by Quentin Long
©2009 Quentin Long

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   Predation is a two-player boardgame based on a simplified concept of the predator/prey relationship. One player is a Predator species; the other is a Prey species; and the board is the habitat in which both species coexist (however uneasily). The board/habitat can only support so many creatures at once, so there is a maximum number of pieces which can be on the board at all.
   To reflect the two species’ different roles in the ecosystem, the Prey and Predator play by somewhat different rules. They move differently; capture opponents’ pieces differently; spawn new pieces differently; and most of all, their respective winning conditions are different.


   To play Predation, you’ll need two things: First, the game board. It’s basically a hex-grid, with certain spaces being reserved for each player’s ‘home base’; the Predator player’s home base is called a Lair, and the Prey player’s home base is called a Warren.

Click on the picture to download a ZIPped high-resolution board-image suitable for printing on legal-sized (8.5"x11") paper

   The second thing you’ll need is a set of 64 (sixty-four) two-sided game-pieces; Reversi/Othello pieces should serve nicely, so if you have a Reversi/Othello set, commandeer its pieces to play this game.

Opening setup

   The game begins with one Predator game-piece in each space of the Predator’s Lair, and one Prey game-piece in each space of the Prey’s Warren. Every other game-piece is off the board in the Bank, from which the players take game-pieces as needed during play. The finite number of game-pieces reflects the finite ‘carrying capacity’ of the ‘habitat’ which is the game board.

Object of the game

   Each player is working to achieve their own particular goal. Whichever player reaches their goal first, is the winner.

Predator goal Prey goal
Make the Prey extinct—bring them down to less than two pieces on the board. Migrate—get at least two Prey pieces to the opposite edge of the board.
‘Less than two’ does include one Prey piece on the board. This counts as ‘extinction’ because two Prey pieces is the minimum needed to spawn any new Prey pieces; when you haven’t got a breeding population, it’s only a matter of time… The moment a Prey piece lands in one of the opposite-edge spaces, it counts towards the Prey player’s required total of two, even if the Predator player captures it on their very next turn. Since the Predator’s Lair occupies most of the opposite edge of the board, getting a Prey piece over there at all is good enough.


   The Predator player goes first. After that, the Prey player has their turn, and so on, alternating Predator and Play until the end of the game.

Predator’s turn Prey’s turn
There are no distinct phases in the Predator player’s turn. The Predator player moves their pieces as they see fit, capturing or not as they please, spawning new piece at any time as appropriate. The Prey player’s turn has two distinct phases. The first phase is ‘spawning’, during which the Prey player does all the spawning they’re going to do for that turn; the second phase is ‘movement/capture’, during which they can move their own pieces and capture the Predator’s pieces, mixing and matching with wild abandon.


   There are certain factors which affect both players’ pieces.
   Equal range. All pieces, Predator or Prey alike, can move up to 5 spaces on a turn.
   No stacking. No space on the board can ever hold more than one piece. A piece can move through an occupied space on its way to an empty space; a piece can land on a space that’s occupied by an opponent’s piece in order to capture that opponent’s piece (take it off the board); but when a player’s done moving for the turn, no space on the board can have 2+ pieces in it.
   Friends help you move. Any piece can move through a space containing its own kind of piece; no piece can move through a space containing one of the opponent’s pieces.

Predator movement Prey movement
A Predator piece moves in a straight line. A Prey piece can move along any continuous path, no matter how crooked it is.
Every Predator piece has a ‘zone of control’ consisting of the six spaces immediately surrounding it. No Prey Piece has a ‘zone of control’. Whenever a Prey piece moves into an empty space in a Predator piece’s zone of control, that Prey piece’s move ends on that space.

Capturing pieces

   Either player, Predator and Prey alike, can take their opponent’s pieces off the board under certain conditions, which are different for each player. Predators are better at taking out Prey than the other way around, which is reflected in the capturing rules.

Predator capture Prey capture
A Predator piece can capture one or two Prey pieces.
A Prey piece can only capture one Predator piece.
Single capture: The Predator player moves a Predator piece onto a Prey piece’s space and takes the Prey piece off the board. Any time a Predator piece has two Prey pieces in its ‘zone of control’, the Prey player can capture that Predator piece by moving a fourth Prey piece onto it. Both the Predator piece and the capturing Prey piece are removed from the board; in addition, the Predator player removes one of the two ‘helper‘ pieces which made it possible for the Prey player to capture that Predator piece.
Double capture: Only possible when there’s at least two Prey pieces in neighboring spaces. The Predator player moves a piece into one of the neighboring Prey pieces, then captures the piece they landed on and one of Prey pieces that’s next to the one they landed on.


   Each side can add new pieces of their own kind to the board. This is why the pieces are two-sided; that way, you can easily convert Predator pieces to Prey, or vice versa, and you still only need one kind of piece to play. There are some factors which apply to both players:
   Spawning is always voluntary. You are never required to spawn new pieces. If the rules allow you to spawn N number of pieces, you can choose to spawn less than N, from (N-1) all the way down to zero, if you feel like it.
   Spawning happens at home. Newly-spawned pieces must appear in empty spaces of your ‘home base’—new Predator pieces in empty Lair spaces, and new Prey pieces in empty Warren spaces.
   Use it or lose it. If you have an opportunity to spawn a piece, that opportunity must be used, or not, right then and there; you can’t ‘stockpile’ it for use in a later turn. No, not even if your ‘home base’ happened to be full at the time so you couldn’t spawn any new pieces.

Predator spawning Prey spawning
The Predator player can spawn a new piece whenever they capture a Prey piece. The Prey player can spawn new pieces at the start of their turn, before they move any existing pieces.
Whenever the Predator player captures a Prey piece, they can convert it to a new Predator piece and put it on any empty space in the Predator’s Lair.
The number of pieces the Prey player is allowed to spawn: Either (a) half the number of pieces they already have on the board (ignoring fractions), or (b) as many pieces as they have empty spaces in their Lair, whichever is least.
Newly-spawned Predator pieces cannot move in the same turn they were spawned. Newly-spawned Prey pieces can move in the same turn they were spawned.

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