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Ryan Hackel
Players walk their pyramids in a race to the finish line, and stop their opponents from getting there first!
:Players Players:
:Time Length: unknown
:Complexity Complexity: Low
Trios per color: 5
Number of colors: < 1 each
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes: < 1 each
Five-color sets:
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
1 stash pad per player
Setup time: 1 minutes
Playing time:
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: None
Game mechanics:
Theme: Sports, Racing
BGG Link:
Status: complete? (v1.0), Year released: 2987

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.

Traction is a race game with a free form board, in which pieces move in a unique walking manner.

The war between Deimos and Phobos had been raging for centuries. The wages of total war had so exhausted the two moons, that all resources had been depleted. There was no fuel for machines of war, no metal for swords, not even wood for arrows. Each side had as their only weapons their very bodies. The kings decided to end the stalemate, and settle the long feud once and for all, by a game in which winner takes all. For inspiration, they turned their telescopes toward the shiny blue planet, and observed a contest of strength and speed played by the natives of Htron Acirema (to use the Martian name), a game known as 'football'. On the day of the great contest, the warriors of Deimos and the warriors of Phobos met on the battlefield one last time...

What you need

  • 2 same-color nests per player.
    • Each player must use a different color, but the pieces do not have to be stackable.
    • Two Treehouse sets will support 2-5 players in a game of Traction
  • 1 stash pad per player
  • a high-friction playing surface (see Setup)
  • 2 or more players


The playing surface must be non-slippery. The pyramids will need to be tipped and not slip from under your finger. Thus the playing surface needs to have some "grip". Unvarnished wood, rubber, fabric, and non-glossy paper work well for this; formica, vinyl, and hard polished surfaces do not. I've used 11"x17" sheets of paper and the backs of mousepads with good success.

Each player places their stash pad on the playing surface. The pads should be at least 15" apart, but not more than 2 or 3 feet apart. In a 3+ player game, it is strategically advantageous to have the stash pads approximately equidistant.

Each player uses the following pyramids:

all of the same color per player, so that each player's pieces are distinct. There are no restrictions on pyramid arrangement within the stash pad, only that each pyramid be upright.

Any unused pyramids are not used in the game, and are set aside.


The player who has most recently been to a stadium goes first.

On your turn, choose any 2 of your pyramids. Each selected pyramid gets to perform one of the following two choices:

  • 'Walking'
  • 'Tackling'


To walk a pyramid:

  • With your fingers, tip the pyramid onto one corner of its base.
  • Swivel the pyramid on its supporting corner in up to 360 degrees in any direction.
  • Set the pyramid down upright.

This action performed singlarly is called a 'step'. Taking multiple steps is called 'walking'.

Each pyramid has a walking range, a limit to the number of steps that piece can take each turn:

  • Small pieces can make up to 4 steps per turn.
  • Medium pieces can make up to 2 steps per turn.
  • Large pieces can make only 1 step per turn.

All steps must be done within the same 'walk'; you cannot split steps up within the turn (taking 2 now and 1 later, for example). Steps cannot be saved up over turns.

If a walking pyramid contacts another pyramid belonging to any player, this creates an illegal move (see below).


Tackling is the method that your pieces use to defend against enemy pieces. During your turn, you can have one of your pyramids tackle an opponent's piece.

To make a tackle you:

  • Tip the tackling pyramid onto one corner of its base.
  • Swivel the tackling piece on its supporting corner in up to 360 degrees in any direction.
  • If the base (or a corner or edge of the base) touches an opponent's pyramid, the other piece is considered 'tackled'.
  • The tackled and the tackling pieces are returned upright to their respective owner's stash pad. Neither piece can be moved for the remainder of the current turn.

Note: a piece can tackle a piece of any other size (a Pawn can tackle a Queen); size only indicates relative speeds and maneuverability. However, the larger the pyramid, the larger the tackling range of that pyramid. Also, making a tackle gives the tackling piece one step, but this does not count as a walk.

If during a tackle, the tackling piece contacts any piece with its sides or point, this constitutes an Illegal move (see below).

Illegal Moves

Any of the following moves are illegal:

  • A walking piece contacts any other pyramid
  • A tackling piece contacts its victim with its sides or point (only the base and it's edges and corners are used for tackling)
  • Any piece off of a stash pad that is flat, at any time.
  • Moving a piece that results in a crash (see below)
  • A piece that is not upright at the end of the turn

If a player makes an illegal move, the offending piece must be penalized. The piece is placed on its owner's stash pad, and cannot be used for the remainder of the turn. This is the only time a piece may be flat legally. On the beginning of that player's next turn, he or she may turn the flat piece upright, and that piece may not move again during that turn.


A crash is any incident that causes the rearrengement of a piece or pieces that are not walking or tackling. A crash temporarily pauses gameplay until it is resolved.

If a crash happens due to a walk or tackle, the walking or tackling player has made an illegal move (see above).

If a crash is the result of a player out of that player's turn, each opponent may choose a piece belonging to that player, and penalizes the piece as if it just made an illegal move.

If no player is responsible for the crash, the players try to reposition their pieces in their previous state before the crash, as best as mutually agreeable.

Obviously, Traction is far more sensitive to tiny crashes that merely jiggle a piece, as opposed to Icehouse. Be Cool when calling minor crashes; its good karma to be a little tolerant, as long as abuse is avoided.

Winning the Game

The winner of the game is the first player to have a piece contact an opponent's stash pad!

Credits and Copyright

Traction, v0.50

28 April 2005 (updated 14 February 2006)

designed by Ryan Hackel and was placed on the wiki.

Comment and Questions

  • This is my first Icehouse game design! - Cerulean
  • Comments and suggestions on improvements are welcomed at Talk:Traction.
    • Thanks for the input!