In a century hence, as the polar ice caps melt, and great civilizations flood and falter, local clans clash as they vie for what precious little dry land remains above the flooded MELTSCAPE
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MELTSCAPE is an Abstract-Strategy board game, with a futuristic theme, where the polar ice caps have melted resulting in serious flooding and anarchy. The objective is for two opposing local clans to seize the other clan’s land, before their land is taken. The multiple levels of strategy include “Tile-Placement”, “Capture-The-Flag”, and “Chess” like elements. Created by Early Stadler, MELTSCAPE was first published in 2012, with the rules being finalized in late 2014.
The game board is two plastic halves snapped together to represent a flooded city with two strips of land, occupied by opposing clans, separated by water. The water has 136 divots used to place the clans’ pieces. Each clan is manned by 12 clansmen, 21 Floating Bridge Hexes (FBH), and one SNAIRG-Rattler weapon. Three buildings, two of which are simply obstructions, and one which becomes the focal point of the conflict, are randomly place in the flooded city at the game start.
Object- The object of the game is to capture the opposing clan’s land, at the other side of the board, before they capture yours. To do so, your Chieftain must step off of a floating bridge, constructed with Floating Bridge Hexes (FBH), and onto the opponent’s strip of land while she is in possession of her SNAIRG-Rattler weapon.
Set-up- There is a Green Clan and a Red Clan. Their Floating Bridge Hexes (FBH) are placed along their strips of land with the clansmen placed on top of the outer most FBH. Player #1 first permanently places the Steeple and Bank, which function as obstructions, on any of the board divots. Player #2 then places the Gravity Wave Tower, which functions as the conflict focal point of the game, on any of the remaining board divots.
Game play- Players alternate moving two game pieces, FBH and/or Clansman per turn, from one to four spaces, with the Chieftains able to move up to five spaces.
Bridge Building- Key to winning the game, clans must build floating bridges from their home turf, to the Gravity Wave Tower, the game focal point, and then onto the opposing clan’s land, the winning Chieftain’s destination. Bridges are also constructed for various attack and/or defend purposes. A clan’s bridges can overlap and branch out from the opposing clan’s bridges. The clans can use each others’ bridges. However, only the FBH on top of a stack of FBH, (no height limit), can be moved from that stack.
Chieftain- The Chieftains are the only characters that cannot be “taken” out of the game. The object is to get the Chieftains to step onto the opposing clan’s land, However, they do not have that power unless they possess a SNAIRG-Rattler, both of which are housed at the game focal point, the Gravity Wave Tower. Once a Chieftain has a Rattler, the Rattler can be stripped from her skull when an opposing character simply lands on a FBH adjacent to her. The Rattler is then placed back onto the gravity Wave Tower.
Taking- The more opposing clansmen, the more unlikely a it is that a Chieftain will make it onto the opposite land to win the game. It is therefore necessary for the clans to remove as many of the opposing clansmen as possible from the game. Therefore, while engaged in bridge building, the clans must also go on the offensive to “take” opposing clansmen out of the game. This is simply accomplished by landing in an opponent’s space. The “taken” clansman is removed from the game, and the aggressor assumes that space.
Special Powers- The seven different clansmen each have their own special powers, which are used to move about the board, and more importantly, are employed for offensive and/or defensive purposes. The clan members are: Chieftain, #1, Bot, Cycle, Techie, Diver and Punk. The clans include one chieftain and one #1, and two of the others.
Building Placement- The first player places the Steeple and the Bank in divots anywhere on the game board. Although this will influence movements about the board, this is more of a random move than one of strategy. The second player then places the Gravity Wave Tower, (the conflict focal point), on any of the board divots. This placement will greatly influence the multiple strategies of the game. Evenly space it between the clans? Or, place it up next to your own clan so you can surround it and deny access to the other clan. But, if their Chieftain ever gets there, winning is just a short easy step away.
Bridge Building- A key factor in a player’s strategy is bridge building economy. Each Floating Bridge Hex (FBH) can move up to four spaces in a turn. The more a player can use the full “four” count, the greater the efficiency of bridge building to the opposing side. Although It will likely change as the game progresses, it is important to plan a bridge rout early and to build it out efficiently. Without a plan, a player might indecisively move the same FBH back and fourth, from one turn to the next, effectively nullifying one or more moves.
Although players can travel over the opposing clan’s bridges, it is important for the players to depend only on their own bridges. The opponent might move their own bridge, thus foiling the other clan’s plan. Conversely, it is important for a player not to leave a bridge available for the opponent’s use.
Clansmen- A clansman that is decisive in the win of one game may be of little use in another game. And, a character’s importance, relative to the others, will change during the game. Clansmen are engaged in offensive and defensive battles as the players advance their bridges. It is important to diminish the opposing clan while retaining one’s own clansmen. Therefore, players will want to “take” opposing clansmen without sacrificing their own, while trading a clansman of lower importance, or sacrificing one character to “take” two or more of the opponent’s.
Offense- Players must seize the opposing clan’s land to win the game. Therefore, efficiently building a bridge to the opposing land, and manning it, is essential. This includes evaluating one’s own strengths, the routs between buildings, and the levels of resistance. However, things change. It is best not to resist changing the plan and/or bridge rout when it makes sense. Additionally, players naturally want to put all of their energies into offense. However, a defense will be necessary to not loose the game.
Defense- As the opponent’s offensive goals become evident, it is important to meet them with an adequate defense. This requires dedicating some FBH and characters to defend the home land from the penetration of their bridge and clansmen. The opposing clan will quickly win the game without this defensive effort. As the game progresses, the decision to bridge build, attack, or defend becomes ever more important and tricky. Near the game’s end, the players will be torn by the necessary choice to spend a turn on defense, rather than to advance one’s own offense.
What is a Head2Head board game?
An abstract board game for two players where strategic prowess
is paramount, and chance plays little to no role.
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