Royal Python
Designed by Roxanne Clark
Players 2-6
Length 45-60 mins
Extra Material Board and Cards available on the BGG entry plus Suit coloured/marked player tokens

A Decktet Board Game. Use the Basic Deck plus the excuse racing to the head of the snake and back to its tail.

Aim:
To get a higher score than your opponent. Score by having counters on the snake, those nearest the head score highest, but by promoting a piece to royalty you can score even higher by racing back to the tail again, knocking your opponent's piece off along the way.

Setup

Each player chooses a suit and takes the set of relevant tokens. Use six tokens each in 2-player games or 3-player games but reduce this to five each for 4-player games, and down to four pieces per player in 5 or 6-player games. Shuffle the decktet deck and place on the table face down with room for the discard pile. If you have room, deal the Cobra cards to a 3x3 grid face down rather than in a pile.

Game play

The player who last saw a real snake goes first. (Alternatively the one that can do the best snake impression).

In each turn a player must:-
1. Take enough cards from the main deck to make their hand size up to 4. (Whenever the drawing deck is exhausted simply shuffle the discard pile and place it face-down again as the new deck).
2. Select the token that you will move this turn.
3. Spend at least one card to move the selected token.

Starting a Token
Your first token always enters the board for free (ensuring that players always have a move available to them). Place your token on the unspotted tail of the snake and play any card as a movement card (see movement) to enter the board. Subsequent tokens will require the payment of a card to get onto the tail and then, in the same turn, another card with a matching suit to enter onto the board. The tail end is not a valid space, no token can be left there between turns.

Movement
To move a token expend your chosen card to the discard pile.
Cards with a number on them move the number of spots on the board indicated by the card’s rank. A player must declare which of the suits upon the card they are spending when they discard it. An Ace counts as a 1 for movement, a Crown counts as a 10. The excuse card can be used to move your token any number of spaces between 2 and 9.
If the expended suit matches the suit of the player’s tokens the player may immediately draw another card from the top of the deck to replace it.
If the player has another card in their hand matching the suit that they have just spent they may play this too in order to move the same token again. A player may do this as many times as they can/are able to do (freshly drawn replacement cards can be used immediately if valid). Since the Excuse has no suit it cannot follow or proceed any other card during your turn.
No player may move a token onto the head until all of their available pieces are on the board. The first player to get their token onto the head must do so by an exact number but subsequent tokens simply have to reach it by at least the required number. Once on the head the token can be crowned (see Crowning). The head is a safe zone, any number of tokens may occupy it at once.

Cobra Spots
If you land on a special cobra space you must take a Cobra Card. The first 9 times that this happens the player will need to choose from one of the face-down cards in the grid, obey it’s instructions and then place it back into the grid face-up. Once all of the cards have been turned over, players may choose which of the face-up cards they whish to obey and then place the card, face-down, onto a discard pile. If the grid is exhausted again simply begin the cycle again reshuffling the cards and then re-dealing then onto the grid face-down.
When a player takes a swapping card but no such token exists the player’s token stays where it is and the player’s turn continues. Unless the card says otherwise continue your turn if you can.

Encountering Other Tokens
If, when moving on the board, your movement would mean that you would land on an occupied spot the following rules apply:
Landing on one of your own tokens (or on a Crowned piece) - the moving token leaps over into the next available empty spot along, this may be several spots along if lots of tokens are bunched up and even enemy tokens are leaped over if they occupy spots behind the token that you would have landed on.
Landing on an enemy token “dances” it back to the spot that you have just left (only one cards worth though!)

Crowning
A token on the head may be “Crowned” by the player spending a crown card (that may be in the same turn as moving in if the suits match) - turn the token upside down or mark it in some other way to indicate that this has happened.
Only Crowned pieces may move off of the head and then move from the head to the tail. In encounters with other tokens Crowned tokens -
dances only with other Crowned pieces,
jump friendly uncrowned tokens,
and knocks opponent's uncrowned tokens completely off of the board (to be kept as a trophy by the moving player).
The game ends when one of the tokens leave the snake at the tail using an exact card expenditure. Scoring takes place.

Scoring
Each uncrowned token on the board scores the number of points indicated on its spot.
Each Crowned token scores 15 minus the number of points indicated by its spot (in this way the crowned token that has come off of the tail is worth the full 15 points)
Each trophy piece held by a player scores 0.1 (in case of ties).

The extended deck

Variants

Nom Nom - Crowned pieces can move both forwards and backwards. Only one Crowned token is allowed per player. A Crowned token leaves if it has no subjects (uncrowned team mates) left on the board. Last one standing wins. (Designer Note - this is untested as yet)

Credits

Colin Deeks and Keith Baggot for play testing

Links

Royal Python has a Boardgamegeek entry of its own: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/158711/royal-python. Here you can download the board, cards and a three page rules sheet.

(It has been entered into the 2014 2-player PnP competition on BGG)

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