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Worm Derby

A game for piecepack by Mark A. Biggar

Version 3.1, March 2002
Copyright (c) 2002, 2003 by Mark A. Biggar
2-4 players, 30-40 minutes


The object of the game is to race your worm through a field of obstacles around a distant pylon and back to the start line before any other player's worm.


A worm consists of a connected string of touching (at the edge) piecepack coins of the same suit, suit side up. A worm always has two end coins that only touch one other coin in the worm and may have one or more body coins that touch exactly two other coins. Worms may never form loops or branching structures. A worm can be curved in any way allowed by the above description.

In the basic rules, all worms are six coins long. The advanced rules allow for worms of lengths from 2 to 6 coins long.

Worm Movement

A worm moves in steps. Each step consists of picking up the coin at one end of the worm and moving it to touch the coin at the other end of the worm. A worm can move in either direction, but if a worm is moving multiple steps in one turn, it must make its whole move all in the same direction -- that is, all the steps must take a coin from the same end of the worm.


Face-down piecepack tiles are obstacles that worms must go around as they race. Worms cannot go over obstacles, and an obstacle can never be placed on top of a worm. If there is not enough room between two obstacles for a coin to fit by sliding on the table, the worm cannot go between those two obstacles. Worms must also treat other worms as obstacles.

Game setup

Give each player the die and the six coins from one suit to form his worm. It is convenient to place the correspondingly colored pawn in front of each player so that it is easy to tell which worm belongs to each player. (There is no other use for the pawns.)

Choose a first player by any agreeable method. Turns will go clockwise around the table, starting with the first player.

Place two tiles, suit side up, about 4 tile widths apart to form the start/finish line. Place another tile, suit side up, three to six feet away along the perpendicular bisector of the start line, as the turn pylon for the other end of the race course. The distance you choose will determine the length of the game; the farther away the pylon is, the longer the game length. These three tiles are considered obstacles, except that unlike other obstacle tiles, they cannot be moved during the game.

Deal out the remaining tiles evenly to the players, putting aside any extra tiles. Starting with the first player, each player in turn places a tile, suit side down, anywhere on the race course between the start line and the pylon. These tiles form the set of obstacles for the race. During this initial placement phase, no obstacle may be placed within three tile widths of either the start line or the pylon. Obstacles may touch, but cannot overlap. Obstacles may be placed in any orientation. Players continue to place tiles in turn, until all of the dealt tiles have been placed.

Starting with the first player, each player in turns builds his worm, suit side up, behind the starting line. The starting position of a worm must be a straight line perpendicular to the start line, with only one end coin between the two start-line tiles.

The Race

Starting with the first player, players take turns moving their worms. To move your worm, roll your die and move as follows:


The first player to move one end of his worm between the two start-line tiles after having traveled around the far side of the pylon has won the race. The remaining worms may continue to race to determine second and third place.


  1. For a shorter and simpler game, reduce the number of (or completely eliminate) the obstacle tiles. 2. Slalom -- This variant has no moveable obstacles. Instead, set up the race course as follows:

Thanks to Tim Schutz and his daughters for the Slalom idea.

Advanced Rules -- Cannibal worms

If moving your worm a step would allow you to overlay one of the end coins of another player's worm you may do so, and your worm eats that coin; pick up the eaten coin and give it back to its owner. This ends your movement for that turn.

Length-two worms may not be attacked. The attacked worm, on its next move, must move away from the attacker (steps must be made by picking up coins from the end of the worm that was eaten) and may not attack its attacker until the turn after.

A worm can never move more steps than its length; if you roll higher than the worm's length, the additional steps are lost. When you roll an ace, instead of moving an obstacle, you may instead add an eaten disk back on to one end of your worm (you still get to roll again).


20020103 1.0 mab original version
20020114 2.0 mab update from playtest comments, added slalom variant
20020721 3.0 mab first web page version
20030321 3.1 mab updated version, formatting cleanup for web page

Thank you for playing my game. Please report rules problems or variant suggestions to mark@biggar.org.

Copyright 2002, 2003 by Mark A. Biggar. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license can be found at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html.