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The game is played on a 6x6 grid with 'terrain' tiles stacked on every square. The 'board' is the inside of the box that the game comes in. Each player has six pieces: Two fish, two dragons and two samurai. Players take turns to play. To win, you must capture all of your opponents pieces.

Each turn:

Choose one of your pieces to play with. There are two basic things that every piece can do:

Digging means picking up a terrain tile from any square that is adjacent to the piece you are playing (orthogonally or diagonally) and placing it back onto any unoccupied adjacent square.
  • You may not place terrain onto squares that are occupied by another pieces.
  • You may not remove terrain from squares that contain an enemy piece.
  • It's OK to remove terrain from beneath friendly pieces.
The basic move is one square (either orthogonally or diagonally).
  • You may not climb up more than one vertical step as you move.
  • You can drop down as many vertical steps as needed.
  • If you are at least TWO steps higher than an adjacent enemy piece then you can move onto that square and capture it.
  • Otherwise, you can only move into vacant squares

A "Basic Move" is to either dig, then move...or...move, then dig.

The Samurai 
Can only perform a basic move.
The Fish 
Can either perform a basic move or instead:
  • Dig, then move TWO squares - but only diagonally...or...
  • Move TWO squares, diagonally - then dig.
The Dragon 
Can either perform a basic move or instead:
  • Dig twice - but not move.
  • Move twice - but not dig.
  • Move one square but go upwards by two vertical steps instead of one - and not dig.

Game Over

You win if the other player has no pieces left or is unable to make a move. A stalemate (draw) happens when neither player wishes to move - or if you each undo the other player's move three times in a row.

Ideas for additional rules

  1. Each player gets to move TWO pieces on their turn.
  2. Undermining is a third option where you may dig a tile from beneath an enemy piece and forgo your right to move on that turn (which prevents you from undermining a piece that's just one vertical step below you and then taking it.
  3. Maybe make undermining and moving a special power of the samurai piece. This makes it vastly stronger in combat because it only needs a 1 height step advantage to capture the enemy - which kinda fits the picture of a samurai and gives the samurai piece a super-power alongside the others.
  4. When your piece is on the ocean (at the bottom of the box), you can move to any adjacent square regardless of the height jump. This is a new way to defeat tall towers - but because moving down into a trench when next to a guy on a tall tower is suicidal - you can only usefully do this with Fish and Dragons that can move twice...although piece exchanges are now more likely.
  5. Make terrain tiles with special powers. Shuffle the tiles upside down so nobody knows what terrain is going to be revealed when they dig...this adds a huge element of chance - and adds a new memory mechanic where you need to remember where that all-important "lava" tile was buried. Interesting possibilities for setting traps for opponents with bad memories!