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[GDS] August 2015 "The GenCons and GenCants"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

We have a winner!

10 Days

by andymakespasta

Another tough challenge to close out summer. Thank you to all our participants, I can't wait to hear some of the thinking behind the design choices this month. Let's head over to the critiques forum for complete voting results and discussion.

Entries are posted!

Wide range of themes this month tackled the mechanic of "grouping" and moving between them. Take a good long look at whcih group you want to vote for, and then head on over to the voting form lock in your choices.

Here are the details:

  • Voting: Through the 17th. Votes will be through a form HERE.

  • 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.

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

Gencon is now over. I've held off putting up th August GDS to accomodate those lucky attendees, and it so happens that the contest itself is themed around such gatherings.

Gencon, as a gathering of people with similar interests, is kind of a mega-sized clique. going all the way back to grade school kids have dealt with groupings, from "kids in my neighborhood" to "the cool kids table" to "the band geeks."

And that leads us to this month's challenge. You will make a game that uses a mechanic of forming, dissolving, and moving between groups. Maybe those groups have rules for entry (what secret club doesn't?), maybe they form for specific causes and then dissolve on their own, or maybe they are vying for supremacy of some imaginary schoolyard.

In addition to that pseudo-mechanical/thematic restriction, there is a component restriction. In your game pitch, you should include three of the following component types:

  • dice (of any kind)
  • pawns
  • gameboard(s)
  • a timer
  • cups (to conceal/roll things)
  • play money
  • marbles. Yeah, marbles.

The details:

Theme: Whatever you feel like

Mechanic: The game must use, as a major mechanic, the forming, dissolving, and/or moving between groupings.

Component restriction: At least three of the five listed above.

Word Limit: Standard 500 word limit. Remember this is a concept pitch, not a full rules document.

Voting: Award a Gold, Silver, and Bronze (worth 3,2, and 1 points respectively) Medals to your three favorite entries. Any entrant that does not award all three Medals will receive a Pyrite Medal (that's "Fool's Gold") worth -3 votes!

When submitting your entry: PLEASE USE THE FORM LINKED HERE.

  • Submissions: Monday the 3rd through Monday the 10th

  • Voting: Through the 17th. Votes will be through a form (link posted after submission period is ended).

  • 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 are 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, visit the GDS Wiki Page.

Enjoy, and good luck!

-Rich and Mindspike

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #1 10 Days

Take control of people fleeing the city in the face of impending doom. Form groups, build shelters, and barricade yourselves inside. If you happen to be stuck outside, band together, overrun the shelters and kill everyone inside!

Game Board:
In the center of the game board is the city, with many paths leading into the countryside. There are certain spots marked on the map where you can build a shelter.
Players move pawns of their color from the city to shelter sites, or between sites, trying to get as many people inside before time is up.
Different shelters have differing capacity, once this is exceeded, the shelter is overcrowded. Different shelters also have different defensive capabilities.

The game takes place in 10 rounds, each with a day phase and a night phase.
During the day phase, each player takes a turn to move their pawns:

At the start of your turn, if you have fewer than three pawns on the board, place more pawns in the city space until you have three. (Pawns inside shelters and camping don’t count towards the total.)

Roll as many dice as you have pawns on the board. For each “1” you roll, a traveling/camping pawn of your choice dies in the wilderness. Every other dice allows you to move a different pawn that number of spaces. Rolling 6 lets you place a new pawn on the city instead of moving.
You can also choose to move pawns that are sheltered or camping, but they don’t contribute to the dice pool.

Once you reach a shelter site, you can choose to stop.
If there is already a shelter at the site, people inside that shelter vote to let you in or not, with each pawn having one vote.
If yes, your pawn is added to the group, and can vote in following rounds.
If no, you can choose to camp outside or move on.
Note: Since nobody like camping outside, you cannot choose to camp outside until you have been rejected by voting

During the night phase, roll a dice for each shelter with campers outside. If (dice + campers > defenders + shelter defense), the campers overrun the shelter, and all people inside are killed. All campers are moved into the shelter.

After the tenth night, the apocalypse arrives, and the game ends.
Everyone not inside a shelter is instantly killed.
Every pawn of your color inside an overcrowded shelter gives 1 VP, while those inside uncrowded shelters give 3 VP.

Player choices:
Even if you have absolute control of a shelter, it is sometimes wise to let a few of your opponents pawns inside to decrease the pressure coming from outside, and make it so that if the campers invade, your opponent also loses pawns.

The base game can easily be reskinned into different themes, like barbarian hordes and strongholds, or zombies and safe houses, or nuclear attacks and bunkers. You can also expand with weird shelters with special abilities.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 Secret Orders

Secret Orders

2-5 players 60-90 minutes

The secret orders of the Illuminati have plans for world domination, but the best laid plans don’t always work as expected.


Game board Marbles in 5 colors Influence cubes in 5 colors Player mats 5 cups Deck of Secret Orders Passing Direction Marker First Player Marker

Game Overview

Secret Orders is an area majority, card drafting game in which players take on the role of secret orders of the Illuminati. The player with the most influence at the end of 5 rounds wins the game and rules the world.

Each round players draft 5 cards, 1 for each area of influence on the board. Players place their colored marbles into the cups representing the 5 areas of influence. The influence in each cup will determine who gets to play their secret order card for that area. The catch is that the marbles are numbered from 1-5 so players are never sure just how much influence each player has in a given area.

In addition, alliances provide players with increased influence, so forming and dissolving alliances has a significant impact.

Game Setup

Shuffle the deck of secret order cards and place the game board and cups in the center of the table. Each player takes 5 marbles, 35 influence cubes, and a player mat. Place the passing direction marker on the left side. Randomly choose the starting player.

Game Play

Players draft cards one at a time to an area on their player board until all slots are filled, passing cards according the passing direction marker.

After all cards have been set, players place marbles–one at a time–into any of the cups until all marbles are placed. Each cup is then emptied and counted. For each marble a player has in a cup, they may place an influence cube on the game board in that area of influence.

The player with the most value in marbles in a given area may then reveal her secret order card and use it’s effect. Value is counted by adding together the number on each marble and the number of allies marbles.

Some secret order effects are ongoing and some are immediate. Examples include: forced alliances, dissolving alliances, adding cubes, moving cubes, providing in-game influence, and providing additional influence for alliances with other orders. Alliances can be forced with cards or made at the end of a round but may only be dissolved by secret order cards.

Play passes around the table until all areas and secret orders have been resolved. The starting player passes to the left and the passing direction marker is flipped. Then the next round begins.

Game End

Once all 5 rounds are complete, the player with the most influence wins. In the event of a tie, the player closest to starting player wins.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3 "Ravinica"

I know. Names can change...

Ravnica is a game where Guilds begin, flourish and topple in the constant pursuit of POWER! 3-5 players, about an hour.

Ravnica is played with: - 50 character cards - 25 Agenda cards - Ravnica City gameboard - 20 pawns (2 each of 10 colors) - Plethora of 6-sided dice


Layout the gameboard. Shuffle the 50 Character cards and deal out 5 cards to all players, afterwards placing the deck in the Character deck zone provided on the gameboard. Shuffle the Agenda cards and place the deck in the Agenda deck zone on the gameboard then populate the agenda zones (1-5) with cards from the top of the Agenda deck. Keep the dice and pawns separate.

Player Turn

During a players turn they will do 2 of the following actions.

  • Add a Character from your hand to any Guild.

Add any Character card from your hand to any existing Guild, but only if the Character card's POPULARITY exceeds the POPULARITY requirements of the Guild's Agenda and the combined POPULARITY of all your Character cards in that Guild doesn't exceed 100.

  • Roll a 6-sided die and resolve an effect of Character or Guild Agenda you own that matches the result.

You own a Character that you played. You own a Guild when you have the most POPULARITY combined among all your character cards in that Guild. ALL players with a Character in a Guild will be affected by the Guild Agenda Effect.

  • Form a Guild.

Select one of the available Agendas from the Agenda zone. Add Character cards from your hand equal the FOUNDING number requirement on the Agenda. Character cards must follow the same rules of placement as playing a Character card to a Guild when forming a Guild. Replenish the empty Agenda zone with a new card from the Agenda Deck. Then select an available color pawn and place 1 on the Agenda card and place the other pawn of the same color on an available Guild Location on the gameboard. It is encourage to NAME your Guild at this time.

  • Move a Character from one Guild to another.

Select 1 Character that you own in any Guild and move them to another Guild. Character cards must follow the same rules of placement as playing a Character card to a Guild when moving to another Guild

  • Dissolve a Guild you own.

If you own a guild (Have the highest POPULARITY among Character cards in the Guild) you may dissolve the Guild. Discard all Characters EXCEPT 1, which you will return to your hand. Discard the Agenda card and remove all pawns associated with the Guild and Agenda.

Guild Location

The location of the Guild on the gameboard will provide addition abilities to the Agenda's combined with that location.


The game is over When either the Character Deck or Agenda Deck has no more cards, (even if there are still Agendas in the agenda zone.) The player at this time with the most POWER wins!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4 The Witches of Scotland

Following the death of MacBeth the witches of Scotland have gathered to cast a spell upon the new King. After the madness of MacBeth’s rule, they all agree that they should make the next King a better one. The problem is that none agree upon which ideals Scotland should be ruled under.

Each witch believes in two of the following Ideals: Strength, Peace, Nobility, Charity, Civilization, Harvest.

- Many MARBLES in 6 colors (one color per Ideal)
- 8 CUPS(“cauldrons”)
- 8 small player boxes
- 1 felt bag (“ingredient bag”)
- GAMEBOARD: circular indentation (the “crucible”), and spaces for cauldrons to sit. Each cauldron is surrounded by an inner-circle, middle-circle and outer-circle.
- 8 witch miniatures
- 30 cards (each showing two Ideals)

Players start the game with 5 marbles of each colour in their box and draws an Ideal card (which they keep secret).
Players all place their minis on the outer circle of cauldron 1. Witches around the same cauldron are considered a Coven.
Players secretly place one or more marbles into the ingredient bag, which is then tipped into the crucible so everyone can see the results. The marbles are then tipped into cauldron 1.

Players then take turns to either:
- Counterpose two Ideals
- Attempt to join another coven

Counterpose ideals
The active player argues to her coven that two Ideals cannot co-exist in their cauldron. All players in that coven secretly “vote” by placing marbles (of any colors) into the bag. These are then tipped into the crucible for counting.

If one of the counterposed Ideals has more votes than the other:
- Move the winning marbles from the crucible to the coven’s cauldron.
- Remove all other marbles in the crucible from the game
- Move marbles of the losing color from the coven’s cauldron to an empty cauldron. The active player may choose to move her mini to the middle-circle of that cauldron.

If there is a draw add all votes to the coven’s cauldron.

Join another coven
The active player takes 1, 2 or 3 marbles from her coven’s cauldron (depending upon whether she is in the outer, middle or inner circle). She offers these as payment to join another coven, who then “vote” (as above).

If a majority of votes match the marbles offered by the active player, she joins outer circle of the coven. Place her offered marbles and the marbles in the crucible into the cauldron. If a minority of votes match remove her offer and the votes from the game.

At the end of each round advance all witches from the outer to middle, or middle to inner, circle of their cauldron.

The game ends when all players have run out of marbles.
The winner is the witch who:
- Is in the coven with the most marbles in its cauldron; and
- Has the most marbles in her cauldron matching her Ideals;
- Is closest to the inner circle (if there is a drawn between multiple witches)

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #5 Wealth and Status


For each player: pawn, camp cards (Collectivist, Socialist and Capitalist) Game board for each camp Status tokens Play money Dice


Players try to live the best life, by the standards they think most worthwhile. They can choose to live in Capitalist, Socialist or Collectivist camp, each with it's own differing economy and standards of success.


Players take a player pawn in their colour and one of each camp card. They choose secretly which camp to start in and place their pawn on that camp board.


In each round of play these steps are performed in order, all players performing each step together.


In each round players take money depending on which camp they're in. Collectivists take $3 Socialists take $2 +$1 for each $10 they have Capitalists take $1 +$1 for each $5 they have Upgraded camps give more money.


Each player rolls a die and loses $3 on a 1.


Whichever Collectivist has most money gives half to whichever has least and takes 1 Status token. Then if any member of the camp has less money than the others, every member must give them $1.

In the Socialist camp anyone may give money to another camp member if they agree. If they give it to a player with less money they take 1 Status. Each player has one turn to trade before trading ends. Whoever has most money then loses 1 Status.

Capitalist camp members may trade freely.


Players may choose to change camp, everyone secretly decides their new camp and reveals simultaneously. Leaving a Collectivist or Socialist camp costs 1 Status Joining the Collectivist camp gives 1 Status Moving camp costs money depending on the level of the camp left and the camp joined.


Each camp may decide to buy an upgrade for their camp. The Collectivist camp must buy an upgrade if each camp member can pay a fixed share. All camp members gain 1 Status for doing this. The Socialist camp may buy an upgrade if each camp member can afford a minimum amount and they can pay a total amount between them. Each camp member may choose how much they are willing to pay above the minimum. If the upgrade can be built with the money of the available players but they can agree on shares, then the player with the most money loses 1 Status. Everyone takes 1 Status if they do build the upgrade. The Capitalist camp may buy an upgrade if the camp members agree to pool the required amount in whatever proportions they like.

Game end:

The game ends after at least one camp is upgraded to level 5


The winner is one of the members of the camp (or camps if more than one reached 5). Anyone not in these camps can not win. Within the winning camp(s): Collectivists win entirely on Status Socialists win on a combination of Wealth and Status Capitalists win entirely on Wealth

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6 GoblinBall Draft

Welcome back GoblinBall fans! The new season is about to begin and you will lead your team to victory. See if you have what it takes to draft your team and demolish your opponents in the GoblinBall arenas. In this game players become team owners who must draft the best team for each season. Once the season is done they will need to draft the next best team to make it all the way to The Grand Arena Championship.


Separate card decks and shuffle them Setup initial boards Randomly distribute coaches


Sequence of Play

The Draft

  1. Distribute draft sequence cards
  2. Populate draft boards
  3. Fire/Hire coaches
  4. Draft GoblinBall players

GoblinBall Season

  1. Populate initial season games board
  2. Conduct season matches

    1. Select Arena
    2. GoblinBall Roll off
    3. Update leader boards
    4. Mid season trade
  3. Conduct the Grand Arena Championship

The Draft

Randomly distribute draft position cards to owners. The owner with card one selects a goblin player card from the draft boards and places it onto their team board, then number two picks next, and so forth. Once the last owner has selected begin the next draft round starting with the last owner who picked and ending with the owner who has the number one draft card. This sequence is followed until all owners have formed their teams.

Goblins not selected remain on the draft boards creating an active trading pool.

When starting the next season the owner in last place will receive the number one draft position card, the owner who is next to last receives two, on up to the lead team's owner. The sequence is then repeated just as before, with last pick first and first pick last until all teams are reformed.

GoblinBall Season

Owners establish the season's matches by randomly drawing team tokens and placing them on the Season Competition Board to form initial matches.

The winner from each bracket moves on to the next match, while losers go to the bottom bracket matches.

Playing a Match

One owner flips the GoblinBall official coin to decide who picks the arena. Hand out dice to the owners, the owner who did not pick the arena starts with the ball and receives the offensive dice, while the other gets the defensive dice. Flip the timer and start rolling... Owners roll at the same time and each roll counts as a play. When one team loses the ball then players switch dice and continue rolling, switching dice every time a team loses the ball.

Players use tokens to keep track of points scored during each play/match.
The match ends when the timer runs out.

Players score points when team members accomplish actions

Update all game boards

Mid Season Trading

Trade dead Goblins/swap out members to adjust their team.
Trade with active trade pool or other players


The player with the most successful team over the season wins the game.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7 Out of the Swamp

Out of the Swamp

As a proud frog momma, it's your job to help your babies grow and get them out of the swamp. But don't let them go too quickly, and don't let them get too close to the bad eggs! The first player to get 3 frogs out of the swamp wins!


  • 32 small marbles (eggs)
  • 24 medium marbles (tadpoles)
  • 16 large marbles (frogs)
  • 4 extra large marbles (momma frogs)
  • 4 cups
  • 1 oversized die
  • 10 ft length of string

Set Up

Lay the string in a circle on an even surface. This is the “swamp”.

Each player takes their 8 “eggs” (small marbles) and their one “momma frog” (extra large marble) and puts them into their cup. Every player dumps their eggs in the middle of the circle.

How to Play

On a player's turn, that player grabs their “momma frog” (extra large marble) where it landed and shoots it.

If two marbles of the same type end up next to their “momma frog” marble, those marbles metamorphose. To check if they're close enough to metamorph, a player puts their cup over top of the marbles. If all three can be covered by the cup at the same time (this is called the “cup test”), metamorphasis begins!


When a marble metamorphs, its owner replaces it with the next largest marble they own. Eggs are replaced with tadpoles, and tadpoles are replaced with frogs. Frogs cannot become momma frogs.


If an egg or a tadpole gets knocked out, it might be removed from the game for trying to leave the swamp too early! Only frogs and momma frogs can leave the swamp safely.

If an egg or tadpole is knocked out of the circle, its owner rolls the oversized die. The die has two faces with smiling momma frogs, the other four sides are blank.

If the roll is a smiling momma frog, the roll is a success! The egg or tadpole is placed back, next to their momma frog. If the roll is blank, the roll is a fail. That marble is removed from the game.

Bad Eggs

If two or more opponent marbles are too close to a player's marble, the player's marble might be removed from the game!

If all marbles in question pass the “cup test”, the owner of the single marble rolls a die. If it's a success, nothing happens. If it's a fail, the marble is removed from the game.

The only thing that can protect “bad eggs” from removing smaller marbles is a momma frog marble. Momma frogs can't trigger “bad egg” scenarios and they prevent the removal of marbles if they fall anywhere within a “cup test.”

Winning the Game

The first player to successfully get three frog marbles out of the circle wins the game!

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