piece is also removed and returned to its owner. If a piece kicks off the hitter, the captured piece is left in place. If the hitter moves to its home row, the captured piece is dropped off at the space immediately before the row, or the first available space if that space is occupied (a captured piece may not hit when it is freed).

A piece cannot have more than one piece captured at any given time. If a piece has captured an opponent's piece and would make a move that would make a legal hit on another opponent's piece, the second piece is removed from the board and returned to its owner, regardless of its size.

The Home Row

Once a piece has made one circuit around the board, it may move into its home row by normal roll of the dice. A piece must stop on the pyramid that equals its size; it cannot move beyond that point. A piece may stop moving on top of a smaller pyramid, but no pieces may be stacked on top of it or may pass it.

Speeding and Blocking

If a player rolls a one on the dice and has no pieces to put out onto the board, they can elect to tip over one of their pyramids instead of moving. A piece can be tipped such that it is pointing in the direction of movement or against the direction of movement of the board; "inward" and "outward" tipping is not permitted. A piece may not be tipped if it is located on a space that is otherwise safe for that piece.

If a piece is tipped in the direction of traffic, it acts to speed the player's pieces. If any of their pieces would pass over the space with the speeding token, the player may roll the dice and move that piece again. If a token lands on the square, the piece may be moved double the amount rolled on the dice.

Pieces tipped opposite the direction of traffic serve as blockers. A blocker prevents all pieces except for the player's from passing that point under any circumstances. Blockers can be used to set traps or to trip up a player's opponents.

Tipped pieces can be hit just like other pieces. If they are captured by an opposing piece, they are reoriented to stand upright first and treated like any other captured piece. They can be removed normally (from a hit by a piece that already has captured another piece). In the event of a smaller piece hitting a "speed" piece, the opponent may choose to either remove the speed piece or use its power to move the piece double the amount indicated by a dice roll. Smaller pieces cannot hit blockers.

A tipped piece can be moved by its owner like a normal piece; when it is moved, the piece is set upright once again.

Variant Rule: Icehouse Pieces as cowri shells

If for some reason dice are unavailable (or if the players desire), a set of small Icehouse pieces from an unused stash can be used in the style of Indian cowri shells to determine movement. Five small pieces are needed. On their turn, a player throws the shells like dice. The outcome of the roll depends on how many pieces end up standing upright on their base, as follows:

  • Zero pieces upright.....4
  • One piece upright.......1
  • Two pieces upright......2
  • Three pieces upright....3
  • Four pieces upright.....5
  • Five pieces upright.....25*

In a two-player game or a three-player game with interlocked corners, if all five pieces land upright, the player may instantly move any piece to its position on the player's home row (this is because in a two-player game, there are only 17 spaces between a piece's start position and its home position, and only 24 spaces in a three-player game with interlocked corners).

Development Notes

This is the first of the three true Icehouse games I've built. As such, I've tried to keep it flexible. There is a full set of rules available, I just haven't had time to get them all entered in here yet. The game has yet to be fully playtested.

One of the big things I'd like to see is how the game would change if a polyhedral die were used instead of a standard d6. Obviously, the polyhedrals would make it to where an individual piece could move a larger distance across the board, but it would also make it increasingly difficult to get pieces on the board in the first place. Perhaps a d10 or d12 would make a good balance. I'm also curious to see how the game plays with a large number of players (5 ), and how a larger polyhedral would affect that type of game.

Another thing I think I'd like to try is to play the game with cowri shells instead of a dice. This would make it closer to true Pachisi, although I'd have to come up with a rule for the "large" throw (in the game played in India, there's a throw that lets you move a piece up to 25 spaces at a time). Incidentally, setting up a "traditional" board will require a four-player, non-interlocked setup, using Red, Black, Green and Yellow, with Red opposite Black. Pieces in the original game moved counterclockwise; I suppose players could do this if they wanted to play that way.

I think some pictures will be necessary to fully explain some of the aspects of this game. Hopefully I'll have time to generate some renderings in a few days, and then (knock on wood) I can get them uploaded.

I called this game "Martian Parcheesi" when the page was initially created. I later found my spelling incorrect; it is properly "Pachisi". To those who like to split hairs about that kind of mistake, my sincere apologies.

I've only developed the rules to Icehouse cowri pieces in the last few days, and while the mechanic hasn't been tested in an actual game yet, it has done well in test "rolls". I am, however, not entirely satisfied with the use of upright pieces for determining movement. I am looking for another good way of telling which pieces count as a "pip" and which ones don't. Suggestions are welcome.

Storywise: the name of this game in Martian is Z'an'zy'c'ard'n Eth'sa Eth'sak (at least according to my notes). Don't ask me how I came up with that name. I don't really like the story I came up with for this game (it never really got written up anyway). Largely it had to do with an ongoing project to cover up the knowledge of the ancient Martian civilization (it had a few drug references, too).