This is a detailed description of the web-based version of Arctic Escape, my cooperative, family friendly board game currently in development. You don't really need to read all this in order to play the game; the game programming will guide you through every step and not let you forget or break any of the rules. However, if you like knowing all the rules and options going in, here they are.
- You choose the desired game settings, which can be varied to make the game harder or easier. The game then generates a random map following those settings.
- The "Max equipment/player" setting controls how many pieces of equipment each player can hold. Since equipment is essential for crossing the map, and since obtaining new or different pieces of equipment will cause ice to melt, the more equipment you allow per player, the easier the game will be.
- The "Map difficulty" setting controls how much difficult terrain is generated for the game. The lower the setting, the more squares of plain ice, which can be crossed without needing any equipment or producing any bad effects.
- The "Ice to melt per turn" setting controls how many random squares of the map melt and turn into Crevasses at the end of each turn.
- The "Max melts before the game is lost" setting specifies how many squares of the map can melt and turn into impassable Crevasses before the entire ice floe collapses and you lose the game.
- "Max blizzards" controls the maximum number of blizzards that can exist at one time. If you set this to anything but zero, blizzards will periodically appear at the top of the map and work their way slowly down as the game progresses. They make the game more difficult because entering a square where there's a blizzard will slow you down enough that a random square of the map will melt into a Crevasse, and exiting a square where there's a blizzard will cause every player making that move to lose one random piece of equipment.
- The game will also place six bundles of scientific samples around the map. You don't need to collect any of these samples in order to win, but the more you can collect before boarding the ship, the better your win will be, if you win. You collect a sample by simply having any player or group enter the square it's sitting in.
- The game will also place your ship on a random location just beyond the final row of the map. All the players much reach the ship and board it on the same turn in order to win the game. You board the ship by moving onto it from the adjacent square in the final row of the map.
- You enter all the players' names and desired colors. As you do so, the game will place them randomly somewhere in the first row or two of the map and give each of them one to three pieces of random equipment, depending on the number you chose in the initial game settings.
- The possible equipment types are: Sled, Rope, or Raft. Players will need them later in order to enter certain types of terrain on the map.
- The game will also give each player a random expertise. These skills can help a player, or any group the player is in, navigate certain types of terrain more easily.
- The possible player types are: Sledder, Climber, Sailor, Shoeshoer, Engineer, and Explorer.
Here are the basic requirements and costs for entering or exiting various types of terrain. These requirements or costs can be reduced if one of the players entering the square has the appropriate expertise for that terrain type, but this will be discussed in the next section, Player Types.
- Crevasses may not be entered under any circumstances, except by a single player who is an Engineer, and only if that player is carrying Rope.
- Bridges can only be entered or occupied by one player at a time. When that player exits the square, there's a 1 in 3 chance that the bridge will collapse and the square will turn into a Crevasse, unless that player is in Engineer, in which case the bridge will not collapse.
- Mountains, Snow, and Water can only be entered by using up the required equipment, one Rope for Mountains, one Sled for Snow, or one Raft for Water. The player possessing the required equipment will lose it upon entering the square.
- Only one piece of equipment needs to be surrendered, whether it's a single player wanting to enter that square or a group of many players. This is another advantage of traveling as a group: as long as any player in the group has the right equipment, the whole group can enter at the cost of just that one item.
- If a group is entering a square and more than one player in that group has the right equipment for entering that square, the game will let you choose which player gives it up.
- A player with the appropriate expertise (Climber for Mountains, Sledder for Snow, Sailor for Water) can reduce the chances that the equipment will be lost.
- Thin ice requires no special equipment to enter, but it can only be entered or occupied by a single player, and only for one turn. When that player exits the square, the ice will break and the square will turn into a Crevasse.
- A Shoeshoer can reduce the odds of the ice breaking.
- In addition to all of the above limitations and effects, if a player or group enters a square where there's a Blizzard, that will cause a random square of the map to melt and turn into a Crevasse. Also, if a player or group exits a square where there's a Blizzard, each player will lose one random piece of equipment.
- An Explorer can reduce the odds of these costs being exacted.
- A Climber, Sledder, or Sailor can reduce the odds that the required piece of equipment will be used up when entering a Mountain, Snow, or Water square, respectively, from 100% to just 1 chance in 3. (Note: the player or group must still have the required equipment. There's just a good chance they won't lose it upon entering the square.)
- A Shoeshoer can reduce the odds that Thin Ice will break up and turn into a Crevasse upon exit from 100% to just 1 chance in 3.
- An Explorer can reduce the odds that the costs for entering or exiting a Blizzard will be exacted from 100% to just 1 chance in 3.
- Just once per game, an Engineer with Rope can enter a Crevasse and turn it into a Bridge. Engineers can also exit Bridge squares without any chance of them collapsing into Crevasses.
The goal of the game is for all the players to make their way across the map and board the ship together before the ice floe collapses or they are cut off from ever getting to the ship by the formation of crevasses or a player is swallowed up by a crevasse.
Each turn of the game is divided into five phases: Player grouping, Player/Group movement, Ship movement, Blizzard movement and Ice melting.
At the beginning of each game turn, for every square of the map that contains more than one player, you have the option of combining any number of those players into groups that, for the rest of that turn, will move across the map as if they were a single player. There are significant advantages to traveling as a group, but various aspects of the game, such as the opportunity to collect far flung scientific samples, or Thin Ice, which can only be crossed by one player, can require players to travel independently at times.
During this phase, you can also remove players from groups or even dissolve groups completely. Basically, all the players in the same square at the beginning of each game turn, whether they currently belong to a group or not, can be freely combined or broken up into any number of new groups or solo players.
The players take their turns in the order they were set up. If players are in a group, the group takes its turn the first time any player in that group would have his or her turn, and that constitutes the turn for all the players in that group. For example, if there are five players in a game (A, B, C, D, and E) and B and D are in a group together, then the order of player/group turns would be: A, B&D, C, and then E. The group containing B&D takes its turn when B's turn would normally come up.
During each player or group turn, it can do two things:
- Get rid of any equipment the player or any player in the group currently possesses and then obtain new equipment, up to the set game limit for what each player is allowed. For example, if a group has two players, A and B, in it, and there's a limit of two pieces of equipment per player, and A has one and B has two, then A can choose to keep or get rid of the one, B can choose to keep both, get rid of one, or get rid of two, and then both players are given more equipment until they're up to the limit.
- Each time a player or group of players decides to obtain new equipment in this way, a square of the map is melted and turns into a Crevasse. Only one square of the map is melted, whether it's a single player obtaining new tools or an entire group. This is one of the advantages of being in a group: it costs the same — just one melted square — for a group of multiple players to obtain new equipment as it does for a single player to do so.
- The player or group can then move one square forward, backward, left, or right. (No diagonal moves.)
- All movement must obey the limits laid out in the Terrain Types and Player Types sections above.
- To win the game, every player must board the ship on the same game turn. They can enter it either separately or in groups, but they must all be on board by the end of that turn.
- If at any point in the game, Crevasses completely cut off any player from eventually reaching the last row of the map, or if Crevasses divide the players so they can never meet again in order to all board the ship on the same turn, the game will detect this and declare that the players have lost the game.
- But if there's an Engineer in the game who has not yet exercised their skill to turn one Crevasse into a Bridge in the game, the game will simply warn you that one or more of your players are cut off, and it will be up to you to decide whether to keep on playing in the hope that your Engineer can remove the blockage.
- If at any point in the game, the maximum allowed number of squares melts, the floe will be considered to have gotten so weak, it will collapse entirely, and the players will lose the game.
After all the players and groups have had their turns, there is a chance to move the ship. You might want to do this if there's a more convenient position for it to be in for everybody to reach it. However, moving the ship will also cause an additional square of the map to melt into a Crevasse.
In this phase of each game turn, any existing blizzards on the map might move a little, and a new blizzard might form at the top of the map. Blizzards always cover three squares in a row, either horizontally or vertically (unless one of those squares extends past an edge of the map) and move slowly down the map, possibly zigzagging or rotating they go. They disappear when their centers move off an edge of the map, and on rare occasions, a blizzard in the middle of the map might disappear spontaneously.
At the end of each game turn, some number of random squares will melt into Crevasses, depending on the game setting you chose. This will be in addition to any other squares of the map that have already melted that turn for other reasons, such as exiting Thin Ice or entering a blizzard or obtaining new equipment or moving the ship.