Friday, December 26, 2008

Prototype2Print-n-Play: TRIM THE TREE

A holiday game for 1-5 players
by Jeffrey D. Allers

If you like puzzle games, or if you simply enjoy the surprise of seeing what kinds of ornaments are in each box as you decorate your Christmas tree, you might enjoy "Trim the Tree." Play alone or with up to 4 opponents and try to score the most points by having the tree with the most balanced decorations in color and shape.

5 Christmas Tree boards:
5 Star scoring markers:

80 Ornament counters (in 4 different shapes and 4 different colors):
1 Ornament Box tile with overview of the scoring:
1 cloth Bag (Christmas stocking or Santa cap recommended)

Each player takes a Christmas Tree and a Star.
Place the Star next to the scoring space marked „0“ on the Tree.
With only 3 players, take one set of 16 Ornaments out of the game.
With only 2 players, take out two sets (32 Ornaments total).
If playing solataire, take out 3 sets (or 4 sets for a more calculating version).
Place all the remaining Ornaments in the Bag and give to the starting player.
Place the Ornament Box in the middle.

1) Open a box of Ornaments: the starting player draws as many Ornaments from the Bag as the number of players and places them on the Box.

2) Trimming the Tree: starting with the starting player and continuing clockwise, each player chooses an Ornament from the Box and places it on an empty space on her Tree.
A space is represented by the intersection of 2 or 3 lines on the Tree.
After the first Ornament is placed, players must place each new Ornament on a space adjacent to an Ornament already on her Tree.

3) Scoring: if an Ornament placed completes one or more triangles on the Tree, that player may score points for the triangle(s) if all 3 Ornaments in each triangle are of a different color and shape.
One triangle completed in this ways scores 1 point. If an Ornament completes two triangles, and each of these includes Ornaments of different colors and shapes (but Ornaments of one triangle may match the color and or shape of Ornaments of the other triangle), the two triangles score 3 points. Three triangles completed by the same ornament score 5 points. Four triangles score 7 points. Five triangles score 9 points. And six triangles score 11 points.

See Ornament Box for a summary of the scoring.

Any points scored by completed triangles are marked by moving the Star along the outside of the Tree so that it points to that player‘s current score.

Example: a player places a blue box ornament that completes two triangles on his tree at the same time. One triangle has a red bell and a yellow candle, the other has a blue bulb and red candle. The first triangle scores because all of the ornaments are of a different color and shape. The second triange does not score because it has two blue ornaments. The player scores 1 point total for the two completed triangles and moves his star one space around his tree. If that player had placed a purple box instead of a blue one, he would have scored 3 points total for both triangles.

Note: a player must always place an Ornament from the Box. The last player in the round does not have a choice as to which Ornament to take.

After the last Ornament is taken from the Box, pass the Bag to the player on the left.

When all the Christmas Trees are filled with Ornaments, the game ends. The player with the highest score places her Star on the Tree and wins the game. If there is more than one player tied for the highest score, the tied players share the victory.

The original idea and first prototype originated naturally at Christmastime several years back, when I found some nice wooden bits and Christmas tree-shaped box at a local hobby shop. Seasonal games are notoriously difficult to market, and publishers usually avoid them, so my motivation was strictly personal--to create a fun game for myself, friends and family to play over the holidays. The early version pictured above actually works fine as a game, but did not have the elegance and efficiency I was looking for. So, just as I have done every year this time of year, I brought out the bits and began thinking again about changes I could make. This year, in the interest of improving the design, I finally "let go" of my beautiful bits in favor of cardboard counters (or one could print the ornaments on wooden or plastic chips as well), and I think this is much more "my type of game," if there is such a thing.
And since I doubted a publisher would be interested, I decided to "self-publish" on my blog. Enjoy!