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Subject: Domino Battleball rss

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Paul McKenzie
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Domino Battleball

A double-six set of dominoes are used for movement and for block/tackle attempts.

Turn Order

Each coach picks 6 players, one of each type, and places them as noted in the rules, behind their line. Thus, each player will have on the field a running back, a safety, a lineman, a tackle, and a heavy tackle. The remaining players are the reserve, and serve to replace any player who is injured.

Each turn has two phases: the movement phase and the block/tackle phase.

During the movement phase, dominos must be spent to perform all actions, including movement and block/tackle attempts. Each coach receives seven (7) dominos to use for both their turn and the opposing coach’s turn for all movement and block/tackle attempts. At the beginning of their next turn, they must draw enough dominos to have seven (7). The dominos are spent on the individual player types according to the following values for both movement and block/tackle attempts:

Runningbacks sum the greater halves of three dominos.

Safeties sum the lesser halves of three dominoes.

Linebackers use the greater halves of two dominoes.

Lineman use the lesser halves of two dominos.

Tackles use the higher half of one domino.

Heavy Tackles use the lesser half of one domino.

The moving coach may move any or all of his players as he wishes, up to the sum of the pips noted above (see Movement, below); the coach may have any player pass or handoff the ball to a teammate (see Passing and Handoff, below). The opposing coach may move only in defensive movement (see Defensive Movement, below); otherwise, the opposing coach must wait until the moving coach has ended his turn before moving.

Any block or tackle attempts are announced, then all handled simultaneously during the block/tackle phase (see Blocking and Tackle, below).

During the block/tackle phase, the coach resolves all tackle attempts with the requisite dominos, either from their hand or by blind draw.

Blind Draws

Players may choose at any time to blind draw (spend without knowing their value beforehand) dominos on any play attempt. If a defending player has run out of dominos, they must blind draw to defend tackle attempts.

If a player type has been injured, the player’s coach may place another player of the same type anywhere on or behind his starting placement line (20 yard line) at the end of his turn. Note that each team has only one Heavy Tackle, who cannot be replaced if injured.


Movement

Coaches may move any or all of his players the number of spaces up to and including their respective domino sum.
If a player moves into a space occupied by the ball, he may take possession, but must immediately end his movement for this turn.
If a player is moved to within one space of an opposing player, the moving player must stop immediately and must announce either a block or tackle attempt on the opposing player.
Ordinarily only one player may tackle one target during the turn; once a target has been announced, the moving coach may move any player to an adjacent space, but must stop the player immediately, and ends their movement phase there, but chooses which player will attempt a block/tackle.
Players may not normally move onto or pass through carnage tokens.

Passing

A coach who wishes a player to pass may not move the passing player during that turn. The receiver may not move before the pass, but may move as normal afterward.
Passing must occur during the beginning of each player’s turn.
The passing player picks the lower number of dominos between the passing and receiving player. The passing player must spend domino pips equal to or greater than the number of spaces between the players to attempt the pass.
If the number is exactly equal, the pass is automatically complete.
If the number is greater, the pass is complete unless challenged by the non-passing coach. If the non-passing coach can match the domino sides spent with identical domino sides, the pass is incomplete, and the ball is placed by the passing coach. If the non-passing coach can exactly match the dominoes used and if they have a player for whom the distance noted on the pips from the passer is the same, the pass is intercepted by the opposing player.
The coach must first determine the number of spaces between the two players, counting the space the receiver is in. The coach then must spend the lower of the two players’ domino numbers and the football die.

Handoff

A handoff can occur between any teammates who are adjacent at the beginning of the coach’s turn. The player handing off may not move during the same turn, but the player receiving the handoff may move as normal.

Blocking

Blank dominoes, when played in a successful block/tackle attempt, automatically increase the injury result (knockdown becomes an injury, and an injury becomes a serious injury). They don’t count towards the pip total.

If a block is declared, the coaches place the corresponding dominos down and reveals them simultaneously, with the lower result winning.
If the initiating player wins, the target is knocked down until the end of his next turn.
If the target player’s roll is equal to or greater than the initiating player’s, there is no effect.
If the target plays a blank tile, the initiating player is knocked down.
If both players play blank tiles, the target is injured while the initiating player is knocked down.

Spearing

A player may attempt to injure a player who has been knocked down. Failure leads to no result (or knockdown if the downed player spends a blind domino half and wins the spearing roll), but success by the spearing player leads to an automatic injury (or serious injury if a blank domino half is spent).

Tackling

Blank dominoes, when played in a successful block/tackle attempt, automatically increase the injury result (knockdown becomes an injury, and an injury becomes a serious injury). They don’t count towards the pip total. Coaches who wish players to tackle merely move a player within one space of the target. Both coaches spend the corresponding dominos, with the lower winning. The use of a blank tile in a successful tackle seriously injures the target. Ties injure both players. Ties that have both players using blank tiles seriously injure both players. If the Carnage variant is used, a Carnage token is placed on the space of any successfully tackled target.

Scoring

The half ends if a touchdown is scored. The second half begins, with the non-scoring player with possession of the ball. If the second half ends in a tie, an additional “sudden death” half is played with the ball loose at midfield.

Optional Rules

Variable Contact

Contact Rules: Different levels of contact may be played.

In semi-contact, only the ball carrier may be tackled, all other players may only be blocked, and spearing is optional only on the ball-carrier.

Full-contact allows the players to choose to either block or tackle, and any opposing player may be speared.

In Carnage, there is no block, only tackle attempts, with results as normal; this can be implemented during the “sudden death” half.

Defensive Movement

Defensive movement: Doubles of their own number of dominos (3 for the runningback and safety, 2 for the lineman and linebacker, 1 for the tackles) can be spent to allow the non-moving player to move one player as normal at any time during an opponent’s turn, provided the coach has the required number of dominos, but there must be a block/tackle attempt made by the moving player.

Superstars

Each team has three superstars per team. Superstars have a special ability that they may use at any time during a game.

Iron Judge (lineman): Judgment: May treat any successful knockdown result as an injury, or any successful injury result as a serious injury; following a successful infliction of injury on an opposing player, he must take a knee (lie down as if knocked down) at the end of the turn.

Steel Ultimatus (lineman): Durable: If injured, may treat as a simple knockdown. If seriously injured, may treat it as an injury.

Colossor (heavy tackle): Juggernaut: May attempt as many blocks/tackles as desired during a turn, but if attempting more than one must take a knee (lie down as if knocked down) at the end of the turn.

Stalwart (heavy tackle): Cannonball: When either passing or receiving the ball, may pick the higher domino number to spend.

Brutus (tackle): Agile: May jump over opposing players, carnage tokens and opposing player-adjacent spaces at no additional cost.

Dark Isis (runningback): Winged Heels: May use the highest of four (4) dominos for movement, but the next turn can only spend the highest sides of two (2) dominos for movement. On the third turn, may move as normal.




 
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Mark Crane
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Very cool! How does this play in practice? What is your rating of the game using these rules?
 
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Wow wow. What a stunningly simple way to add so much more depth to the game with such an inexpensive and easy to obtain component. I also have the question of how well this actually plays, in your experience. It looks good, though.

Something that would help I think is some examples of each type of action with the dominoes. Sometimes it's unclear when dominoes are reused and when others are played in addition to the movement dominoes. Can you use the same domino twice, once for its lower value, and once for its higher value?

Thanks,
Nick
 
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Paul McKenzie
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Dominos can only be spent once; once either value is spent, the other value is discarded.

As to how it plays, I think it seems to play pretty well. In a strictly run/handoff game, the variant works great. It makes passes a little risky, though, although with planning they can win the game.

I find it helps to put stickers on the players bases, between their legs or beside them, either 3H, or 2L, or whatever, to designate how they spend dominos. This variant also really does differentiate the players; the "high" players can't use the half-blank tiles to modify tackles, only the double-blank tile, and so in most cases (and especially blind draws) will lose tackles against their "low" counterparts. However, the lower players conversely move much more slowly, on average; often the tackles and heavy tackles seem left behind the action, and have to catch up if the coach wants to spend the dominoes to do it.

Also, since there are only 28 dominoes in a single double-six set, the calculation is easier than black-jack (28 dominoes makes four complete hands), so there's that element added as well, although one can play quite skilfully without having to crunch the numbers. When one has spent or seen all the double-blank and partial-blank tiles, for example, it can influence what chances you'll take with star players or faster ones when the other guy's higher bruisers are in block or tackle range.

Star players are worth preserving in this variant. One side has the tougher and more dangerous players, the other has the faster or better passing ones. Stalwart makes a great and tough quarterback in this variant, because he can choose the higher domino value to spend between himself and the receiver, and is tough enough to resist most tackle or block attempts. Iron Judge is the hit man used to injure the other coach's players, preferably his stars. Colossor is another hit man who can decimate the opposing line if the other coach spaces his players too closely. Brutus and Dark Isis make crackerjack receivers, because of their speed and agility. Thus, both sets of star players really do encourage different playing styles, with one side having the incentive to run and grind the other team, with the other side wanting to pass.

Overall, it's a pretty fun way to play. The fewer players on the field also makes tactical decisions much more straightforward, and keeps the game moving pretty well.

I'll try to add some play examples to the rules as I play from sessions.
 
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civet5285 wrote:
Also, since there are only 28 dominoes in a single double-six set, the calculation is easier than black-jack (28 dominoes makes four complete hands), so there's that element added as well, although one can play quite skilfully without having to crunch the numbers. When one has spent or seen all the double-blank and partial-blank tiles, for example, it can influence what chances you'll take with star players or faster ones when the other guy's higher bruisers are in block or tackle range.

So, you don't shuffle until all the dominoes are taken from the pool? You don't really address that. Perhaps you can minimize the benefit of domino counting by taking all tiles spent on a turn, placing them face down out of play, and shuffling them back into the pile after the next player draws back up to 7 dominoes. The spent tiles from the previous turn are then available as blind draws.

Just a thought.

Nick
 
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Paul McKenzie
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"So, you don't shuffle until all the dominoes are taken from the pool? You don't really address that. Perhaps you can minimize the benefit of domino counting by taking all tiles spent on a turn, placing them face down out of play, and shuffling them back into the pile after the next player draws back up to 7 dominoes. The spent tiles from the previous turn are then available as blind draws."

Great point. I've been playing it black-jack style, where you play the entire "deck" (all 28 dominoes) just so you are able to calculate a little if you want, but the way you've described makes the dominoes more random and less predictable. I like your thinking; you can't get the same domino (although you might get its double) on two consecutive turns, and it keeps it a little more random. I'll probably add in your thoughts in a "variant to the variant" supplement. As it stands, I would think you can play it either way, either "black-jack" style or the way you've described without changing gameplay, and play whichever way you prefer (less or more random).

Thanks for your thoughts and comments.
 
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