We've been playtesting this with two and three players. It's a lot of fun! The rules seem logical and are easy to remember once you get the hang of it. The strategy aspect is good; it takes some time to plot out the best way to move the stacks, and there are lots of opportunities to complicate things for your opponent/s.
Notes On Changes
New Boards I've updated the wiki with new boards. The triangles are thinner, allowing me to make the "occupant level" square (avoiding any confusion that the triangles may have contributed to). Also, I've added a few touches for the theme. Sorry that these new boards aren't in the pictures yet.
Concerning recent changes: The hoist rule was added, along with the new ability to combine both of your colors for surrounding in a two-player game, to make the game a bit more open and less congested at the end, without altering what makes the game unique. These problems are more to address games played for a single round only, where one player is more likely to go into a more defensive mode to prevent the final piece of a tree (instead of being tempted to score points of their own). However, this should add to the experience of playing either winning option.
In two-player games, the hoist rule will rarely come into play. If it does become possible for you to set up two pieces of the same color in the correct positions, you can pull of a good deterrent against a defense. It adds to the strategy, without altering the game too much.
New Ideas and Variants
It's not ready for primetime, but I'm working on a solitaire version that I'll put up at some point.
1. If you're playing toward a set number of points, and you are ahead in pip counts collected, there is no need to end the round prematurely. Score as many points as you can with both of your colors. If you are playing a single round, concentrate more on a single color, but also make a larger effort to complicate your opponents moves.
2. If you are losing badly in a round because of the ceiling, and you are worried about your opponents racking up a large score, end the round as soon as you can, even at a loss. You might have a better chance to catch up in a new round.
3. In some games, using the ceiling unwisely may come back to haunt you. While it will shrink the number of pyramids that your opponent has to score from, it may allow players to more easily end a round with the remaining pieces of one of their colors.
4. Deciding the right moment to remove surrounded pieces is very important. However, one shouldn't overlook the strategic value in where movement pyramids are placed. If you don't have any good offensive moves, is there a place that you could play that would frustrate the aims of your opponent? If not, can anything be gained by a carefully placed nudge?
I don't have a favorite between two-player and three-player games, as both have their own strengths. I suspect that a four-player game wouldn't be quite as fun for me, which doesn't mean that I wouldn't recommend playing it. It should work fairly well that way.
Evacuate feels different when played toward different goals. The goal I set is accomplishable in 1 and ½ rounds. This makes the initial round a round of collecting points. Players are free to work more aggressively on getting both of their colors evacuated. Perhaps one player pulls ahead at this point, perhaps not. The second round then becomes a mad dash to reach the goal. Obviously, things get a bit more cluttered on the board at the end of the first round (although the rules have been tweaked to keep it from becoming overly frustrating, it takes some effort to remove the final few pieces), with the final round being more fluid.
I favor playing toward a goal with two players, but I’ve also enjoyed single round games. Turns may feel a bit more calculated at first. Concerning strategy, the way that the ceiling and hoist rules are used is different depending on which end game option you are playing toward.
The Phobos Pugilist game is new, but it should provide for freer game movement and an economy of pieces that the original doesn't have. It also should play a little faster than the original. This variant is more of a curiosity and is not recommend for ICE Award purposes.
We recently playtested the three-player version; it was a really satisfying game. It's slightly more chaotic than a two-player game, but there's room for plenty of strategy too. I felt that there are two significant differences between this and the two-player game.
I've never had a temporarily jammed board with the current rule set, until we played a three-player game. That's because you can't use your own two color's to capture, and because any blue movement pieces don't generally get played until the late stages of a round at best. That said, with only three major colors on the board, there were plenty of opportunities to nudge your way out of trouble, and we never got to a point where we had to resent the movement area. To me, the positive aspect of this difference is that nudging and deciding when to capture becomes more important to game play than with a two-player game.
The second significant difference is that the hoist rule came into play for the first time, and was always something that players considered playing or tried to take steps to prohibit. The rule seems almost designed for three players, as it is a rare occurrence in a two-player. --nihilvor 06:31, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Playtesting Notes and Conversations:
four players (untested) We haven't tried with four players yet, and so those rules may have to be tweaked. I have an alternative rule that may make it easier for four players.1. A black three-pip wild is placed at the bottom of the outermost stacks. It is wild (not just in color but size, and can be used to complete a tree). The problem with this rule is that the ceiling is going to be used a lot. This has not been added to the official rule set and is experimental only.
1. Replace pictures on wiki with those of the new boards in action.