Okay, it’s basically a pentagon-shaped game of Risk, mixed with Othello (or, if you’re Japanese, Go), mixed with Pente, mixed with, I dunno, Chinese Checkers and darts.
It’s for 1-5 players. It can be played with flat-sided beads (like the ones used as counters by many Magic players, but I’m sure they’re sold for some more common purpose), or marbles, but would require a special tabletop or board to play marbles, since otherwise they’d roll off. It could probably be played with Risk tokens. I believe there are 53 infantry.
Okay, having written out an overview of the game (which is probably called Tirnoval, but maybe I’ll come up with something else…like “Pentagon”), it turns out it’s a very long and complicated walkthrough of the game and its rules. If you’ve already heard most of that info, or if you don’t care that much but are mildly interested, here are the 3 pictures I’ll be using as illustrations. You can skip everything else.
Empty game board: Game board ready to play: Green player quick win:
The Very Long and Complicated Walkthrough of the Game and its Rules
The basic board is a pentagon divided into concentric…pentagons. You start at one of the outside corners, and the goal of the game is to be the first player to reach the center. If you’re playing solitaire,you’re playing for points (which are scored based on the number of marbles you own, the number of marbles you’ve displaced, and the number of turns it took to get to the center).
Here’s a completely empty game board:
As I said, you start at one of the corners. You can see the starting tokens at each of the corners. When you first start the game, you choose which color you want to play. As you can see, every tile on the board is marked with small notches (3-7 notches per tile, increasing as you approach the center) of various colors. These notches indicate the initial marble value of the tile. At the beginning of the game, each tile gets one marble of the appropriate color per notch on it (for a total of 53 marbles of each color, not counting player tokens).
Here’s a table that has been set up, with all of the marbles in place. In the rest of this post, I’m going to describe a playthrough as the green player, which starts at the big green token on the left side of the image.
In the first turn, you can choose to move into one of the two tiles that touch your corner. You goal for the turn is to capture the tile, which requires eliminating all the marbles on that tile that aren’t your color. There are 2 ways to play the game. The method I’m going to describe here uses a single 6-sided die.
In your first turn, you have no marbles (the starter token doesn’t count), and you’re trying to move into a tile that has 3. You first choose which tile you want to move into (in this case, you either take top-left or bottom-left — for our example, we’ll go bottom-left). If there are any marbles of your color in that tile, you immediately capture them (this is a military simulation game, so generally it’s said that they join your army). Then you roll the die to find out your score.
Your score on the die determines how well you do. Ideally, it should be greater than the number of marbles left in the tile you’re moving into. Whatever your roll, you can immediately remove up to that number of marbles from the tile (they go to the starter area for their respective colors). After that, you can (and must) remove one marble from the tile for every marble in your army (on the first turn, there are no marbles in your army). If there are STILL marbles in the tile, then you can choose to remove one more (but you don’t have to) and your player token returns to the starting spot.
That’s a little complicated, so I’ll list it out in bullet points.
Tile Capture Process:
1. Choose a target tile
2. Any same-color marbles in that tile join your army (move to your currently occupied tile)
3. Proceed through the following steps until there are no more marbles on the target tile:
A. Roll the die, and remove up to that number of marbles from the target tile.
B. Sacrifice marbles in your army (marbles in the same tile as your player token) to remove marbles from the target tile.
C. Sacrifice your own token to remove one more token from the target tile. You may choose not to remove the token, but if you have not already captured the tile, you MUST return your token to the starting tile.
4. If you have successfully emptied the target tile (without sacrificing your player token), move your token into the new tile. Take with you as many marbles as you want from the tile you’re leaving (it’s recommended to leave one in each tile except the starting spot).
Every turn, you repeat this process until you reach the center of the map. As you can see, there are some tiles that have a LOT of your color tokens(which would increase the size of your army, which increases your odds of capturing the next tile). Usually, you have to move a significant distance to reach these tiles, though, so you must choose whether you want to build up your army, or rush toward the center.
At the center, there will be a significant stack of marbles (not shown on any of the pictures). I’m not sure how many, but I’m thinking 10-20, and none of them join you. Generally, you either have to take multiple attempts, or spend time building up your army (or, in multiplayer, get lucky timing) to capture the center.
I mentioned multiplayer.The game is designed for multiplayer. In a multiplayer contest, your goal is to be the first to capture the center tile, but there are various ways to do this. Any player can move into an empty tile, but once a tile has been captured by a player if that player leaves even one marble to claim it, another player cannot move through that tile UNLESS the tile’s starting colors match the invading player’s color. Does that make sense? In our example, we’re playing through as green.Well, if Blue had already captured a tile, then instead of the starting marbles on it, it would just have one blue marble. But we couldn’t move into that tile (and displace the blue marble) unless one of the colored notches on the tile was green.
So, one of the ways of winning(like Othello or Go) is to create a path that makes it impossible for your opponent to reach the center. Given the number of tiles that match each color, this will be a pretty rare victory condition, but it’s certainly a possibility.
Another way is to be the first to capture the center tile. As I said, this will usually require multiple attempts (and after a failed attempt, your token moves all the way back to the starting area, which takes a minimum of 6 turns to return). If you are the first to attack the center and you don’t win, you will leave it considerably weakened, which only helps your opponent. In the same way, if another player tries to take the center and fails (but, say, gets a really lucky roll of the die), he may leave it weak enough that you can easily take it in one attempt.
This image shows a quick win (that is, a fairly direct charge from the starting spot to the center) for a Green player playing solitaire. It’s safe to assume that he lost his first attempt to take the center, which sent him back to the start where he was able to take all of the green marbles he’d lost along the way with him as he followed his own path back to the center, and then won this time (although still taking some losses).
(It may also be possible to win by moving into the same tile an opponent is occupying, in which case you would play it out the same way as normal,but if you win, your opponent is removed from the game. Of course, if you lose that fight, you probably lose the game, too.)
I think that sums up everything you need to know to play. Some additional rules I’m considering:
*With the exception of the very first move (out of the starter spot), you can only capture tiles that share a SIDE with your current tile,not a corner (or, in other words, you can’t move diagonally).
* Each turn, if you have an unbroken chain of occupied tiles that leads from your current tile back to the starting point, you can add one marble from anywhere in the chain (including the starting area) to your current army.
* If an opponent chooses to enter a tile you posses (which, remember, he can only do if that tile is his color), you may choose to defend that tile, in which case you move your player token and as many marbles as you want from your current tile back to the tile he’s attacking.This would play out just like the attacking-to-win battle described earlier.
*Possibly, instead of direct player-vs-player encounters resolving the game, it just sends the losing player back to his starting spot. Or, possibly, that is only true for the attacking player (the defending player must defend successfully or he is completely destroyed).
*I mentioned two ways to play, and described using a 6-sided die in this description. The other would involve direct comparisons of army size, rather than including an initial set of free points (the roll of the die). In this case, the game would probably start with the outside ring(the 3-point tiles) empty, and each starting token would have its 3 marbles already available in its army.
* For reference purposes, I’m naming each of the tiles in clockwise sequence, from outside in, using a numeral to indicate which ring, and a letter to indicate the tile’s position within its ring. Clockwise, as I said, starting at the 12 o’clock position. Given that, the win path in the above image would be described as 1D-2N-2M-2L-3I-4F-4E-5C-6(center).