Notice: This page shows the first version of a newer game called Homeworlds. Rules for IceTraders (v1.0) are kept here, mostly for archival purposes. Play at your own risk; I believe Homeworlds is a better game, easier to learn and strategically more challenging. - JC
a heavy duty interactive space opera
designed by John Cooper
documented by Jacob Davenport
[strategies] [expansions]


As the commander of a fleet of starships, you must first decide if you want to play cooperatively, allying yourself with the Good side to fight Evil, or be Evil yourself, intent only on the destruction of a fellow player. Naturally, you'll keep your true motivations a secret as you begin constructing colony ships, navigating to distant star systems, trading for new technologies, and building up a stockpile of weapons. The game ends when the Good players vanquish Evil, or when an Evil player emerges victorious.

Everything is done with Icehouse pieces, which represent "systems" when played standing up, and "ships" when played lying down. A ship's color determines its capabilities, while the direction it points indicates who controls it.

Before play begins, everyone privately writes down if they are going to be Good or Evil. If you are Evil, you win by eliminating any other player. Good players win collectively by eliminating all of the Evil players in the game. When the first person is eliminated, everyone's alignment is revealed. If you are Good, and you have eliminated another Good player, you become Evil, and the game continues. If you eliminate yourself, you lose, and the other players do not reveal their alignments. If every player except one is eliminated, that surviving player is the winner.


In order to eliminate a player, you must destroy their last large ship. If they never had any large ships, you must destroy the last of all their ships. If you eliminate yourself, nobody gets to claim credit. If you still have small or medium ships when you are eliminated, they remain in play, controlled by nobody.
Each player secretly chooses two Icehouse pieces. Write down your selections or use the honor system. These choices are then revealed and become the initial set of star systems in the game. They are placed upright in the center of the playing area with some space around each system. The rest of the pieces are set aside in a "stash" area to be brought into play as the game progresses.
The player who chose the system with the most connections goes first. Two systems are said to be "connected" if they are the same size or the same color, but not both. If there is a tie, use the second system each tied player chose as the tie breaker.
There are four colors of Icehouse pieces, and each represents a different set of technological powers. A later section discusses when these powers may be invoked. The powers are as follows:


On your first turn, place one small piece of any color next to any of the systems, lying horizontal and pointed away from you. This is your first ship. All other ships you acquire will also point away from you.
On each turn, you may do one of the following:


If five or more ships of the same color are in the same system at once then the concentration of technologies immediately causes one of the following catastrophic events. Concentrations occur when a catalyst ship (usually the fifth ship) is moved into the system, or when a ship already in the system is converted to the appropriate color. Note: Armageddon and Hyperspace are mandatory, while Enterprise and Revolt are optional (the player who created the concentration gets to choose).

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