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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.

Bryan Stout
A push-and-shove race around and up the sides of a pyramid.
:Players Players: 2 - 4
:Time Length: Long
:Complexity Complexity: Medium
Trios per color: 3
Number of colors: 4
Pyramid trios:
Monochr. stashes:
Five-color sets: 3
- - - - - - Other equipment - - - - - -
A Chessboard or Ziggurat board; two d8 or one d6
Setup time: 2 min
Playing time: 20 min
0.333 Hr
- 45 min
0.75 Hr
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Medium
Game mechanics: Roll and move, Blocking
Theme: Race
BGG Link:
Status: Playtesting (v), Year released: 2009
Created in 2009


There are legends that in their primitive days, when they only had step-sided ziggurats rather than smooth-sided pyramids, the early Martians would have races up the sides of their structures. A different team would start at each corner, and the team that assembled at the top first won the honors. They could be vicious affairs, with a lot of blocking, pushing and pulling, but this made it all the more entertaining for the crowds that cheered them on.

Ziggurat is a re-creation of those early races, and is playable by 2-4 players. The rules describe the 4-player game, with differences for 2 or 3 players described at the end.


  • 3 Treehouse sets
  • 1 Chessboard, or alternate board as described below
  • 1 Movement Die: 8-sided is preferred, but 6-sided is OK
  • 1 Action Die; the regular Treehouse_die is OK, but a D8 of different color from the Movement Die is preferred
  • 1 or more copies of the following Action Die Table, if you use the D8 action die:
  1. Tip
  2. Swap
  3. Hop
  4. Dig
  5. Aim
  6. Wild
  7. Leap
  8. Redo

The Board

The board is imagined to be a ziggurat of 4 levels: the 4 center squares are Level 4, the next rings of squares around them form Level 3 and Level 2, and the outermost squares are Level 1. The table outside the board, where the pieces all start, is Level 0. The squares along the main diagonals are the corners of each Level, and the row or column of squares joining two corners is a line. Two squares are adjacent if they are touching, orthogonally or diagonally.

See Figure 1 for the game's initial setup. If you find it hard to visualize the levels of the Ziggurat on a regular chessboard, it shows two options. Fig. 1B) shows a custom board that you can download here and print out. This board distinguishes the levels with borders and degrees of shading, as well as silhouettes for placing the stations and walls. Fig. 1C) shows a 3D board I made out of 1/2" foamboard. This is the most enjoyable board to play on, and it takes only a small amount of money and time to make it.


Players choose the color of pieces they wish to use, and take all 9 pyramids of their color. Some of the pyramids are used to mark the board, and the others are the pieces actually moved around the board. Players choose their starting corners by any means they agree to, and set up their pieces as described below.

A) On a chessboard B) On a Ziggurat printout board C) On a 3D Ziggurat board
Figure 1. An opening setup for Ziggurat.

Two large pyramids are used to form the stations: the Start Station on Level 0, and the Goal Station on Level 4. (One large pyramid is not used, but see the Queen variation below.) The 3 small pyramids are placed on their sides as shown to make the walls; they show where the pieces of that color may move up to the next Level. The stations and walls are part of the board, and are not moved throughout the game. The 3 medium pyramids are the pieces the players move around the board; they begin stacked on the Start Station, and try to end up stacked on the Goal Station.

Any pieces on the same square must form a stack; a piece by itself on a square is a singleton. Pieces on top of their stack are top pieces; pieces touching the board are bottom pieces. A singleton is both a top piece and an bottom piece.Ziggurat terminology


The player who first gets all their pieces onto their Goal Station wins the game.


The Turn

Choose a first player by any means. Turns rotate clockwise around the board.

To take a turn, a player rolls both the dice. The Movement Die enables one piece to move, and the Action Die either enhances the movement or allows one other action. If the action is not a movement enhancement, then the action and movement may be done by the same piece or different pieces, and may be done in any order. Both dice are optional: a player is not forced to use either the movement or the action roll.

If you use a D6 for the Movement Die, always add 1 to its result, so the movement ranges from 2 to 7. If you use a D8 for the Action Die, convert its number to an action using the table above.


Ziggurat Movement Paths for two of the players

Pieces move around the board as shown in Fig. 3: they move counterclockwise on the level, and go to the next level when reaching the wall of their color on the current level. A player may use his movement die for any of his top pieces that are not on the Goal Station.

When a piece is moved, it is moved in the forward direction as many spaces as the movement die shows (adding 1 for D6). A piece must move as far as possible with the roll; however, normal movement must stop: a) at a corner; b) at a wall of its own color; or c) just in front of a stack. Any unused spaces from the movement die are lost, and may not be used by a different piece or saved for another turn.


If a piece ends its move on a square with other pieces, it stacks on top of them. Pieces on top of a stack may move, Leap, and Tip or Swap with neighbors; all pieces in a stack may Tip the stack or Swap within it; pieces at the bottom of a stack may Dig out.

Other moving pieces must stop just before a stack unless they are Hopping. Stacks may be formed through normal movement, but can only be made larger as a result of Hop, Tip or Dig actions.


The effects of the Action Die are described here; illustrated examples follow. Note that if you use the traditional Treehouse Die, the Leap and Redo actions are not available.

Add 1 to the movement die. (For a D6, add 2.) While moving, a piece is not stopped at corners or walls, but continues moving until the count is used up or until blocked by a stack.
Add 1 to the movement die. (For a D6, add 2.) While moving, a piece Hops over any occupied squares, even stacks; several occupied squares in a row count as 1 Hop in the movement count. Pieces must still stop at a corner or wall of their color, and if that square has occupants they stack on top of them.
A bottom piece may move to any adjacent square of the same level or lower. This does allow Digging backwards or sideways. If the target square is occupied, the Digging piece ends up at the bottom of the stack. Digging may not be done into or out of a Start or Goal Station.
A piece may move in its line over as many blank squares are in front of it, stopping at a corner, wall of its color, or just in front of the next occupied square.
A) A top piece may switch places with any adjacent top piece, at any level, that is not on a Start or Goal Station. B) Or, a piece in a stack may switch places with any other piece in its stack.
A) A top piece may push an adjacent singleton or stack straight away from it; or B) any piece in a stack may Tip the stack it's in toward any allowed direction; or C) a singleton may Tip itself in the forward direction if allowed. To Tip, pick up the piece(s) Tipped, and place the lowest piece on the next square in the given direction, and the next lowest piece in the square after that, etc. Pieces that end up on occupied squares stack on top of them; pieces that end up off the board (ie. Level 0) are returned to their Start Stations. Pieces may be Tipped only in directions that are on the same Level or lower, not uphill. A stack on the Start Station may Tip itself off; pieces on the Start or Goal Stations may Tip their neighbors away from them.
A) After carrying out the movement, roll the Movement Die again and use it as desired, by any of your pieces. B) Or, reroll the Action Die and use it as desired, except that a Redo on the 2nd roll counts as a blank.
Use any of the other special actions.

On the Start Station, top pieces may Move, Aim, Hop, Leap and Tip (themselves or their neighbors). Bottom or inner pieces on the Start Station my Swap within the stack or Tip the stack forward. The only thing pieces on the Goal Station may do is to Tip their neighbors.

Examples of Movement and Action

Click on the images for larger versions of them.

Ziggurat Movement Examples Basic Movement: Yellow rolls a 3, but since one piece is at the goal (d5) and another is blocked by a stack (e1), she can only move the piece at the Start (a9). She does so -- remember that movement is voluntary -- and the piece is not blocked by the singleton at a7. Blue rolls an 8, and decides to move a piece off the Start Station, but can only move 5 squares because it blocked by his other piece's stack on f1; he does make his own new stack on e1. Red rolls 4; she cannot move out of the stack on f1, and rather than moving off the Start, she moves her most-advanced piece on c3 two spaces to e3; it must stop at the wall. Green uses his 7 to move his piece on f5, using only one movement point but getting his first piece onto his Goal.
Ziggurat Aim and Hop Examples Aim and Hop: Yellow, rolling 1/Aim, cannot go around any corners, so she just adds 1 to the Movement Die and moves her piece at c7 forward 2 squares. Blue, with 8/Aim, moves his piece on f5 around three corners and onto his Goal, with 2 movement points unused. Red, with 6/Hop, takes advantage of a crowded line and moves a piece from h0 to h7 in 4 steps, hopping over stacks and three occupied squares in a row, before being forced to stop at the corner; it rests on top of the stack already there. Green, with 2/Hop, moves a piece 3 steps off his Start, not counting the stack at h7 that he hops over.
Ziggurat Dig Examples Dig: The yellow piece at b6 can Dig to any adjacent square except c5 and c6, because they are on a higher level of the ziggurat. Blue Digs from b2 to b3, skipping most of Level 2. Red Digs from h5 to h6, getting out from the bottom of a stack. Green Digs from f2 to g3, cutting the corner and also getting past the normally blocking stack on g2.
Ziggurat Leap and Swap Examples Leap and Swap: Yellow has 3 choices for Leaping: from Start (a9) to a4, being stopped by the piece on a3; from a3 to a1, stopping at the corner; and from d6 to the Goal at d5 -- this last choice wouldn't be possible if the Goal were already occupied. Blue Swaps its piece at e1 with the Green piece at d2, lifting himself up a level while lowering Green a level. Red could Swap with Blue's piece, g2<->f2, skipping most of the second level; or he could Swap with Green's piece, g7<->g6, making Green have to go around Level 2 another time. Green Swaps within the stack at d8, putting itself on the top and the top piece on the bottom; the middle piece is unaffected.
Ziggurat Tip Examples Tip: Green's piece at the Goal (e5) Tips Yellow's piece at d6, moving it to c7 and down a level. Yellow's piece on e2 Tips the stack that it's in forward -- note that there are 4 other directions it could have Tipped. The bottom piece of the stack (Yellow) ends up on f2, stacking on the Red piece there, and the top of the stack ends at g2, at the start of Level 2 again. Blue Tips his two pieces off his Start, sending them to a1 and b1. This is the only case where you can Tip uphill, so the piece on b3 cannot Tip itself since singletons only Tip themselves in the forward direction. Red's piece on h5 could Tip itself forward a square to h6, but instead it Tips the stack on g6. Even though g6 is higher up than h5, this is legal Tipping because the first square tipped to, f7, is on the same level as g6. So the yellow piece on the bottom goes to f7, the green piece in the middle goes to e8, and finally the green piece on top goes off the board and is placed on Green's Start.


3 Players

Omit one of the colors in the setup. Choose your seating by any means you wish.

2 Players

Omit two of the colors in the setup, and have the 2 colors used start at opposite corners.

Or, use all 4 colors, and have each player control two colors at opposite corners; the first player to get all the pieces of either one of their colors to its Goal Station wins.


Play with two 2-player teams, with partners sitting opposite each other. The team which has all of its players' pieces on their Goal Stations wins the game.

When the first player in a team gets all their pieces on the Goal, they need only roll the Action die for their turn; if there is no opposing piece next to the Goal that they might want to Tip, they can pass their turn entirely.

Queen Ziggurat

Add the unused large pyramid, called the Queen, to your medium pyramids (or Drones) and use these additional rules:

  • The Queen starts on the Goal Station stacked with the 3 Drones. The owner may stack them in any position the owner desires, but that order cannot be changed without a Swap action.
  • Each space moved by the Queen takes 2 movement points from the movement die. Therefore, it cannot be moved with a 1 unless an Aim or Hop is rolled with it.
  • Queens block Drones as if they were stacks. Also like stacks, they may be Hopped over.
  • Queens are not blocked by stacks or other Queens, but must move over them and may stop atop them.
  • Queens may move if Drones of any color are stacked on them, carrying the Drones with them. They still may not Leap with Drones on them, nor Swap or Tip neighbors, and Queens may not move if other Queens are above them.
  • Queens Aim, Dig, Hop, Leap, Swap and Tip just like Drones. Queens and Drones may Tip each other and Swap with each other.
  • All 4 pieces must be at the goal to win.


http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/88x31.png Ziggurat is licensed by Bryan Stout under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.