Climb On!

Climb On! banner
Release Date: 
Friday, April 14, 2006
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (experienced): 

by Jonathan Leistiko

Goal

Score more points than your opponent by climbing your largest dice as far up the mountain as you can before the game ends.

You Need

A Climb On! board. To make a Climb On! board, divide a piece of paper into 4 rows and 3 columns. Title the columns “multiplier”, “difficulty”, and “spaces”. Write the following in the column rows from top to bottom: In multiplier, write 4, 3, 2, 1. In difficulty write, 1, ≤ 2, ≤ 3, ≤ 4. In spaces, write 1, 2, 4, 8. It should look like this:

The level that has a 4x multiplier is the 4th level, and so on down.
A climbing team (1d4, d6, d8, d10, and d20) for each player. Each die represents a climber. You must be able to distinguish each climber on your team from the ones on other teams (for example, make all of your dice red).
15 action tokens (10 white, 3 blue, 2 red) per player.

Play

Climbers start on the ground, off the board.
On your turn, choose a climber and spend a climbing token to activate it. A climber can take one of the following actions:

  • Climb (any token)
  • Pull up a teammate (blue or red)
  • Shove down an opponent (red only)
  • Drag down an opponent (red only)

You can also spend your climbing tokens to subtract points from any die roll you just made. White tokens subtract one point. Blue tokens subtract two points. Red tokens subtract three points. You may spend any number of tokens to change a roll.

Climb
If there is a vacant space in the level above a climber, the climber may try to climb up to it. Spend any climbing token. Roll the climber. If it is less than or equal to the difficulty of the level above, move it to a vacant spot there. Remember to check for a vacant space before rolling to climb!

If you want to move one of your climbers to a vacant space on any level below you, you can do that without rolling.

Pull Up
If there is a teammate on the level below one of your climbers and a vacant space available, you can attempt to pull it up to your level. Remember to check for a vacant space before rolling to pull up. Spend a red or blue climbing token. Roll both climbers simultaneously. Subtract the roll of the helper from the roll of the ascending climber. If the difference is less than or equal to the target, move the ascending climber to a vacant spot there. If there is no vacant spot, nothing happens.

Example: If you have a d6 on the first level and a d12 on the ground, you can use the d6 to assist the d12. Spend a blue (or red) climbing token and roll both dice. Subtract the d6 from the d12. If the difference is 4 or less, the d12 gets to come up to the first level.

Shove Down
If there is an opponent on the same level as one of your climbers and they’re not on the ground, you can try to shove the other team’s climber down to the level below. Spend a red climbing token. Roll both climbers simultaneously. If your climber’s result is greater than the other climber’s, move the other climber to a vacant spot on the level below. If there is no vacant spot, continue to move it down levels until there is a vacant spot available for it.

Drag Down
If there is an opponent on the level above one of your climbers, you can attempt to pull it down a level. Spend a red climbing token. Roll both climbers simultaneously. Subtract one from your roll. If your climber’s result is greater than the other climber’s, move the other climber to a vacant spot on your level. If there is no vacant spot, continue to move it down levels until there is a vacant spot available for it.

Remember that you can spend tokens to lower your die roll for any action.

Once you’ve completed an action, your turn ends.

Ending the Game and Winning

The game ends when the last action token’s action is completed. Tally your score by checking the location of your climbers. Climbers score their value (determined by die size), multiplied by the level they’re on.

Climber:: Value
d4 :: 1
d6 :: 2
d8 :: 3
d10 :: 4
d12 :: 5
d20 :: 9

Scoring Example: If you end the game with a d4 on the 3rd level, a d12 and a d10 on the 2nd level, and a d20 and a d6 on the 1st level, you’ll score (1×3) for the 3rd level, (5×2) + (4×2) for the second level, and (9×1) + (2×1) for the first level. Your total score is (3+10+8+9+2), or 32.

If scores are equal, the game ends in a draw.

Variants

Custom Climbers – You start the game with any 6 climbers you want on your climbing team.
Flexible Plans – Instead of giving each player 15 action tokens of different colors, give each player 22 white action tokens. Climbing costs one token. Pulling Up costs two tokens. Shoving Down and Dragging Down cost three tokens.
Three or more players – To play with 3 or 4 players, adjust the number of spaces per level. From bottom to top: For three players, 12, 6, 3, 1; For four players, 16, 8, 4, 1. Play passes to the left.
Helping Hands – To shift the emphasis toward dice helping other dice climb, start each player with 8 white, 5 blue, and 2 red tokens.
Untied – If scores are tied at the end of the game, the player with the highest climber on the board wins. If there’s a tie, the player with the single highest-scoring climber wins.

Origin & Credits

I thought of this game as I was drifting in and out of sleep on the afternoon of March 15th, 2006 while on vacation at my wife’s parents’ house. The first draft of the rules was written the following afternoon. Had my wife not encouraged it, the game may not have kept the climbing theme.

Thanks to About.com & GTO for organizing and running this contest. I wouldn’t have thought of this game if I hadn’t been given the die use constraint.

Thanks to Sharon for playtesting this with me. The “spend climbing tokens to modify a die roll” rule was made while playtesting this with her for the first time on March 18th, 2006. [Also, that’s my hand.—Ed.]

Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Minimum Age: 
13
Game Type/Context: 
Price: 
$0(USD)