"Good afternoon, and welcome to a packed Olympic stadium in Munchen for the second leg of this exciting final. And here comes the Germans now, led by their skipper 'Lobby' Hegel. They must truly be favorites this afternoon. They've certainly attracted the most attention from the press with their team problems."
—Monty Python, Live at the Hollywood Bowl
This is a boardgame simulating a football match between teams of French and German Philosophers. The game is more or less what Americans would call soccer, leavened with enough indoor soccer and foosball to keep the existentialists angsty.
The PDF file for the game contains the gameboard and figures. You need to print them and cut them out. Tape the gameboard together to create the playing field. The figures stand up in the usual way; Cardboard Heroes bases are handy for this.
You supply the deck and dice.
Each team consists of four philosophers; each philosopher corresponds to a suit of cards. To make philosophers kick or block the ball, you must play cards of their suit.
The philosopher corresponding to clubs is the goalie: Nietzsche for the Germans, Descartes for the French. Only Nietzsche my enter, move through, or occupy the German goal box; only Descartes may enter, move through, or occupy the French goal box.
There are no other distinctions between philosophers. Aside from goal boxes, they may go anywhere on the field at anytime.
Remove the joker from the deck and shuffle. Then insert the Joker into the the deck, somewhere near the middle. Deal five cards for each team.
The player with the longest surname plays the German team.
Each player takes their four philosophers and places them in spaces in their own in-field. The German team takes the first turn.
A turn consists of five phases, in this order: 1. Put the ball into play. 2. Check the penalty box. 3. Run! 4. Kick! 5. Draw cards.
If the ball is already in play, skip this step. Otherwise, roll both dice and add them together. Place the ball on the center line of the field, in the space marked with the number that you rolled.
It won't happen on the first turn, but it is possible later in the game that the ball will go into play in a space occupied by a philosopher. If the ball is in a space occupied by a philosopher, then that philosopher must place the ball in one of the adjacent spaces-- including diagonally adjacent spaces. Note that the philosopher's team decides where the ball is placed, even if it's not their turn. If the ball is placed in the same space as another philosopher, then that philosopher must place the ball in an adjacent space. This continues until the ball is in open space.
If you aren't using the optional Fouling rules, skip this step.
If you have any philosophers in the penalty box, roll one die. If you roll a '5' or '6', then a philosopher reenters the game. If you have multiple philosophers in the penalty box, then release the one that has been there the longest. Place him on the field at the exit from your penalty box. If that space is occupied, place him in the nearest open space.
Roll both dice.
If the dice come up different numbers: You may move one of your philosophers up to the number of spaces rolled on one die. You may then move another of your philosophers up to the number of spaces rolled on the other die. Philosophers need not make their entire move in a straight line (they may turn corners) but they may not move through the ball, through other philosophers, or on diagonals.
If you roll doubles, then you may move all of your philosophers up to the number of spaces rolled. (This means the value on each die, not the total of both dice.)
You may now try to score by playing cards to move the ball. Your opponent may play cards in an attempt to stop you. The rules are given in this section and illustrated later in a sample play.
If the ball is adjacent to one of your philosophers, he can kick it by playing a card of that philosopher's suit. You may move the ball in a straight line in any direction: horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
A number card moves the ball a number of spaces equal to the value of the card. Aces are 1s and move the ball one space. Face cards have random values: Jacks are 1d6, the number rolled on one die. Queens are 1d6+2, the roll of one die plus two. Kings are 2d6, the roll of both dice added together.
The ball moves this entire distance, unless it is blocked, scores, or hits the edge of the field. You can't choose to use less than the listed value. If the ball reaches the edge of the map and continues into the goal, you score a point and your turn ends immediately. (Other stuff also happens when you score; see 'Scoring', below) If it reaches the edge of the map anywhere else, it stops. There is no way for the ball to go out of bounds.
Note that the ball can move through a space occupied by a philosopher. If the ball comes to a stop in the same space as one of your philosophers, you must place the ball in a space adjacent to that philosopher. If you place the ball in the same space as another of your philosophers, then put it in a space adjacent to that philosopher; and so on. If the ball stops on one of your opponent's philosophers, then they choose where to place the ball.
Tackling: If the ball is adjacent to an opposing philosopher before you kick it, then your opponent may attempt to tackle by playing a card of their philosopher's suit. (The card should be the suit of the philosopher doing the tackling, not of the philosopher trying to do the kicking.) If the card has a value equal to or greater than the value of the card you played, then the ball does not move. Both cards are discarded, and you may try to kick again if you have another appropriate card.
If your opponent plays a face card, then they roll to see the value of the card. If the roll is sufficient, then the tackle is successful. If the roll is not enough, then the ball moves normally and your opponent discards the face card.
Blocking: If the ball passes adjacent to a philosopher, then that philosopher can attempt to block. To stop the ball in its first space of movement, your blocker must play a card of their philosopher's suit with a value equal to or greater than the value of the card you played. The required value decreases by one for each space that the ball passes through.
If the ball passes through several spaces that are adjacent an opposing philosopher, then that philosopher only has the opportunity to block it in the first of those spaces. If the ball is not blocked, then it will pass through the space occupied by an opposing philosopher.
Note that it is permissible to block your own kick with one of your philosophers.
If you haven't scored and still have cards remaining, then you may make additional attempts to kick the ball. You are never required to kick the ball, however, even if you have cards that you could legally play.
Draw up to a five card hand.
If you draw the joker, it's halftime. The ball is removed from play, and all philosophers are removed from the field. Philosophers are placed on the field as per the rules for starting setup. Draw another card to replace the joker.
If you need to draw a card but there are no cards left in the draw pile, the game is immediately over; see 'The End of the Game', below.
If the ball is in one of the three spaces directly inside your goal box, the ball is removed from play. (This is only done during your Draw phase. It is possible for the ball to stop in your goal box and remain in play, provided you kick it out earlier in the turn.)
Play alternates until the deck is exhausted.
When you score, your turn ends. The ball is removed from play. Both you and your opponent draw up to five card hands. Each team, both you and your opponent, may now do one of the following: Roll one die and move one of their philosophers up to that many spaces, discard one card and draw a card to replace it, or release any one philosopher from the penalty box. (If order matters, then the scoring team picks and acts first.)
When a team needs to draw a card and there are none left in the pile, the second half is over. The team with the higher score wins.
If the score is tied, reshuffle the deck without the joker and continue play. The team that scores next wins. If by some fluke you play through the entire deck a second time, the French team wins.
The philosophers and ball are arranged as shown. It is the German team's turn.
The German team plays the 8 of Clubs, allowing Nietzsche to attempt a kick. Foucault is the only French philosopher adjacent to the ball, and so only Foucault may attempt to tackle. The French team plays the King of Diamonds which has a random value, rolls both dice, getting a 4 and a 2. The total of 6 isn't enough to stop the kick, so the ball starts moving.
It's easiest to move the ball by counting down: 8... The ball reaches Pascal, who could block if the French team played a Heart with a value of 8 or more. The French team lets it pass. 7... 6... 5... The ball reaches Sartre, who could block if the French team played a Spade with a value of 5 or more. The French team has a tough choice here, because if Sartre blocks then the ball stops in the space with Husserl. The German team would then be able to set the ball in any space adjacent to Husserl. The French team lets it pass. 4... 3... The ball reaches Hegel, who could block if the German team played a Spade with a value of 3 or more. Sometimes positioning the ball well requires blocking your own kicks, but not this time. 2... 1. The ball comes to a stop.
"One is best punished for one's virtues."
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil sec. 132
Philosophers can rough each other up. If you doubt this, you clearly haven't been to a philosophy conference. In Philosophy Grudgematch, they do this to tackle more effectively or resist tackling. If they are too flagrant then they'll receive a penalty. (This is an optional rule. You may want to play a game or two first without it.)
When kicking the ball, but before your opponent has decided whether to attempt a tackle, you may foul would-be tacklers in order to make a clear kick. Roll both dice. If either die is a '1', the kicker goes immediately to the penalty box and the ball does not move. Otherwise, add the highest die to the value of the card played for purposes of resisting Tackling only.
When attempting a tackle, you may foul the kicker in order to stop the kick. After playing a card, roll both dice. If either die is a '1', the tackling philosopher goes immediately to the penalty box and the tackle fails. Otherwise, add the highest die to the value of the card played for purposes of stopping the kick.
Game design, graphics, &c.: P.D. Magnus
Playtesting: Cristyn Magnus, Ryan Hickerson, Cory Wright, Glen Barnett
The game, rules, and graphics are ©2004-6 P.D. Magnus. You are encouraged to print off the game and play it with friends. If you enjoy it, drop me a line.