(a summary of play-tester feedback;
rules still available here: Game 1 – Arpeggios



Although not quite as beloved as Teeko, this game went over well with play-testers.

arpeggios graphs

The “roll and write” play mechanic reminded some folks of Yahtzee.

(If you enjoy that style of game, you’re in luck, because the tabletop gaming world went crazy for roll-and-writes a few years ago. One popular suggestion: Ganz Schon Clever, a kind of madcap German uber-Yahtzee.)

Luck certainly plays a big role here. That turned some folks off, and pulled others in. I sympathize with both preferences! I’m hoping to have a mix in the book, so that there are enjoyable games for everyone (even if not everyone enjoys every game).

The juiciest decision, by broad consensus, came when you rolled dice that were mediocre for you, but excellent for your opponent. Do you pass (to preserve the integrity of your own list)? Or do you play the dice (to keep them from your opponent’s greedy hands)?


Rule Clarifications

The most common question: What about repeated numbers?

I failed to specify in my rules whether you can have an ascending sequence of, say, 14-23-23-56. Most of you settled on the same rule I intended, which is no. Making it ever-so-slightly harder to build your list seems to make the game more fun.

The re-rolling of doubles also raised some issues. One question: What happens if you re-roll the same number again?

My intention was that you may not roll again (i.e., no re-re-rolls) but that you are still free to pass on the dice. However, I chose the unfortunate phrase “you’re stuck with it,” which many folks interpreted to mean that you must now add this number to your list.

This creates a very spicy variant, in which it’s possible to doom your prospects. For example if I’m ascending, have already used my reset, and wind up “stuck” with 6-6, then I’m toast!

Another question: If you “pass” on doubles, can your opponent re-roll one of the dice? My current preference is no. Only the person who originally rolled the dice is allowed to re-roll.

Another common question: When do you have to declare a reset? As I tried to show in an illustration (but should have specified in the text), you can wait until you see the dice before declaring your reset.



My friend Adam Bildersee came up with a brilliant way to re-frame the game. Imagine writing a list of every number possible. Then repeat the list again. You’ll get something like this:

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66.

Let this be our game board. Every time you pick a number, you simply circle or highlight it. For example, if Ascending begins with 14, 22, 34, then the board now looks like this:

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36,
41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66.

We can call this list of numbers “the runway.” As you pick numbers, you move down the runway. You want to gather 10 numbers before reaching the end of the runway.

What’s desirable? Adding a number without using up much runway. For example, 35 or 36 or 41 would be a great next move for Ascending.

What’s undesirable? Using up a lot of runway in a single turn. For example, 66 would be a somewhat silly next move for Ascending.

This perspective furnishes a surprising insight: the “reset” is not a fundamentally different kind of move!

The reset simply occurs when you move from the third line of the runway to the fourth line. It is no more magical or significant than any other move. For example, going from 34 to 11 uses up precisely the same amount of runway as going from, say, 32 to 65, even though one involves a “reset” and the other does not.


New Variations:
One Solo, One Multiplayer

In Arpeggios, you build your list from top to bottom. So far, so simple.

One of my early play-testers found it annoying to keep counting the length of his list, to see how close to 10 he was, and suggested setting up the paper with ten rows already laid out, so you could see your progress at a glance.

I liked that idea. But it wound up confusing some folks, who now believed that you could write a number anywhere you wanted among the rows.

That sort of spoils the original game, by making it too easy. But it points toward an interesting one-player variation!

  1. Begin with a list of ten blanks.
  2. Roll the dice. You can place the digits in either order (e.g., 26 or 62).
  3. You must write the number somewhere on your list, in any open spot.
  4. Your list must go from smallest to largest. (No repeated numbers. No “resets.”)
  5. If at any time you roll a number that you cannot place (because it would violate the smallest-to-largest order) then you lose.

I tried this a few times. Luck predominates, of course, but the decisions were trickier and more interesting than I anticipated!

Joe Kisenwether also suggested a lovely multiplayer version of this:

  1. Take turns rolling the dice. Everyone must use every roll, by writing one of the two possible numbers somewhere on their personal list.
  2. Play until the board is full. You cannot skip a roll, even if placing it means breaking your smallest-to-largest pattern.
  3. The winner is the person with the longest consecutive streak of ascending numbers on their list.


Odds and Ends

The game has a slight first-player advantage. So if the Ascender wins, it may be fairer to give the Descender one extra roll, to earn a tie. That said, the fact that many of you felt the Descender had the advantage suggests that any edge is rather slight!

Several of you suggested a multi-player version, where you play in a circle, alternating between Ascenders and Descenders. Sounds like a fun idea to me! I could imagine special rules for passing, too (e.g., if you pass on dice, and I choose not to use them either, can the person after me steal them?).

Some of you proposed playing with ten-sided dice (presumably counting “10” as “0”). I haven’t gotten this to work. You wind up needing to eliminate the reset button, in which case the game is too slow, with a lot more choices where it’s obvious you need to pass.

Last word goes to this play-tester, wise beyond their years:

I liked the simplicity, and that anyone can learn this, as I’m a sixth-grader, and I played against my mom. However, after a few runs, it gets a little boring, as it’s just essentially wishing that the dice gods will give you a good number. (This might be because I was born in the 21st century, and our brains want new stuff all the time.)