Muzundrum: The Game of Musicians





muzundrumBASIC PLAY
muzundrumMISC. RULES











Master Level Muzundrum

The Game of Musicians
muzundrum master level
Completed Master Level Game
with 42 dice.
Click for larger view.
The truly adventurous music theoritician may, after learning Basic Level Muzundrum, wish to proceed to Master Level Muzundrum. The Master Level instructions below assume a familiarity with the Basic Level game. as detailed in the Muzundrum Instruction book and elsewhere on this site.


Master Level Muzundrum can be played straight out of the standard Muzundrum box. The equipment is the same as for Basic Level – the rules are just harder. For an extra challenging game, however, you may wish to play the game with more dice: the more dice there are, the tighter the board gets, and the easier it becomes to “sting” or be stung.

If you own a standard set of 12 Musician’s Dice, you may add them to your Muzundrum set, and play with a total of 33 dice. For the true championship experience, you may play with an extra Muzundrum set of 21 dice, for a total of 42. Both the standard set of Musician’s Dice – 12 in a box – and the Muzundrum Extra Set – 21 in an embroidered velvet pouch – are available at the Philomuse Store.

Scale Possibilities

The greatest difference between Basic Level and Master Level Muzundrum is the number of different scale types that may be used. Basic Level allows only the major scale; Master Level allows harmonic minor, major pentatonic, whole-tone, and chromatic scales as well.

The upshot of this is considerable. In Basic Level, the scale-steps are all major and minor seconds; successfully navigating the game involves knowing where the half-steps fall in all 12 major scales. By allowing the additional scales listed above, Master Level introduces the possibility of scale-steps that are a minor third wide: harmonic minor scales contain one minor third, while major pentatonic scales contain two.

This allows for much ambiguity, especially when scales are first initiated. A scale fragment that contains only the notes E and G, for example, can grow into a G pentatonic, a C pentatonic, or a G# harmonic minor scale. A lone half-step on the board can grow into one of two different major scales, one of four different harmonic minor scales, or a chromatic scale; a lone whole-step on the board can grow into one of four major scales, one of three harmonic minor scales, one of two major pentatonic scales, or a whole-tone scale. It’s pretty easy to think you’re building a legal scale when you’re not; it’s just as easy to think you see an illegal scale when you don’t.

In Basic Level, completing a scale – and thus earning an extra turn – involves playing the seventh and final note of that scale. In Master Level, the same rule applies – except that pentatonic scales are completed in only five notes, and whole-tone scales are completed in just six. A chromatic scale can never be completed in Muzundrum – the honeycomb at its widest point is only 11 cells across, and a completed chromatic scale contains, of course, 12 notes.

Triad Possibilities

In addition to the major, minor, and diminished triads available in Basic Level Muzundrum, Master Level also allows augmented triads. Additionally, triads may be built in any inversion. Triads must, however, still be voiced “closed.” A C Major Triad, for example, could be built from bottom to top as C-E-G, E-G-C, or G-C-E; it could not, however, be built as C-G-E, because that is not a closed triad voicing.

In Basic Level, triads are always in root position, and are thus always built of thirds. Allowing for inversions means that a triad can contain a perfect fourth, or, in the case of an inverted diminished triad, a tritone. Obviously, there are a lot more possibilities in terms of the number of triads that can be built; allowing triads to be inverted, however, limits the number of scales that can successfully intersect them. On the other hand, Master Level allows for more types of scales to legally exist. As you’ll soon see, it’s a whole new game.

The Lethal Sting

In Master Level Muzundrum, there are two additional rules that apply. First is a variation on the Sting Rule. In Basic Level, spotting a mistake and calling “sting” wins you the game; same deal in Master Level. If, however, you call a “sting” in Master Level when there isn’t one, you get thrown out of the game. Mistakes occur quite easily in Master Level, as do mistakes in perception… be careful with your stinger!

The Replay Rule

The other additional rule in Master Level is the Replay Rule. When a player finishes their turn, the next player in line may begin their turn by replaying their opponent’s move, if doing so garners more points than were initially scored. Say, for example, a player plays a die and earns two points. If the player whose turn is next sees a way that that same die could have earned four points, he or she can physically move the die to the new position, take those four points for themselves, and then proceed with their turn as usual.

There are a few things to remember about the Replay Rule. First, the player whose die has been replayed doesn’t lose any points – the player who does the replaying gains extra points. Second, a die must garner more points if it is to be replayed: you can’t replay a die just because the person who initially played it missed an opportunity to complete a scale or triad, for example (unless by missing that opportunity they also missed a chance for more points). Which brings us to the third thing: if, when replaying a die, a player completes a triad or scale, they get an extra turn, just as if they had initially played that die themselves. They don’t, however, get another extra turn after that; no single move in Muzundrum ever garners more than one extra turn. Finally, a die can only be replayed on the very next turn: you can’t replay a die from two or three moves ago.

The effect of the Replay Rule on the game is considerable. Players must very carefully watch their opponents' moves in order not to miss an opportunity for extra points; they must also be very careful with their own moves, in order not to give their opponents a chance to do a replay.

The Game of Musicians

In a Nutshell

Master Level differs from Basic Level Muzundrum in the following ways:

1. In addition to major scales, players may also build harmonic minor, major pentatonic, whole-tone and chromatic scales. Pentatonic scales complete in five notes; whole-tone scales in six notes; and major and harmonic minor scales in seven notes. Chromatic scales cannot be completed in Muzundrum due to limitations in the board’s size.

2. In addition to major, minor, and diminished triads, players may also build augmented triads; triads may also be built in any inversion. All triad voicings, however, must be closed.

3. Master Level may optionally be played with additional dice: either with an extra 12 (for a total of 33), or with an extra 21 (for a total of 42).

4. In Master Level, mistakenly calling a “sting” gets you tossed out of the game.

5. In Master Level, players have the option of replaying their opponent’s move, if doing so garners more points than were initially scored.

The Game of Musicians

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Principal photography by Hugh Shining Moon. Site design by J S Kingfisher and