Space aliens captured and cloned a janitor named Herb to play a new game...

Created by Michael Petty (mpetty26@tir.com)

The Story

After growing tired of their 4096 bit holographic video systems, a group of teenage space aliens began to scour the galaxy in search of new and exciting entertainment. Some 3.7 light years from their home planet Xaja 4, the band of extra-terrestrial thrill seekers landed their spacecraft on planet earth.

Less than a quarter mile away, Herb Hanbrock was hard at work sweeping the floors and cleaning the rest rooms of a small rural high school. The education of thousands of students was enhanced each day by his clean chalkboards and sparkling hallways. He asked for no more than to touch his world in this small way.

The adolescent aliens were attracted to the yellow glow from the high school windows in the cool autumn evening. They quickly spotted Herb diligently sweeping the hallways, picking up larger bits of litter here and there. Mindlessly he attended his task like a programmed robot, but without doubt he did it with all his heart. Unanimously the band of space creatures agreed. He was the perfect subject.

Herb was promptly kidnapped and transported to Xaja 4. There he underwent a few harmless tests and was cloned a number of times. The Herb look-a-likes were wired with transmitters and set to do battle in a large high tech arena. Carrying out the wishes of their commanding aliens to the roar of an intergalactic crowd, the Herbs became the rage of the star system.

Herb himself was instantly famous. While he was eventually returned to earth, he did sign a long-term contract with the authorities of Xaja 4 that allowed for frequent visits and time behind the controls during the remarkably popular celebrity face-offs in the Herbs' arena.

Herbs is a fun and simple strategy game where players make their moves simultaneously. It's like a simulated arcade game, which makes players rely more on good thinking than quick reflexes. Success in the game will depend on carefully devising your plans while leaving plenty of room for the unexpected.


Each player will control two Herbs attempting to simply score the most points using 200 Action Points. Points will be scored by eliminating stones or by forming certain scoring patterns with the stones. Destroying an opponent's Herb also scores points.


To play the game you'll need to make the simple board described below. Also, you'll have to make 4 Herb markers, two each of two different colors. Number the Herb markers 0 and 1 for one color, and 2 and 3 for the other color. Put an arrow on each indicating the forward direction.

Gaming stones (about 36 of one color and 30 of another) are also required. Of course, any color will work, but these directions will refer to black and white stones. Finally, besides these gaming materials, each player will need paper and a pencil.

Making the Game Board

Begin with an 11x11 grid. Starting in the lower left corner, the columns are labeled with the letters A - K. From the same corner, the rows are numbered upward 1-11. Using this coordinate system, label these five squares as "PITS": (C,3) (C,9) (F,6) (I,3) (I,9)

Setting up to play: First, place one player's Herbs, numbered "0" and "1", in the corner squares (A,1) and (K,1). The other two Herbs go in the opposite corners, (A,11) and (K,11).

Eight of each color of stones are also placed to begin the game. White stones go in the squares (D,9), (F,9), (I,8), (H,3), (F,3), (C,4), (E,6) and (G,6). Black stones go in the squares (C,8), (C,6), (D,3), (I,4), (I,6), (H,9), (F,5) and (F,7).

After the board is set up, each player receives eight black stones and twelve white stones. Be sure these stones are kept separate from any that will be removed from the game as play progresses.

Each player should begin a "Command Sheet" on a piece of paper. Commands will be written in a column, with costs for each to the right of the command. Start the sheet by writing "200 AP's" in the upper right hand corner. This is the 200 action points each player begins with. Points will be expended and recorded down the sheet as the game is played. Finally, mark off a small area in the upper left hand corner to record Game Points as they are scored.

A Typical Round

Each round will consist of players recording four actions on paper for either or both of their Herbs. Also, they will record the location of a new stone to appear after the actions are carried out.

Each action carried out by a Herb will cost a number of Action Points (AP's). This table shows all possible actions and their costs. Details for the moves follow below.

Action Cost Abbreviation
(each move is preceded by the acting Herb's number)
Move forward1 AP per square (6 max.) M(# of spaces)
1/4 Turn 0 AP T(R or L)
1/2 Turn 1 AP HT
Back Up 2 AP per square (3 max.)BU
Push Price per square up to 3 max.:
Black Stone or Herb2 APP(# of spaces)
White stone1 APP(# of spaces)
Paint-Pnt (change)
Black to White0 APPnt (B->W)
White to Black1 APPnt (W->B)
Fire Gun2 APF
Place Stone-
White1 APWh (Coordinates)
Black2 APBl (Coordinates)

Each Action Explained

Move Forward: A Herb can move forward up to six spaces per action as long as no stones, walls, pits or other Herbs are in his way. Any of these objects will stop his movement even if AP's were spent to move him further. Moving into a pit will destroy the Herb, as described below.

1/4 Turn: Simply rotate the Herb right or left as written in the command set for the round.

1/2 Turn: Pretty basic. Turn the indicated Herb around 180 degrees.

Back Up: A Herb can move directly backwards up to 3 spaces per action. Rules for obstacles here are the same as those for moving forward.

Push: A Herb can push stones and other Herbs with his broom. Mostly this will be used to arrange stones or destroy them in pits. Note that if changes occur that force a Herb to push more than planned (in terms of how many AP's it would cost), then none of the stones or Herbs can be moved if there were not enough AP's spent for that particular action. Of course, if changes occur which make the Herb push less than intended, then the objects may be pushed even if they weren't the objects the player planned. (AP's are always subtracted, however, according to how much the player originally intended to push.)

Paint: Stones may be painted to their opposite color. Simply replace the stone in front of the Herb with the opposite colored stone. Again, if changes occur to the stones' arrangement so that a different colored stone is moved in front of the Herb, no change is made in its color.

Fire Gun: Each Herb carries a gun which will harm other Herbs. The gun fires a range of 5 squares directly in front of the Herb. It will not shoot through stones or the first Herb it hits. Any Herb struck by the laser is first pushed one space away from the firing Herb if possible. HE MAY BE PUSHED INTO A PIT!

The player whose Herb was hit must subtract 3 AP's from his total. Also, if the shooting player had the initiative on that action (see below) then the Herb who was struck loses that action. If another action follows that action in the same round, then the Herb carries it out in turn, regardless of the fact that he just lost the previous action.

Place Stone: After every four actions each player will add a stone of either color to the board by indicating the color and coordinate of the stone. Stones may not appear in the eight squares surrounding either of the player's two Herbs. Also, they may not appear in the same square as any Herbs or other stones. If, for some reason, the player's own Herb is adjacent to the new location, or a stone or Herb occupies the location at the end of the actions, the stone is not placed. The player must remove the stone from his pile of stones. It is lost and cannot be placed in a later turn. STONES MAY ONLY BE PLACED AFTER FOUR ACTIONS MADE BY THE HERBS, AND ONLY ONE PER ROUND.

If the players run out of stones before the game ends, then they simply ignore this portion of the round.


Each round, as mentioned above, consists of writing down four actions for one or both Herbs. These actions must specify the number of the Herb carrying out the action. Also, each action should be followed by its cost. After four actions are recorded, and a location for a new stone is chosen, the player should subtract the cost of all the actions and the stone from the current total of AP's.


78 AP (current total)
1 M33
1 TR0
0 HT1
0 P12
Wh (H,3)1
71 AP (new total)

In this example Herb 1 would move three spaces then turn right 1/4 turn. Herb 0 would do a half turn, then push a stone one space. Finally, a white stone would appear on (H,3). Of course, at the same time the other player may be moving Herbs 2 and 3.

Keep some space as shown to the right of the commands and costs to record any bids made for initiative (see below).

Scoring Points

Game points (separate from AP's) are scored in a variety of ways. If stones are pushed in the pits, players earn points. Also, if the SAME colored stones are formed into rows or squares of four by pushing, points are scored. Finally, a player can earn points by destroying an opponent's Herb by pushing him into a pit.

These actions are worth the following points:

Pushing a Black stone into a pit 3 points
Pushing a White stone into a pit 1 point
Forming a row or square of Black stones 6 points
Forming a row or square of White stones 4 points
Destroying an enemy Herb 4 points

Moving Stones

Stone Movement

Stone Movement

After scoring patterns are formed the stones immediately (on that action) move in determined patterns. If this movement results in further scoring patterns, then the player also earns those points and the patterns again move apart as indicated below. All this movement takes place before the next player makes his or her action. If there's a question of initiative, determine which player goes first before any stones are moved (see below).

An important rule on the movement of stones: Stones that are blocked from moving as shown do not move. In other words, nothing else in the way can be pushed to allow the stones to move. Blocked stones stay where they are.

Determining Initiative

Most of the time players can take their moves in turn with little regard for which Herb actually moves first. Occasionally, though, the outcome of the actions will be drastically changed depending on the order of the moves. For example, one Herb may try to push a white stone, but the other Herb's action, if it were to be first, might push a black stone in its place instead. Since the first player only paid enough AP's to move the white stone, no move could be made by that Herb. It all depends on which Herb goes first. Whenever a conflict arises between two Herbs so that it does matter which will take the action first, players must bid for initiative. Before making the action in question, both players must bid a number of AP's and write them down. Players then reveal their bids. The highest bidder has the initiative-the right to go first. That player's Herb makes his move, then the other player may carry out the move for his or her Herb. Regardless of who wins the bid, both players subtract the amount they bid from their current total of AP's. If both players bid an equal, non-zero amount, then the player with the least Game Points up until that action goes first. If both players bid zero, then that action is ignored. Carry out any remaining actions left in that round as usual though.

Destroying Herbs

If a Herb is pushed into a pit by a broom, or he walks in by some consequence of another action, then he is destroyed. If the other player had just destroyed the Herb by pushing him in a pit, or shooting him so that he falls in pit, then that player may add 4 Game Points to his current total. As described below, if a player loses both Herbs then the game ends at the end of the current round.

Ending the Game

There are two ways the game may end. First, the final round occurs if a player has no AP's left. If this is the case at the start of a round, no actions are taken and the game ends. If a player runs out of AP's during a round (actually during the planning of a round), he or she may only take the number of actions possible with what's left. The other player must make and carry out all remaining actions if he or she has enough AP's to do so. Second, a game may end when a player loses both of his or her Herbs. The surviving player must finish any remaining actions of a round if the other player is eliminated during a round. When the game is over, the player not responsible for ending the game (by losing both Herbs or all AP's) may add 1 more Game Point to his or her score for every 10 AP's still left after the final round. The winner of the game is the one with the most total points.

Some tips to keep the first couple games interesting

Get BOTH Herbs into the action as soon as possible.

Getting your Herbs to work together is a vital key to success.

Throwing a wrench in your opponent's plan to waste his AP's may be as valuable as scoring points in the long run.

Get more for your action points by looking for and creating stone arrangements that may automatically move into new scoring arrangements.

Of course, the length of the game can be changed by varying the number of AP's the players start with. The number of actions per round can be increased as well to vary the complexity and number of surprise interactions. Also, new actions/equipment can be added for the Herbs for appropriate amounts of AP's. I'd be very interested to hear any comments or ideas you might have. Drop me some email at mpetty26@tir.com.

Special Notice!!!!

Herb's back, and this time he's not a clone!

I've recently completed the second version of "Herbs". The new version is a great improvement over the first game. It's got more room for strategy and surprise, it's simpler to play, and best of all, it's a LOT more fun.

Just send me an e-mail message at mpetty26@tir.com requesting the game and I'll send you the following:

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell