***Alternate Rules by John Gosling***

Levels and Obstacles

Players agree to play cards on the table (the “edge” rule)… but what if you have a really skinny coffee table? You can mark out the boundaries of your playspace for very different gameplay!

  • Try playing in a narrow space, about 1 foot wide. You’ll find that new clusters are more common, as is cutting off new growth!
  • Try starting in a corner. You may have to discard cards till you get something that fits, and try to leave openings for yourself as you branch the game out!

You can also declare objects on the table as obstacles! You should always do this for unmovable objects (Umbrella poles in the middle of the table, big sticky stains, sleeping cats), but you could also set out some obstacles to make the terrain more interesting. A few coins provide a quick hole, and pencils can direct the game radically. Just remember to go light on the obstacles, and remember that any card that would touch an obstacle can’t be placed.

Drunken Hacking

When we demoed the game at Gen Con 2011, we played a round with Scott Burbank. Upon learning of the obstacles rule, he put this knowledge to divine use. Behold, The Node Drinking Game!

The principle is the same as the obstacle rule, except instead of random objects, you put down shot glasses filled with whatever’s in your liquor cabinet.

If you want to put a card down where a shot glass lies, you can drink the shot and clear it off the table!

  • You can space the shot glasses a bit tighter than obstacles, since the point isn’t to entirely avoid them, but to force people to play on them! The tighter the spacing, the more brutal the drinking.
  • You can play with beers as well. When you clear a beer obstacle from the table, crack it open and start working on it. You can’t pick up another obstacle till you’re done with your first!

The Second Game – Two 2 Player Games

You can actually run two games off one deck! Set up the game, and then have your third and fourth player pick avatars and play their own game with the other half of the deck. Why not have the two victors and the two losers face off for the next round?

Alliance – 4 Players

This variation of the core game is the same, except:

  • Form two teams, two players each.
  • Team mates should sit across from each other, with their enemies to either side.
  • Each team picks an avatar set.
  • Play proceeds Team 1, Player 1 -> Team 2, Player 1 – >Team 1, Player 2 -> Team 2, Player 2  (That is, around the table).
  • A team uses the same avatars for capture, so they do not steal captures from each other.
  • You cannot show your team mates your cards. Discuss some code terms or hand signals before the game to strategize and/or taunt your opponents with during the game. Otherwise, just try to play nice and not screw up their plans!
  • The goal is the same, to have the most clusters when the last card is down, or to control all 5 clusters first!

Shared Network – 3-4 Players

This variation of the core game is the same, except:

  • Each color cluster can have TWO owners. If you expand a cluster and capture it, put your avatar on, but if there’s only one other avatar on the color, it STAYS on.
  • If you capture a color cluster that already has two owners, pick one of the avatars to remove and put yours on!
  • The goal is the same, to have the most clusters when the last card is down, or to control all 5 clusters first!

Sets – 2,3 or 4 Players

This game type involves trying to get the upper hand with each set of 5 cards.

  • The goal is the same: to have the most clusters when the last card is down, or to control all 5 clusters first!
  • Each player picks an avatar set and draws 5 cards.
  • Playing cards and capturing clusters use the same rules.
  • players do not draw back up to 5 cards when they play, so you should play your hand as if they were the last cards in the deck!
  • When the last card is down, take back any avatar you have on the board, and put it upside down. You have “Locked In” this color.
  • Any color you have locked in counts as controlling it for the win conditions (owning the most when the deck is out, or capturing all 5 colors at once).
  • All players draw 5 new cards, and play continues with whoever was next. To capture a cluster, the same rule applies: you have to extend it by one node, and make it the biggest on the board. Even if no one else owns the biggest cluster, if you make a smaller one somewhere else it wont take control.
  • You cannot affect colors that you locked in! You can play on them, expand clusters or lock them in… but you do not capture them, or steal captures from anyone else.

The goal as always is to capture all 5 colors, but what to do with those cards that have colors you already have locked in? If you can, you want to lock down a cluster before anyone has a chance to recapture it, securing your lead. If not, interfere! Make it easier for whoever is losing to steal control from whoever is winning, and obstruct everyone’s plans. Divide and Destroy until you can get all 5 colors for yourself!