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[GDS] August 2012 "Grow up!"

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sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

August 2012 Game Design Showdown - "Grow up!"

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

And we have a winner!

I apologize for the delay, Gen Con was a blast. I now return you to your regularly scheduled GDS award ceremony...

1st place, with 13 points, Sociopathy by Taffer
2nd place, with 10 points, Fighting Trolls by melx
3rd place, with 9 points, What kills me makes me stronger by Gizensha
Other entries and their points:
6 points: Glenco by dobnarr
5 points: Urbs Salinarum by Mathew Rogers
5 points: Roll over Mars by regzr

Congrats to the winners! The critiques thread is now open for business!

Growth of scale: One of the things that I think can really give a game an epic feel is an increase in scope. Where the late game dynamics are bigger than in the early game and encompass much more... stuff. This month's Showdown challenges you to create a game that increases significantly in scope from beginning to end.

Pieces that scale: Most games have pieces (cards, tiles, and other bits) that are the same every time you play them. To go along with this month's theme of "growing up," entries must include pieces (cards, tiles, bits) that grow each time they come into play. In case it's difficult to have the pices physically grow, it is acceptable to have their effects grow instead :)

Word Limit: Let's go with an even 500 word limit this time.

Good luck!

Voting: My new method of bookkeeping has made it easy enough to track who has voted and for whom, so we will continue to use the new voting system. Rather than dividing 6 votes any way you like, you must award Gold (3 votes), Silver (2 votes), and Bronze (1 vote) Medals. Any entrant that does not award all three Medals will receive a Pyrite Meal (that's "Fool's Gold") worth -3 votes!

When submitting your entry: Please PM submissions to sedjtroll with the following subject line. PLEASE use the correct subject - it makes my job much easier!

Subject: GDS - August - [your username]

  • Submissions: The 1st of the month through the 8th.
  • Voting: Through the 15th. PM your votes to sedjtroll.
  • Voting Format: Each person has 3 Medals (Gold, Silver, and Bronze - with values 3, 2, and 1 vote respectively) to distribute any way they choose among the GDS entries with the following restrictions:
    • Entrants may not assign any Medals to their own entry!
    • Entrants must assign all 3 Medals.
    • An entrant who does not assign all 3 Medals will receive a Pyrite Medal (-3 votes) as a penalty.
  • Comments or Questions: Comments and questions about this Challenge were handled on the Comments Thread.

  • CRITIQUES: After voting has closed the entries will be posted for comments and critiques. Post constructive critiques and commentary about the entries to this Challenge in the Critiques Thread
  • GDS Details: For more details on how these Game Design Showdown Challenges work, especially the details around the word count and graphics limits, visit the GDS Wiki Page.

Enjoy, and good luck!

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #1 - What Kills Me Makes Me Stronger

What Kills Me Makes Me Stronger

Each player controls three creatures. These creatures will fight, die and evolve during the course of the game. The winner is the player who's creatures died, and therefore evolved, the least.

The board is a hex-grid. Some terrain requires more move, others provide more defense, some do damage, etcetera. On the board are three nests per player. Each of these nests can be used by all players.

At the start of the game each piece by default has move 1, attack 1, and maximum health 1.

Move represents the number of hexes that may be moved each turn by the creature. Attack represents the amount of damage done each time it attacks. Health represents life force. It starts at the creature's maximum health, and drops by 1 for each damage taken by the creature.

Whenever a creature is placed onto the board, including during the first turn, the creature's controller adds a block representing one of these three stats to increase that stat by one.

At the start of the game, players take it in turns to place a creature onto the board in one of the nests, placing a stat block onto that creature. After all players have done this, the first player takes his first turn, moving each of his creatures one by one.

When a creature moves into a space occupied by another creature, it attacks that creature. If the attacked creature drops to 0 health, the creature that just moved into the space recovers one health (Up to its maximum health), and the attacked creature dies. If the attacked creature still has health, it's controller must move it immediately in any direction, other than the one the attacking creature came from, up to its maximum move. It may not attack another creature in doing this. If it is surrounded by other creatures, it escapes past the attacking creature, taking one damage in the process. If this kills it, it dies, but the attacking creature does not eat.

When a creature dies, remove it from the board. It will return to the board on its controller's next turn, a little bit more evolved.

On a player's turn, they must place any dead creatures they control not on the board onto the board in a vacant nest, putting a stat block onto that creature. This counts as a single move for that creature.

The game ends when creatures have died a total of 10 times per player playing the game. When this occurs, count the amount of blocks on each player's creatures, adding one for each dead creature the player currently has. The winner is the player with the least blocks in total - That is, the player who's creatures died the least.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #2 - Glencoe


2-6 players


  • Village boards showing buildings, upgrades, and scoring track
  • Building upgrade markers
  • Scoring markers
  • 100 game cards
  • 5 Scoring cards
  • 4 Harvest cards
  • Resource tokens (food, wood, metal, stone)


Shuffle the cards and split them into five equal piles. Shuffle one Harvest card and one Scoring card into each of the bottom four piles. Stack the five piles. Place the fifth Scoring card on the bottom. Give each player a village board, building and scoring markers, and three resources of each type. Deal two cards to each player. Deal five cards face up in the center of the table (the Pool). Place the remaining cards face down in a deck.


The top of each card shows four different buildings or upgrades and the resources required to build them. The bottom of each card shows a number and type of resource (e.g. 1 food, 3 wood).


Resource buildings:

Gardener, Field, Farm, Plantation: food
Forester, Woods Gang, Sawmill, Lumber Mill: wood
Miner, Smithy, Forge: metal
Stonecutter, Mason, Quarry: stone
These buildings provide increasing bonus resources when the indicated resource is collected.

Special buildings:

Trader, Shop, Market, Bazaar: Allow resource trades. Upgrades offer better trade terms (3-1, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3)
Spearman, Tower, Walls, Castle: Immediately draw an extra card and increase hand limit
Standing Stone, Statue, Museum, Monument: Worth bonus scoring

The four buildings shown on each card are of different types and increasing value (e.g. Miner, Field, Sawmill, Castle).


The hardest-working player goes first. On each turn, the player takes one card from the Pool and then replaces it with a card drawn from the deck. The player then plays one card. The player may choose to use the card in one of two ways:

  1. to collect the resources shown at the bottom (plus any bonus resources of that type from buildings), or
  2. to build any of the buildings or upgrades shown on the card, provided that she can afford the cost in resources and has built the earlier buildings in the upgrade chain.

If the player builds a building or upgrade, he pays the cost in resources back to the supply. If the player has a trade building, he may force a trade with another player to gain the needed resources.

Harvests and Scoring:

When a harvest card is drawn from the deck, all players must pay one food per building or upgrade (so a Sawmill would cost two food). If players do not have enough food, they lose two points per missing food. Players with a trade building may trade other resources for food from the main supply (not from other players).

When a Scoring card is drawn from the deck, all players score points for their buildings. The score values are indicated on the village board.

Discard Harvest and Scoring cards and draw another card to add to the Pool.

The game ends after the final scoring card is scored. Highest score wins.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #3 - Urbs Salinarum

"Okay, so I’m going to teach everyone Urbs Salinarum. In this game, you’re all guilds trying to build up a town into a city, but like a lot of Euros the theme is really just pasted on."

"You can see we’ve got seventy double-sided tiles. One side has a generic city block, the other has a colored production building. We also have these little fiddly Euro cubes as well. There’s five colors and twenty-five cubes in each color. You’ve also got three pawns and a player aid for each color. The pawns are Agents, they are the way you are going to score points in this game. The player aid has a score track and an explanation of the five building types. More on that in a bit."

"Alright, so let’s talk about setup. Make sure all of the tiles have their generic side face-up and scramble them. Then we’ll go around the table, drawing a tile and placing it in the middle with the production side up and our agent on top of it. We’ll keep going until all the agents are out on the board, so our town will start at fifteen tiles. Whenever you put a tile down it has to touch at least one edge of a tile already down."

"But before we do that, I better tell you how each side of the tile works and how to score points. At the start of your turn, you can move any or all of your agents one space. A move is up, down, left or right, no diagonals. If you hit another player’s agent then it goes back to them, but any cubes on that tile go to that player too. Then you must draw a tile and you can play a tile if you want. If you do play a tile and you have an agent in front of you, you can put it out with the tile."

"Why would you have an agent in front of you? Because after you draw a tile, you can choose to remove one agent. If you pull an agent from a generic city tile, you get to grab one cube from the bank of any color. If you pull an agent from a production city tile, you get all of the cubes on that tile or you get to do the special ability of that tile. I won’t go into detail on those, they’re on your player aid and do things like flip nearby tiles or mess with your or another player’s agents. At the end of your turn, for any production tiles with your agent on them, add new cubes equal to the cubes already on the tile, or one cube if it’s empty. You can turn in a rainbow set of five cubes for a victory point or a set of five cubes all in your color for a victory point. The first to ten points is the winner. Ready to play?"

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #4 - Fighting trolls

Fighting Trolls

Fighting Trolls is a abstract boardgame for 2 players takes place on the hex-grid board with 19 Hexagons (3 per side) - this is a battlefield. There are 2 caves on opposite sides of the battlefield one for each player.

The objective is to remove opponent from the battlefield.

Each player gets 35 cards (8 cards with "0", 7 cards with "+1", 6 cards with "+2",...,1 card with "+7") and 50 discs in his color. They places one disc on his cave and second disc near his deck as a troll-pile.
Troll-pile shows the biggest troll on the board as well the moves player can do with their trolls.

In his turn player may choose to bring new (bigger) troll on the battlefield or move their trolls.
Bringing new troll on battlefield:
Player draws a top card from his deck and adds as many discs as indicated on card to the troll-pile. Then he brings new troll to his cave with height equal with troll-pile.
(f.e. there are 5 discs in troll-pile, player brings troll with 5-discs on the board).
Ps! If the Cave is occupied the troll must placed around cave (or if all places are occupied as well around those places etc.)
Ps! If there are no enough discs left - player makes the troll pile as high as there is a highest troll on the battlefield and ends his turn. Moving:
Player may moves as many discs as there are discs on the troll-pile. (f.e. if there are 5 discs in the troll-pile player may move his troll with 5-disc height 1 hex aside or troll(s) with 1-disc height 5 hexes aside etc.)
If there is a opponent troll on that hex player moved the battle begins. All equal discs are removed. All over-discs remain.
(f.e. Player with the 3-discs troll moves to hex where is opponent's troll with 4-discs troll both players removes 3 discs from their trolls and opponent has 1-disc height troll left after that battle.)

Player who removes all opponent trolls from the battlefield is the winner.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #5 - Roll over Mars

Roll over Mars

Space exploration inspired game for 2 - 4 kids. Designed to teach weighing and measurement.


To control a Mars rover and collect stones. To do measurements. To improve rovers capacity and to be the first to complete mission. Mission is completed when eight stones are taken to base.


A wide cloth, an image of planet Mars printed on it. Image has a center point and 6 sectors.
A balance scale, standard weights.
A ruler 20".
A dial caliper.
Mars stones. Around 40 blocks, various sizes. Blocks' sizes (and weights) comprise a series.
4 cards representing Mars rover and its equipment.
4 Mars exploration rover figurines.
1 Base.
3 Mounting garages
A deck of accessory cards. Accessories are large container, more efficient battery and great solar power.


Spread out Mars image cloth. Scatter stones all over Mars.
Deal Mars rover cards. Rover card tells what is maximum capacity, how big a stone can be picked. Rover card also inform battery duration and solar power.

What players don't know, is how much each stone weigh or what are stone's exact dimensions. Vehicle can only take stone which weight and dimensions go under maximum capacity.

Place the base in the center. Put 3 garages near the base.


A round starts by reading weather report. Roll dice, the number shows in what sector weather is bad and moving there is impossible. A rover being in the bad weather area suffer damages by losing 1 accessory.

Toss who is allowed to play his turn first. Next ones clockwise.

Toss whether supply shipment happens in the end of this round.

Players take turns to control their vehicles and collect stones. Stones must be measured. If the stone isn't too big, rover picks it and brings to the base. If rover has enough energy, and if rover's capacity allows, multiple stones can be transported at a time.

When round ends, those rovers parked in a garage gain 1 accessory, if supply shipment did happen. Accessory is usable next round and in every since. If accessory was Large Container, then that rover has two containers, standard and large.

Every rover obtain the battery fully charged between rounds.


Count energy and check how long distance your rover can ride on this turn. One distance unit consumes one unit energy. Measure distance to that stone you want to pick. Use the ruler. Consider if the stone is too heavy or too big. Then your rover cannot carry it and you must return back to base. Or, if energy enough, you can guide rover to an another stone.

Player is allowed to apply measurements (weight, width and length) only when his rover has reached the target stone. To find out stone's weight, use the balance scale. To measure its width and length, use the dial caliper.


Mission is completed when eight stones are taken to the base by a player. Whoever player does this first, is the winner.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #6 - Sociopathy


A foldable card game of manipulation for 2 to 5 players.

Your father's career was destroyed by one of El Presidente's whims. Your life goal is to take revenge – befriend El Presidente and compromise his rule! You have been practicing the art of manipulation, and are finally starting to get somewhere.

Make connections to powerful people. You start the game as a nobody, who found an opportunity to befriend a high-standing member of the society. The first step to El Presidente's ruination is taken...


  • foldable card sheets of 3x3x2 cards: 5 sheets per player + 5 in the center
  • agent tokens – 10 per player
  • influence tokens – plenty enough


Players receive a random double-sided card sheet. The sheets are initially folded into a single card. Unfolding them reveals other cards, which grow the player's power (circle of connections).

Give each player 2 agent tokens – the initial inner circle of the player that can be sent to do the dirty work of manipulating people.

Another sheet of cards is placed in the middle of the play area (folded into a single card).

Each card is a (powerful) person or a location, called a "connection" in the game. Most of the locations are in the middle of the board – they are opened as players make progress. Most of the persons are on the players' sheets.

Game Play

At the start of each round, check the middle of the game area to see if new locations need to be unfolded.

Next, players can take these actions:

  1. create a new connection: unfold a card in front of you in one direction, as long as you meet the conditions of that fold. Place an agent on the freshly revealed card. If the unfolded card refers to another folded sheet, that sheet is activated (place the agent on that sheet instead)
  2. maintain a connection: if a connection is weak, you can avoid losing it by having an agent work it
  3. use a connection (it's active ability): sometimes this will lose you the connection, and the card will be folded back

To take an action, an agent is placed on a free space on a card and the action is carried out. That agent cannot be used again in this round. The turn proceeds to the next player. Once all players have placed all of their agents, the agents return and a new round begins.

The connections have active and passive abilities. Passive abilities are represented by icons on the cards. Each of the open cards' icons of the same type are totalled to check if you have enough icons to meet a condition for an action.

Some connections provide influence tokens that can be used later. Some become new members of your inner circle.


The game ends if El Presidente has been revealed on the center sheet and a player performs an action that says "El Presidente is ruined". That player wins!

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