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Subject: Root Down - game for the "activator" contest rss

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Martin Grider
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Root Down
by Martin Grider - 2-player abstract - 30 min

(Rules with formatting.)


Setup

The game is played on a standard 8x8 square game board.

Each player has a set of 8 arrow tiles that indicate a specific direction, (up, down, left or right). These tiles must be distinguishable from one another by color or some other marking.

Each player begins with 6 forward-facing (away from the owning player) arrows on the 2nd rank closest to their side of the board. (The two squares next to the edge of the board on that row will be empty.)

Additionally, each player starts with two tiles turned sideways (left or right, doesn't matter), on the 3rd and 6th rank of the row closest to the player. (C1 and F1 or C8 and F8 respectively in algebraic notation.)

Choose a starting player.


Gameplay

Piece Movement
For the purposes of this game, left and right are synonymous, and if a tile is facing either direction, it is referred to as a root. Root tiles cannot be moved by either player.

All arrow tiles that are not root tiles are referred to as kickers. Kickers are activated when they are orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to a root. On your turn, you may move any activated kicker exactly as many spaces as the number of other activated kickers next to its root. Kickers may move in a straight line in any direction as long as they are not obstructed by other tiles. A kicker may never move through or land on another tile. When a kicker is finished moving, it "puts its root down", and kicks all the other tiles around it. (See Kicking it Root Down below.) Note that kickers that are not activated may never be moved.

Kickers can also be diminished, as indicated by facing the arrow backwards, toward the controlling player. A kicker can be both activated and diminished. When a diminished kicker moves, it will kick it root down as normal, and end its turn as a root.


Kicking Root Down
When an activated kicker finishes its movement, it turns on its side and becomes a root. Immediately, all arrow tiles in the surrounding eight spaces (orthogonality and diagonally adjacent) will be "kicked". What happens when a tile is kicked depends on what kind of tile it is:

1) If the tile is a root owned by the player who just moved, that tile's arrow is turned forward to turn the piece into an activated kicker tile.

2) If the tile is a root owned by the player's opponent, that tile is turned toward the opposing player, and becomes diminished.

3) Any opponent's diminished tiles are captured, removed from the game board, and kept by the capturing player for scoring at the end of the game.

Note that, at the end of a player's turn, after their piece kicks it root down, there will never be two root tiles adjacent to one another on the gameboard.


Game End
The game ends immediately if ever a player cannot take their turn because they have no activated kickers on their turn.

At that point, both players add the total of:

1) the arrow tiles of their opponent's they have captured during the course of the game,

and

2) the number of their activated kickers remaining on the gameboard next to all of their root tiles.

Whoever's score is the greater wins the game. In the case of a tie for points, the last player to have been able to take their turn is the victor.
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Martin Grider
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I started playtesting this the day before yesterday evening, and got pretty excited about it. Last night I randomly started coding, and have a pretty good start into an iPad version. (So far rules are enforced, and I should have it detecting end-game and scoring with another hour or so of work.)

Here's a screenshot:

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Nick Bentley
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Woohoo go Martin!
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christian freeling
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grid wrote:
I started playtesting this the day before yesterday evening, and got pretty excited about it. Last night I randomly started coding, and have a pretty good start into an iPad version. (So far rules are enforced, and I should have it detecting end-game and scoring with another hour or so of work.)

Here's a screenshot:


I'll have to chew on this one for a while, maybe sleep over it, but it looks like a very clever game, with kickers switching to activators and vice versa. I really like the simplicity and it shows once again that "activators" constitute a strong generic tool, the nature and implications of which are only partly charted.
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Martin Grider
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I updated the rules document to remove all references to the arrows. Now the pieces are either Roots or Kickers. I think it's simpler and clearer, but I'd still welcome feedback.

The change was necessary because I removed arrows from the iOS version, and there was discord there. Here is a blog post I wrote, with some new screenshots and more information about the app submission process (essentially I found a bug in the end-game scoring, so I'll be pulling the submission and re-submitting today with a version that actually reports end-game scores correctly).

When it's approved, the app will definitely be free until at least the end of the activator contest. (I would probably only consider charging for it if I added an AI or some kind of async multiplayer.)

UPDATE: And the BGG entry for Root Down is live!

UPDATE #2: And the app is live in the app store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/root-down/id772166474?mt=8
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Erik van Mechelen
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Martin,
Just sent feedback from erik.vanmechelen@gmail.com.

What a sweet game and big ups for building in only a matter of hours!

Gave it a 5-star review, too.

Cheers,
Erik
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Martin Grider
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erikvanmechel3n wrote:
What a sweet game and big ups for building in only a matter of hours!


Well, to be absolutely clear, I built the initial version in about 4 hours, spent another evening on it at some point (maybe another hour or two), and eventually spent ~4-6 hours (most of a day) getting it app store ready. Still, not bad, I don't think. I'd really like to do more of this sort of thing... we'll see.
 
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