Beta Release, revised 12/28/99 (Please send playtesting comments!!)
A grim little strategy game for 2 players by Mike Sugarbaker

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

RGB is played using three of the standard four stashes in an Icehouse set, and a chessboard. Every moveable piece in the game is known as a stack. You build a stack by putting a green piece on top of a red piece of the same size, and then putting a blue piece of the same size on top of that. (Clearly, this will only work with stackable Icehouse pieces.)

One player begins the game with two large stacks, three medium stacks, and three small stacks. (Please don't call them short stacks.) The other begins with three large, two medium, two small, and a special stack called the Golden Child (more on this later). Large stacks are stacks built with 3-point pieces, mediums are built with 2-pointers, and small stacks with one-pointers. You can tell one player's stacks from the other by rotating, by 45 degrees, all of one player's stacks within their squares. See Figure 1 below for the opening arrangement.

Figure 1: The opening arrangement

The story here is that each stack represents an RGB, a strange lifeform on a desolate alien world. These pyramidal beings have physically manifested their primitive psychologies. The top level, the Blue piece, represents higher, nobler desires and impulses: the desire for Creation. The middle level, Green, represents the mental systems that handle keeping oneself and one's progeny alive: the capability of Sustenance. The lowest level, Red, represents the lowest urges of the id: the urge of Destruction.

Of course, since Creation actually means reproduction in game terms, you could say that all three of the mental-physical strata of the RGBs represent pretty low urges. Oh, and the object of the game is to kill your opponent's children. I told you this was going to be grim.

Beginning The Game

The player with only two large stacks goes first. Each player's first several moves will be to place one of their beginning stacks on any square on the half of the chessboard that faces them. Remember, each player begins the game with large and medium stacks - two of one, and three of the other. Once all five of your starting stacks are on the board, you can start moving them.

All stacks have a rook's move, in chess terms. That is, they can move as many unoccupied squares as you want, in an orthogonal direction. Almost nothing happens diagonally in RGB. All stacks can also move exactly one square diagonally (equivalent to, um, a pawn's capturing move, but in both directions). See Figure 2 below for an example of a stack's possible moves. Moving one stack in either fashion constitutes one turn. You can't "jump" over other stacks, nor can more than one stack occupy one square.

Figure 2: Possible moves

Now for some more game terminology: large stacks are Men, and medium stacks are Women. (I know that's sexist. Remember, the RGBs are a primitive people.) If one of your Male stacks is directly adjacent to one of your Female stacks, and both of those stacks still have their Blue (Creation) layer, you may take a turn to place a small stack on the board. Small stacks are Children. When you first place a Child, it must be placed on an empty square directly adjacent to one of its parents.

Children have a special quality: they need to be Sustained. If any of your Children are not adjacent to a stack with a Green (Sustenance) layer at the end of your turn, you must remove one of any such Children's layers. You choose which layer, and remember: things don't happen diagonally in RGB - a Child's Sustainer must be directly, orthoganally adjacent. Children with their Green layers intact can Sustain each other.

Also, Children cannot Create new Children, because according to our zoology, they're genderless. Darn the luck.

All five possible children are on the board at the beginning of the game, but as soon as one 1-point piece in each of the three operative colors has been removed from play, a new Child can be created by adjacent (and fertile) Men and Women.

Two Tribes Go To War, Baby

Any stack that has a Red (Destruction) layer can, as a turn, make an attack on any opposing stack. Attacking an opponent's stack causes one of its layers to be discarded. The attacking player gets to choose which layer.

You may only attack an opposing stack if the attacking stack is the same size as the victim, or larger. (Therefore, Women can only naturally attack other Women or Children, and Children can only naturally attack each other.) Also, there must not be any other stacks between the attacking stack and the victim. Once again, this "line of sight" is always orthogonal, never diagonal.

If you want to make an attack with a stack that is unable to, either because it's too small or because it lacks a Red layer, it can make that attack with the help of a supporting stack. One of your other stacks, provided that it is also within line of sight of the attacking stack, can discard its top layer to support the attack. The supporting stack need not have 100% clear line of sight to the attacking stack - there can be other stacks in the way.

Here's how support works: Stack 3 wants to attack that big bad enemy piece up there, but it's too little. (See Figure 3 at right.) Stacks 1, 2, or 4 can discard their top layer to support stack 3's attack and allow it to happen. Note that discarding the top layer doesn't mean the top layer in question has to be Blue. In fact, a stack that only has one layer left may sacrifice itself entirely to lend support.

If a stack loses all of its layers, it's dead - no longer in the game. If there are enough discarded small pieces in the appropriate colors (i.e. at least one of each color), new Children can be Created. But if either player ever loses all of their Children, the game is over and that player has lost.

The Golden Child

The balance between the two sides in RGB is a bit tricky. The first player has only two large stacks, a decent disadvantage; however, it starts the game with three children, making it harder to knock out. The Golden Child is an attempt to address this.

The Golden Child is a stack composed of two small yellow pieces. The player that controls fewer Children at the start of the game gets the Golden Child, and places it on the square specified up in Figure 1. The Golden Child does not count as one of your Children for the purposes of winning or losing the game; if the second player loses all of their RGB Children, they've lost.

The Golden Child has no parents and does not need to be Sustained. It moves normally and can be attacked normally. It can give support to other stacks' attacks. It has no Red, Green, or Blue layers, and therefore has none of the abilities associated with those layers. It does, however, have the ability to Heal. As a turn, you may add a missing layer back to a stack that is directly adjacent to the Golden Child. That stack must, of course, have had some layers removed from it to be eligible. And layers must always be put back in order: Red on the bottom, Green in the middle, and Blue on top.

If you'd like to get your other yellow Icehouse pieces involved in the game as well, position them alongside the board. They are Overseers. They have created the RGBs and pitted them against each other, all for their own amusement. At the end of the game, have some of your biggest and meanest-looking action figures appear and haul the Overseers off to be tried in intergalactic court and executed. After all, they are obviously sick little bastards.

These rules are copyright © 1999 Mike Sugarbaker and may be distributed by the terms of the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons License.