Ron Hale-Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beta version of 2001-01-19
IceGammon is the first published Icehouse Backgammon game. It was
originally called Martian Backgammon (to parallel the Icehouse games
Martian Chess, Martian Go, Martian Tic-Tac-Toe, etc.) until I
discovered there was another in-progress Icehouse game with the same
name, by long-time Icehouse player Eric Zuckerman. As of January 2001,
he has been promising to ``really...publish the rules to
Martian Backgammon very very soon'' for at least five months and maybe
more than a year. Rather than fight it out for the name, I decided to
call my game IceGammon and scoop Eric by publishing the first Icehouse
game in this particular memetic ecological niche.
The following rules still need playtesting. If you have played
IceGammon, please email me at
email@example.com and let me know
what you liked or didn't. These rules also presuppose some familiarity
with Backgammon. In particular, the doubling cube has not been
described in detail, as its use in IceGammon is practically identical
to its use in Backgammon.
Some illustrations would be nice, too...
- IceGammon is a two-player game using an ordinary
(Anglo-American) Backgammon board and Icehouse pieces.
- There are two ways to win IceGammon. You can win by
bearing all your pieces off the board, as in ordinary Backgammon, or
you can win when your opponent cannot move, as detailed
- The player to go first is chosen by any means acceptable to both
players, such as rolling the dice.
- Each player begins with a full stash of 15 Icehouse pieces of one
colour. The pieces have the same point values as in Icehouse: 1 point
for small pieces, 2 points for medium, and 3 points for large
pieces. (Point values do not count in scoring the game, but only when
players are moving pieces.)
- All pieces start off the board and must be entered by throwing
the dice.2 Players can enter their
pieces in any order. Players can move pieces already on the
board before they have entered all their pieces.
- The first player's pieces start at the northeast of the board
and move counterclockwise, bearing off in the southeast quadrant. The
second player's pieces start at the northwest of the board and move
clockwise, bearing off in the southwest quadrant.3
- Players take turns rolling three ordinary six-sided dice, then
choosing two of them with which to move their pieces. This means that
it is possible to roll many more doubles than in ordinary Backgammon.
- As in ordinary backgammon, each die counts individually, so that
when you throw a 3 and a 6, and the spaces 3 and 6 ahead of a piece
are blocked, you can't move that piece 9 spaces ahead. In this case,
if the spaces you are moving to are not blocked, you can move one
piece 3 spaces and another piece 6, or move a single piece 9 spaces.
- Doubles are played as follows. First move your pieces as if you
threw the doubled number four times, as in ordinary Backgammon. Then
move your pieces as if you threw the opposite number four
times. (The opposite number is the number on the other side of the
die, which is always 7 minus the number thrown. Thus, the opposite
number of 6 is 1, the opposite of 5 is 2, and so on.) Finally, throw
the dice again. This action can be repeated indefinitely if a player
keeps throwing doubles.4
- If your opponent has a piece or pieces resting on a space, only
one of your pieces having the same point value or greater than the
pieces on the space taken together can land on that
space.5 When you land on an opponent's space, you must
either capture or pin all the pieces on that space, as follows.
- Capturing works as in ordinary Backgammon, sending the
captured pieces to the bar. If you have pieces on the bar, you must
re-enter those pieces before you do anything else.
- Pinning prevents an enemy piece from moving. To pin an
enemy piece, place your own piece on top of it. One piece can only pin
another piece if the attacking piece has the same point value or
higher as the defending one. Pinned pieces cannot move until the
pinning piece moves.6
- You can pin your own pieces, to prevent your opponent from doing
so, but pieces always move individually; you cannot move a stack of
pieces as if it were one piece.
- Multiple pins are permissible. Only the top piece counts for
determining whether a space can be landed on and whether a stack can
be pinned. For example, Green pins Yellow's 2-pointer with a green
2-pointer, then Yellow lands on the space again and pins Green with
another yellow 2-pointer. If Green lands on the space again with
another 2-pointer, s/he can either free the green piece in the stack
by capturing the top yellow piece or can pin the stack. However, Green
cannot land on the space with a mere 1-point piece, because Yellow is
now considered to have a single 2-point piece on that space.
- You do not need to have all your pieces on your home board in
order to bear any off. However, you must bear off all your 1-pointers
before you can bear off any 2-pointers, and all 2-pointers before you
can bear off any 3-pointers.
- You do not need to make an exact throw to bear your pieces off
the board. As long as your die roll is at least enough to move your
piece off exactly, and you have borne off all your smaller pieces, you
can bear a piece off.
- Instead of bearing off a piece, you can re-enter it. Simply
treat your outer board as if it were any other board and move your
piece onto the appropriate space accordingly. However, once you have
borne off a piece, you cannot re-enter it.7
- A doubling cube can be used. Its use in IceGammon is
identical to its use in ordinary Backgammon.
- There are four kinds of win possible in IceGammon.
- When you win a game in an ordinary way, it's called a
Mon and is worth 1 point.
- When you win a Mon before your opponent has borne off any
pieces, it's called a Gammon, and is worth 2 points.
- When you win a Gammon, and your opponent still has pieces on the
bar, yet to be entered, or on their outer board, it's called an
IceGammon, and is worth 3 points.
- When you win an IceGammon, and all your opponent's
pieces are on the bar, yet to be entered, or on their outer board,
it's called a Mons Olympus, and is worth 4 points.
- This rule is a more drastic version of the one found
in Backgammon's ancestor Fayles.
- ... dice.2
- This rule is similar to a number of Backgammon's
predecessors, including Paumecary and Puff.
- ... quadrant.3
- This rule
is taken from Backgammon's predecessor game Buff de Baldriac, and
makes for aggressive play, since both players' pieces are in contact
throughout most of the game.
- ... doubles.4
- This doubles rule is similar to the
one in German/Russian Backgammon, and might seem to make doubles
exceptionally powerful, except that as already mentioned, whenever you
can't move a piece, you not only lose the rest of your turn, you lose
- Since players can only move one piece at a time, the
smallest point value guaranteed to block your opponent from landing on
a space is 4 points.
- ... moves.6
- The pinning rule is based on the one in
the Backgammon variant called Plakato -- but with an Icehouse twist.
- ... it.7
- This rule is
taken from Pachisi.