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Designer: Red Baron
Type: Novelty
Countries: 107 (Extra-Large)
Board Info
Reviews Launch Game
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Escalation is a three-dimensional stairway game. As in terrain simulation games such as Hill Battle and City Raider, attacking upward is difficult and attacking downward is easy, which in most such games would imply that the highest elevations are the best places to control. This game, though, employs optical illusion to ensure that no highest point exists. (Try finding one yourself if you don't believe it.)

The fortress in this game, Fort Impossibility, has been assembled from six Penrose Staircases. Because of its construction, the game is a paradise for attackers and a nightmare for defenders. Despite its large size, the game tends to be quick and volatile.

Escalation is currently one of the most highly rated games on Warfish.

[edit] Background Story

The Penrose Triangle, the most valuable optical illusion known to science, was once secured behind the walls of Fort Possibility, a stronghold specially built to protect it. Made of precious unobtainium, the triangle was coveted by unscrupulous mathematicians and geometers everywhere, who desired to extract the secrets of its construction to advance their own nefarious conquests of the academic world.

Unfortunately, Fort Possibility proved vulnerable to attack, and the triangle was stolen. The thieves took advantage of the fort's Euclidean method of construction to reach its highest tower, from which they were able to quickly dominate the rest. The triangle was recovered only at the cost of many lives and several tenured positions. A new and safer stronghold would have to be built!

A team of brilliant scholars and insane architects was pulled together, and Fort Impossibility was designed. This time they would build it so that no matter how high an invader climbed in the fortress, there would always be another staircase leading upward. Since an invader could never reach the highest point, the fortress could never be conquered, and the triangle would be safe! Such was the theory, at least.

Now you have a chance to test this theory as you try to storm and conquer Fort Impossibility. The precious Penrose Triangle will be yours if you succeed!

[edit] Gameplay and Strategy

Fort Impossibility

The continent structure of Fort Impossibility is shown in the diagram. Each colored section is a 2-point continent. There are four towers, six stairwells, two entry staircases, a walkway and a ground level. Each stairwell is named after a Greek letter, contains two linear staircases as walls, and has as a third wall either a tower or an entry staircase.

Modified dice are used to give the upstairs player an advantage. A player attacking in a downstairs direction gets to use an 8-sided die, as does a player defending from upstairs. Attacks on level ground use the standard dice.

The basic strategy of this game boils down to attacking downward whenever possible, and avoiding attacks from higher up whenever possible. Attacking downward, it's possible to do a great deal of damage with a very small force. Take care not to overextend yourself, though, or you may find all your conquests undone on your next turn.

A fair percentage of first-time players don't grasp this downward-attacking characteristic of the board immediately, and start cursing the dice gods for their apparent disfavor, so this concept is worth repeating in simple words:

  • Attacking downstairs = fun, joyful, good good good.
  • Attacking upstairs = painful, agonizing, bad bad bad.

[edit] Variations

The default version of the game tends to be a "bucking bronco" in that the winner is often the player who manages to hold on the longest (or cashes cards at the right moment) rather than the one who is most skillful. This makes for a thrilling game but can annoy players who prefer the predictable. It is for this reason that two variations have been introduced to make the game slower and more strategic:

  • No Abandon - Without abandon turned on, it's a little harder to quickly eliminate rivals.
  • With Guards - Twelve security guards have been added to the board which provide extra safe territories which players can use for defense.
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