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ROOTS AND SHOOTS RULES v. 1 ( last edit 7.31.2007)



  • Created by Thomas Gale, © 2007
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  • Number of Players: 2+
  • Duration: 20-40 min
  • Atmosphere: light-medium depth territory claiming game
  • Theme: abstracted competition for growing plant roots


  • a uniquely colored set of glass beads or stones for each player
  • go board
  • a set of dice for each player containing d4,d6,d8,d10,d12, and d20
  • stack of nutrient markers (pennies or the like)


Roots and Shoots is an abstracted territory control game in which you are plants searching for delectable nutrients and hoping for rain before the others encroach.


The goal of the game is to collect as many valuable nutrient markers as possible before the nutrient supply runs out or anyone's supply of beads runs out.

Then the player with the highest nutrient point total wins.


  • The Go board is a field of dirt.
  • Each player should have a pile of glass beads (of a single color) or Go stones that will connect on the board to become roots.
  • Each player should have a set of dice.
  • Determine randomly the first player.
  • Place pile of nutrient markers off to side.
  • Mark the 0,0 corner on the grid gameboard with a penny.


No two beads may occupy the same space. Beads are not placed inside squares but where the lines intersect on the grid (as in Go). Diagonal beads are considered adjacent as well as orthogonal beads.


Each player starts with 6 beads.

The first player places a bead on one of the 8 dots surrounding the center of the game board. Play clockwise. Each other player does the same in turn.

After everyone has placed 1 bead, then nutrients will spawn. Each player rolls 2 d20 in turn. The roller places a nutrient marker (penny) at the coordinates of the results of the d20 rolls. The rolling player may decide which die is x and which is y, but you must always count from the point marked 0,0. If a 20 is rolled then the roller decides the value for that die.

On the first turn only, if you roll a location where a bead exists in both combinations (XY or YX) then reroll both d20s.


Continuing clockwise in turn.

PHASE 1 NEW GROWTH - Choose one of the following actions by rolling the appropriate die.

d4 - new plant... you must place a number of beads equal to the number you rolled (if possible), but they may only create entirely new plants. If you choose d4 you can't place the 1st bead nor any others that you place this turn next to an existing bead of your color other than those of the new plant. However the new beads can be placed in a long row or in a cluster next to each other. In later turns the plants may connect using a d6, but not a d8.

d6- new buds... you must place a number of beads equal to the number you rolled (if possible), but they must extend off of an existing branch. All new nubs must touch at least 2 other beads. You may connect 2 distinct plants with d6.

d8 simple growth... you must extend a root the number of beads equal to the number you rolled (if possible). Must be adjacent to the very end of an existing root (i.e. attached only at the end). Each new bead can never be adjacent to more than one other bead of the same color including diagonally..

d10 - sunbathe.... roll to resupply your store of beads. (You must take all available.)

If you arrive adjacent to a nutrient (or nutrients) then you are poised to claim it. If you are the first to arrive and have enough beads to distribute this turn (per your roll)then place a bead on top of the nutrient to show you arrived first. Roll d12 to discover the value. Place that number of pennies and nickels in a stack equal to the value rolled. If there are 2 nutrients next to each other you may connect on top of the nutrient markers.

RAIN and SCORING - But nutrients are scored only after it rains and immediately regardless of whose turn it is or what phase it is. It rains anytime somebody rolls a 1. If someone rolls a 1 then scoring takes place immediately before any more beads are placed on the board. Remove each nutrient marker and the players bead which is on top of the nutrient marker that is adjacent to one or more roots from the board and keep track of how many points you've scored so far. You may claim as many nutrients as you are next to or on top of. If multiple roots are next to a single nutrient then the value is divided as evenly as possible among all those adjacent. Any odd amount goes to the first player to arrive at the nutrient i.e. the one who marked it. If the nutrient is not marked yet multiple players are adjacent then the extra odd amount that can't be divided evenly is lost. The value of the nutrient is rolled just before scoring. (Multiple distinct plants of the same player do not count as two or more when dividing score.) Nutrients which have no adjacent roots are not removed when it rains.

RULES for SEVERING - When a root meets another root of a different color which want to occupy the same node there is a struggle. Note that diagonally crossing often does not create a conflict.

The stronger root wins. If there is a tie then the not roots are broken. The root may continue in another legal direction.

Root strength is determined using the following formula: Highest number of non-branching beads tracing back to a branch.

If the attacking root win then the defending root must remove the designated bead from the board. If one or both ends can't trace back to any branch then one of those ends is lost (not both). The defender chooses which end if both contain no branches.

The attacking root can only sever one root per turn. The player must continue growing elsewhere if legally possible.

You can't sever your own line. You can't connect with your own line if you choose d8 (simple growth). Continue to phase 2 if there are no legal moves. If you choose d4 you can't place the 1st bead next to an existing bead of your color.


Roll a d12 to see if a new spawn occurs. There can be no more than 11 nutrients on the board at once. If the number rolled is higher than the number of nutrients on the board then a new spawn does occur. If the number rolled is equal or lower than the number of nutrients on the board then there is no new span.

If there is a spawn then Roll 2 d20 for coordinates as to which node. You must always start from the point marked 0,0. You may choose which result is x and which is y.

If the chosen location is empty place a nutrient marker.

If the chosen location is already occupied by a nutrient marker then place another (finder rolls once for each marker, if already found roll immediately).

If the chosen location is already occupied by a root then remove the bead even if it is your own. No nutrient is placed at all. If the removal of a bead causes a segment to become isolated then the owner chooses which end to lose. A segment is isolated if it can be traced back and has no branches. This is best explained through some examples.


Example A - a single bead is lost. Remove just 1 bead.

Example B - an entire line of beads is lost. Remove entire line as there are no branches.

Example C- a branching bead is cut down to branch. Continue removing beads until you reach the branch split. The split is defined as being adjacent to more than one other bead. So the next red bead is connected to 2 other beads, 1 South and 1 Southwest.

Example D- this is the same principal as shown in example C. The next blue bead is connected to 2 other beads, 1 Northwest and 1 North.

Example E- A loop or branching at both ends merely is cut on the single node. Remove just 1 bead.


  • Roll the d12 when placing instead of when first touching and so place pennies and nickels on the node (enough to add up to die result) instead of placing a nutrient marker. Somewhat less random if you know the value of a nutrient before even approaching.
  • Enlarge or diminish the supply of beads to shorten or lengthen the game, (and/or nutrients).
  • Your turn ends after collecting from just 1 nutrient.


I wanted to create a game using different shaped dice, where each shape had a different game capability. But I didn't want a simple battle of units for this game. I like the theme of roots growing and nutrients and branching. So I tried to work the two together. I tried hard to keep the rules simple too. I had an early version where you rolled to see the minimum number of branches that were required for a particular node. I also thought about stacking upwards... as the plants would grow up and above ground with the height of plants affecting game score or power. But that idea didn't quite come together. Another name could be "Seeds and Weeds", but that could have other connotations. This could simply be a more complicated, more random and thereby less fun bastardized version of Go. But maybe not.

Please, please let me know if you actually played this game. Email: tomgale@)


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