Quicksand

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Quicksand
Designed by Erik Oosterwal
A strategy game where you try to capture your opponent's pieces on a board that is in constant flux.
Min. Players: 2
Max. Players: 2
Icehouse stashes: 2
Treehouse sets: 0
Other equipment: 4 Martian Coasters
Setup time: 1 minute or less
Min. Playing time: 10 minutes
Max. Playing time: 60 minutes
Rules complexity: Low
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: None
Primary Mechanic: Placement, Capture
Additional Mechanic: Board Rotation
Theme: Abstract
BGG Link: 73111


Contents

Objective

The objective of Quicksand is to capture 15 points (pips) of your opponent's pyramids by jumping over them with your own pyramids in a checkers-like manner.


Equipment Needed

2 Stashes of Pyramids
4 Martian Coasters (3x3 movable playing grid)


Setup

Arrange the four Martian coasters in a 2x2 square pattern. The resulting playing area will be 6 spaces by 6 spaces made up of four 3x3 quadrants.

Each of the two players receive one stash of pyramids in a single color (five 3-pip pyramids, five 2-pip pyramids, and five 1-pip pyramids.)


Rules

After deciding which player will start first, the players take turns completing the following two steps in order:

  1. The active player may place a pyramid from their store on to any empty space
        or
    The active player may jump one, two, or three pyramids according to the jumping rules below.

  2. After placing a new piece or jumping one or more pieces, the active player must rotate any one of the four Martian coasters 90°, 180°, or 270°.

Jumping

Pyramids with 1 pip may jump only 1 adjacent pyramid in any direction diagonally or orthoganally.

Pyramids with 2 pips may jump exactly 2 pyramids starting with an adjacent pyramid. The two pyramids may be adjacent to each other or have a single space between them. If the pyramids to be jumped are adjacent, they must be in a straight line orthogonally or diagonally. The active player may jump two pyramids that are not in a straight line as long as there is an empty space between them. (See the examples section for more details.)

Pyramids with 3 pips may jump 1, 2, or 3 pyramids following the same adjacency and redirection rules as for a 2-pip pyramid. (See the examples section for more details.)

All pyramids that are jumped are captured. The active player may capture any combination of their own and opponent's pyramids during a jump. The active player will place their own captured pyramids back into their store of pyramids. This is usually done when a player's store of pyramids is running low, when one of their own key pyramids is being threatened from multiple locations, or when it allows a player to also capture 1 or 2 of the opponent's pieces.

Restrictions:

A player may not jump the same pyramid twice.
All landing spots must be on the 6x6 playing area. When performing multiple jumps with a 2-pip or 3-pip pyramid, the intermediate landing spots must all be on the 6x6 playing area.

End Game Condition

The game ends when one of the following happen:

Points on captured pyramids is 15 or more.

Captured pyramids are scored by the number of pips. A 1-pip pyramid is worth 1 point, a 2-pip pyramid is worth 2 points, and a 3-pip pyramid is worth 3 points. The first player to capture 15 or more points worth of pyramids from the opposing player wins.

No valid moves

If the active player is unable to complete phase I of their turn (place or jump) they lose. Scores may still be tallied to be included in sets of games. Under this end game condition it is possible for the winning player to have a lower score than the losing player.


Examples

Capturing pyramids in a straight line with no spaces in between.

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two adjacent pyramids orthogonally with no spaces between.

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two adjacent pyramids diagonally with no spaces between.


Capturing pyramids in a straight line with one space in between.

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two pyramids orthogonally with one space between.

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two pyramids diagonally with one space between.


Changing direction in a multi-jump capture.

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two pyramids changing direction between successive jumps (135°/315°).

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two pyramids changing direction between successive jumps (90°/270°).

A blue 2-pip pyramid jumps two pyramids changing direction between successive jumps (45°/225°).

A 3-pip blue pyramid jumps two adjacent pyramids, then changes direction to jump a third pyramid.

A 3-pip blue pyramid jumps one adjacent pyramid, then changes direction to jump two more adjacent pyramids.

A 3-pip blue pyramid jumps one adjacent pyramid, changes direction to jump one more adjacent pyramid, then changes direction again to jump a third pyramid.


Additional Game Notes

Power and vulnerability of the three pyramid sizes

The 3-pip pyramid is the most powerful weapon on the board, but it has the drawback of being the most valuable as a target for the opponent to capture. Its great power comes from being able to jump one, two, or three pieces, at the descretion of the active player. This means that it can jump only one or two opponent pieces if jumping three would put it at risk of being captured on the opponent's next turn or if there are no other jumps available.

The 2-pip pyramid is only slightly more powerful than the 1-pip pyramid. The 2-pip pyramid can jump more pieces, but its drawback is that it must jump exactly two pieces. If there is no suitable target for the second jump then it cannot jump at all.

The 1-pip pyramid cannot jump as many pieces as either of the two larger pyramids, but it can often be placed in such a position that it can threaten a 2-pip pyramid without being a valid target for that 2-pip pyramid.

Relative strength of board positions

Most of the captures tend to occur near the center of the 6x6 board and along the two major axes running along the inner edges of the quadrants (Martian coasters). This means that the four corners of each quadrant are the most powerful spaces--it is easy to rotate a new piece into a position to threaten an opponent's piece and just as easy to rotate a vulnerable piece to the outside corner where it is safe from being captured.

The center space of each quadrant is most vulnerable to attacks because there are spaces all around it where an opponent can land after a jump, and if it is being threatened it cannot be moved relative to the rest of the pieces on the board by rotating that quadrant. With that being said, a pyramid in this location can be used as a first jump for a 2-pip or 3-pip pyramid in an outside corner that would otherwise not be a big threat to the center of the board.

Arrangements for strong board positions

As with most board games where the main constructs of the game consist of placing pieces on a grid and capturing opponent's pieces (Tic-Tac-Toe, Nine Mens Morris, Chess, Checkers, etc.), it is important to position your own pieces in such a way that your opponent's pieces are threatened from multiple locations while keeping your own safe from capture.

1-pip pyramids are best used as threats to lone 2-pip pyramids or as pieces to be jumped by your own 2-pip and 3-pip pyramids in order to get at the opponent's prized pieces and locations. They can also play an important role in jumping your own larger pieces if your store is running low or if there is no way to rotate the larger piece out of harm's way.

Clusters of pyramids, especially larger pyramids, can become more powerful because they provide the 2-pip, and more often, the 3-pip pyramids with a way to jump from a completely safe and non-threatening position into the middle of where the opponent's pieces are sporadically placed. For instance, a 3-pip pyramid at the corner of a 2x2 cluster of pyramids can jump all of the other three pyramids in one turn.

2-pip pyramids are almost useless when the board is sparsely occupied. They become more powerful when the board is 1/3 to 1/2 occupied.

The rotation of a quadrant at the end of each turn offers a suprisingly potent element to a seemingly simple and familiar 2-dimensional board game. What may seem like a safe or boring board layout can be warped into a volatile layout in a matter of one or two turns. This forces each player to be more aware of the time-dimension or constant flux of the relative positions of each piece on the board during each turn.

Additional Languages

Quicksand (Polish)

External Links


License

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This work is distributed by Erik Oosterwal under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Facts about QuicksandRDF feed
Additional Mechanic Board Rotation  +
BGG Link Http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/73111 73111  +
Description A strategy game where you try to capture your opponent's pieces on a board that is in constant flux.
Designer Designed by Erik Oosterwal  +
Max. Players 2  +
Max. Playing Time 60 minutes  +
Min. Players 2  +
Min. Playing Time 10 minutes  +
Name Quicksand  +
Other Equipment 4 Martian Coasters  +
Primary Mechanic Placement, Capture  +
Primary Theme Abstract  +
Random Chance None  +
Rules Complexity Low  +
Sets 0  +
Setup Time 1 minute or less  +
Stashes 2  +
Strategy Depth Medium  +
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