Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Minimum Age: 

Original game design and concept by Nash
with additional modifications and variants by The Monday Night Games Group


Promote your one-pip pieces up to two-pip pieces, then three-pip pieces – eventually promoting the three-pip pieces to Nirvana. The first player with all pieces in Nirvana wins.

You Need

  • One Icehouse stash for each player. Each player must have a different color.
  • A chessboard.
  • (optional) – 16 blocker tokens to fill spaces to modify the board for two or three players.

Setting Up

Put the chessboard in the middle of the table where all players can reach it.

Pick a stash. Set all one- and two-pip pieces point up in front of you. Pick an unoccupied corner. This is your home square. Leave your home square empty. Place a one-pip piece point up on each square of the two-square and three-square diagonal rows closest to your home square. The square on the opposite corner of the board is your goal square.

If setting up for two or three players, place a blocker token in the two spaces closest to the middle of each side of the board, and in the two adjacent spaces one space closer to the center of the board.

If playing with three players, your home square is not the square on the opposite corner of the board. Instead, all three players use the unoccupied corner square as their home square.

Choose a player to go first.


Valid pieces
You may move any of your pieces that are not capped by more opposed points than the value of the piece.

Example: If you have a three-pip piece capped by a two-pip and a one-pip piece that are not yours, you may move that piece. If another opposed piece of any size caps that stack, you my not move your three-pip piece until the total opposed pips on top if it equals three or less

Adjacent pieces on the same team can add their pip value together.

Example: You have a two-pip piece capping one of your three pip pieces. It will take six pips of pieces to lock the combined stack down.

On your turn you can Jump or Slide one of your valid pieces.

  • Jump: Jump over an adjacent piece. Only single pieces or homogenous stacks of pieces can jump. If you end in a vacant space, you may immediately make another jump with the same piece(s) you just moved.
  • Slide: Move to an adjacent square. Any valid piece may slide. Pieces under the piece you’re sliding do not move with you. Pieces on top of your piece do move with you.

Capping pieces
When you move a piece or stack into a space occupied by another piece or a stack of pieces, you must cap that stack with the piece(s) you moved.

You may only cap a piece you control if the piece you’re capping is currently capping an opponent’s piece. If you may not cap, you may not enter the space.

If one or more of your pieces is in your goal square at the end of any turn and your home square is vacant, you must remove one of your pieces from your goal square. Set it on its side in front of you, off the board. Put a piece that’s one pip larger point up in your home square. If the piece you removed was a three-pip piece, it has ascended to Nirvana – do not put a piece in your home square.

Play passes to the left.


If you’re the first player to send your last three-pip piece to Nirvana, the game ends and you win.


You may cap your own pieces without restriction.

You can add your adjacent pips to move opposed units below you along with you when sliding. The pip sum of the opposed units you’re moving may not exceed the pip sum of the piece(s) you control that you’re moving. All pieces you move must be contiguous.

Example: You control two red pieces: a 2-unit piece capping a 3-unit piece. These are capping a stack of three more 2-unit pieces: a blue on a green on a yellow. If you’re moving all five pips of pieces you control, you could use suction to take the blue piece along with you, or the blue and green pieces. You can not choose to take the green and yellow pieces, or just the green, or just the yellow piece. If you only want to move the 2-pip piece, you can not use suction to take any other pieces with you. If you only want to move the 3-pip piece, you can only take the blue piece with you.

You may use suction when jumping as well as when sliding.

You can jump if you have adjacent pips four times the pip value of what’s on top of you. Pieces capping your piece move with you.

You can jump if you have adjacent pips three times the pip value of what’s on top of you. Pieces capping your piece move with you.

The Meek Shall Inherit
If you have more than one piece in your goal square, you must promote the piece with the fewest pips.

Origin & Credits

Gnaqush was originally created by Nash and shared with the Monday Night Games Group about two years ago. I’ve since lost touch with him, and this game was largely forgotten.


Gnaqush was resurrected at approximately 2 AM on Labor Day morning of 2005 at the We-Don’t-Have-To-Labor-Day-Tomorrow Party during a conversation between Amanda, Brandon, and Jonathan. The Liberty, Suction, Leap and Superleap variants were conceived of at that time. Additionally, the two- and three-player board layouts were devised and playtested. I think that the three-player variant may actually be more fun to play than the original four-player game.

Unedited as of November 15, 2005.