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Goldrush is an abstract strategy board game devised by jpfed, hypospray, and a few of their friends. Unlike most such board games, it is not a game of perfect information. It depends just as much on your being unpredictable as your ability to efficiently move your pieces to your objective.

Setup

Two players sit across an 8x8 board. Each player places 6 numbered tokens on the board on their home row as follows-

6 5 4 , . 3 2 1    (opponent's home row)
, . , . , . , .
. , . , . , . ,
, . , . , . , .
. , . , . , . , 
, . , . , . , .
. , . , . , . ,
1 2 3 . , 4 5 6    (your home row)

You will also need two pieces of paper to notate. If the pieces aren't numbered, you can still play; it's just notated differently.

Game play

Your turn is taken in two parts.

Guessing: Your opponent is allowed to guess a piece you will move this turn. This is done in secret on their piece of paper. If your tokens are numbered, this can be written simply as the number of the piece they believe you will move. If the tokens are not distinctive, they can use chess notation to specify the starting coordinates of the guessed piece. Once the guess has been written, your opponent will notify you that you may move.

Movement: You are always permitted to move 1 piece of yours to a strictly adjacent (no diagonals) unoccupied square. You may be eligible for extra moves, to be taken with whatever pieces of yours you wish. You receive 1 extra move this turn for every time your opponent moved the piece you guessed last turn.

After you have moved, your opponent reveals the number of extra moves they received from correct guessing, if any. This information will help inform your guessing decision on their turn. You may verify this if you so choose by checking the guess they made on their sheet of paper.

The winner is the first to move a piece onto a square in their opponent's home row.

Variants

The game is simple enough that you can easily customize it. As it stands, the game has both luck and strategic elements involved. The balance of luck to strategy can be adjusted by altering the dimensions of the board (and, necessarily, the number of pieces).

Simple

To make the game favor luck, play in a section of the board 6 squares long and 4 squares wide. Use only three pieces per player. The board should be arranged as follows.

3 2 1 ,
, . , .
. , . ,
, . , .
. , . ,
, 1 2 3

This is useful when teaching young players, as they are more likely to win against more experienced players using this board than any of the other board setups (and so are less likely to become discouraged and stop playing).

Large

When you are ready for a game of (incrementally) greater strategy than the original, you can play a game that is 7 columns wide by 9 rows deep. Though existing gameboards you probably have access to are usually thought of as 8x8, by playing on the intersections of the lines bounding the squares, rather than on the squares themselves, you may think of the board as 9x9. Ignoring the outer sides of the board gives you a 7x9 playing space. Set up is as follows-

6 5 4 + 3 2 1
+ + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
1 2 3 + 4 5 6

Runners

Finally, to give the game a somewhat different flavor, you can change the object of the game. In the "runners" variant, some pieces start out the game marked as runners. You win this variant only by getting a runner piece to a square in your opponent's home row- a non-runner piece doesn't count. In every board setup, there are gaps in the pieces in the home rows of both players; the runners are typically those pieces that are farthest from the opponent's gaps.

Why this game is interesting

The game rules explicitly reward your opponent for guessing which piece you will move. If you move predictably but powerfully towards your objective, your opponent will walk all over you with the extra moves you provide them. If you move completely randomly, you have little chance of your opponent guessing the piece you will move, but you will also have little chance of doing something useful. You must find a balance to play successfully. Each player knows the best piece to move- it is usually obvious- but they know that their opponent knows. And their opponent knows that they know. You can second-guess yourself (no pun intended) until your head spins, but in the end, it's just a board and 12 pieces.

There are no standard openings in Goldrush. You cannot follow any simple deterministic strategy for very long and expect to win. You must react intelligently to the circumstances, giving the situation new attention to detail no matter how many times you've encountered similar situations.

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