an Icehouse space exploration game
by Glenn Overby
For two to eight players, using one stackable Icehouse stash per player. Also, three ordinary dice and one deck of Aquarius cards (another Looney Labs game) are needed. Only the 40 Element cards from the Aquarius deck will be used.
Each player starts out with a world of their own, and three colonists on it. Players grow the civilization on their world, eventually developing spaceports and ships to expand to other worlds. (Sometimes this means fights over the same real estate.)
The object of play is to develop an interplanetary empire which is widespread, supported by a fleet of ships, and rich in all five classic elements: air, earth, fire, water, and ether.
Pyramids on a world:
Worlds (built with Aquarius cards):
Off-world zones (used only by ships):
Deal out the 40 cards into eight face-down piles of five cards each. Each player receives one pile. Unless eight are playing, one pile will be designated as a neutral pile. Extra piles are set aside, out of play.
Players each build a world, using their pile of five cards and the World-Building rules which follow. A neutral world is also built from the neutral pile, by consensus. If no consensus can be reached concerning two or more legal card placements for the neutral world, decide by lot.
Each player then places a colonist on each of three territories of their world. The youngest player will then take the first turn. Other players take turns in order of increasing age.
If this world belongs to a player, and it is impossible to build a spaceport on it (no territory is adjacent to four or more others), turn the orbit card face up, and replace one card now in the world with the orbit card, following the usual rules. (The replaced card is turned face-down as the new orbit card.) If the world is still not playable, the player must take one of the extra piles to build a different world, and set these cards aside out of play. Should no extra piles be available for this, gather up all cards and re-deal.
The Turn Cycle
There are four parts to each player's turn: Expansion, Survival, Movement, and Fleet Battle.
Take one action on each world where the current player has pyramids. The two possible actions are Expand (place a pyramid) or Civilize (change a pyramid's size).
Check each world where the current player has pyramids, to see what pyramids survive. All pyramids on the world are checked, regardless of ownership.
Colonists survive or die based on how much support or pressure they get from their neighbors.
Knock over all unhappy colonists. Leave them in their territories as they are dying, not yet dead. (They don't become invaders; knocking them over is a convenience for checking.) They count as present while evaluating their neighbors on this round. Do not remove dying colonists until all pyramids on the world have been evaluated. After a pyramid dies and is removed, their former neighbors may be left with too few neighbors, but they will not die before the next Survival check on this world.
Invaders survive or die based on off-world support.
Once every pyramid on a world is checked, remove all dying pyramids simultaneously. Remember that only worlds where the current player has pyramids are checked!
Last Round: If the current player has 13 or more pyramids in play after all Survival checks, the Last Round begins. Finish the turn. Each player, including the current player, then gets one more turn, after which the game ends.
The current player may move all, some, or none of their pyramids in the following strict order.
In any orbit where the current player and one or more other players have ships, fleet battle takes place. (Fleet battles never take place in Space, which is too vast.) The current player determines the order in which the various worlds have their battles. At each fleet battle site, the following steps take place.
To fire a ship, name a target for the ship, and roll a number of dice equal to the firing ship's pip-count. A transport may not be a target if that player also has a fighter present.
A transport scores a hit for each 6 rolled. A fighter shooting at a fighter scores a hit for each 5 or 6 rolled. A fighter shooting at a transport scores a hit for each 4, 5, or 6 rolled.
Hit ships immediately roll defensive dice equal to their pip-count. Each 6 rolled cancels one hit. Any hits not cancelled reduce the size of the hit ship by one size per hit. If the proper size pyramid is not available in the player's stash, reduce the hit ship by another size. A ship reduced below one pip is destroyed.
A transport which is reduced to the point where it is too small to carry any marine now on it also removes the marine.
After each world's battle is resolved, take up another world until all battles are resolved. When all fleet battles are finished, it becomes the next player's turn.
After the Last Round has ended, each player receives six scores: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Ether, and Progress. Each element score is the score of the highest-scoring region of that element occupied by the player. If the player occupies no territories of an element, that element score is 0.5. The Progress score is 1 point per ship, plus 3 points per world on which the player has pyramids.
A region's score equals the pip-count of your largest pyramid in that region, multiplied by the number of tiles in the region. Two or more players may score for the same region, and these scores may differ.
Multiply the highest element score, the lowest element score, and the Progress score together. Add the other three scores to this product to get a player's final total. The player with the most points wins.
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