Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Wonderland (v1.0)

Disclaimer: Technically, putting this up on the blog already constitutes a legitimate copyright claim. So no funny stuff, if you get what I mean.


The Queen of Hearts is rather proud of her garden hedges. For the past few years, she's struggled to cultivate a special breed of red rose, and it's only recently that she's able to enjoy the fruits of her labor - the hedges are in full bloom this season.

On the other hand, that's where the problem lies. During the planting, the Queen's retainers accidentally planted sprigs of perfectly ordinary silver roses instead of the Queen's special seeds. So when the flowers finally bloomed this season, many retainers stared in horror, remembering the Queen's favorite saying: "Off with their heads!"

With the Queen now touring her many gardens, there's only one alternative - paint the roses red before she notices.

Ironically, the Queen actually doesn't mind having silver roses. What she does mind, though, is anyone caught slathering her beautiful flowers with ugly red paint. If she does manage to catch somebody who's gone as far as to paint her lovely roses, then they're going to wish that they'd never been born.


Remove all face cards from a standard deck of playing cards and shuffle. Deal five cards face-up to each player. Each player must arrange those five cards face up in a row in front of him or her, from left to right. This row will act as the player's "garden", and each card represents the rose hedges that have to be painted. The gardens are connected, so each player's rightmost hedge connects to the next player's leftmost hedge, and vice-versa.

Now reshuffle the face cards back into the deck, and deal six cards face-down to each player. Each player selects one card from their six, and places that card face-up on top of the central hedge of their garden. That card will be considered to be your "guardsman", the personality who you have tasked to paint the roses. The remaining five cards are then considered to be that player's "hand".

Place all undealt cards into a draw pile, which should be accessible to all players.

Turn Sequence

The Dealer starts play. Turns then proceed clockwise around the table.

During your turn, you may have your guardsman perform any of the following actions, in any order:

1. Once per turn, move to a new hedge.
2. Once per turn, paint the roses on the current hedge.
3. Once per turn, play a face card.

If you do not have a guardsman in play, you may choose one non-face card in your hand and play it on your central hedge as a guardsman. You may not perform any other actions during that turn.

At the end of each of your turns, you must perform the following actions in order:

1. Draw two cards. Discard down to five cards, if applicable.
2. Check the top card of the draw pile for the Queen of Hearts.
3. If you are the Dealer, reshuffle all cards from the discard pile back into the draw pile.

Moving Around the Gardens

Each guardsman has got it bad. They've got to move around, find and paint each and every one of the roses, and they've got to do it before any of the royals spot them, too.

During your turn, you may discard a non-face card from your hand to have your guardsman move a number of steps equal to the value of that card. If your guardsman's path takes him to the leftmost or rightmost hedge on a garden, he simply continues moving along the next player's garden, and so forth.

Painting the Roses Red

Some hedges will have more roses than others, as evidenced by the value of each hedge. Your guardsman will have to work quickly in order to get everything painted.

During your turn, if your guardsman is currently standing on an unpainted hedge, you may "paint" it by discarding a card from your hand with an equal or higher rank than the rank of the hedge. If you do so, turn that hedge card face-down in order to mark that it has already been painted. Your guardsman may not paint an already-painted hedge, nor may he "un-paint" a hedge.

Playing Face Cards

Face cards represent the members of the Wonderland royalty. While they're actually rather a frivolous sort, they're all about as potentially dangerous as the Queen of Hearts. Fortunately, you can always sic 'em on your opponents to take some of the heat off yourself.

During your turn, you may play a face card from your hand to produce any of the following specific effects:

Jack - Jacks are willing to do anything to pique the Queen. If another player's guardsman is currently standing on an unpainted hedge in your garden, you may play a Jack to automatically paint that hedge.

Queen - The other Queens run in the same circle as the Queen of Hearts, although they're not quite as much of a threat. When you play a Queen, choose a painted hedge in play and turn it face-up and unpainted. The Queen of Hearts has additional uses aside from this. (See below.)

King - While not as strong as the Queens, the Kings can nevertheless provide suitable distraction. When you play a King, place it face-up in front of you. If you have a King in front of you, you may discard it the next time somebody plays a face card in order to cancel that card's effects.

Unleashing the Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts is notorious for her temper, and if strongly irritated, she'll stalk the area in a fit of rage until she finds somebody to pay for their transgressions.

When you play the Queen of Hearts, you may choose to instead put her right into play on your garden's central hedge. As long as the Queen is in play, any player may spend their move action to move the Queen of Hearts instead of their guardsman.

Every time the Queen lands on a painted hedge, then that hedge automatically turns face-up and unpainted. ("Who's been painting my roses red?!" the Queen screams.)

If the Queen ever lands on a painted hedge that has at least one guardsman on it, then that hedge automatically turns face up and unpainted. Remove all guardsmen on that hedge from the game, and discard the Queen. (No, those guardsmen can never come back. You don't want to know what happens to them.)

No face-up card can cancel the Queen of Hearts' effects while she is stalking the table. No one's even going to want to get near her while she's in this state.

Ending Your Turn

At the end of your turn, draw two cards from the top of the draw pile, then discard down to five cards if you have more than five cards in hand.

Afterwards, reveal the top card of the draw pile. If that card is the Queen of Hearts, immediately put her into play on the central hedge of your garden. She'll start looking for victims from there. If otherwise, discard it.

Finally, if you are the Dealer, then at the end of each of your turns, you must reshuffle all cards from the discard pile back into the draw pile. Cards that have been removed from the game stay removed from the game.

The next player to the left (clockwise direction, in other words) then takes his or her turn.

Winning the Game

Easier said than done. If all of your hedges are painted (face-down) at any time during your turn, then you win the game.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Haven't playtested this. I have yet to see how the Queen of Hearts mechanic works, and I'll be increasing its threat level if it feels too weak at the moment.