The game is played on a 6x6 grid with 'terrain' pieces 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. To win you have to take all of your opponents pieces.
There are two basic operations that a piece can do:
- Dig : This means picking up a terrain piece from a square that is adjacent (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) to this piece and placing it back on a different adjacent square. You may only place terrain onto squares that are occupied by another pieces - you may not remove terrain from squares that contain an enemy piece - although you may remove it from beneath friendly pieces.
- Move : The basic move is ONE square horizontally, vertically or diagonally. You may only climb up ONE vertical step as you move - but you may drop down as many vertical steps as needed. If you are TWO steps higher then you can move on top of an enemy piece and capture it. Otherwise, you can only move into vacant squares.
A "Basic Move" is to either:
- Dig, then move one square in any direction...or...
- Move one square in any direction, then dig.
The three types of game-piece can each make different moves:
- The Samurai
- Can only perform a basic move (ie dig, then move - or move, then dig).
- The Fish
- Can perform a basic move - but has the special ability to move two squares when it moves diagonally. So it can also:
- Dig, then move TWO squares - but only diagonally.
- Move TWO squares, diagonally - then dig.
- The Dragon
- Can perform a basic move - but it has the special ability to exchange either the dig or the move for another operation. So it can:
- Exchange it's move for an extra dig: ie Dig twice - but not move.
- Exchange it's dig for an extra move: ie Move twice - but not dig.
- Exchange it's dig for an extra vertical step: ie Move one square in any direction climbing TWO steps up in height instead of the usual one - and not dig.
A stalemate draw happens when neither player wishes to move - or if you each simply undo the action of the other player three times in a row.