The "cards" in UNTCG are not used like ordinary playing cards, in fact they are really more like tiles, laid down upon the table like dominoes. Shuffling them is more a matter of mixing them about, upside down, and they are best when so constructed that they are nice and thick like tiles should be. Perhaps the game should be called "UNICORN JELLY: THE TILE GAME", in all fairness.

There are five types of card/tiles in the game, as of version 1.1

Hero tiles can defeat Danger tiles, and thus score points. They are active only at the moment they are placed down, or when they are made briefly active again by the effect of another tile. They have a power value number in the upper right corner. The larger the number the better, as a tie with a Danger tile is just that...a tie. Nothing happens. A Hero tile may only challenge Danger tiles, defeating them if the Hero has a higher power value.

Personage tiles have a power value number like Hero tiles, but usually this number is zero. A Personage may challenge a Hero, another Personage, or a Danger. Mostly, Personage tiles serve to affect Hero, Danger, or other Personage tiles, rather than to defeat them. Each Personage may have a unique power in the game. For example, the "Thilia Lilinflylst" tile can be placed, once, on top of any other tile in the game, covering it, effectively making it unavailable! Personage tiles are only active on the turn they are placed, or if another tile briefly activates them again.

Location tiles represent places from Unicorn Jelly, and may have any sort of effect on whatever tiles border them. Location tiles are UNIQUE in that any benefit or harm they produce is CONSTANT, affecting all tiles that border them. They cannot be activated because they are always active.

Danger tiles, the opposite of Hero tiles, also have a power value number in the upper right hand corner. Danger tiles can challenge a Hero or a Personage, but NOT another Danger. Like all other tiles except for Location tiles, Danger tiles are active only on the turn they are placed, or if some other tile should briefly activate them. To defeat another tile, the Danger tile must have a higher power value.

Impetus tiles have only one purpose in the game: they activate other tiles. An Impetus tile may singularly activate -only- Hero tiles, or -only- Danger tiles, or it may activate -Any- tile other than another Impetus tile. Impetus tiles cannot normally activate other Impetus tiles. An Impetus tile only activates the tiles that border it, and only does so on the turn the Impetus is placed. Once placed, an Impetus tile cannot activate anything ever again in later turns...it is a one shot activation.





However you have chosen to construct the card-tiles, mix them up prior to play. If you have made nice decent thick tiles, the easiest way is just to place them upside down on the table and swirl them about until they are randomized. You could also put them in a bag like rune stones, shake them up, and pick them out one by one. This is the Draw Pile.

Both players take three tiles to start with. From this point on, each player must try to keep three tiles in their 'hand' throughout the game. At the beginning of a turn, a player must take enough tiles from the Draw Pile to make sure they always have three tiles in hand to play with....until the tiles run out, of course, which then is Game Over.

It is also important to have a method to keep score. This can be done by making marks on a sheet of paper, by using little beads or stones, with pennies or other small coins, shells or sticks, marbles or even Tryslmaistan Til from the Gryrnu WorldPlate. Just as long as there is a way to track points.



To begin, one player is chosen to play first. This can be done by the usual methods...playing Jan-Ken-Pon (Rock-Paper-Scissors), rolling a die, drawing a top card, mutual civilized agreement, or Ozark Rules backyard wrasslin'. Prison style knife fights are not recommended, because printer ink is not permanent ink, and blood will make the tiles smear. Also, it can result in an unfair loss by forfeit before the game is even played.

The first player places a single tile down. This tile is the seed tile, and the game board will grow outward from it, in all directions. The initial tile placed cannot do anything on this first turn. All additional tiles placed must touch the border of some other tile. This border must be an open cardinal direction, north, south, east or west....diagonals are not permitted. Tiles are never removed, once played. Tiles can be flipped, or unflipped.

The second player now places a tile down next to the seed tile, to the north, south, east or west of the tile. Once again, diagonals are not valid in UNICORN JELLY: THE CARD GAME, only cardinal directions are ever used. Player two's move may potentially affect the seed tile....it may defeat it, activate it (to no real effect, considering there are now only two tiles in play!), or whatever. If a tile is defeated, the tile is flipped over, but remains in play.

A tile, either Hero, Personage, or Danger, is defeated when another tile is placed next to it that has a greater power value number in the upper right hand corner than it does. A tie is just that...a tie, and nothing happens. The challenging tile must also be able to legally defeat the tile in question as well....a Hero tile can only defeat a Danger tile, but a Danger tile can defeat both Heroes and Personages, for example. Personages can theoretically defeat anything, but rarely ever do.

It is legal to place a tile with a weak power next to an opposing type of tile with a stonger power. All that will result will be that the tile is placed, and nothing more. This is because, for any tile to be defeated, it must be defeated by a currently active opposing tile. Since a tile already on the board is considered inactive (unless it is a location tile), there can be no immediate risk from placing a weaker tile next to it. Therefore there is no danger in placing a Hero with a power of 4, say, next to a Danger with a power of 6. In such a situation, only the tile being placed is considered active, and only it can actually have any effect on things in that turn.

The power value of a tile can be affected by bordering other tiles. Some bordering tiles may increase the power of all tiles next to them, or lower power, or even neutralize it altogether (the Chou Hero tile can make any bordering threat or Danger have a power value of zero when it is placed down). The effects of such power changes are cumulative, and several could potentially happen all at once. If this happens, just add and subtract as required, to calculate the current actual power value.

Each time a tile is defeated the conquering player gains one Victory Point. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game is the winner.

It should be noted that no one player takes the absolute role of Hero, or of Danger, and it does not matter if a player who just played a Hero tile one turn, immediately attacks that same tile on their next turn....the goal is to collect victory points alone.

Both players continue placing tiles, one each turn, until the tiles run out, or until it is clear that the few remaining tiles can do nothing at all of any importance. If this occurs, then both players can agree to call the game, and determine the winner by victory point count.

At beginning of each player's turn, the player makes sure they have three tiles to play with, replacing played tiles from the draw pile.



The basic game play of UNICORN JELLY: THE CARD GAME is simple enough, as you can see, just placing tiles down, checking power values, and flipping defeated tiles for points. But there is more, of course, and this more is in the power of tricky and clever Combo Attacks.

In many cases, even most, there will be no clear way to defeat a Hero, Danger, or Personage on a specific given turn. Tiles will simply be placed because a move must be made. However, things are not what they might appear. Even seemingly useless moves can be part of a long term strategy leading up to a Combo Attack.

This is one simple type of Combo Attack, and many more are possible. For example, it is possible to place a Hero in the middle of several dangers, and if the Hero is more powerful than all of them, to defeat every Danger all in one move, gaining a point for each tile flipped!

The secret of Combo Attacks lays in making use of the form which the placed tiles have taken, as well as the power to activate sleeping tiles. Since a placed tile always affects all tiles that border it (that it can legally affect, of course!), an activation tile can potentially activate several Heroes or Dangers at the same time, leading to a Cascade Effect.

Of special note is the fact that a very powerful tile, even one boosted by a plus from a Location, could be defeated by two weaker tiles if both were activated at the same time. When more than one tile becomes active on the same turn, all effects are considered to be simultaneous and cumulative. Thus, the Crystal Basilisk, power value 6, can be defeated by a carefully placed Lupiko (power 3), and an equally carefully placed Redcloak (power 5), if both Heroes are activated on the same turn. Both Lupiko and Redcloak's power values are added together for a total power value of 8, more than enough to flip over the Crystal Basilisk! That is the fun of the Combo Attack, and the heart of the game.


   SOLITAIRE RULES and Multiplayer Game Variants

UNICORN JELLY: THE CARD GAME can be played as a solitaire game. Simply play pieces one after another, drawn randomly, and attempt to get the highest possible score, with the most combos you can arrange. Collect victory points to beat your own best score.

Variant 1: Landmine Jelly

For every third tile you place, place one random tile upside down (so you don't know what it is) as well, somewhere into the game. Place a marker (bead, shell, coin, whatever) on the overturned tile, so that it can be understood to be a special case. When three such tiles exist, on the next turn all must be turned over, and treated as if they are active, come what may!

Variant 2: Cascade Jelly

The one-shot rule of Impetus tiles is voided, and it is allowed that a newly placed impetus tile can activate other bordering impetus tiles, leading to a massive cascade. Cascade Jelly is also an interesting rule variant to try in the two player game as well.

Variant 3: Jumping Jelly

Another rule variant that can be used in the two player game, Jumping Jelly increases the chance of scoring points. The rule of immobility, that once a tile is placed it can never be moved other than to be flipped, is voided. Instead, a player, on their turn, may choose not to place a tile but to move one tile that has already been placed. The player may "jump" the tile they have choosen to any open legal location, where it acts like a freshly placed tile.

Variant 4: Ultimate Jelly

The rule variants Cascade and Jumping are put together in the one or two player game. Now massive cascade effects, jumping tiles, and complex interactions dominate the game. For advanced players only, but very rewarding! Even the Landmine variant may be included if desired.



UNICORN JELLY: THE CARD GAME is designed to be easy to set up, easy to play, yet have some tiny bit of strategy and depth to it. It can be easily expanded by the enterprizing gamer who has access to a paint program and the time and willingness to invent new card-tiles for it. If there is enough interest and feedback, I will create official expansion sets for it, as the comic progresses and more characters, currently waiting in the wings, become known.

It is my hope that you will enjoy my invention, and it's unusual game mechanics. It's what I like to think I do best...although as stated, my proper place is in making computer games. I hope that happens again someday. In the mean time, there is much more to go in Unicorn Jelly the strip, and more games coming too...including Tryslmaistan Chess, called "Taasen". Stay tooned.

Jennifer Diane Reitz
April 23rd 2001

Copyright ©  2001, All Rights Reserved Worldwide


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by Jennifer Diane Reitz
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