What is Vortex?
Vortex is a game for 1-8 players that is played with a unique set of square playing cards, called Sprouts.
Sprouts are like dominoes, because you can attach sides with matching values. Sprouts also have dots that help you point cards in any map direction: north, east, south, or west.
The game Vortex has been described as "Rubik's Cube meets Dominos." Each game lasts 5 minutes or less.
What Are The Rules For Vortex?
In Vortex, seven cards are dealt to your hand, called a rack. Your goal is to be the first player to attach all of your rack cards together, in clockwise rotation, like a vortex, to your personal board: pointing north, east, south, west, north, east, south.
Each card may be attached anywhere to the board, but must be pointed a quarter-turn clockwise to the previously laid card -- and with all attaching side values matching.
When all seven cards are attached, shout "Seven up!"
That sums up the game. (Easy to play, but tough to master.)
An Example Game
Here's a compass square, to help us get oriented.
Seven cards are spread out below, all pointing north, on our rack.
We will place one card from our rack to the board as our seed card, now colored gray.
But as we point the remaining rack cards east, we discover that we can't make any new attachments!
We must tear down this board, and start again with a new seed card. Immediately we can attach a second card pointing east.
Unfortunately, after we point our remaining rack cards south, we cannot make any further attachments.
We must tear down this board, and start all over again!
With a different seed card, we make a lot of progress, attaching at least 5 cards. Can you see where a 6th card can be attached?
Alas, the last remaining card in the rack, once it is turned south, cannot be attached. Tear down again!
A Winning Play
A winning permutation requires a precise ordering and combination of card attachments, as shown below.
In the above board, we can verify the vortex: seven cards have been attached, in clockwise rotation, starting with the seed card pointing north, with the next cards pointing east, south, west, north, east, and south.
Our score subtotal is the sum of matching values, each counted once: 3 +
3 + 5 + 9 + 9 + 7, or 36. Because all seven cards were attached, our score is doubled for a grand total of 72!
This is a challenging permutation to find. If you are under time pressure in a multiplayer game, you may never get a chance to find this permutation and score so high!
Play Vortex Today With A Free Print-n-Play!
You can evaluate Vortex by printing a .pdf file with seven Sprouts cards that can be cut out with scissors and played on your table today!
Click-through the image above, or go to the link below, and click on Puzzler.pdf. (Smaller and larger cards are available on different pages of this download.)
If you want one solution to this puzzler, click on Vortex Puzzler Solution.pdf at the same link below. Don't peek until you're ready!
Tips On Improving Your Score
Speed and cunning are top skills in Vortex. You must attach cards quickly, and at the same time maximize your score. Different boards built from the same cards can produce different scoring outcomes. Look at the rack of new cards below.
There are different ways to get "Seven up" with these cards. Look at the personal board below.
Starting with the seed card (here colored gray) we can verify that the cards have been laid down in clockwise order: pointing north, east, south, west, north, east, south.
Counting from the top to bottom, left to right, the matching values are all counted once, 5 + 4 + 5 + 7 + 1 + 0, which sums up to 22. Because all of the dealt cards have been attached, the score is doubled to a grand total of 44.
But is 44 the best possible score with these cards? In fact, different personal boards can be built with these very same cards whose grand totals are 58, 66, and even 72!
The trick is to find high-scoring sides that can be paired together, and attaching them at the right time. For example, in the board shown above, the 9s on two separate cards are not matched. And the bottommost attachment is made with 0s. Can this board be improved?
Yes! After tearing down the old board, another board with a different seed card can be built, as shown below.
Counting from top to bottom, left to right, the matches are 5 + 9 + 8 + 7 + 7
+ 0, which sums up to 36. Because all of the dealt cards have been attached, the score is doubled to a grand total of 72!
Notice that the first matching values were 0s! But the 9s were successfully attached near the very end!
Playtested To Great Reviews At GenCon 2012
A special "thank you" to 85 skilled playtesters at GenCon 2012 in Indianapolis, who rated Vortex "excellent" after over 400 solitaire and competitive multiplayer games.
Why We Are Using Kickstarter
Vortex is targeted to casual and geek gamers alike, playing solitaire, or racing against each other, in short, suspenseful games.
The manufacturing, inventory, and shipping of the first edition of Vortex requires funding. We have carefully vetted all of the costs with reputable firms in the industry. We are ready to print and distribute.
We need Kickstarter to get this project launched.
Kickstarter backers will be the first to receive the limited-edition run of Vortex featuring the Chicago Deck of 100 unique Sprouts cards. The Chicago Deck will be permanently retired in 2013 (and immediately replaced by another city-named deck, the Indianapolis Deck, with a different selection of 100 unique Sprouts cards also chosen by the designer).
Due to a new deal we have established in the last few weeks with the original manufacturer of the UNO card game, we can drastically reduce the goal amount for the project from $12,000 to $18!
If we obtain at least $18 in funds, we will be able to manufacture and ship the game to qualifying Kickstarter backers before the end of December 2012.
Each Vortex game comes with 100 Sprouts cards, 10 tilt cards (which are paired together to announce special matching opportunities), 8 compass squares, 2 design cards, and a 5-minute sand timer. The cards will be printed 3.25 x 3.25 inches on high-quality card stock. There are over a hundred million wildly-different Vortex games that can be played with this game kit.
Vortex has the potential to become a popular stocking stuffer for Christmas every year.
Thank you for your support!
Words and pictures copyright © 2012 by Adam Burczyk. Patent pending. All rights reserved.
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