Icebomb Arena is a strategy game of gladiatorial combat in a bomb-laden arena for 4 or more players. Each player is a gladiator in the arena.
1 chessboard (arena)
1 totem to represent "The Edge"
1 Icehouse stash per player
1 gladiator (pawn, token, coin, etc.) per player to represent them in the arena
2 small glass beads or dice per player to represent bombs
1 life counter of some kind for each player
Each gladiator begins with ten life.
Gladiators first bid life for "The Edge." To do this, each gladiator hides any number of Icehouse pieces (zero or more) in his or her hand. Each gladiator's bid is equal to the total pip count on his or her chosen pieces. When all gladiators have chosen their bids, they are simultaneously revealed. The highest bidder wins the bid. If two or more gladiators tie for the high bid, randomly select one of those gladiators to win the bid. The winner loses life equal to the winning bid and gets "The Edge."
Beginning with the gladiator with "The Edge," each gladiator places a bomb in any empty space in the arena, continuing clockwise around the table, until each gladiator has placed two bombs.
After each gladiator has placed their bombs, the gladiator with "The Edge" places his or her gladiator (pawn, token, coin, etc.) into any empty space in the arena, then the other gladiators continuing clockwise around the table place their gladiators.
Each round of play consists of two phases: the Planning Phase and the Action Phase.
During the Planning Phase, each gladiator secretly chooses two pyramids from his or her stash, one in each hand, and places them on the table, obscuring the orientation of those pyramids with his or her hands. A pyramid may be in one of five orientations: the four cardinal directions (a movement) or standing upright (a block). No more than one of a gladiator's pyramids each round may be a block (standing upright). When each gladiator has his or her two pyramids hidden under hand, then all gladiators simultaneously reveal their pyramids and the Action Phase begins.
During the Action Phase, each gladiator, beginning with the gladiator who has "The Edge" and continuing clockwise around the table, chooses one of the two pyramids he or she placed on the table during the Planning Phase and acts with it. Once each gladiator has had their two actions, the round ends and a new round begins with the Planning Phase.
There are two types of actions: Block and movement. Block pyramids are placed on the playing field into any empty space adjacent to the gladiator, not including diagonals. Blocks represent barriers to movement. Movement pyramids move the gladiator in the arena a number of spaces equal to the pip count of the pyramid, in the direction the pyramid is pointing. For example a left pointing medium size pyramid would move that gladiator left two spaces. Blocks and the arena edge both impede movement. Whenever a block prevents a gladiator's movement, the gladiator who owns it removes it from the arena and, if possible, replaces it with a pyramid from his or her stash that is one size smaller. In the case of a small block pyramid, it is simply returned to that gladiator (leaving an empty space in the arena). The arena edge also stops movement, but is never destroyed. Treat the edges of the arena as infinite size blocks.
When moving, if a gladiator steps into (or is pushed into) a space occupied by a bomb, the bomb explodes for one point of damage to that gladiator, and is then removed from the arena. If a gladiator attempts to enter a space occupied by another gladiator, the second gladiator is pushed into the next space, if possible. Gladiators cannot be pushed out of the arena, or into spaces occupied by blocks or a third gladiator. If the second gladiator can't be pushed, the gladiators fight, and both gladiators lose one life. However, if the attacker has "The Edge" then he or she does not take damage. After combat, the attacking gladiator gets "The Edge."
Whenever a gladiator's life total reaches zero, he or she dies and is removed from the arena. Any of that gladiator's block pyramids in the arena remain until destroyed.
The game ends when only one gladiator remains alive. That player wins. If the last two remaining gladiators die simultaneously, the game is a tie.
Q: What if my second pyramid in the round is a block pyramid and all four
of the adjacent spaces are occupied?
A: You forfeit the action.
Q: If my movement pyramids would move me onto a bomb and I don't want to
move, can I just pass?
A: No. You must play an action if you can, and movement pyramids are always playable. You have to move, even if that move isn't beneficial.
Q: When we bid for "The Edge" everyone bid zero. What do we do?
A: When two or more gladiators tie for the high bid, the winner is selected randomly among them. In this case, everyone has the high bid of zero. Choose a random gladiator to get "The Edge."
Q: Another gladiator pushed me into a block and we fought. I had "The Edge." Doesn't that mean I don't lose life?
A: No. Having "The Edge" only keeps the attacker from losing life. Having "The Edge" on defense is not relevant.
Q: During the Action Phase, "The Edge" changed hands due to
combat. Does that change the order
gladiators play their second actions for the round?
A: No. The gladiator with "The Edge" at the beginning of the round goes first and play continues clockwise. For play order, it only matters who has "The Edge" at the start of the round.
Q: If I use a large movement pyramid to move into a large block next to
me, does it shrink it three times (and go away) or just once (and become a
A: Whenever a block stops a gladiator's movement (whether that gladiator walked or was pushed) the block shrinks one size only. In this example, as long as its owner has a medium pyramid to replace it with in his or her stash, the block would become a medium block.
Q: What if I don't have any medium pyramids left in my stash (they are
all in the arena or used for my actions for the round) and one of my large
blocks gets bumped?
A: If you can't replace a block with another that is one size smaller from your stash, it is destroyed (a well-timed bump could destroy a large block).
Q: What if I want to move two spaces, but all my medium pieces are in the
arena as blocks?
A: You are out of luck. You only have five pyramids of each size, so be careful not to run out. You could always try to bump into one of your blocks to get it back into your stash.
Less than four gladiators - With three gladiators, use a 6x6 arena and each gladiator lays three bombs during setup. For a two gladiator game, use half of the board (4x8) and the gladiators lay four bombs each during setup.
Your stash is your life - Instead of having a separate life total, whenever a gladiator takes damage, that gladiator removes any pyramid from his or her stash from the game. Gladiators die when their stash has no pyramids left. (When you only have one pyramid in your stash, you’ll only have one action.)
Design by Christopher Hickman, with abstract inspiration from Bomberman, Richard Garfield's RoboRally, Wizards of the Coast’s Jyhad, and Tom Jolly's WizWar. Charles Marier of Marier and Crew Productions was with me in spirit, too, and contributed greatly to the FAQ.
The most recent rules are always available at <http://homepage.mac.com/tophu/IcebombArena.html>
11/18/04 - Initial design.
11/19/04 - Revision of setup from gladiator first to bombs first.
11/22/04 - Added FAQ, changed all reference to "players" to "gladiators" instead, for flavor and clarity. Added life counter to requirements section.
12/01/04 - Added variants.
©2004 Christopher Hickman & Marier and Crew Productions