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Game Design Showdown September 2009 Challenge: "Canned Space"

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doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Film Cnister

Game Design Showdown

September 2009 Challenge - "Canned Space"

  • Submissions were accepted: Thursday, 10-Spetember-2009 through Thursday, 17-September-2009.
    • Voting was tallied: Friday, 18-September-2009 through Friday, 25-September-2009.

And the winner is....

"Drop Pods" by Jpwoo.

Congratulations as being selected the best of the four games in this month's contest, winning by a single vote over "Deep Scan" by Brykovian.

Main Design Requirements:

  • Theme: Outer Space Exploration.
  • Component Requirement: Must use 35mm film canisters (or similar). Can use black with gray lid, or semi-transparent (both body and lid). (see picture to the right). Feel free to add other components as you wish.

Basically, I've recently found out that places that do one-hour photo processing just throw away these canisters. Places like Wal-mart throw away hundreds of these per week. Granted, due to digital cameras taking over the world, there's less wasted at this point. But I've been told that you can pretty much go to any place that does one-hour photo processing and just ask for these things, and they'll gladly give you bags of them. So, hey, free components!

Voting Instructions: For those who would like to vote, I will use the "6 points" method this time (due to four entries). You have up to 6 points to assign to the entries that you think are worthy. The more worthy the entry is, the more points you can assign it. However, you can not give one entry more than 4 points.

Designers of these entries are required to vote all six points, but they can not assign any points to their own game.

Votes will need to be PM'ed to me (doho123), or emailed to:

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown are here: GDS details.

Comments or Questions: Comments and questions about this Challenge are handled on the Comments Thread.

Critique the Entries: Comments and questions about specific Challenge Entries are handled on the Critique Thread.

(Special thanks to all the designers for keeping the image count to (almost!) nothing!! I still haven't quite got the hang of formating images yet.)

doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #1 - Deep Scan

Deep Scan

by Brykovian (14 points, 2nd place)

For 2 to 6 Players

When the central planets began to run thin on resources, an aggressive hunt for materials on new planets was launched. As captain of a Geo-Recon vessel, it is your mission to bring back the best samples of metals, food, and oil.


  • 9 Planet Cards - Each has a picture of a planet and 3 Nav numbers on it: Orbit (1-4), Atmosphere (5-8) and Surface (9-12)
    • 1 Deck of Nav Code Cards - Each card has a single value on it from 1 through 4 (the deck contains more 3's & 4's than 1's & 2's)
    • 18 Opaque Film Canisters
    • 35 Small Wooden Cubes:
    • 7 White (Metals)
    • 14 Green (Food)
    • 14 Black (Oil)
    • 6 Sets of Player Pieces (each in its own color):
    • 1 Ship Pawn
    • 25 Chips


Take all of the cubes and mix them thoroughly in a single pile. Fill the 18 film canisters with randomly selected cubes:

  • 6 Canisters should have 1 cube
  • 7 Canisters should have 2 cubes
  • 5 Canisters should have 3 cubes

After they are filled, scramble the canisters to make it difficult to remember which canister had which cubes.

Shuffle the Planet Cards and lay them face-up in a 3-by-3 grid, with ample space between cards. Put 2 canisters next to each card (avoid giving away how many cubes are in each canister).

Each player takes a set of player pieces and sets his Ship on any Planet. The Nav Code Cards are shuffled and 5 cards are dealt to each player. The remainder of the deck is set next to the play area as the draw deck.


The purpose of the game is to gain the most points by collecting samples (canisters) from Planets. In order to collect samples, a player must provide the nav codes needed to orbit, enter the atmosphere, and land on the surface.

On a player's turn, he draws 1 card from the deck and then takes 2 actions (same action may be repeated):

  • Move: Move Ship to any adjacent Planet
  • Research: Draw 1 card
  • Surface Scan: Pick up 1 canister from the Planet your Ship is on and shake it; return canister to its Planet
  • Deep Scan (this counts as 2 actions): Pick up 1 canister from the Planet your Ship is on, open the lid and inspect the contents; re-lid the canister and return it to its Planet
  • Navigate: see section below

Play is passed around the table to the left until all canisters have been collected.


To navigate, the player discards 1 or more cards from his hand that sum to the next open Nav number for the Planet the player's Ship is on, and puts a chip next to that Nav number. Nav numbers must be fulfilled in the order: Orbit, Atmosphere, Surface.

A player may not navigate on a Planet that already has 2 other players' chips on it.

If another player has a chip next to the previous Nav number, the current player must play a combination of cards from his hand that will sum to each of the previous Nav numbers that the other player's chip is next to in addition to the open Nav number. The cards played may be reused for each Nav number fulfilled during that navigation. All cards played are discarded.

Example: Blue has a chip on Orbit (3), and Green wants to navigate to Atmosphere (5) ... he plays 2 cards: 3 & 2 ... the 3 fulfills the Orbit number and the 3+2 fulfills the Atmosphere number.

When a player successfully navigates the Surface, the canisters for the Planet may be collected by that player. If more than 1 player has chips on the Planet, the player with more chips may open the lids of the 2 containers and inspect their contents. He keeps 1 of the canisters and gives the other canister to the other player that had a chip on the Planet.

Canisters are kept with their contents hidden until the end-of-game scoring.


When all canisters have been collected, players receive points based on the cubes they collected:

  • 2 points for each White Cube
  • 1 points for each Green cube

Only the player that collected the most Black cubes may score points for those cubes, receiving 1 point for each Black cube. If more than 1 player has the most Black cubes, all players tied for the most may count their Black cubes.

The player with the most points is the winner.

doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #2 - Canned Space


By dmod (5 points, dmod)


Launch your search-pod marbles into the vast expanses of space on the game board. The first to have a pod return to the table is the winner.


1 universe game board 1 launcher (a spring-loaded catapult device) 20 plastic search pod marbles per player (different colors for each player)


The game board is a large and deep wheel mounted at the center on a needle to allow it to rotate. The board has a diameter of 18 inches, and is inclined to an angle of 45 degrees from horizontal. The wheel has an array of open 35-mm film canisters representing galaxies where the search pod marbles will be launched into. The surface of the wheel is is constructed such that the board is flush with the open canisters. Behind the surface, each canister is connected to the others through a network of tubes where the marbles may pass. There are a number of outlets from the network where the search pods may ultimately return to the table and thus allow a winner to be declared.


Set the game board center on the needle such that the open canisters face the launcher. Place hub over spigot and thread until snug. Spin the game board freely to ensure a smooth and proper rotation. Set up the launcher between 2 and 3 feet from the closest edge of the game board. Each player takes one bag of colored marbles as their set of search pods.


Each player takes a turn attempting the successful launch of a search pod into the universe. A successful launch will see the launched marble land inside one of the canisters on the game board. A player may attempt to launch up to three marbles to have one successful launch before forfeiting that turn. Unsuccessfully launched pods may be returned to the player's set of pods without penalty.

After all players have taken a turn in a round, the last player to go will spin the universe freely. Spinning the board allows movement of the marbles through the network of hidden space-time tunnels. If no search pods return to the table, another round begins, this time skipping the player who went first so that player ends up going last. Once all pods have been successfully launched, continue taking turns spinning the universe until a successfully launched pod returns to the table.


The first player to have a successfully launched search pod return to the table is declared the winner!


There can’t possibly be a strategy for launching anything into space. People just do it to see if they can get anything out of it. Plus, it’s really really fun to launch things. Period.

doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry 3 - Drop Pods

Drop Pods

by jpwoo (15 points, 1st place)

You and your neighbors have carved out your own little corner of deep space. The earth government has provided you with a faster than light supply gate to get your colonies started. The only problem is that it is faulty and doesn't drop its cargo exactly where you want it, or when you want it even. The cargo gets lost and materializes in the strangest of places. Each planet has created a recovery squad to try and gather up the drop pods for their own use. The race is on, and the help from earth won't last forever. The players must scramble to pick up what they can to build up their private solar systems.


  • Hex Map board
  • Solar system Player boards
  • Drop Pods (film cannisters) with different colored lids.
  • Tug boats in players colors
  • Resource cubes of various kinds
  • Warp Bag
  • Warp Cards
  • Start player marker
  • Upgrade cards


Your goal is to upgrade your solar system the most before the game ends.

Set up:

Each player starts with one Space Tug. A space tug is used to pull drop pods back to your solar system. Your home system is considered to have the basics, a life giving planet, and a small starting population. Home systems are marked on the game map.

There are resources like food, colonists, rare elements, weapons, ship parts. Etc each coming in a different color. Each player takes pods of their own color and loads them up with 3 resources a piece. Then the pods once filled are put into the warp bag. They are now in transit to the players. Players do this 3 times, so that the bag is stocked.

Players put their tugs on their home systems.

Game play:

A drop pod is pulled randomly from the bag and placed on the board in a random location determined the by a card draw. The card distribution brings in most pods near the center of the map. But some are scattered far from the center point.

Players then take turns moving their tugs. Tugs have a fixed movement. If you move your tug onto a pod you can immediately start to pull it.

When all players have moved all their tugs, pass the starting player marker and draw a new pod and card putting it on the map. This way there are constantly new pods entering the map.

When a tug brings a pod back to the home system, the player opens it up and can spend the resources inside on a system upgrade object. The player that brought the pod in, then is allowed to load another pod and put it into the warp bag. Even if they weren't the one that ordered the pod that was brought in.


There are many possibilities for upgrades. Population, Farming complexes, opera houses, entertainment, trading posts, new tugs, upgrades for your tugs like speed or towing capacity. Some of these score points at the end of the game, others provide in game abilities. The players are generally considered to be competitors but not at war. There is no aspect of system destruction or overt war. However stealing other peoples pods, either tugged or in space is the name of the game. The only reason the pods are marked is so that everyone can have an idea of what it might contain.

Examples: A trading post would let you trade one resource with another player each time you harvest a pod. A new tug would let you gets pods twice as fast, A statue of yourself might be worth points at the end of the game. Weapons would let you steal a pod from another tug. The nebula theater is worth points and has a one time use of giving you the starting player token.

There would be deck of cards for each player, each card with a recipe on it for the cost and benefit of the upgrade.

End game

The game ends 5 turns after one of the resources from supply is fully depleted.

doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #4 - Space Freighter

Space Freighter

by Robert_C (8 points, 3rd place)

Game preview

The game of a space exploration allows 3 to 5 players entering a role of supply contractor, security guard, eco-saboteur and space pirate. The freighter must be loaded and resources shipped quickly. There is limited load space, players fill containers with resources and put them onto the freighter in a rush. The same time they decide to play one of a role. During the space journey in the freighter and depending on the role selected players should protect the cargo (being supply contractor or security guard), destroy the cargo (being eco-saboteur) or reduce cargo safety (being space pirate). Targeted resources in containers will decide who is the winner.


  • Board - the cargo hold of a space freighter (4x3-rectangle area),
  • 16 containers (film canisters) - 8 transparent + 8 black,
  • Role/Action cards,
  • Security/Sabotage tiles.
  • Resources - small wooden cubes in four colors,
  • Player screens


Place the board in the middle of the table. Arrange all containers (film canisters) in a row next to the board (mix the containers to get the random order of transparent and black canisters). Separate resources (small wooden cubes) of different types (4 colors) and distribute them evenly among players. Players can hide resources behind screens. Make a face down pile from shuffled security tiles. Shuffle action cards.


The gameplay splits into two stages: loading and delivering.


At first players take three cards from the deck and select the starting player. Then each player uses one card (execute an action) and draws a replacing card. Players follow in clockwise order until the space cargo load is full of containers or until the deck is exhausted. The card actions: - load resources (take one canister from a row, put resources-cubes from own supply into the canister in hiding and return the container back to the row), - load cargo (take the first container, the closest to the freighter, and place it onto free cargo load space), - change order (switch two adjoining containers in a row), Note that some canisters are transparent and players can recognize their content.

Each action/role card contains the role a player can select. After the loading ends players discard two cards keeping the last one in hand that describes their role for the rest of a game.

Players' roles:

  • supply contractor: you need to deliver resources of the color marked on your role card,
  • security guard: you need to secure resources of any color,
  • eco-saboteur: you need to destroy resources of marked color,
  • space pirate: you need to unsecure and capture resources of marked color,


The freighter's cargo load space makes a form of a grid rectangle (4 files, 3 ranks). Next to each rank the security level value is marked (rank 1 = level 0 security, rank 3 = level 2 security). Above each file the color is marked - the resources of that color in the file gain 1 additional security level. During delivery players will modify security levels of a load using tiles from a pile.

At first players take two tiles from a pile. Then each player uses one of a tile from their hand and draws a replacing tile. The player can put a tile face down next to any rank, above any file or over any previously placed tile. A tile can contain the security modifier (-2,-1,0,+1), a color marker (the modifier applies to the resource of that color only) or the eco-destruction icon. After using all tiles the delivery ends.

Players reveal their roles and all the tiles on board are revealed as well. If there are eco-saboteurs among the players they take (in turns) the eco-destruction tiles laid on the board and place them over the canister in corresponding rank or file. The containers' contents and safety will be decided later.

Revealed tiles modify rank and file security level. Some modifiers apply to appropriate colors only. Each container is now opened and scored.

The resources that are not safe (security level is 0 or below) come to pirates or eco-saboteurs. If the canister with resources were marked with eco-destruction marker the saboteurs would distribute the resources among them (evenly or according to desired colors). If the canister were free of marker the resources would be distributed among pirates. The rest of resources from unsafe containers are put away.

The resources that are safe (their security level is greater than 0) come to contractors and guards. Supply contractors take the resources of their colors (dividing evenly if necessary) while the rest resources distribute evenly among security guards.


Eco-saboteurs, pirates and contractors score 2VP for each resource they get. Guards score 1VP for each resource they get and 1VP for each resource contractors get in total. The player with the most VP wins.

doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Final Vote tally

And in a nail-biter to the finish, "Drop Pods" squeaks out the win.

1st place - "Drop Pods" by jpwoo - 15 votes (4,3,3,2,2,1)
2nd place - "Deep Scan" by Brykovian - 14 votes (3,3,3,3,1,1)
3rd place - "Space Freighter" by Robert_C - 8 votes (2,2,1,1,1,1)
4th place - "Canned Space" by dmod - 5 votes (2,2,1)

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