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[GDS] FEBRUARY 2014 "From nothing, something"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

We have a winner!

Angry Stickmen

This was clear favorite, and ran away with the voting. The full results will be posted into the comments and critiques section, so head over there and let our designers know what you thought about their hard work!

[GDS] February 2014 "From nothing, something"

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

Entries are in!

Lots of participation again, this month! Many participants took the essence of the challenge to heart and limited their components beyond what was required. Kudos to them for the personal challenge.

Take a long look through the entries, and turn your votes in to mindspike before the end of the 15th. Good luck, everyone!

There are some great game out there with very strange or simple components - and some that can be played with out any. After all, what is a game at its core but an agreed upon imaginary ruleset and some challenges? That's the heart of the February GDS - to make a game with at most one component.

A bit more on that later. First some examples. I'm sure you all can find more, but I'll start with the ancient game of Mancala. Nothing but beads in piles for that one; don't even really need a board. The more modern party game of Werewolf/Mafia can be played with nothing - just a moderator to keep track of a few basic roles. Coloretto can almost be played with just a set of cards with one color apiece. It's tough to get more modern examples as games are a great opportunity to sell a product - selling the old Sid Sackson games you could play with a buddy and a pencil/pad just doesn't work.

So what, specifically, is your challenge? You need to design a game - as themed as you'd like it to be - that uses at most one component. You can have as many of that component as you like, but the component cannot have any more than 1-bit of information to differentiate themselves - namely that it is variety X of the component.


If you chose "stones" as your component, then the single bit of identifying information might be it's size; that it is a "big" stone versus a "small" stone. Or maybe you chose chits as your component. They might be different colors. NOT "they are different colors AND some have different shapes." That's 2 bits of info (color AND shape).

And just to keep you all on your toes, CARDS ARE ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN. The temptation is too high to start using symbols and what-not to print information on them.

You'll need to focus on the interactions between players, as THEY are one of the few resources you can use in the game. And of course, one component.

By the way, a twister board fits this criteria still, as it is a essentially a series of large colored discs. That's it. But you couldn't have the spinner, too.

Now the standard details:

Word Limit: Standard 500 word

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 PM submissions to richdurham with the following subject line.

Subject: GDS - FEB - [your username]

  • Submissions: Saturday the 1st through to Saturday the 8th.

  • Voting: Through the 15th. PM your votes to mindspike.

  • 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, visit the GDS Wiki Page.

Enjoy, and good luck!

-Rich and Mindspike

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #1 - Who? Where?

"Who? Where?"

Each player needs a paper and pencil and someone may track the time and score in each round.

In each round someone is the storyteller. His left neighbor write to the paper "Who" - person, animal etc.
His right neighbor write to his paper "Where" - the place. Both players give their papers to the stroyteller.
The judge start the timer and the player has 30 seconds to tell a fairytale, story, dream etc. where he must use at least once the mysterious "Who" and "Where" words.

(The only restriction may be that the player may not use charakters and places in story at a run like this: "Wolf, Rabbit, Fox and Bear go to the city and forest and the hills" etc. The structure must be more like: "Wolf goes to the forest and meets the Rabbit. Then they told about fishing on the lake bla-bla-bla")

If the time runs out all other players try to guess what are this mysterious words - write these on their papers.
(Of course the neighbors may guess only one word)

Now the scoring begins:
Each word guessed scores 1 point.
Both words guessed scores 3 points.
If one of the words is not guessed by nobody the storyteller scores 1 point.
If both words are not guessed by nobody the storyteller scores 3 points.
If one of the words is not used in the story the storyteller scores 1 negative point.
If both words not used in the story the storyteller scores 3 negative points.

The left neighbor is the next storyteller.
Play as many rounds that each player told a story.
Player with the most points is the winner.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 - Starfield

Starfield is a dexterity/strategy game in which 2 or more players compete to colonize the galaxy.

Setup: Randomly distribute 40 Planets (wooden discs, eight each of Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, and Black) across a table. Choose a first player. Order of play then moves to the left around the table. All players except the first player close their eyes. The first player then secretly removes a single Planet from the table and hides it in their pocket. That color is their preferred Planet color. The first player then closes their eyes and then the second player opens his eyes to secretly choose a Planet, and so forth around the table until everyone has selected a preferred Planet. Player may not take more than 10 seconds to pick a Planet. Once all players have chosen a Preferred planet, each player puts their finger on any Planet on the table, starting with the first player. Only one finger per Planet at any point during the game. Players may not arbitrarily move their finger to a different Planet.

Play: Starting with the first player, each player takes turns flicking the Planet under their finger at any Planet on the table. The first Planet struck must be Claimed. Planets that are Claimed are no longer valid targets and must be removed from the table to be kept by the player who Claimed them.

The second Planet struck (either by the flicked Planet or the first Planet struck) must be given to an opponent selected by the flicking player.

All other Planets that are struck must be Trashed (removed from the table and nobody gets them).

Players must keep their finger on the same Planet at all times while any Planets are in motion, but must not obstruct the motion of any other Planets. If the Planet under a player’s finger is struck, that planet is Trashed plus a chosen Planet he had previously Claimed. The player must then place their finger on the closest nearby Planet. If there are no unclaimed Planets left, that player is then out of the game

The game is over when there is only one player (and one Planet) left. All players then show their preferred Planet and compare who had the most of their preferred color, including their initially selected preferred Planet.

Triplets give bonuses. 3 Claimed Red Planets lets you decide what Claimed Planets an opponent must Trash if you strike their Planet. 3 Green Planets means you Claim the first and second Planets struck (the third then becomes your chosen opponent’s Planet and all others get Trashed). 3 Blue Planets means that you may flick the same Planet twice in a turn and only count the results of the second flick. 3 Yellow Planets lets you move your finger to any other Yellow Planet during your turn before you flick (“teleport”). 3 Black Planets lets you choose one opponent per turn who must make his next flick with his eyes closed.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3 - Sell Me This Pen.

Friends sit in a circle. One is the salesperson others will be potential customers for a pen. The salesmen will attempt to sell the pen to his friends as they role play outrageous characters.

The friends give one adjective each to describe a customer they would like to see role-played, after everybody has given an adjective, the customers decide who will play what adjective (nobody plays their own adjective) If there are discrepancies, the salesperson decides.

If you like you may choose to go around the circle again in backwards order, and create another set of descriptors to create more complex and interesting characters. The salesperson may act in whatever way they expect will help them sell the pen. Perhaps as a confident snake oil vendor, or mimicking the idiosyncrasies of the customer, it is up to the player. They will talk to each of the customers and attempt to convince them to purchase the wonderful pen. When a customer buys a new round begins, they become the new salesperson (they do not maintain their personality) and everyone else generates a new character.

Play until everybody has sold a pen.

Hidden Information Variant: Have the salesperson leave the room while the others decide on their persona

Tips on thinking of great adjectives: -Think honestly about kinds of people who would want pens. -Think about dwarfs. -Think about occupations, or countries -Think of something that is not an adjective and ad “ish” or “esque” like Justinbieberish or Comicbooky -Think about people you are playing the game with. Pick an adjective to describe them. -Make up a word, let the other player decide what it means. Tumolulos, Meebly, Sesvernal. -Stop overthinking it. Mundane adjectives can create great characters. Red, Big, Boring, Normal, Good.

Tips on not being a blockhead: -Remember that the game is as fun as you make it. -This is a game about buying pens. Do not suggest, or play stubborn characters that have no interest in interacting with the pen. -Don’t be too interested in the pen either. If you are the first person the salesperson has spoken to, give a chance to sell to both you and your fellow customers. Don’t just buy it. -Never play your character as too young, too drunk, or too crazy. It’s obnoxious in real life too. -Catch phrases, particularly those that interrupt other players, are rarely funny -Stay in character. - Don’t tell other people what they are thinking or feeling. Saying things like “I know your mother was killed by a pen” might sound fun at the time, but that is their decision to make for their character. -Remember that money is imaginary in this game, as the salesperson if nobody is buying your fantastic $600 pen, sell it for a penny and move on. -Think about other tips that might be added to this list. Follow those tips too

Tips on Selling Pens: -Always be closing -AIDA -If you don’t like it, you should go work at McDonalds.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4 - Call My Column

Call My Column

‘Call My Column’ is a bluffing game for 3-8 players in which players compete to create and claim columns of tokens

Game Components
144 circular tokens – each token features a number, with 16 tokens for each number from 1-9

The tokens are sorted into sets containing one token with each number (there should be 16 sets)
Each player takes 2 sets
They lay one set out in front of them, face-up, in order from 1-9 – these are the ‘reference tokens’
They keep the other set in their hand – these are the ‘play tokens’

In each round, the players will secretly select a token to play, and place this face-down in front of them.
Once all players have selected a token, the players turn their tokens over at the same time.
The tokens are then formed into a column, face-up, with the lowest numbered token on the bottom to the highest number on the top.
The player who played the highest number (the top token) takes this column into their play area.
If they already have a column with the same number on top, the new column moves to the player on their left.
If that player already has a column with the same number, the column moves again.

This continues until the column belongs to a player who does not already own a column with that number at the top
The players then turn over the reference token which matches the play token which they just played – this informs the other players of which tokens each player has already played
Once the players have played 9 rounds, they total up the number of points on all of the tokens in each column which they own
The player with the most points is the winner!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #5 - Dicey Moves

Dicey Moves

Dicey Moves is a simple dice game for 3-8 players that combines the luck of the roll and the mechanics of a draft, yet still forces players to make the difficult decisions of a strategy game. Combine your dice into either sets or runs and score points based on difficulty – it’s a race to highest point total, simple, but effective.

Game Components
20 six-sided dice – 5 each of five different colors

Game Setup
To start the game, place the appropriate amount and colors of dice in the center of your play area.
For 3 players – 4 dice of 3 different colors
For 4 players – All 5 dice of 3 different colors
For 5 players – 4 dice of 4 different colors
For 6 players – All 5 dice of 4 different colors
For 7 or 8 players – All 5 dice of each of the 5 colors

Each player chooses a single die at random and rolls it. That die is then kept in front of them and the player with the lowest roll goes first; ties are broken by which player most recently lost a wager.

Turn Structure
The first player chooses a die from the center and then rolls it. After seeing the outcome, (s)he may:

1) Keep the active die. Kept dice remain in front of that player in view. Players are each allowed a maximum of three dice. If at any time a player already has three dice, (s)he can choose to keep the active die provided (s)he discards one of his/her existing dice to the center.
2) Pass the active die. Active dice pass clockwise around the table.

If the first player passes the active die, the next player re-rolls it. After seeing the outcome, (s)he chooses from the same two options.

Play continues until the active die returns to the player who originally chose it. That player *may* then re-roll the active die with the same options to keep or pass, with the additional consequences:

1) If (s)he chooses to keep the active die, (s)he *must* discard one other of his/her dice.
2) If (s)he chooses to pass the die, it is discarded to the center, *as well as* another die from in front of him/her.

While it may be advantageous for that player to roll the die again, keep in mind the option to discard the die without consequence, as well.

Play continues clockwise with the next player deciding the color of the rolling die.

After a player has kept an active die and any necessary discards are made, that player may exchange any combination of dice as follows for the matching reward:
3 dice with consecutive pips (all different colors) – 1 point
3 dice with matching pips (all different colors) – 3 points
3 dice with consecutive pips (all same color) – 3 points
3 dice with matching pips (all same color) – 6 points

Additionally, players may also discard any two of their kept dice to discard a single kept die from another player.

Game End
Games are played to a total of 21 points. The first player to meet or exceed that number is declared the winner.

Final Thoughts
Despite Rich’s warnings, I took the dice approach. They provided the complexity and decision-making I look for in a game, while still providing the element of luck that ultimately levels the strategic playing field. I really want to playtest this game to hammer out what’s lacking, and simply, because I think it’d be fun…especially the way you can ruin somebody else’s plans so easily. Happy voting.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6 - M&M Poker

m&m Poker

The sporting man's method for sharing delicious candy.

Game Components

one bag of m&m candy, plain or peanut

Game Play

Players tear the corner off of one package of m&m and then take turns drawing candies from the bag until they each have five. The players are trying to create poker combinations with the colors. The values of colors would be arranged highest to lowest in such an order:

  • red
  • orange
  • yellow
  • green
  • blue
  • brown

Combinations would be ranked by probability, and would include the amazing 5 of a kind, straight runs, 4 of a kind, the full house (2 of one and 3 of another), 3 of a kind, 2 pair, one pair... Players could also draw after their initial hand by removing candies that were undesirable into a 'pot' and replacing them with more candies. The winner of each hand of course would get to keep all the m&ms involved, probably in his mouth.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7 - Pop Star Drag Racing

Title: Pop Star Drag Racing


Ripped from the headlines. We all know how it is to be a pop star with money to burn. As pop stars we want to drag race our friends and avoid the police. The goals of the game are to drag race and not get caught by the police. Prior to the race you can bet money on each race to grow your money.

Game Components:

A notepad to keep track of the pop stars and a coin for each player.

Game set up:

  1. Each pop star starts with $50.00.
  2. There can be as many pop stars as want to play.
  3. It is recommended that each race be no more than 3 - 4 pop stars, however, more is ok (just expect more photo finishes).
  4. Each racer’s car has lengths (like horse racing) quarter, half, three quarters and full lengths.

Turn Structure:

  1. Pick the racers for the race.
  2. Every player agrees how much each racer puts in the pot for the winner.
  3. In this drag race the cars are moving at high speeds. The difference maker in the race is the driver’s ability to keep their HEAD in the race. Successful drivers will move slightly ahead of others a quarter lengths at a time.
  4. Each player flips a coin.

    1. Heads moves the player one quarter length forward (keep track on the notepad).
    2. Tails does not advance.
  5. The race consists of 10 coin flips by each pop star (winner is the leader after 10 flips).

  6. If two pop stars are tied after 10 flips then the tied racers do a photo finish.
  • The photo finish consists of each tied racer flipping against the other until one has a heads and the other has a tails result. The heads wins.
  • Note that multiple tied racers continue eliminating racers that get a tails result. Ex.: three racers finish together. A, B & C all flip again.

    A = heads, B = tails & C = heads. B is out.

    A & C flip again. A = heads and C = tails, A wins.

Game End:

  1. During a race if one pop star flips and gets 4 tails in a row; they are caught by the police. a. When caught by the police the pop star flips a coin.

    Heads = DUI and the game is over. The player with the most money wins.

    Tails = arrested for speeding and lose all of your money except $1.00. (Good luck finding a race with a $1.00 entry fee).


This game is meant to be a little tongue and cheek and can be played anywhere with anyone with very little setup to have fun dreaming of being a pop star. Please note that at any time during the game before a race, any pop star can buy a carton of eggs (for $1.00) and egg their neighbor’s house for fun.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #8 - 60 Tiles

60 Tiles

Component: hexagonal tiles

Each tile has three different colored lines on them that must be connected to other lines. There are no dead ends, and at least quarter of the tiles will have an intersection (branching line). I think that 60 of these tiles will be a great number for a 3 player game. The tiles will also be double sided for more options.

Goal: To extend your line and destroy the lines of other players. The last player with a “body” is the winner. Each line has a head end and a tail end. Only the head end can be extended. Tiles may only be removed from the tail end of other players.

Set up: The tiles are shuffled and stacked. Players must choose an area to play in and give the parameters of the game. This can be a table, chalk outline or line in the sand. In the middle of area, place the top tile from the stack. Each player will choose a color.

How to Play: To start the game, players will add three tiles radiating in a single file away from the center tile. The last tile is the head. Now remove the center tile and start playing.

On each turn, the player has two actions. The actions can be a combination of the following (AA, AB, BA, BB): Extension – Choose a tile from the stack and place it at the head end of your line. This is the new head. Destroy – Take the tail tile from an opponent and place it at the bottom of the stack.

NOTE: If a player can connect into another player’s line, the tail of that player becomes the head of the connecting player’s line. The line that was broken is now part of the connecting player’s line. The tail of the broken line is now the last tile before the connection point.

If the stack runs out of tiles, each player must remove 2 tails on their next turn. After each player has done this, play continues as normal.

When a player only has a head left, they are eliminated from the game.

The game continues until there is only one player left or a predetermined time period has passed.

If you (the judges) think this is too much information for the purpose of the challenge, it is also possible to make a version of this game with blank tiles. Each tile will have a black dot at the center of each edge. Whoever buys the game can draw their own lines connecting the dots

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #9 - Angry Stickmen

Angry stickmen

Material: 30 small sticks per player (a box of matches for instance)

Sticks can be played in three forms:

  • A stickman - 5 sticks - a star – gives +1 attack and defense bonus
  • A house - 6 sticks - triangle on square – gives one action
  • A tower - 7 sticks - two squares, one on top of the other - gives +5 attack and defense bonus

Every player starts with 2 stickman, 1 house and 14 available sticks.

To decide the start player an auction is held. The highest bidder puts his bid in the middle of the table starts the game. Play continues clockwise. If noone bids the eldest player starts and pays one stick.

Every player starts with one house, and can perform one action per turn. Available actions are: Build, Attack and Rest. A player with two houses can perform two actions, and so on.


Take 1 to 5 available sticks and build (part of) a stickman, house or tower. All can be build in stages, but will only perform their function when finished. Sticks cannot be taken back. During play the player can switch plans as long as the sticks stay in the same position. Explanation: Both a tower and a house can start with a square; the legs of a stickman can be turned into a triangle and become the roof of a house. This swith is no longer possible when there are two legs and an arm, since the arm stick has to be taken away.

It is allowed to have several unfinished forms, and build on several forms in one action.

Depending on the number of sticks played at once, the player pays or takes sticks from the middle of the table. If there are not enough sticks in the middle of the table, the player takes nothing. If the player has not enough sticks to pay, he may not build that many sticks.

  • 1 stick: take 2
  • 2 sticks: take 1
  • 3 sticks
  • 4 sticks: pay 1
  • 5 sticks: pay 2


Take 3 sticks (or all if less available) from the middle of the table.


An attack targets one other player. Both players secretly take any number of their available sticks in one hand. The player with the highest bid gets one stickman from the other player. Both bids change hands.
The height of the bid is the number of sticks in the hand, plus the bonus of the player (+1 per stickman, +5 per tower)
When both bids are equal the attacker wins!


If a player has zero stickmen at the end of his turn, he is out of the game. The last player left wins.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #10 - Cube Dudes

Cube Dudes

where you can construct your own victory

Manage and harvest resources to build a small army of dude workers and things to collect resources, attack, and defend until one of you has awed everyone with your glorious crystal pyramid or simply crushed them.

The Component

The game consists of 100s of 1cm colored cubes that can connect to each other (1 outy, 3 innies;) a common math manipulative.

The play area needs a region for each player and one for the common Pick area and Pickpile.

Cube types in value order:
Wood, Plant, Water, Stone, Life, Slime, Fire, Health, Metal, Crystal


Place specified quantities based on rarity into the Pickpile. Each player gets an inventory of enough resources to build 6 health, a dude (pink, blue, brown) and some random common cubes.

Game Ends

  • Pickpile is empty
  • Someone builds a crystal pyramid
  • Only one player has health

Score for Dudes, Health, Crystals, and big bonus for Crystal Pyramid

The Play

  1. Fill the Pick Area to 10 by randomly pulling from the Pickpile (if 2 slime and 1 life are in the Pick area, immediately build a Jerk)
  2. (all players) beginning with lowest number of dudes: Pick one cube
  3. Take actions - one dude per action, attach tools used at this time
  4. Build
  5. Be a Jerk - if a jerk was built this turn, attack someone with it; if there are any common Jerks, they all attack you
  6. Generate resources


  • Recycle = return cubes from item to your Pullpile
  • Destroy = return item to stock
  • Pull (personal) random (2 per dude + tool)
  • Pick (common) 1 per dude + tool
  • Attack (requires tool)
  • Other (per item)


  • Dude (per weapon) = Attack life, wall, building, steal resource
  • Jerk = Attack one life not guarded by a wall. Otherwise steal the most valuable unprotected resource and return it to the Pickpile.

Building (examples)

Specific pairings of resources can trade to a different resource (crystal requires three)


  • Sword (1 wood, 2 metal) attack player, ignoring wall or destroy Jerk
  • Axe (2 wood, 1 stone) attack wall or Pick extra wood
  • Torch (wood, fire) double Pull, return half
  • Cart = Pick or Pull extra


  • Inventory pack = carry more cubes
  • Jerk (2 slime, 1 life)


  • Source = 3 of any (or a pair of pairings), add to drawpile
  • Factory = Source + Dude, add to inventory
  • Cabin = allows more dudes

Notes and Possibilities

The single component offers large amounts of extensible play. Complexity emerges as players build their engines. Draw, action, build can be wiggled to fit a range of ideas, house rules, and new scenarios. Once the rules are known, kids could play pickup games in school.

Because units in the game are assembled with no hidden information, the game can be stored in progress to be continued at a later time.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #11 - Keep Your Voice Calm

Keep Your Voice Calm

2 players, 15 minutes

Object of the Game

To be the first who collects a full row of sets before stones run out. It will help, if you can hear when your opponent is bluffing.


150 pieces of stones. All the same color. Or other things which are small enough to fit in a closed palm.


Make a row of ten stones in front of each player. Place all the rest stones in the middle of the table. Players should always see how many pieces are left.

What's the row of ten stones?

Each of the ten stones is a placeholder for a stone set what player tries to collect. There are ten kinds of stone sets: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 piece. First mark is for 1 stone set. Second mark is for 2 stones set. ... Last mark is for 10 stones set. Example: When player gets a stone set of 9 stones, he puts them beside the second last mark.


Players try to get at least one set beside each of the ten placeholders. Sets come available in pairs and player can grab only the other half of the pair. Possible pairs are 1-10, 2-9, 3-8, 4-7 and 5-6. In turn, other player takes 11 stones from the pile and secretly moves a few stones to the other hand. He closes his hands and keeps them visible. Now the other half of the pair is in left hand and the other half in right.

How to Play

Player1 says a number (1 - 10). The number he says is a set, which he is missing. Player2 takes stones enough to hold just said number of stones in one closed hand and "pair number" of stones in other hand (total 11). Keeping his closed hands visible, player2 must now tell (or lie) how many stones is in which hand. Player1 can ask again and try to hear if there's a bluff going on. Player1 chooses right or left, and grabs the stones (=set). The stones in other hand are returned to the pile. Player1 puts the set in an appropriate place in his row. Then player2 says a number and player1 takes eleven stones.

The game goes like an automat a couple of turns. Then "backfire" start to happen and empty placeholders keep being empty. Soon the pile of stones will run out. Bluff and exposing bluff becomes essential.

End of the Game

The game ends when stones run out. The player having less empty placeholders wins. Or the first to get his placeholders full of stone sets is the winner (at least one set beside every placeholder).

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #12 - Ivory Tower

It’s the year 1500, and Universities all across Europe are flourishing! Players take the role of Universities who must prove their prestige by building the tallest Ivory Tower. 3 to 5 players bid, draft, and stack wooden pieces in a race to build the tallest tower. The first player to reach 10 centimeters is the winner!

White wooden pieces that differ only in shape:
5 Baseplates (4cm x 4cm)
1 Pillar (10cm tall plate)
Flat plates
Other multisided shapes

Each player receives 1 Baseplate. The Pillar is set aside for measuring height to determine the winner, and the remaining pieces are returned to the box and mixed together.

Draw Pieces - Each round, players randomly draw a number of pieces from the box and place them in the center of the table. Pieces are drawn until the number of pieces on the table is equal to twice the number of players in the draft. Players can be forced to skip a draft if pieces fall of their Tower (see below).

Bidding - At the count of three, players hold up a number of fingers between 1 and 10. Any players who are tied are eliminated for the rest of the round.

Drafting - Starting with the player who held up the highest number of fingers and proceeding in descending order, each remaining player chooses one of the drawn pieces. Then, in opposite order, players choose a second piece. (If any players tied, the remaining pieces are left out for the next round)

Building - Players must place their chosen pieces onto their baseplate, or onto other pieces that are already placed on their baseplate to form their Tower. If at any point during the game a piece falls off a player’s Tower or touches the table, that player skips the next bidding, drafting, and building phases while they rebuild their Tower. This can also be used as a chance to rebuild their Tower completely.

Measuring - Players use the Pillar to measure their Tower height. If one or more players have taller Towers than the Pillar, those players win.

Strategy and Piece Balance
Building pieces in the game are chosen to have varying usefulness. For example, cubes and rectangular prisms are very useful, but spheres and pawns can be liabilities due to likelihood of falling and difficulty of stacking. This allows players to strategize about what place in the drafting order they really want and bid appropriately. Often, the player who bids highest gets the most useful piece and a risky liability piece for the final pick. Similarly, the player who bids lowest is playing it safe, but won’t get extremely useful pieces.

Pieces are also chosen to have degrees of specialization. For example, most pieces come in 3 heights - 6mm, 12mm, and 24mm. This allows players to seek out pieces of the same height in order to build sturdier towers.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #13 - Rocks in the Pot

Rocks in the Pot

Shamelessly inspired by the old 1-2-3 shoot game with the fingers but with an added twist.

Game for 2 players


12 stones for each player


Players place their stones in their pocket. The players choose a number either odd or even. This will be their parity for the game.


The game is played in a series of rounds. Each round consists of the following steps: One player counts to three. On three all players simultaneously pull from zero to four stones out of their pocket. The round is scored and the stones are redistributed according to the scoring below. Play continues until one person has all of the stones.


Count the number of stones in the pile. If it's an odd number, then the odd player gets them. If its an even number the even player gets them. If both players pull the same number of stones out, then they stay in the pot. On the following round, the score is performed as usual but the player who pulled out the LEAST number of stones wins the pot.


Game is over when one player gets all the stones.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #14 - Sow That All May Eat

Sow That All May Eat

3-6 players Sitting in a circle

Components: Identical wooden corn tokens.


Random player chooses to take between 3-X corn (where X is # of players). Going left, each player takes 1 less corn until a player can't take any. That player takes corn until they have X corn. Place X Corn in the center.


Players will be sowing corn; moving piles around the circle. Sowing is highly regulated, but flexibility can be had for the price of contributing to the center corn pile. If you can move corn to yourself you may Eat some to score points, but your moves might let others Eat too. Ignoring contributions to the communal corn pile can lose all players the game.


Start with the player to the left of the last one to take Corn. On her turn a player may chose the corn in front of any other player. She may:

  • Move all the corn of that player, or
  • Move any other amount of that player's corn.

Move all the corn

  • You may move the entire corn pile left OR right
  • It will move that direction, stopping at each person until it's moved a total number of people = to the starting amount of corn in the pile. (ex. 5 corn pile moves left 5 people, stopping at each person along the way.)
  • When stopping at a person, if the corn pile currently has more corn than that person, he takes one corn from the moving pile to add to the pile in front of himself. (The corn will still move the same number of people)

Move any other amount

  • You must first Plant one corn (place in the center) from from the remaining pile of the person you chose to move.
  • Move the selected corn that number of people left or right, same as in Move all the corn

After moving the Corn pile, check each person's pile (Starting left of last person to get corn when moving pile). If someone has more corn than X (# of players), she may eat one corn. Any more extra corn is discarded from the game. Additionally, any player with no corn must eat one corn from the center supply.

Next player is left of previous player.

Game End

The Game ends if one of these conditions is met:

  • There is no corn in the center when a player must eat one because he has no corn. All players lose.
  • At the end of a turn where there is less total corn in front of players than there are players.


The player that has eaten the most corn wins. In case of a tie, the tied player with the most remaining corn wins.

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