Jeppscotch is a mesmerizing strategical dice game for 2-3 players, best played with three.
There are traditionally two kinds of modern standalone strategic dice games and they are:
- Roll & Write
- Roll & Draw
These kinds of games require the basic equipment of some dice, some paper or marking cards and some coloured pens or pencils.
Jeppscotch is a new third kind I have developed for this particular genre and it is known as:
- Roll & Scratch
This third kind, Roll & Scratch, is actually the oldest of all dice genres, yet bizarrely it has never yet been awarded true status. So hereby, it is my duty to enthrone the oldest of pastimes with this, my monumental debut game, Jeppscotch.
Roll & Scratch does not use pens or paper, but:
- Chalk and a chalkable surface, or;
- Sticks and a scratchable surface
So for example, you could play this in a playground, on a beach or even in the streets.
If keeping score is awkward given your particular environment, then a pencil and paper may be used for this one element. The game in proper however, should still nevertheless be played with either chalks or sticks.
How To Play
You will require 4 regular six sided dice; two pairs of a different colour. For this tutorial we will be using 2 black and 2 red dice.
To begin players mark out a shared grid of 36 squares, 6 by 6 in dimension. This is the battlefield where we “Roll & Scratch”.
Each player must choose or invent a symbol for him or herself to represent them on the field.
Roll one die to decide who goes first.
To commence, each player takes it in turns to roll all four dice.
The different coloured pairs represent two different functions:
- Your hand score
- Your grid coordinates
Yet each player has the choice of which pair represents which function when they roll.
For example, they may prefer to accept the hand score of double fives and the grid coordinates of double sixes. Or, they may prefer the hand score of double sixes and the grid coordinates of double fives.
Each player also has the choice of a second roll if they are unsatisfied with their hand. They may re-roll as many of the dice as they are unhappy with. For example, all four dice, or merely just one.
Your grid coordinates permit you to place your “scratch” in the respective square. They may be interpreted in either axis, for example “3,6” also means “6,3“. It is your choice which square you scratch.
You must scratch a square to acquire your points. Thus you do not score any points in the turn if there is no square available to you.
When you scratch a square you are attempting to achieve as many of the following bonuses as you can:
- A Row = 10 points
A chain of four squares, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
- A Rift = 40 points
A chain of six squares, linking two opposite sides of the battlefield.
- A Corner Capture = 30 points
To surround an opponent’s corner square occupation. This requires all 3 surrounding squares to be scratched by the capturing player.
- A Border Capture = 50 points
To surround an opponent’s border square occupation. This requires all 5 surrounding squares to be scratched by the capturing player.
- A Center Capture = 80 points
To surround an opponent’s center square occupation. This requires all 8 surrounding squares to be scratched by the capturing player.
Examples of these will follow shortly.
A chain of 5 squares does not score any more than a chain of 4 squares, regardless of the argument that there is a second chain of 4 within it. Only a chain of 6 squares scores more and this is called a “Rift” as listed above.
When performing a “capture” nothing is removed or altered, it is purely a declaration entitling the player to bonus points. The reason for this is because only the capturing player could re-scratch the square anyway and besides, erasing and re-scratching markings on some surfaces, like gravel and so forth might get a bit messy.
Pairs & Runs
Aside from the main game bonuses acquired through territory building and enemy captures, there are two kinds of dice roll bonuses.
These are Pairs and Runs.
Pairs are the occurance of coordinate dice displaying identical figures to the scoring dice. So for example, Black 2,5 and Red 2,5.
Whence Pairs are rolled, the scoring pair of dice score double. So in this example, 14 points instead of the usual 7 points.
Runs are the occurance of all four dice displaying a sequential progression of figures. So for example, 3,4,5,6 or 1,2,3,4.
Whence Runs are rolled, the scoring pair of dice again, likewise score double.
In both Pair and Run events, as is the case throughout the game proper, only the scoring dice award points.
If you observe the gameplay diagram shown in this tutorial you will be able to identify several key aspects of this example 3 player battle.
The player “O” has captured “#” on square “1,6“.
When writing coordinates for discussion purposes we always write the horizontal axis first followed by the vertical axis second.
This capture is called a “Corner Capture” and requires all 3 surrounding squares to be scratched by the capturing player.
Earlier in the game “#” was trying to capture “O” on “2,5“, but alas “O” overpopulated the region. If “#” had been successful, this would have been called a “Center Capture”, requiring all 8 surrounding squares to be scratched by the capturing player.
Any square which is not a corner or border square is considered a center square.
The player “.·.” has a diagonal “Row” stretching from “3,3” unto “6,6“. This player only requires two more squares to achieve a “Rift” from “6,6” all the way down to “1,1“. Both the required squares are vacant.
The mentioned “Row” in the previous aspect is a component of a developing “Border Capture” of “#” on square “5,6“. This would require all 5 surrounding squares to be scratched by the capturing player.
The player “#” has been attempting to form a “Row” throughout the entire course of the game but has been repeatedly blocked by both opponents. There is possible salvation on square “5,1” if only he can pull it off sooner than later.
It is now “.·.” turn and he has rolled a “4,5” and a “1,1“.
As an exercise of study ~ Does “.·.” scratch “1,1“, almost completing his “Rift” and pocket the “4,5” in points?
Or… does “.·.” scratch “4,5” and pocket the measly “1,1” in points?
Think about it…
The problem presented in this position revolves around “O” finalising a “Row” on “4,5” which “.·.” now has the opportunity to prevent.
“O” has a corner capture and twenty point lead on “.·.” who is currently in 2nd place. How can “.·.” make a comeback?
The answer is actually to scratch “4,5” and the reason for this is mentioned in ::Aspect Three.
Behold, for whilst his “Rift” will have to wait, not only does “.·.” here obliterate the “O” “Row”, but he is now rapidly deploying troops about the square “5,6“! In fact only one square now remains to seal a “Border Capture” of “#” and that is the square “6,5“.
A border capture scores 50 points, whereas a rift scores 40 points. If he’s lucky, maybe he’ll scoop them both…
Only hand scores are recorded as part of the progressive scorekeeping. All bonuses are counted up and calculated at the end of the game.
This is because whence a “Row” becomes a “Rift” it is worth 40 points instead of 10 points.
The game ends when the last remaining square has been scratched.
Since the days of ancient times, people from far and wide have played with dice. Even back then, the practise of “rolling & scratching” was a popular recreation. Indeed chalk itself is perhaps even older than the Earth upon which we found it.
Yet let it be made true, whilst most dice games today are played with pen and paper, it seems only respectfully and duly appropriate to give “Roll & Scratch” its own realm and domain amongst games.
After all, a piece of Chalk… is where it all began.
If you enjoyed this game please feel free to post a comment. For your information, it is my intention to not only feature this game as a YllwChlk special article, but I have every desire to pursue interested players and parties to begin arranging official tournaments.
Let’s chalk about it…
Jeppscotch © Simon Jepps