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[GDS] OCTOBER 2013 "Balancing the Line"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

October 2013 Game Design Showdown - "Balancing the Line"

We have a winner!

Wobbly Towers

Congratulations! Wobbly Towers ran away with the vote, garnering a medal from nearly every voter.
The full awards are posted in the Comments and Questions section.
Discussion is starting in the Critiques area. Join in!

Entries are in!

Take a look through the entries and have at them with your votes!

  • Voting: Through to the 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.

This month's GDS is about balance - in both physically balancing, and in balancing your audience.

When I think of modern hobby games, so many of them are economic or war games - and even more have themes that can alienate players that who "aren't in to that stuff" even if the theme is almost irrelevant to the choices made in the game.

But then there is that subset of hobby games that SHOULD be mainstream - the casual designer game. You know the ones: they have a light application of theme, are often whimsical, casual, and still manage to have the designer's name on the box. They use a mix of familiar card play or dexterity as a central feature. And they are a lot of fun. But why aren't more of them in mass market stores? Why do some game geeks snub them?

Your challenge this October is to create a game that uses dexterity as a main mechanic, and balances that line of "heavy enough for a gamer, but light enough for the masses."

With that in mind, you may use any components or theme you wish, but be aware of the magical $20 price point that mass market games try to come under. It might help in your visualization of a "light enough for the masses."

And for some inspiration, here's an anecdote from Mindspike about what made him think of a dexterity game:

I love baseball.

When I saw the Topps MLB Chipz at the store the packaging claimed that it was a game, and that the foil pack of 4 random chips included a game board. I do collect some baseball cards, but collectible poker chips really aren't my thing. I bought a pack for the novelty of it, and to get a look at their “game”. The game board was a printed page inspired by a baseball field with scoring zones on it; the game consisted of flipping, spinning, or sliding the chips onto the scoring zones. The game had nothing to do with baseball, even if the poker chips featured MLB players and baseball themed design – but it got me thinking. How might poker chips be creatively used in a game?

Here's the breakdown for this month's GDS:

Rules: Create a game that uses dexterity as a main mechanic, while keeping theme/gameplay "on the line" to appeal to both gamers and the mass market.

Word Limit: The usual 500 words.

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 Meal (that's "Fool's Gold") worth -3 votes!

When submitting your entry: Please PM submissions to richdurham with the following subject line.

Subject: GDS - OCT - [your username]

Questions on the GDS should be posted in the Questions and Comments thread here

Critique Thread is here

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

  • Voting: Through to the 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.

Good luck!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #1 Russian Roulette

The fast paced party game of quick thinking and self inflicted injury. Creator not liable for broken hands caused by violent attempts to acquire quarters.



5-15 minutes

Some six sided dice (minimum one per player, but more makes it go faster)
Note cards
Quarters (minimum 2 per player)


At the beginning of each round place a blank note card in the middle of the table for each living player. Roll a die. The result determines the number of bullets used that round. On a roll of a six, one of the note cards is removed. Reroll the die. When the number of bullets for the round is assigned, determine where they are in the chambers of the ‘guns’. Each note card represents a gun. Roll a number of dice equal to the number of bullets this round and write the numbers on one of the note cards. In the event of rolling a number multiple times, simply write it once. Do this for each notecard. Then place a quarter on top of each notecard.

Elect one player to count down from three, on ‘one’ all players simultaneously roll a six sided die. This number represents the chamber that they fire the bullet from. After rolling their die, each player must choose a note card, and take the quarter on top of it before another player does.

If you pick a note card that has a number written on it that matches the die you rolled during the shooting phase, you are dead. You are out of the game. This also happens if for some reason you failed to pick a note card (a six was rolled, causing there to be too few, or you simply refused).

If the card you chose does not have a number that matches your die, you survive. If you do not already have a quarter, you may keep that one. You may not have more than one quarter at any given time.

If you have a quarter, you may spend it to abstain from choosing a card. Instead, turn your quarter in to the pile.

No takebacks
Once you have picked up a quarter, you cannot take it back, not even by spending your current quarter to abstain.

The next round
After all steps have been completed, start the next round as normal. Dead players do not participate.

You win when all other players are dead.

Sometimes multiple players will off themselves at the same time, resulting in a lack of winner. Ties can be resolved by a ‘sudden death’ round. This functions just the same as any other round, except it only includes the potential winners. The number of bullets is always one to begin with. For each round that goes on, the number of bullets increases by one. If both players die simultaneously again, simply repeat the sudden death process until there is a winner.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 The Flicked Element

The Flicked Element


Navigate (Flick) one of your team’s ships to the other side of the board while trying to avoid asteroid fields and torpedoes.


  • One long rectangular board.
  • Round sliding pieces for players to flick. Three ships per team, (x) number of asteroids, (y) number of torpedoes.

Game Set Up:

  • Players are divided into two teams that do not have to have the same number of players.
  • Both teams have 3 ships that start on either long end of the board.
  • Both teams have 5 free asteroids to place in their half of the board. These 5 free asteroids must be placed at the start of the game.
  • Take 4 of the asteroid tokens and place one in each corner of the board. These are permanent corner markers that a finishing ship must avoid to complete their navigation.

Game Play:

During each teams turn, one player from that team is allowed to flick one of their ships, an asteroid, or a torpedo. Teams will set up a fixed “rotation” of all the players on their team to determine who is next in line to flick for their team.

  • Ships: Ships must make a stop in every quadrant of the board. Every time a ship stops in a new quadrant, that ship’s team is given a free asteroid to place anywhere on the board at any time*. If a ship is flicked off the board or runs into an asteroid, it starts over. If the ship contacts nothing and did not violate the quadrant rule, it is safe.

  • Asteroids: Asteroids can travel as far as they can be flicked. Asteroids are flicked from the quadrant of the flicking team’s farthest back ship. If a flicked asteroid hits a ship, the ship is replaced on its original spot (as close as possible) and the asteroid is removed from the board. *Free Asteroids: Placing as asteroid is not considered a turn but must happen prior to the teams next turn. If the asteroid is placed in the enemies half of the board, the placing team’s next flick can’t be a ship inside enemy territory.

  • Torpedoes: Torpedoes can travel as far as they can be flicked. Torpedoes are flicked from the quadrant of the flicking team’s farthest back ship. If a flicked Torpedo hits a ship, the ship starts over. If the flicked torpedo hits an asteroid, the asteroid is removed from the board. Torpedoes are removed from the board after they have been flicked. If a torpedo hits a ship after it hits an asteroid, the ship stays in play. Torpedoes are considered used after first contact.

End of Game:

The game ends when one team is able to get two of their ships off the end of the other side of the board.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3 Flicking DIY

Flicking DIY

A worker placement dexterity game for 2 to 4 players.


24 disks, 6 in each of four colours.
Furniture tokens (Representing 1, 3 and 5 quality)
Wallpaper tokens (Representing 1, 3 and 5 quality)
Carpet tokens (Representing 1, 3 and 5 quality)
4 base floor plans, one for each player, with set of additional walls, stairs, extensions, etc.
Expectation cards, giving a quality level of furniture, carpet and wall paper for a particular room, and/or an internal modification for the house, such as installing a third bedroom or giving the living room an additional furniture quality 4 and carpet quality 2. These are all approximately balanced assuming perfect aim in the target area.


Be the first player to meet your family's requirements by renovating your home.


Give each player three disks of their colour, a base floor plan, and three home desire cards. The remaining three disks can be acquired during the game.

Play procedure

Players take turns to flick a disk into target areas from behind a line on the board, potentially and knocking off opponents' disks in the process. Once all disks available to players have been flicked, actions are taken in turn order, one disk at a time, removing the disk from the board once it's done. Any disk outside of target areas are worth nothing. After all disks have been removed, flicking resumes, the first player to flick a disk passing to the left.


Areas are circular, the closer to the center of an area you get, the better the deal is (e.g. You get more coins from the bank, or can buy furniture for less)

Bank - Take coins
Furniture Shop - Buy furniture
Wallpaper Shop - Buy wallpaper
Carpet Shop - Buy carpet
Build - Spend coins to change floor plan (Add extensions, internal walls, etc)
Decorate - Spend furniture, wallpaper and carpet on improving room quality
Hire help - Spend coins to get additional disks, but increases family expectations, requiring you draw a new goal card.


The first player to meet the requirements of their family for the home interior design wins. In the case of two players meeting the family requirements in the same action resolution phase, ties are resolved by who has the most cash on hand.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4 - Fire! Fire!

"Fire! Fire!"

Help! Help! skyscraper in fire! Save us! Players are mighty firemen who must save the poor people from the big burning house. 1-4 players. 5 minutes. 7+.


  • Skyscraper with open roof to put Your hand through (the gamebox may be used for this building)
  • 100 fire victims in four colors (red, green, blue, yellow), 25 people each color
  • 55 cards
  • 50 cards as a ambulance cards with 2 fire victims in 2 different colors
  • 5 cards as a ambulance cards with 1 fire victim in any color
  • Timer


Place the building in the middle of the table and put all the fire victims inside it. Shuffle the cards and distribute evenly for all players. Players take his deck in front of them face-down. Set the timer (5 minutes) and start the game.

The game:

All actions are taken simultanously and there are following actions available in the game: - Player may draw a top card from his deck to his hand if there are less than 3 cards in his hand. - Player may put one hand inside the building through the roof and pull one fire victim out placing it in front of him if there are less than 10 fire victims in front of him. - Player may play a ambulance card in front of him face-up if he has fire victims in same colors in front of him. Those fire victims have now saved and are removed from the game. Card stays in front of player. - Player may discard a card from his hand removing it from the game. - Two players may trade a cards if they agreed.

Game ends if

  • the time runs out
  • there are no fire victims to save

There are actually 3 modes of play:

  1. In co-operative and sdlo mode the objective is to save as many fire victimis as possible. Each unsaved victim is worth one negative point.
  2. In competitive mode the objective is to have the most face-up cards in front of You to win.
richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #5 - Wedding Cake


Who doesn't love a good cake? But when it comes to weddings, no-one wants to upset the bride - or the guests for that matter! Earn points by creating intricate designs, but don't knock over the cake or points will be lost!


  • 3 cake tiers (2-d circular boards) with radius 10cm, 20cm and 30cm, each with a circular centre and 3 concentric layers for cake decorations.
  • 3 cake holders (wooden columns) 20cm long with radius 2 cm, 4 cm and 6cm.
  • 30 pattern cards, each featuring a different pattern for the wedding cake.
  • 180 cake decorations (wooden pieces) - 60 red, 60 blue, 60 green.


  • Stand the largest cake holder on a flat surface, and balance the largest cake board on top.
  • Stand the middle cake holder on this board, and balance the middle cake board on top.
  • Stand the smallest cake holder on this board, and balance the smallest cake board on top.
  • Each player draws a pattern card, and places it face-up in front of them so that all players can see.


The player who most recently attended a wedding begins, and play moves in a clockwise fashion.

On a turn, a player selects a cake decoration, and places it on a cake level. The decoration must match a decoration on the player's pattern card - if a decoration point is shared between cards, the player who places the decoration there first wins.

The next player then takes their turn. Once a player completes a cake decoration, they take that card and place it in their scoring area. The score which that card earns the player is indicated on the card.

That player then removes all the decorations on that pattern.

If a player is unable to play a decoration, they must pass. If all players are unable to play a decoration, all decorations are removed, all cards are discarded and each player draws a new pattern card.

The most important rule - if a player knocks over the wedding cake at any point, whether placing a decoration or removing it, they must discard all of the cards in their scoring area. Each player also discards their current pattern card, drawing a new card. The cake is rebuilt without any decorations, and play continues in a clockwise movement as normal.


When a player draws a new card from the deck but there are none to take, every OTHER player takes one more game.

Players total the score on the cards in their scoring area. Every player also gets 1 point for every decoration on their card which has a decoration on the cake (whether or not they placed it) - the player who used all their cards gets a bonus 20 points in place of decoration points.

The player with the most points is the winner!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6 Wobbly Towers

Wobbly towers

2-4 players

In this game the players collect discs that they stack on top of each other, making a tower. When the any tower collapses, the game ends. The player with the biggest discs in his tower wins.


  • 4 x 25 discs of 2cm, 3cm, 4cm and 5cm
  • one pawn per player

Shuffle 25 discs per player and lay them flat on the table in the form of a big circle. Push all discs towards the middle to make sure there are no gaps, and the discs touch each other.

Every player puts a pawn on a disc (but not on the smallest type).

Starting with the youngest player every player moves his pawn to a connected adjacent disc, and takes the one just left by his pawn, and places that one on top of his tower (first is the base of the tower). If the disc is bigger, it may completly overlap. If the disc is smaller or the same size, it has to extend the disc below a bit (say 1 mm) somewhere.

Players may only touch the disc that they place on top. They are not allowed to touch any other disc (if they do so anyway, that disc, and everything above is removed, they loose a turn and the other players may replace the pawn of that player).

When the pawn has no connected disc, the player jumps his pawn towards the closest disc with no other pawn. The disc he jumps from is removed, and not put on his tower.

The game ends when there are no more free discs, or, when one of the towers collapses.


  • Zero points when tower tumbled
  • 2-3-4-5 points for a disc of 2-3-4-5 cm in their tower
  • However, any disc below the first small disc of 2cm will not count!

This means players should try to get their first 2cm as soon as possible.

Material should be so that a tower gets wobbly around 10-15 and tumbles around 15-20 discs.

Players should try to find a path towards bigger discs, since they give more points. They might also try to block other players. A jump means you cannot place the disc you jump from.

Advanced players rule: Per round the player with the smallest disc on top may move first. By ties look at the disc below, etc.

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