First Druid, A Stonehenge Racing Game by Stephen Thomson and Ian McDonald
We were working on a Stonehenge game of our own when we came across the anthology box. Not surprisingly, the board and pieces were very similar to those that we had developed, so it was fairly simple to transfer most of our ideas to match those provided. Our game links Stonehenge to the magical powers of the Earth and other elements and is basically a battle for magical supremacy.
Number of players: 3–5
Object of the game: The object of the game is to use your magical powers (represented by the cards) to convince the local clans (represented by disks on the bluestones) and spirits (represented by bars on the outer ring) that you are the druid most able to carry out the solstice rituals. Building trilithons and preparing the altar stone may assist along the way and it is vital that you keep up with the necessary preparations to avoid offending the spirits.
Equipment: First Druid uses all of the pieces provided in the basic game box. Each player uses the pieces of one colour (along with the trilithon card of his or her colour), so if there are less than five players some colours will not be used.
Throughout these rules, the plastic figures are referred to as 'druids'.
Setup: The board is placed in the middle of the table. Each player chooses a colour, which links his or her druid to a specific element, and takes all of the pieces of that colour. These pieces are used to keep track of the clans (disks) and spirits (bars) that have aligned themselves with individual druids.
The neutral figure tracks the passing of time around the 60 stones of the inner ring and starts on the night stone next to space 1 on the outer ring. The neutral figure is considered to be on space 1 at this stage, moving to space 2 when it moves on to the night stone next to that space.
The coloured figures represent each player’s druid. Their position on the outer ring represents each player’s progress in completing the preliminaries of the solstice festival. These figures start on space 1 of the outer ring.
All of the cards, including a trilithon card of each player’s colour, are shuffled together. Five cards are dealt face down to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down at the side of the board to form the playing deck. Any cards played will form a discard pile, which will be shuffled and reform the deck once all of the cards in the deck have been used.
The trilithons need to be disassembled and the pieces kept ready to be deployed.
Playing the Game
The game is played in rounds, during which each player has a turn and there is an additional turn that marks the passing of time. This additional turn occurs at the end of the round after each of the players has had their turn.
The player who goes first in each round is not constant. It is linked to the element (colour) that is strongest on that day (identified by the colour of the space on the outer ring that the neutral figure is next to). The player with the matching colour pieces will start the round or, if no player matches (because less than five players are playing or the neutral piece is next to a black square), a card is turned over from the deck and placed in the centre of the Board to identify the next strongest element (colour) for the day. If this element still does not match any player, it is discarded and another is placed until a match is achieved. Once an appropriate element has been identified, it is stays in place for the night and day on that space (i.e. two complete rounds), following which the card is discarded.
After the first player has had his or her turn, play then continues clockwise until all players have had a turn, following which there is an additional turn during which the neutral figure is moved.
As a player, you have a hand of cards that represent the magical powers bestowed on you by the spirits. These powers are linked to the phase (day or night), the elements (the colour) and are of varied strength (the number). The trilithon cards are wild cards and can represent a card of any phase, element and/or any strength (up to 30), but only if they match your colour (i.e. if you are the red player, the red trilithon card can represent day or night and any number or colour that you want it to. All of the other trilithon cards are useless to you, but may be traded with the relevant player). NOTE – the card that the wild card is representing may not exist in the game (e.g. you may use the wild card to be a blue card of strength 30, whereas the real strength 30 cards are black).
You must keep up with the requirements of the preparation for the preliminaries. If the neutral figure marking the passing of time passes your figure on the outer track, identifying that you have fallen behind in your preparations, you lose your contact with the spirits and can pick up no more cards.
The clans supporting you are identified by the placing of your disks on the nineteen bluestones in the middle of the Board. The bluestones are filled in order, starting at one end of the row and going clockwise round the board. You will gain extra reward for having several clan support markers in a row.
The spirits supporting you are identified by the placing of your bars in the outer part of the outer ring. These bars are placed in order as the neutral figure moves around the inner ring marking time. As above, you will gain extra reward for having several spirit support markers in a row.
The disks and bars in the basic game box are the only ones available to you. If you use 5 disks to gain ownership of all the trilothons, you will only be able to ally 5 clans at most, since you will have run out of disks. Similarly, if you ally 10 spirits, you will not have any bars left for dressing the alterstone.
Along with the basic support gained from the clans and spirits, you can gain additional power from the spirits by constructing the trilithons of Stonehenge. The trilithons are constructed in order, starting from the same end as the clan support markers and going round the board clockwise. The trilithons are built in sections, but if you place the capstone that completes the trilithon you can place one of your disks in the hole in the capstone.
If you help to dress the altar stone, you place one of your bars on it. Once the altar stone is prepared (when there are the same number of bars on the altar stone as there are players), players who have not helped to dress the altar will lose out in the preparations for the solstice.
A Player's Turn:
During your turn, you may do any of the following, any number of times and in any order:
Enhance your magic powers by trading cards with any other player. Any trading must be between two players only and must involve you as the active player (i.e. two players who are not active may not trade between themselves). However, during your turn you may trade as many times as you wish with as many other players as you wish, so you can act as a broker in deals between other players.
Use your magic to complete a day’s preparations for the festival. You can do this by playing a card or combination of cards that matches the phase (day or night) that the neutral figure is on and whose strength is at least as high as the number that your druid figure is currently on. You then move your druid figure one space clockwise around the outer ring (i.e. to the space that is one number higher).
Buy the support of a clan by using your magical power to create a mystical object. You can do this by playing two or more cards whose strength add up to exactly 31. You then place one of your disks on the next available bluestone.
Use your magic to convert a tribe or spirit that is aligned to another player. You can do this by playing three cards whose strengths are in a “run” (i.e. three consecutive numbers). You may then remove another player’s piece and replace it with your own. You may either replace the disk representing the most recent clan placed (i.e. the furthest clockwise around the bluestones) or the bar representing the most recent spirit placed (see below under Neutral Figure’s Move). If nobody won over the most recent spirit(i.e. there is a gap in the outer ring of aligned spirits), you may still replace the last one that was won over by another player, but you may not fill in the gap.
Use your magic to construct a section of trilithon. You can do this by playing two cards of the same strength (i.e. matching numbers). You must construct the next available section of trilithon (either on of the supports or, of two supports are in place, a capstone) by placing it on the Board. If you place one of the supports, you may drain magical power from the other players to replenish your own (take one card from each other player’s hand without looking at them and add it to your own hand. NOTE – If this takes your hand above 10 cards you will have to discard, see below). If you place the capstone, you can put one of your disks in the hole in the capstone to identify your ownership of the trilithon.
Use your magic to help dress the altar stone with a magic object. As with winning the support of a clan, you do this by playing two or more cards whose strength add up to exactly 31. You may also play two cards of matching strength, as for constructing a trilithon. You may then place a bar on the altar stone.
Use your magic to take over a trilithon that belongs to another player. You can do this by playing four cards whose strengths are in a “run” (i.e. four consecutive numbers). Once you have done this you may remove another player’s disk from the capstone of any trilithon and replace it with your own.
During your turn, the following may happen:
Dressing of the Altar Stone: If you place the final bar onto the altar stone (so that the number of bars are equal to the number of players), you have completed its dressing and the bars are returned to the players who placed them. The player who had played the highest number of bars moves their druid forward one space (if there is a tie for first place no player moves forward). Any player who had no bar on the altar must move his or her druid figure back one space. Any player who had a bar on the altar is safe from this.
If you do NONE of the above, you can refresh your magical powers by drawing cards from the deck. You draw one card, plus one for every trilithon that you own (i.e. your disk is in the hole in the capstone). The maximum number of cards you may have in your hand is 10. You must immediately discard enough cards to reduce your hand to 10 if at any time you have more than this limit.
The Additional Turn:
Once all players have moved, the neutral figure marking time is moved one small stone clockwise. This may be from night to day within a number space or may be from day to night on the next number space.
Once the neutral druid piece has moved, all players refresh their magical powers and receive 1 card from the deck. This is not affected by the ownership of trilithons and all players receive only one card. Remember you may have to discard if this takes you above 10.
Winning the Support of a Spirit:
When the neutral figure moves on to the next number, then players may use their magical powers to win over the spirits, taking into account the element (colour) that was most powerful on the day that has just ended. Each player may place any number of cards face down in front of them, in the same turn order as for the previous round. The player who played the highest strength combination of cards of the appropriate colour wins the support of the spirits and places their bar on the outer track for that day (i.e. the day the neutral piece has just moved from).
Any cards played by the player linked to the element (colour) that is being contested are always considered to be of the appropriate colour, meaning that players have an advantage on days linked to their element. This must be a strict match with the colour on the space, not the card that identifies the player who has first turn in the round, meaning that there will be times when no player has an advantage. If no cards are played, or there is a tie for the highest number, no bar is placed. All of the cards played are discarded.
This is worked out at the end of the game (i.e. when the first player reaches 30).
Spirits and Clans are scored the same. The first token in a run scores 1, the second 2, the third 3 and so on. If there is a gap in the spirit ring, the runs on either side are separate.
In addition, each player receives points equal to the number of the space they are on.
Ending the Game
When the first player has moved his druid all the way around the ring, the game is at an end. Merely streaking ahead is not enough to secure victory, however; it is the support and alleigances secured along the way that decide which druid is the First Druid!
Each player has as many points as the number his druid piece is on at the end, plus additional points for allied tribes and spirits. Tribes and Spirits count 1 point for the first in a run, 2 for the second, 3 for the third etc.
So, the game is a complex balance of using your magical powers to race ahead and gaining allies. In addition, trilothon stones enhance your supply of magic, and dressing the alter stone may move you ahead or even move your rivals backwards!
Stephen Thomson and Ian McDonald are mathematics graduates from the University of Sussex, England. Stephen is an obsessive games player and designer, who has entertained his large and disparate family on many Christmasses with his original, thought-provoking games. Ian likes nothing better than role-playing a berserk minotaur, when he is not speculating on chaos theory and religion.
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