Kettles of Clusters is a game of chance, decision and evolution, using dice.

Three stages take place in the game. In the first stage, players create for themselves clusters of dice. Those clusters are then used against each other in the second stage. The key to resolving conflict between two clusters is the elimination of common numbers. In the third level of the game, players try to collect a full set of numbers from one to six (1 to 6).

In front of each player will be a set of unrolled dice (the kettles), as well as some clusters of rolled dice, as well as a small set of dice of winning numbers (from 1 to 6).

Use fifteen dice per player, with more dice on the side to replenish each player’s kettle. Colors or sizes of dice do not matter.

Stage 1

First, each player rolls their whole kettle of dice. Next, each player decides on four of their dice to place into a fish (without changing the numbers showing on them). This should be done without players looking at each other’s clusters. [Use a piece of paper to cover up your clusters as you create them.] Then each player (at the same time) creates another cluster of five numbers, separating and covering them. Finally, there should be six dice left, which gives each player their third cluster.

Stage 2

Do battle with the other players, starting with the cluster of four, and then with the cluster of five, and then with the cluster of six.

At the same time, each player moves into the middle of the table a cluster of the same number of dice. Each player then removes any numbers that are in common with any other player’s cluster. What should be left in each player’s cluster are the unique numbers (the numbers your opponents did not have). Dice removed are placed back into each player’s kettle, to be used during the next round.

Add up the total of unique numbers showing for each player. The winner is the player with the highest total. For example. say your unique numbers were 3 and 4, and if your opponent’s unique number was 6. Your total is 7, which is greater than your opponent’s total of 6. That means you won this cluster by one point, therefore, you get to take a die from the common pile (not yours, not your opponent’s), turn it so the 1 is up, and place it in front of you as a winning number.

Continue battling clusters until they are all used. Then repeat Stage 1 and Stage 2 again.

Stage 3

As you form winning clusters, you will gather more and more winning numbers. The first player to collect winning numbers from one to six (1 to 6) is the winner of the game.

Designer’s Comment

There will be some game players who do not like this game, and there will be some who do. [There are two kinds of people in the world …] Those who do not like the game are likely to be those people who get confused when they try to think about biological evolution. If you do like the game, it may be because you can see how decisions (whether consciously made or not) at early stages lead gradually and stochastically to later developments. It is also important for players to keep in mind that not every decision, not ever win, is a game-changer, but that advantages accrue slowly, both by design and by accident. Finally, as in all games, it is important to remember that what you do only has meaning in terms of what other systems around you do.

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