Martian Senet

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Martian Senet
Designed by Matthew Rogers
Initial setup for Martian Senet
A race through the Martian underworld
:Players Players: 2 - 2
:Time Length: Long?
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 2
Number of colors: 2
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 2
Five-color sets: 2
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
Martian Coasters, dice
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: 30 minutes
0.5 Hr
- 45 minutes
0.75 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: High
Game mechanics: stacking, modular board
Theme: Mars
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

Under development

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


Just as the ancient Egyptians got the architecture of their pyramids from Mars, so too Senet, the game of the pharaohs, was derived from a Martian original. As with the terrestrial Senet, two players compete to get their pieces into the third section of the board, and then to "bear off." The first to remove all twelve pyramids of his or her own color is the winner.


Martian Senet requires three 3 x 3 square boards, arranged in a line. Martian Coasters work perfectly for this purpose. Colors are not important; ignore the arrows on the coasters.

Each of the two players should have a four pyramid trios in their own respective color. Translucent colors were customary on ancient Mars, and they make play easier. If one player uses an opaque color, both should, out of fairness. (The difficulty of playing with opaque pieces probably led to some of the simplifications that we see in terrestrial Senet!)

Those with a lean pyramid supply can still play with two similar five-color Treehouse sets: Use green and blue against red and yellow (or cyan and purple against orange and clear), with no distinction between paired colors.


The Martian Senet board is made of three coasters in a line from East to West, so that there are three parallel lines, or "tracks," of nine squares each. First is the "Source Track," where pieces move from East to West. The middle track is the "Balance Track," where pieces move from West to East. On the final "Perfect Track," they again move from East to West.

To begin play, set up the eight trios (four for each player) in alternating nests on the Source Track. Leave one empty square in the middle. So, from East to West, the nine squares should be A-B-A, B-X-A, B-A-B, where A is a trio of the first player, B a trio of the second, and X an empty square.

The player with the easternmost trio in the setup has the first move.

Die Rolls and Movement

A player rolls a die to move each turn. Consult the following table:

1 Move a pyramid (and any smaller ones stacked on top of it) exactly 1 space. Roll again.
2 Move a pyramid (and any smaller ones stacked on top of it) exactly 2 spaces. End your turn.
3 Move a pyramid (and any smaller ones stacked on top of it) exactly 3 spaces. End your turn.
4 Move a pyramid (and any smaller ones stacked on top of it) exactly 4 spaces. End your turn.
5 THE SACRED MARTIAN NUMBER. Move a coaster and its pieces from one end of the board to the other. Do not rotate or reverse the coaster! Roll again.
6 Move a pyramid (and any smaller ones stacked on top of it) exactly 6 spaces. Roll again.

All moves are subject to the stacking rules below. In the rare case (usually at the very start or end of the game) that a player cannot make a move according to the roll, then play continues with re-rolling (on a 1 or 6) or passing the die to the other player (on a 2, 3, or 4).


Stacking Rules

  • Pyramids can stack only tree-wise (onto a pyramid of the next-larger size) or nest-wise (onto a pyramid of the next-smaller size).
  • Corollaries: No pyramid may stack directly on to a pyramid of the same size. No small may stack directly onto a large, and no large may stack directly onto a small.
  • Trees can be built on nests, but nests cannot be built on trees.
  • Stacks may contain pyramids of both colors.
  • Pyramids may not be moved out of the inside of nests.
  • A complete tree of a single color (even if the other color is nested beneath it) serves as a block: no pyramids of the other color can pass it.

Bearing Off

A player may not begin bearing off until all of that player's pyramids have been moved out of the Source Track. Bearing off does not need to be by exact count.


The first player to bear off all of their own pyramids wins.

To compare or calculate a series of games, the winner receives points according to the opponent's pyramids left in play:

1 point per pyramid pip in the Perfect Track.

2 points per pyramid pip in the Balance Track.

3 points per pyramid pip in the Source Track.


There are two "flips" that each piece must make in order to reach the Perfect Track and be eligible for bearing off. The passage from the Source Track to the Balance Track at the west end of the board is the Birth Flip, and the passage from the Balance Track to the Perfect Track at the east end of the board is the Death Flip. Rolling fives can undo progress within a track, but flips are enduring for each piece.

Players should prioritize moves that will result in flips, or that will impede the other player by a) trapping their pyramids in nests, and/or b) creating monochrome trees to serve as blocks.