Urland: Rules

A Strategy game for 3 - 5 players from 12 years old.
Game length 60 - 90 minutes

350 million years ago. We find ourselves on the eve of the greatest invasion in the history of the world, the invasion of land by vertebrates. Various species of fish are teeming in the ocean waters, and the first species, the Ichtos, are just starting to take their first tentative steps onto land. Massive evolutionary advances, in the form of new genes are waiting to come into play. Which Ichtos will develop and multiply best, and so gain the mastery on land?

  1 game board / showing 3 continents divided into 12 land zones, and 5 ocean areas and scoring track
  5 x 28 primitive creatures, known as "Ichtos", (short for Ichtyostega, a fossil from this period.) plus some spares.
10 extra move chips
  7 Volcano tiles.
13 environment chips (area chips plus a panic chip).
2 set of cards with 11 Gene cards plus short version (English and German sets)
Rules cards

The aim of the game is that your creatures become the dominant species on land. The best way of achieving this is by the good use of genes. Genes are developed through mutations, and enable your Ichtos to develop new features that will help them to conquer the land. Genes only come into the game slowly, and it's not necessary that you understand ail of them totally at first. The first time you play, it's perfectly adequate just to understand the effects of the genes currently available, by reading through their properties before they come up for auction. The properties of all the available genes are fully described at the end of these rules. Firstly though, we will describe the basic rules of the game.

1. Lay the game board out on the table. Each player gets 28 Ichtos in one colour. They should place 3 of their Ichtos in each of the 5 ocean areas.

2. Each player gets 2 extra turn chips, (with 3 players, just 1), and a short rule card.

3. Shuffle the 12 area chips face down and draw one. A volcano then breaks out in this area. Place a volcano tile on the number of the chip drawn. The tile should cover the water gap between this area and the next, as shown in the diagram, connecting the two land areas. This area chip will not be further needed in the game, and is discarded.
: The area chip drawn is number 11. so the Volcano tile is placed on the number 11 on the board, bridging it with area 10. In this game, there is now no area 11, rather an overlarge area 10, which borders 2 ocean areas.

4. The remaining area chips are then dealt face down to the players, 2 each (with 3 players, 3 each). Each player places one of their Ichtos on each of the areas that they have drawn.

5. The player who drew the area chip with the highest number on it, is now the Starting player. They should put one of their own Ichtos on space 1 of the scoring track around the board. The other players then each place an Ichto on the following spaces, in counter-clockwise order, i.e. the player to the right of the Starting player places an Ichto on space 2 the player to their right on space 3 and so on.

6. Now each player shuffles their area chips and then gives one of them to each of their neighbours, (with 3 players, they retain one). The players then place another of their Ichtos in each of the areas that they have so drawn. Players then keep their remaining 8 Ichtos, (with 3 players, 7) in front of them as their personal reserve.

7. The Gene cards are well shuffled, and 4 of them are dealt face up where all the players can see them. The remainder are placed as a face down pack on the table. With 3 players, the genes Stink Gland (Stinkdruse), and Muscles (Muskeln), are removed from play, and only 3 genes are turned face up.

8. All the area chips, (except the one drawn to place the first volcano) are now collected together and the Starting player draws 3 of them and inspects them secretly. Then the Panic Chip is shuffled into with rest of the area chips.


The game consists of 2 or 3 Epochs. Each Epoch consists of player turns, and scoring rounds, which occur alternately. After certain Scoring rounds, the special effects; Mutations, and Panic may occur. An Epoch ends with the outbreak of two Volcanoes. These events will be described in part 3 of these rules. 

Player Roles
In each turn, the players take on one of 3 roles. The Starting player becomes the first Environment player. The Environment player decides which land area will be scored at the end of the turn. The player to the left of the Environment Player is the Dummy for this round. They do not take an active role in this turn. The remaining players are Ichto players (with 3 players there is only 1 Ichto Player). They try to improve the lot of their Ichtos on the board. A turn ends with a scoring round, then the players change their roles for the next turn as shown in the example.

2.1. Choosing a Scoring area
Choosing a chip Once the Environment player has looked at his 3 area chips, they choose one of them and place it face down in front of them. They then give the remaining 2 chips face down to their left hand neighbour (Dummy). The Dummy player may look at them, but may not discuss them with the other players. Chip of the environment player 

2.2. Ichto Actions
Show it is the turn of the Ichto players. Each of them in clockwise order may make 2 Actions.

With 3 players, there is only 1 Ichto player, but they get 3 Actions. Each action consists of one of the following 4 options, which may be combined as the player wishes.
: A player might order 2 rounds of Breeding, or one of Water movement followed by one of Landing. 

1. Landing
One of your Ichtos may move from an ocean area into a neighbouring land area. 

2. Breeding (Propagation)
Ichtos in an ocean area of the player's choice breed. All Ichtos in that area breed, not just the player's. If there are 3, 4 or 5 Ichtos of a colour in the area, one new Ichto in that colour appears. If there are 6 or more, 2 new Ichtos appear.
: There are 6 Black, 3 White and 2 grey Ichtos.

If Breeding is ordered for this area, 2 new Black Ichtos and one new white one appear there. Grey does not get any new Ichtos, and may not order breeding for this area. 

All players with enough Ichtos in  the area must breed more Ichtos, unless they do not have enough left in their personal reserve to comply, in which case they must place as many as they can. A player may only order breeding if they themselves can breed in that area. Hence a player with no Ichtos left in their personal reserve may not order breeding.

3. Water movement (Water Actions)
A player may move as many of their movement own Ichtos as they wish from one ocean area to a neighbouring ocean area. 

4. Retreat
The player may remove as many of their own Ichtos as they wish from the board and return them to their personal reserve.
: This move may seem a bit pointless, but it can in fact be very useful in giving a player enough Ichtos in their reserve to bid in the Mutation Phase. 

Extra Move
A player may use an Extra Turn chip at the end of their nor­mal move. This allows them to carry out two further actions, in any order they wish.

A player may only use one Extra Turn chip per turn.

2.3. Scoring
Once the Ichto player(s) have taken their turns, the Environment player turns over the area chip that they previously chose. The leading player in that area now scores points. If the area is empty, everyone goes away empty handed, otherwise, there are 3 possibilities. 

1. Competition
If an area contains different numbers of Ichtos of different colours, scoring takes place as follows. First all Ichtos in the colour or colours that are least represented, are returned to their owning player's reserve. The player with the most Ichtos in the area now gets 3 points, all other players with Ichtos remaining in the area get 2 points.
: An area with 4 Striped, 3 Black, 2 grey and 1 white Ichtos is scored. The white Ichto is returned to the White player's reserve, the striped player gets 3 points and the black and grey players, 2 points each.

If there had been 4 black and only 1 grey Ichto in the area at the start, both white and grey Ichtos would have been returned, and both Black and Striped would have received 3 points.

2. Coexistence
If there is an equal number of all colours of Ichtos in the area, all players involved get 2 points. No Ichtos are returned to reserve.

3. Monopoly
If there are only Ichtos of one colour in an area, the player gets 3 points.

Scoring track
Points are scored by moving a player's Ichto along the Scoring track around the board. Only free spaces count, occupied spaces are leapfrogged, so that there can only ever be one Ichto on each space. !f more than one player scores, the player whose Ichto is furthest forward on the track moves their marker first.Example
: White scores 2 points, and Black 3. White's Ichto is furthest forward, and so he moves 2 spaces forwards, jumping over Grey. Then Black moves, jumping over bath Grey and White.

Once the area has been scored, the chip is placed onto the Volcano Marker for the area.
: Area 10 has just been scored, the 10 chip then goes onto the number 10 on the board.

If one or more markers reach or pass one of the 3 mutation spaces (12,16, 21), on the track for the first time, Mutation takes place.
: Black scores 2 points and lands on the mutation space. With 3 points he would skip that space. In both cases mutation takes 

2.4. Turn end
Once scoring has been carried out, the player's change their roles as described previously. The new Environment player (formerly Dummy), draws a new chip and adds it to the 2 they received from last turn's Environment player.

If the new chip is the Panic chip, Panic breaks out (see rule 3.2). Once the Panic has been resolved, the Environment player draws another chip.

If the Environment player can't draw another area chip, because they've all been used, the Epoch ends with the outbreak of 2 Volcanoes (see Rule 3.3). 

3. EVENTS: Mutation, Panic, Volcano
3.1. Mutation

If one or more player's markers, reach or pass a new Mutation space while scoring, a Mutation Phase follows, with an Gene Auction. 

1. Bidding
To bid, a player takes all the Ichtos that they have in their reserve, and secretly divides them between their two closed fists. Then they place one closed fist in the centre of the table, making sure that it is clear which fist they are using to bid. All players then simultaneously open their fists. The larger the number of Ichtos in the fist, the higher the bid. If bids are identical, the player whose marker is furthest behind on the scoring track has the higher bid. Once all bids have been resolved, players return all their Ichtos to their own reserve.
: The bids are: 4, 1, 4, 4
Black has made the highest bid, since they bid 4 and their marker is furthest behind on the Track. Striped has made the second best bid, Grey the third, and White, who only bid 1, the worst bid

2 Gene Choice
The player who made the highest bid must take one of the genes on offer. 

3. The Price
A player must pay for the Gene by removing Ichtos from the board and replacing them in their reserve. The price paid is the total of the number of Ichtos that they bid, plus the number of genes that they already own (in the first Mutation Round, this will necessarily be nil). A player who cannot pay the price for their Gene drops out of the auction, and the next best bid takes their place.
: If Black in the previous example, already had 1 gene, they would have to pay 5 for their new gene.

Tip: If a player doesn't have many Ichtos in their reserve, they can't make much of a bid. But if they have plenty there, they should still be careful not to bid to high. It is possible for a race of Ichtos to go extinct, if the player has to remove so many from the board, that the remainder can't breed.

4. More Genes
Now the player with the second best bid may buy one of the genes on offer. They need not however, and may instead choose to pass, in which case their right to buy passes to the player that made the next best bid With 4 or 5 players, a maximum of 3 genes may be bought per Mutation Phase, with 3 players, a maximum of 2 genes.

Since the highest bidder must buy a gene, at least one gene will be bought per auction. Even a bid of 0 may, (if all bids are 0, must) result in a player purchasing a gene. This may however not be free for the player, if they already have already bought genes.
: To take the previous example further, once Black has bought a gene. The striped player may buy one. If they pass, Grey has the right to buy, and after Grey, even White, with their paltry bid of 1 may buy a gene. If white already had one gene, they would have to pay 2 for the new one. 

5. Replace
New genes are now drawn to replace those taken. With 4 or 5 players, 3 new genes are drawn, with 3 players just 2, regardless of how many were actually bought.

3.2 Panic
If the new Environment Player draws the Panic Chip, Panic breaks out immediately.

The land area with the most Ichtos on it is affected. If more than one area has the same highest number of Ichtos on it, the player in last place on the scoring track decides which of them is affected.
: Areas 1 and 3 each have 4 Ichtos on them. All other areas have less. The worst placed player decides on area 1, and all the Ichtos from this area must move back to an ocean area. Since there is a choice, they also decide which ocean area the Ichtos move back to.

Where to?
All Ichtos from the affected area move into a neighbouring ocean area. If there is a choice of ocean areas, the player in last place on the scoring track decides which they should move to, even if they do not have any Ichtos in the affected area. 

3.3. Vulcanoes and new Epochs
If the new Environment player is unable to draw a third Area Chip, Volcanoes break out in the last two areas (the two areas with chips remaining in play). 

Firstly, one of the chips is chosen at random, and that area is scored in the normal way. The remaining area is not scored!

If the scoring round results in one or more markers reaching or passing a new Mutation space, the volcanoes break out before the resulting Gene Auction takes place.

Once the Scoring Round has taken place, Volcanoes are placed on both areas as described at the start of the game.

Each new (extended) Volcano area can only support one Ichto in each colour. All extra Ichtos are returned to their player's reserves.
: Black has 2 Ichtos in area 10 and 3 in area 11. White has 1 Ichto in area 70.

A new Volcano connects areas 10 and 11. After the volcano has broken out, Black must remove 4 Ichtos back into their reserve, and leaves 1 in the new area. White does not need to remove their Ichto.

New Epochs
The area chips for the areas with Volcanoes are removed from play. The remaining area chips on the board and the panic chip are reshuffled 

The new Environment player draws three area chips, chooses one of them, and starts the next turn. If the new Environment player draws the panic chip, the new Epoch starts with a Panic.

The game ends as soon a s player scores 30 points or more on the Scoring Track.

If a Scoring Round is under way at the time, it should be continued. If the Scoring Round was part of a Volcano Outbreak, the Volcanoes break out and any subsequent losses are suffered.

Final Scoring
At the end of the game, there are two final scoring phases:

The player with the largest number of Ichtos on the board (Land and Water) gets 3 points. If more than one player has the same largest number, the points are shared (rounded down).

The player with the most Ichtos on land areas scores 2 points, if more than one player has the same largest number, the points are shared (rounded down). 

If a single player got all 3 points for the Total scoring, they do not take part in the Land scoring.

The scores for the two final scoring phases are marked on the Scoring Track in exactly the same way as for normal Scoring phases, i.e. only free spaces on the Track are counted and any occupied spaces are leapfrogged.

The player whose Marker is furthest along the Scoring Track at the end of the game wins. 

As always, we are very grateful to the many volunteers, (and sacrificial victims) that have helped us test and develop this game. Too many to name all of them personally here. The most important were

Astrid and Ottmar, who have at times completely taken over the testing process for us, Asger, who tested the game in Denmark, and Ralf and Sabine, who were always ready to try the game again, despite all the unworkable early versions that they suffered through. Thanks too, to all those people that Astrid, Ottmar and Asger organised into testing sessions, to all the testers at Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends, and to everyone else. Thank you very much to John Webley for doing this translation.

© 2001 Doris Matthäus and Frank Nestel
Wolfsstaudenring 32, D-91056 Erlangen

Fax: 09131-55085

There are two types of genes: Genes which give an Ichto player new options (Assimilation, Legs, Egg, Stinkglands, Turbo and Teeth) and genes which modify existing mechanisms (Care of Young, Muscles, Ears, Warm Blood). The use of the first type is optional, the second type genes work automatically even if their owner does not want it.

For 2 Actions two Ichtos of different colour in one land area can be converted in one of your own. This works in any land or water with at least one of your own Ichtos, as long as you have ichtos in your reserve. You put your own Ichto in that area and return the two assimilated Ichtos to their owners reserves.

For one action you can go on land with two own Ichtos instead off one. For one action one of your Ichtos can also move from a land area to an adjacent land area which is only separated by shallow water.

Care of young
When breeding, 2 or 3 of your Ichtos breed one additional Ichto, 4 or 5 breed 2 and 6 or more Ichtos breed 3 new ones.

For two actions one Ichto on a land area can breed one new Ichtos. If you have two or more Ichtos on a land area you need only one action to breed a new one.

For one action one or two of your Ichtos from one land territory can fly any other (land or ocean) area of your choice. Both Ichtos start in the same area and land in the same area. 

Muscles               (Not for 3 players)
During scoring on land you have half an Ichto more. I.e. two of your Ichtos beat two of everyone else but loose against 3 of someone else. Not applicable during final scoring.

!n case of panic, your Ichtos may stay on land. Some or all can go to the ocean if you want.
Before a volcano is breaking out, your surplus Ichtos save themselves by fleeing into the ocean.
On land you are immune against Teeth since you hear the approaching attacker.

For one action you can move all Ichtos of one opponent from a land area with at least one own not for 3 players Ichto to an adjacent ocean area

For one action you can go on land with two own Ichtos instead off one.
Your water movement can go from a water square to any water square (not only an adjacent ones)

Warm Blood
When you are Ichto player you get one extra action, i.e. 4 actions in a 3 player game and 3 actions in a 4 or 5 player game.

For one action you can remove one opponents Ichto from any (land or water) area with at least one of your own Ichtos. The opponents Ichto goes back into his reserve. 

This last page has been translated by Frank.
Further questions? See http://www.doris-frank.de/UrlandFAQen.html


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