A board/card hybrid game for two players
Meridian is an easy-to-learn strategy game for two players. In many ways, it's a simple race game like Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land. The first player to each the center of the board (the Eclipse) and return to their starting point (the Meridian), wins.
Unfortunately, when the game begins there is no way for the players to reach the Eclipse at all. The board must be built by the players by playing cards. The game becomes a struggle to craft a path for yourself while still blocking your opponent.
Meridian is played with a normal deck of cards (no Jokers). Shuffle the deck and deal seven cards to each player as their hand.
The game is played on a board of imaginary intersecting lines. The central line is called the Meridian. Crossing it perpendicularly are three more: the Tropic of Cancer, the Equator, and the Tropic of Capricorn.
The two players are named after the Tropics: Capricorn and Cancer. Each player controls their own Tropic, and both can control the Equator.
To start the game, a card is drawn from the deck and placed at the intersection of the Equator and the Meridian. This card is called the Eclipse and is part of the goal of the game.
Next, each player plays a card from their hand, at the intersection of their Tropic and the Meridian. They each place their piece on their starting card. The first player to reach the Eclipse and then return to their starting point wins.
Two spaces are set aside for playing cards beyond the Tropics and Equator. They are called the "Sun" and "Moon" and will effect how pieces can move during the game.
The Capricorn player goes first.
At the start of every turn, a player draws a card from the deck, filling their hand back up to 7. If there are no more cards in the draw pile, shuffle the discard into a new draw pile.
Each turn a player can choose to do one and only one of the following:
Play a card
Move their piece
Discard a card
Players can, during their turn, choose to play a card from their hand to the board - either to one of the spaces on their Tropic or the Equator, or to the Sun or Moon spaces.
Note that players can only play to their own Tropic, never their opponent's.
When playing cards on the board, players must follow the following rules:
- Players may only place non-face cards along the Equator or their Tropic.
- Players may play a card onto an existing card (which is discarded) only if the value of the card matches exactly.
- Players may play a card to the left of an existing card, but only if the card's value is less than the existing card.
- Players may play a card to the right of an existing card, but only if the card's value is greater than the existing card.
- The only exception to the above is that a player may place a 2 to the right of a 10 and a 10 to the left of a 2.
Playing cards in this way will build spaces along which the players may move their pieces.
Face cards can only be played on the Sun and Moon spaces, with the following rules:
- Only Kings and Jacks may be played on the Sun. Any existing card on the Sun space is discarded.
- Only Queens may be played on the Moon. Any existing card on the Moon space is discarded.
- An Ace may be played on either, with the following effect: rather than placing the card in the space, discard the Ace and instead swap any cards in the Sun and Moon spaces. This is called an Eclipse.
Note that playing a Jack or King followed by an Ace is the equivalent of playing a Queen (as the Jack or King is now in the Moon space).
Instead of playing a card, a player may choose to move their piece. A piece can normally only move one space at a time, and only along the Tropic or Equator it is currently on. However, movement is influenced by the Sun and Moon cards.
The suit of the Sun card indicates which suit cannot be moved on to or off of. If the King of Spades is in the Sun space, pieces may not move on to or off of spade cards.
The suit of the Moon card indicates which suit can be moved freely between. If the Queen of Diamonds is in the Moon space, pieces can freely move between any two diamonds - regardless of the distance or if they are along the same Tropic or Equator. Using the moon suit is the only way to travel off of a Tropic.
After moving, the current player must discard one card and then end their turn.
Rather than moving or playing a card, a player may choose to discard and end their turn.
The first player to move their piece to the Equator and then return to their starting point, wins.