Strange Combat: a narrative combat game for two, based off of a variant by Adam Dixon of ‘ONE ONE ONE TWO THREE’

Aubrey Hesselgren and Dr. David King‘s One One One Two Three is a simple card game for two players, twelve cards and two double-sided tokens. It plays out in a couple of minutes and provides excellent opportunities for second-guessing your opponent and brilliant iterative play.

Adam Dixon produced a variant for this game called Flipdice that swaps the two tokens for a single d6. To be fair, I prefer this version for its fewer moving pieces and the fact that I’ve an uncanny dislike of othello pieces. 

But naturally, I’m drawn to creating narrative overlays, so that’s just what I’ve done. This is merely a reskin: the rules themselves are otherwise identical to Flipdice.

Strange Combat

In this gonzo game for two players, an odd beast is fought by someone out to get revenge: the players narrate a combat between these two strange combatants, vying for the edge in the combat. The player who maintains this advantage the most will win the combat.


  • A single six sided dice
  • Two sets of cards – detailed beneath


  • Pulsing Bristle – do not move the dice
  • Amorphous Advance – roll the dice away from you
  • Cloying Pseudopod – roll the dice left
  • Mitotic Lunge – roll the dice right
  • Defensive Swell – roll the dice towards you
  • Collapse & Reform – flip the dice over


  • Tactical Reassessment – do not move the dice
  • Unending Aggression – roll the dice away from you
  • Perceive Weakness – roll the dice left
  • Complex Feint – roll the dice right
  • Timely Regroup – roll the dice towards you
  • Risky Gambit – flip the dice over

As you can see, each of the actions for both sets of cards are the same* but the suggested title is different.

Starting the Game

One player rolls the dice, consults the table beneath to determine which character they will play & picks up the relevant cards. The second player rolls the dice again to determine their character (if both players would be odd {or even} instead the second player adds or deducts one from their roll to play as the opposite team).

  1. Sentient Hive
  2. Shotgun Widow
  3. Abstract Voiddevil
  4. Deathrow Pardoned
  5. Omniphagus
  6. Circus Liger

Each player decides on a card to jail – these are placed aside and will be used in the event of a tie. (This can be done by choice or by chance.) The rest of the cards are kept in each player’s hand – you can see you own but not your opponent’s.

After the cards have been jailed, each player gives a brief two-sentence description of their character.

Winning the Game

At the end of each round, the topmost value of the dice reveals who has the edge that round. The first three rounds are worth one point each, the penultimate round is worth two points and the final round is worth three points.

If the players are tied for points, the jailed cards are revealed in the usual order and the uppermost face reveals the winner.

Playing the Game

Each round, both players decide on a card from their hand to enact this turn & place it face down before the dice.

The player with the edge this round is first to reveal their card. They describe how their character fights, led by the title of the card & in as many sentences as the point score of the round. Finally, they move the dice as instructed by the card.

This process is repeated by the next player.

After both players have revealed their cards, the topmost face determines who has the edge – the score is added to their tally & a new round begins.

Telling the Story

Strange Combat seeks to play up the weirdness of the fight, but also to provide entertaining narrative combat. The sentence restriction should be fully embraced: create the most compelling and memorable description you can and all players and onlookers should be as entertained by the tale as by the winning.

* For future versions of this, I am interested to explore difference between the even set and the odd set.

Strange Combat: a narrative combat game for two, based off of a variant by Adam Dixon of ‘ONE ONE ONE TWO THREE’

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