Ricochet Pyramids

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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.

Ricochet Pyramids
Designed by: Russ Williams
Simultaneous real-time searching for the shortest solution to move a robot to a goal.
:Players Players: 2 - 8
:Time Length: Medium?
:Complexity Complexity: Low
Trios per color: 0
Number of colors: 3
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: 3
Five-color sets: 0
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
8x8 Chessboard; timer
Setup time: 3 minutes
Playing time: 10 minutes
0.167 Hr
- 30 minutes
0.5 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Some
Game mechanics: Movement, Puzzle
Theme: Robots
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

Ricochet Robots is played with stationary towers and mobile robots on an 8×8 grid. Each turn, a randomly selected robot must reach a randomly selected tower. In real-time, players try to find a short sequence of moves to accomplish this, and bid the number of steps in their solution. The lowest bidder then presents their solution, earning a point if successful.

Components

  • 3 stashes of 3 different colors
  • 8×8 chessboard
  • 30-second timer

Setup

Form all 3×3=9 possible color combinations of "towers" (medium stacked on a large). E.g. if the 3 stashes being used are red (R), green (G), yellow (Y), then make towers as follows:

R on R, G on R, Y on R, R on G, G on G, Y on G, R on Y, G on Y, Y on Y.

Arrange these towers by mutual consent (or randomly) on the board such that no tower is completely surrounded by other towers and thus inaccessible. By putting more towers along edges, the solutions on average are easier/shorter (for beginners, or lazy experienced players); by putting more towers isolated in the center, the solutions are often harder/longer (for experienced players). For example:

T T . . . . . T    . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . T    . T . . T . . .
. . . . . . . .    . . . . . . T .
. . T . . . . .    . . T . . T . .
. . . . . . . .    . . . . . . T .
. . . . . . . .    . . . T . . . .
T . . . . . . .    . T . . . T . .
T . . . . . T T    . . . . . . . .
 (easy setup)        (hard setup)

Place 1 small pyramid of each color onto 3 arbitrary empty squares. These are the robots.

Gather 3×3=9 pyramids of each size and color combination to form 3 random draw pools (a large pool, a medium pool, and a small pool).

The remaining pyramids (3 larges, 3 mediums, 9 smalls) form a bank for paying out points earned during play.

Robot movement

Robots (standing small pyramids) move in any of the 4 main directions (not diagonally). A robot moves in a straight line continually until it is stopped by hitting another robot, a tower, or the edge of the board. 2 robots can never occupy the same square. A robot and tower normally never occupy the same square, unless the tower was previously a goal (see below). Regardless of how many squares a robot moves until stopping due to being blocked, that continuous move counts as one move.

Important: Each turn, one tower is designated the goal. The goal does not block robots: a moving robot will move into the goal's square and continue beyond it, if the square beyond has no blocking tower or robot. (When first learning the game, players often forget this!)

If a robot does stop in the goal's square (because the next square blocks the robot), then place the robot (small pyramid) on top of the goal tower (making a tree).

Example: The red robot (r) wants to reach the goal tower (G):

. . . . . T . .
T . . . . . . .
. . . . . . G .
. . T . . y . g
. . . . . . . T
. . . T . . . .
T . . . . r . .
. . . . T . . .

One 5-move solution is to move y north (it moves 2 squares then stops because the next square has a blocking tower T), r north (y blocks r, so that r is in the same row as the goal G), y east (stopping at the map edge), y south (blocked by g), r east (y blocks r so that r ends its move on the goal G):

. . . . . T . .    . . . . . T . .    . . . . . T . .
T . . . . . . .    . T . . . y . .    . T . . . y . .
. . . . . . G .    . . . . . . G .    . . . . . r G .
. . T . . y . g    . . T . . . . g    . . T . . . . g
. . . . . . . T    . . . . . . . T    . . . . . . . T
. . . T . . . .    . . . T . . . .    . . . T . . . .
T . . . . r . .    T . . . . r . .    T . . . . . . .
. . . . T . . .    . . . . T . . .    . . . . T . . .
    (start)           (y north)          (r north)
. . . . . T . .    . . . . . T . .    . . . . . T . .
T . . . . . . y    . T . . . . . .    . T . . . . . .
. . . . . r G .    . . . . . r G y    . . . . . . r y
. . T . . . . g    . . T . . . . g    . . T . . . . g
. . . . . . . T    . . . . . . . T    . . . . . . . T
. . . T . . . .    . . . T . . . .    . . . T . . . .
T . . . . . . .    T . . . . . . .    T . . . . . . .
. . . . T . . .    . . . . T . . .    . . . . T . . .
   (y east)           (y south)          (r east)

This example shows that it is often necessary or useful to use other robots to create new blocks on formerly empty spaces. Note that the g robot never moved, but was useful in blocking y's south move so that y could cause r's east move to end on the goal (instead of moving through the goal and stopping one square east of the goal due to the map edge).

If a robot begins a turn stacked on a non-goal tower (i.e. on a goal from a previous turn), then it can freely move off the tower (continuing as usual until blocked by another tower, robot, or map edge). That non-goal tower blocks as usual, so if the robot then immediately moves in the reverse direction, toward the tower it had sat on top of, then it would be stopped in the space before it. E.g. from the final position in the previous example, r could move south (stopping at the south map edge) and then north again, stopping on the square south of the tower it was previously on. This can often be useful as a quick way to move a robot on a tower to a square adjacent to the tower in 2 moves.

Note that towers never move.

Turns

Each turn, players randomly select (e.g. mix in their hands without looking, or draw from sacks if desired) a large, medium, and small pyramid from the random draw pools. It can be useful to make different players responsible for different sizes. E.g. in a 2-player game, one player can draw the large and medium (a random tower) while the other player can draw the small (a random robot). Stack the 3 pyramids into a tree (ideally by feel without looking). This is the goal for the turn. E.g. if the goal is a small red on a medium yellow on a large red, this means the red robot wants to end up stacked on the yellow/red tower.

Re-randomize if the indicated robot is already on the indicated tower.

Now players examine the board and try to find a sequence of robot moves to achieve this goal. The first player to find a solution calls out the number of moves, e.g. "Six!" and starts the 30-second timer. For the next 30 seconds, all players can still call out bids. A player's bid may be higher, lower, or equal to the current low bid, but a player can only re-bid lower than their own previous bid.

After 30 seconds, the lowest bidder demonstrates their solution. The solver must smoothly move the robots to achieve the goal without undoing moves or stopping to think.

If the solver is confused and fails to achieve the goal, or the solution uses more moves than were bid, then the robots are restored to their original positions, and the next lowest bidder may show their solution. The player who successfully shows a solution earns a point (from the bank). If no player successfully shows a solution, then no point is awarded.

If the proposed solution is not obvious, it is suggested that players mark the starting locations of the robots (with appropriately colored pyramids from the bank lying on their sides) to remember, in case the solving player makes a mistake. For a long complex sequence (e.g. 15 or 20 moves), it can sometimes be difficult to remember where the robots started.

Victory

Play until someone reaches a pre-agreed number of points. 10 points is suggested. For more players, the bank might not have enough points; use paper and pencil, or an additional stash of pyramids, or (assuming players are similarly skilled) periodically have all players return a point to the bank, or some other method of counting to 10.

Variants

Minimum number of moves for solutions: by mutual consent, players can agree that if a solution of 1 direct move exists, it is "too easy" and the goal should be re-randomized. Similarly for solutions of 2 moves, or whatever lower bound the players agree upon. It is suggested that non-newbies require at least 3 moves.

4 colors: use 4×4=16 towers and 4 robots. We found this to be too crowded, but your group may enjoy it.

Different colored robots: if 6 stashes are available, the 3 robots can use different colors from the towers. This of course doesn't change the game rules, but merely alters players' perception of the game state.

Acknowledgements

The basic idea of simultaneously searching for a way to move a robot to a goal was of course inspired by the classic game Ricochet Robots by Alex Randolph. But the two games are significantly different in their map terrain and random goal generation, due to the different possibilities when playing with pyramids on a smaller 8×8 grid instead of pre-printed map boards with walls between squares and custom printed goal tokens.

License

http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/88x31.png
This work is distributed by Russ Williams under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.Categeory:Real-time