a heavy duty interactive space opera
designed by John Cooper
documented by Jacob Davenport
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.GOAL
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.SETUP
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.STARTING
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.POWERS
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:
- Yellow - Navigators: Move the ship from one system to a connected system.
- Blue - IceTraders: Swap the ship with any equal- or smaller-sized ship of any color from the stash.
- Green - Colonists: Swap the ship with the next larger size ship of the same color from the stash. Alternatively, if a system has fewer than four ships of any ownership, add a ship of the same color and equal or smaller size to the system from the stash.
- Red - Warriors: Discard an equal- or smaller-sized enemy ship in the same system to the stash. A larger ship is reduced to the next smaller size by swapping the larger ship for the next smaller-sized ship in the stash. If there is no ship of this size in the stash then this option is not available. You may attack your own ships, but a ship may not attack itself.
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.SUBSEQUENT TURN OPTIONS
On each turn, you may do one of the following:
- Ship's Power: A ship may use its own power, once.
- System's Power: A ship may use the power of the system it is in, once.
- Discovery: A ship may be turned upright to become a new system. This system is initially empty, and should be moved to a clear place in the playing area.
- Sacrifice: A ship may be discarded to the stash and its power used on any of your other ships that are not of that color themselves. That is, a green ship can be sacrificed to grow any non-green ship of yours. Small ships sacrificed have their power used once; medium-sized ships sacrificed have their power used twice; large ships sacrificed have their power used three times. For example, sacrificing one of your large yellow ships could allow you to move one of your green ships once and one of your red ships twice.
- R&D (Research and Development): You may swap three of your ships that are all in the same system for any one ship of your choice from the stash.
- Pass: You take no action this turn.
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).
- Red ships - Armageddon: The system marker and all the ships in the system must be discarded to the stash.
- Yellow ships - Hyperspace: The system marker is discarded to the stash. The ships are now in a hyperspace, and have a one way connection to all of the other systems. A ship may only enter a hyperspace from another hyperspace. A hyperspace has no system power. Once all the ships leave a hyperspace, no ships may reenter it.
- Blue ships - Enterprise: The player who moved in the last blue ship may select a piece from the stash which is smaller than the system marker and place it upright next to the system marker. If the system marker is a small piece, or if there is already a second system marker, then nothing happens. This system is considered a dual system with both technologies, but the connections to other systems are still based upon the original, larger system marker.
- Green ships - Revolt: The player who moved the last green ship into the system may take ownership of one of the other ships in the system, by turning that other ship so that it is pointed away from his side. You may cause a second revolt by adding yet another green ship to the system, or by moving a green ship out of the system and then back in, or even by changing one of your green ships to another color and then back to green.