Other Wise

Chain link fences on the prairie

A quick simulation run on a 9×9 board ran for over 2,500 turns. Repeating on a 7×7 board with a somewhat dumber greedy algorithm hit 900 turn before I got tired. This is clearly unreasonable for a tabletop game.

Some concepts for address:

  1. Keep the board size no large than 7×7. While 6×6 is tempting, the side-length being a natural multiple of 3 is overly pleasant. 5 or 7 are more attractive and 5×5 appears to be clearly too small.

  2. Give a marker to the start player. After the player with the marker takes a turn, they must place an unmarked level 1 tile of the highest level the player is qualified for1 on an empty square of the board, if possible without causing a glob. If a glob is formed, the resultant tile is left unmarked. After their turn they pass the marker to their right (against the flow of turns).

  3. Among the objects that can be placed during setup are a variously large number “rocks” which create dead squares on the board and thus break up object formation globs.

  4. When three ore more level 4 objects glob, the active player is awarded a VP tile…which is placed on the board with a player marker and otherwise acts as a “rock”.

  5. The game ends N rounds after the first VP tile is placed.

Footnotes
  1. humans > animals > vegetables.

Making Ground

Making Ground:1 a placement game of terraforming for 2, 3 or 4 players. The 4-player game is a partnership game.

Components

A board of squares, perhaps 7×7 or 9×92. A large number of tiles in three families (vegetables, animals and humans) with four ascending ranks per family (eg grasses, bushes, trees and forests in ascending order for the vegetable family). Coloured player markers. (Optional) A small number of “rocks”, or tiles used to mark parts of the board as dead/unplayable. A bag.

Setup

  • Randomly assign turn order.
    • In a 4-player game, opposite pairs of players are partnered.
  • Put a small number of tiles from the first two ranks of each family in the bag.
  • In turn order each player draws a tile from the bag and places it on the board on any empty square which is not adjacent to an already placed tile.
    • Do this twice (thrice?).

First move

In clockwise rotation the players optionally accept a previously proposed first move as their own (must not have previously accepted a first move) and then propose a first move themselves by placing a level 1 vegetable tile with two of their markers on the board. A move is accepted by replacing the player markers on the proposed move with one of the accepting player’s markers.

There is then a second round, in the same order, of the players that did not accept a move on the first round (necessarily true of the first player, but may be others). On their turn they must accept a previously proposed move.

The game then starts with the player to the left of the player to last accept a move3. All subsequent turns are in clockwise rotation.

Basic gameplay

A set of three or more orthogonally adjacent tiles of the same family and rank glob and become a single tile of the same family and the next higher rank which is substituted for the tile that created the triggering glob. If the set of globbed tiles, including the newly placed and upgraded tile, was orthogonally adjacent to three or more tiles of the same family and the new higher rank of the placed tile, then the placed tile is globbed to the next higher rank etc. In this way multiple levels of globbings can occur with a single tile placement.

All the constituent globbed tiles of the final upgrade set are removed from the board and are returned to their owning players.

Special cases:

  • Removed tiles without owners (ie those added during setup) are awarded to the active player.

  • An animal glob must consume an adjacent vegetable tile of the same or lower rank if possible (active player choice of which).

  • Likewise, a human glob must consume an adjacent vegetable tile of the same or lower rank if possible.

  • The consumed tile is removed from the board and returned to its placing player, or the active player in the event of an unowned tile.

  • Players accumulate a private supply of tiles that have been returned to them.

  • Three tiles of the same family and rank in a player’s supply automatically and instantly upgrade into a single tile of the next higher rank in the same family with the globbed tiles being returned to the general supply.

    • Three tiles or more of the fourth rank on the board or in a player’s upgrade into a VP chip.
  • Upgraded tiles are returned to the general supply.

Player turn

On their turn the player must place one tile on the board along with one of his player markers4.

  • Players are always allowed to place level 1 vegetable tiles from the general supply.
  • If they collectively have at least three level 2 vegetable tiles on the board or in their personal supply, or at least one level 3 or 4, they may instead place level one animal tiles from the general supply.
  • If they collectively have at least three level 2 animal tiles on the board or in their personal supply, or at least one level 3 or 4, they may instead place level one human tiles from the general supply.
  • Instead of placing level 1 tiles from the general supply, players may place any tile they currently hold in their personal supply.
  • Placed tiles are marked with one of the placing player’s markers.

Any automatic upgrades are then executed, along with tiles being returned to their placing players and any resulting upgrades and tiles in player’s supplies.

If there are no empty squares left to place a tile on a player’s turn, the game is over.

Game end

The game ends when all players pass in rotation, or the board fills such that no further tiles may be placed.

Scoring

  • Vegetable tiles on the board are worth 2, 4, 8 and 16 points respectively based on level. Tiles in player’s supply are worth half that.
  • Animal tiles on the board are worth 3, 6, 12 and 24 points. Tiles in player’s supply are worth half that, rounded up.
  • Human tiles on the board are worth 4, 8, 16, 32 points. Tiles in player’s supply are worth half that, rounded up.
  • VP chips are worth 50 points 5.

The player or partnership with the most points wins. In a 4-player partnership game, the score of the partnership is the lowest of the scores of the individual members of the partnership.

Footnotes
  1. Mostly a thought model at this point.
  2. The size will likely vary with player count.
  3. Questionable: May be the first player as nominated before the game started instead.
  4. There’s a good argument that in the event of a player’s placement resulting in a glob/upgrade, that they then get an additional turn, but this may prove analytically overwhelming.
  5. Yes, an odd number.