Jan 272010
 

Penalty Pool is a billiards game with a twist: players do not accumulate points for making shots, but rather they try to avoid accumulating penalty points for missing shots and for fouls.

Objective

Be the player to accumulate the fewest penalty points during a match comprised of a predetermined number of games (usually three).

Setup

Position fifteen object balls at every intersection of imaginary lines drawn between opposite spots, excluding the three intersections at the head and foot of the table.

Penalty Pool Setup

Determine who will shoot first; that player takes the cue ball in hand and may place it anywhere on the table to begin play.

Rules Of Play

On every shot attempt, the shooting player must:

  • hit any object ball,
  • pocket any object ball,
  • avoid hitting any rail with the cue ball, and
  • avoid hitting any other ball with the cue ball.

Failure to accomplish the above shot requirements results in one or more fouls, with associated penalty points accrued by the offending player:

  • Miss all object balls = 3 penalty points and end of turn.
  • Fail to pocket any object ball = 1 penalty point and end of turn.
  • Hit a rail with the cue ball = 1 penalty point per rail hit (does not end turn).
  • Hit any other ball with the cue ball = 3 penalty points per ball hit (does not end turn).

Score penalty points as they occur. It is possible to commit multiple fouls on a single shot, accumulating penalty points for each foul. For example, if a player failed to pocket a ball, hit a rail with the cue ball, and also hit another ball then he or she would accumulate (1 + 1 + 3) 5 penalty points and his or her turn would end. Had the player pocketed a ball, however, he or she would only have accumulated 4 penalty points and would be able to continue shooting.

The player that pockets the final ball on the table reduces his or her penalty points score by 5 penalty points and is awarded 1 game point. All fifteen object balls are repositioned according to the setup diagram above, and that player’s turn ends.

The cue ball is not repositioned unless it would be touching or overlapping an object ball after setup; in that case, the next player takes the cue ball in hand and may place it anywhere on the table to resume play.

At the conclusion of the predetermined number of games, players compare penalty points. The player with the fewest penalty points is the winner; if the penalty points scores are tied, then the player with the most game points is the winner.

Strategy

Penalty Pool encourages a soft touch, spin control, and careful risk/reward management. Early in a game, it is of primary importance to pocket a ball and avoid penalty points. Late in a game, one may risk accumulating penalty points in the hopes of pocketing the remainder of the balls and reducing one’s penalty points by five. Accumulating penalty points, in general, takes the pressure to avoid fouls off of one’s opponent, which can easily give him or her the latitude to pocket all of the remaining balls.

Moon Shot

 Games, Parlor Game  Comments Off on Moon Shot
Jul 052007
 
Moon Shot
David Artman
 
A game of dexterous strategy for any number of players.
Players: Any
Icehouse stashes: one stack (or one stack per player for the turnless variation)
Other equipment: A smooth surface; one Treehouse tube (or one tube per player for the turnless variation)
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: 5–30 minutes
Rules complexity: Low
Strategy depth: Low
Random chance: None
Mechanics: dexterity, miniatures
Theme: Space
BGG Link: 33853
 
Created in July, 2007

It’s the mid-1960s, and the Space Race is heating up. You are the launch commander of a mission to land on the Moon and, eventually, to colonize it. But your opponents want to plant their flags there first and claim the high ground as their own!

Overview

After determining order of play by whatever means, players take turns1 trying to “launch” a small pyramid into a Treehouse tube that is resting on its side. Each successful “landing” earns points for the launching player. The game ends when a player establishes a “colony” or “cracks” the Moon, intentionally or not.2

Shot Setup

Make a tree stack and set it upright on a smooth surface. This stack represents the current player’s two-stage “booster rocket” (large and medium) and “capsule” (small).

Set a tube on its side on the surface, with its open top facing the tree, no closer to the tree than the length of the tube. A player may place the tube further away, if desired, but never closer.3

Shot Play

Using the tip of a finger, gently knock over the tree so that it separates and sends the small—and maybe the medium and possibly the large—sliding and skittering across the surface.

Shot Scoring

If any part of the small4 enters the tube, that player has Landed on the Moon:

  • If the small is flat and still points away from the original site of the tree (even if only by a half a degree) then it is a Crash Landing and is worth 1 point, for the limited scientific gains made before the crew dies from oxygen depletion.
  • If the small is flat but now points back towards the original site of the tree (even if only by a half a degree) then it is a Controlled Landing and is worth 2 points, because the crew not only completes scientific objectives but also returns safely to Earth.
  • If the small is now upright then it is a Perfect Landing and is worth 3 points, because the crew not only completes scientific objectives and returns safely to Earth but also demonstrates the superiority of its piloting and technology in the world press.

(Note: If there is any doubt about whether the small points away from or towards the original site of the tree, it is considered a Crash Landing and is worth 1 point. Usually, however, players can settle disputes by using a tube top placed on the upper side of the tube as a right-angle gauge.)

If any part of the small enters the tube and any part of the medium5 enters the tube, that player scores point(s) based on the orientation of the small and that player has Colonized the Moon.

(Note: If the medium enters the tube alone, that player has not Colonized the Moon: he or she left the crew in space!)

If any part of the large enters the tube—regardless of any other pyramids entering the tube—that player has Cracked the Moon, destabilizing its orbit and sending it winging off into deep space.

(Note: If a small or medium also enters the tube with the large, that player receives no point(s) nor can Colonize: the Moon is leaving the warmth of Sol behind, and anyone along for the ride is doomed.)

Game Ending

When a player Colonizes the Moon, the player with the most points is the winner, which may or may not be the player that established the Colony! If two or more players are tied with the most points after the Moon is Colonized then the winner is determined as follows:

  • If one of those players Colonized the Moon then that player is the winner.
  • If none of those players Colonized the Moon then the one among them who most recently Landed is the winner.

If a player Cracks the Moon, the player with the least points at that moment is the winner, which may or may not be the player that Cracked the Moon. If two or more players are tied for the least points when the Moon is Cracked then the winner is determined as follows:

  • If one of those players Cracked the Moon then that player is the winner.
  • If none of those players Cracked the Moon then the one among them that least recently Landed is the winner.

Variations

Players should decide in advance whether any of these game variations are in effect:

  1. Players that have enough tubes for everyone may elect to play without turns, the better to simulate the original Space Race. In this turnless variation, players may attempt Landings as often as they wish, but another player or an impartial judge must confirm a Landing for it to score. As with the turn-based game, the first Colony ends the game, and the player with the most points at that moment is the winner (or the player that is the first to reach the determined score, if playing the variation below).
  2. For a quicker game, players may elect to play to an agreed-upon number of points to win (usually around 10 points); Colonizing or Cracking the Moon is irrelevant. This variation, however, eliminates the give and take of playing to Colonize while one has the points lead, then playing to Land (or to Crack!) when one does not: one need only Land repeatedly and consistently to win the game.
  3. For a really quick game, players may elect to allow the tube to be placed as close or as far away as they want. This variation makes it trivial to get 1-point Landings and even makes it simple to establish a Colony. Basically, this variation can ruin the game… or save it, for folks having a lot of difficulty with control.
  4. For a longer game, players may require that the entire small be in the tube to count as a Landing.
  5. For an epic-length game, players may require that the entire small and the entire medium be in the tube to count as a Colony. Good for playing solitaire or for long, rainy days.

License

Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SAThis work is distributed by David Carle Artman under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Entered in the Icehouse Game Design Competition, Summer 2007
Winner: Pylon 2nd: Subdivision 3rd: Zamboni Wars 4th: Geomancy
5th: Penguin Soccer 6th: Moon Shot 7th: Martian Coaster Chaturanga 8th: Trip Away
Jan 202007
 
Martian Shuffleboard
David Artman
 
A game of dexterous strategy for 2 to 10 players.
Players: 2–5 normally, up to 10, with Rainbow and Xeno sets
Icehouse stashes: 1 Treehouse set per 5 players
Other equipment: A table or large game board off of which pieces can slide
Setup time: 1 minute
Playing time: 5–30 minutes
Rules complexity: Low
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: None
Mechanics: Dexterity, Turn-based, Miniatures
Theme: Martian
BGG Link: not ready yet
 
Created in January, 2007

Note: [?-…-?] indicates elements still under consideration or open for variation.


A game of dexterous strategy for 2 to 10 players in which players attempt to flick upright pieces so that they slide into scoring positions without tipping flat or sliding off of the playing surface.

 

Equipment

A playing surface, which could be a relatively small table with no edge rails (i.e. pieces can slide off the table) or a relatively large, thick game board. The slicker the playing surface, the better the game.

One Treehouse set per 5 players. For 6 to 10 players, the second Treehouse set must contain different colors from the first one (i.e. one must be Rainbow and the other Xeno).

An unused Small (e.g. the solid white or solid black one in the set). In a 5 or 10 player game, you will need either the Treehouse die or a spare Small from another set, to measure piece proximity.

Setup

Give each player a monochrome stack—one Small piece, one Medium piece, and one Large piece of the same color.

Determine randomly who will go first, and then follow traditional turn order.

The first player places a single upright piece of any size [?-alternates below-?] at the center of the playing surface.

Playing

In turn order, players attempt to flick a single upright piece with their finger(s), from the edge of the playing surface, so that it slides across the surface and stops in an upright position with the potential to score (see Scoring below).

A player may slide only one piece per turn.

If a slid piece hits another piece and moves it without knocking it over, then that piece remains where it stops (see Crashing below, for what happens if either piece is knocked flat or off of the playing surface).

Crashing

If any piece is ever knocked flat (no longer upright) then its owner gets that piece back, to re-slide on one of his or her subsequent turns.

If a piece falls off of the playing surface, then one of the following results:

  • If the piece belongs to the player whose turn it is (i.e. who just slid a piece to cause the crash) then it is removed from play until the end of the game.
  • If the piece belongs to any other player then its owner gets that piece back, to re-slide on one of his or her subsequent turn.

The game ends when no one has any more pieces to slide into play.

Scoring

Each piece that is within a Small height (laid flat) of any larger piece—regardless of that larger piece’s color—scores points for its player equal to the value of that larger piece. Thus, it is possible for a single piece to score from several pieces, including the player’s own pieces.

Example: The Small blue is within a Small height of the Large blue and the Medium red; the blue player scores 5 points. 

The Medium red is within a Small height of the Large blue; the red player scores 3 points.

You might have to use the Treehouse die as an alternative measuring device, if you are playing with 5 or 10 players. The longest measurement possible with a die—the length between any two completely opposite corners, through the center of the die—is almost exactly the height of a Small, though you will have to “eyeball” measurements of that length from above, as it is impossible to set that length flat on the playing surface.

Of course, you may also measure with the width or diagonal length of a face of the die, which makes for slightly lower scoring games because those lengths are shorter than a Small height.

Winning

The winner is the player with the most points after all scoring is concluded.

Some groups may elect to play a number of games equal to the number of players and take turns being first, to mitigate the disadvantage of being the first player, who must place a piece to begin play and thus hang it out there to be scored on (or, worse, use his or her Small at the very beginning of play, losing the best tool in the game).

License

Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC-SA This work is distributed by David Carle Artman under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


 

Remaining Design Issues

  1. Is there an obvious strategy? By the current rules, it clearly is no good to start with a Large, as you’re just hanging it out there to be scored on and it isn’t likely to be crashed by a smaller piece trying to score on it. But see below.
  2. I have observed that you can save the Small for last and use it to bump around pieces while crashing the Small, getting it back each time (well, until you screw up and fling it off the playing surface, that is). I have tried forced piece order (i.e. always must use your smallest piece on your turn) and I have tried alternate scoring (pieces within a Small height of smaller pieces score the smaller’s point value). Basically, there’s this range of possible play variants:
    • Use what you want + Smallers score on largers. (above)
    • Use what you want + Largers score on smallers. (intuitive, but it’s easier for everyone to score, as largers don’t “bounce off” smallers that much.)
    • Forced to use smallest every turn + Smallers score on largers.
    • Forced to use smallest every turn + Largers score on smallers.
    • Forced to use largest every turn + Smallers score on largers.
    • Forced to use largest every turn + Largers score on smallers.
  3. Is there too much skill required? This is the first game I’ve seen in which manual dexterity plays such a large role in success.