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[GDS] May 2012 "Mother May I"

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sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

May 2012 Game Design Showdown - "Mother May I"

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

And the winner is...
The votes are in, and we have a photo finish:
1st, with 10 votes: Artifacts of the Dark Jungle, by avalaunch
2nd, with 9 votes: May I Come In?, by asakurasol
3rd, with 8 votes: Tea with the Queen, by Teaisfortim

I'm happy to announce that while not every entrant voted, the top 3 finalists each did cast all 6 of their allotted votes! There has been some call for a penalty for not voting, which may be implemented next month. Thanks for participating, and hopefully after I get back from KublaCon I'll be able to com up with a fun new challenge for June!

My mother always told me that manners are important. It's nice to be polite, if you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all, do unto others as you'd have them do unto you... This month's showdown challenges you to create a game in which the players must receive permission from each other in order to make progress.

Also, since it's the middle of spring, your entry must feature a component that is spring loaded, or otherwise utilizes a spring.

Good luck!

Main Design Requirements:

  • Mechanical Restriction: Permission.
    A central mechanism in this month's games must be asking permission.
    Opponents must receive permission from their opponents in order to make significant progress in the game. Ideally, the opponent will have reasons to grant the permission at least some of the time!

  • Component Restriction: Springs!
    For this challenge your game must prominently feature a spring, springs, or something spring loaded.

  • Word Limit: 400 words.

Because I was late getting the GDS posted, I'm extending the deadline for entries to the 13th, and then voting will go through the 20th this month (despite what it says below)!

  • Submissions: The 1st of the month through the 8th.
  • Voting: Through the 15th. PM your votes to sedjtroll.
  • Voting Format: Each person has 6 votes to distribute any way they choose among the GDS entries with the following restrictions:
    • You may not assign any votes to your own entry!
    • You may not assign more than 3 votes to any single entry.
    • You need not assign all 6 votes.
  • 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 - Rawhide


For 2-4 cowboys


  • Game board – shows a map with towns and railyards. The land around the towns is broken into 40 territories, irregularly shaped but with straight edges. Some territories include springs.
  • Fence markers
  • Water counters
  • Grass counters
  • Cow markers
  • Cattle drive cards – show starting town, destination railyard, and price of cattle
  • One herd marker and five gate markers in each player’s color


Deal each player three cattle drive cards. Whoever most recently ate beef goes first. Place one grass counter on each spring space.

On a turn, players may take any two of the following actions, or take one action twice:

  • Build – place one fence marker along one edge of a territory. When a player builds a fence such that it creates an enclosed area of the map, the player may replace one of the fences along the edge with a gate token. If a new fence simultaneously encloses two areas, only one gate may be played (in either area). Enclosed areas that include more than one territory may be subdivided later. Map edges count toward enclosing a territory.

  • Bloom – add two grass counters to two territories on the map. Grass can be added to a spring territory or adjacent to existing grass. Each territory can only contain one grass counter.

  • Launch – play a cattle drive card. Place your herd marker at the starting city. Take the number of cows indicated. Add two grass counters and three water counters to your herd. Draw a new card.

  • Drive – move your herd marker to an adjacent territory. You may not cross fences. You may pass through your own gates freely. If you wish to pass through an opponent’s gate, you must ask permission. If refused, you may move in another direction, and you get two additional actions this turn.

If you enter a territory with a spring, restore your water counters up to three. Otherwise, discard a water counter. If you have none left, discard a grass or cow.

If you enter a territory containing a grass counter, add it to your herd. Otherwise, discard a grass counter. If you have none, discard a cow.

If all your cows die, discard the cattle drive card and remove the herd token from the board.

If your herd reaches your destination, sell your remaining cows for the price indicated on the card.

First player to $1000 wins the game.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #2 - Mother May I

Mother May I (or another title to depict a child asking a parent for permission to play with a CATAPULT)

Players 3-6

Place a pyramid of cups, 8 on bottom, 4 on the next layer and 1 on top in the center of the table. The cups are color coded and have images of "gift items" on each. Each player gets a spring loaded CATAPULT and several objects to launch. I'm thinking that the objects could be items shaped to match the items on the cards or just little spherical plastic balls. Deal out three cards to each player.

The youngest player starts by asking the question of any other player "If I give you this (Insert Card name here), can I shoot at (specify any cup)?" So for example "If I give you this cupcake, can I shoot at the red cup?" .

If they accept that card, the first player then gets to shoot at that cup. They must shoot at that cup and remove the item if they make it in another cup. After that player shoots, he may then play a pair from hand to shoot at another cup specified by those cards. For instance he could play two red cards from hand to shoot at a red cup, or two cupcakes to shoot at the cupcake cup. Then at the end of his turn, that player draws a card.

If the second player does not accept that card, the first player may play any pairs they have and take shots at those cups. Then at the end of the turn, that player draws two cards.

If a player has no cards in hand, they ask a question like normal but specifying that they don't have a card to give. At then end of that turn they draw two cards.

The cards would have images of things you would give to people, like flowers, chocolates, cupcakes, etc. Each would have a colored border - all colors of the rainbow and a number depicting the level, levels 1-3. There would also be cards that can add a ball to a cup, and some that can take one out of a cup and some that will let you take extra shots at a cup.

The First player to fill all 13 cups with one of their items wins.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #3 - Teddy Bear Rescue Squad

Teddy Bear Rescue Squad

Poor Jack has been stuck in his box, but worse, someone has booby trapped his box, if he springs before the toys can get to him, he will die! The Teddy Bear Rescue Squad is not without squabbling however, and cooperation can be a challenge.

Players: 4
Time: 20 minutes


  • Board: 3x3 board with each tile subdivided into 4 colors. Columns labeled 1, 2 or 3 and rows marked A, B, or C. The colors on each tile are red, green, blue and yellow.
  • Dice: column die (either column 1, 2 or 3) row die (A, B, or C) and color die (Red, Green, Blue, or Yellow).
  • Carousel: The spinning wheel that all players will occupy has four teddy bears on four corners, as it rotates a different bear is on a different color. The carousel may move along a column, along a row, or rotate.


You want your teddy bear to be on the same tile and color as Jack


Place carousel in center tile. Then randomly place Jack on any other tile. Roll a color, a column and a row to place Jack on his start.


Play starts with the last player who has seen a live Bear (tv counts). Play moves clockwise. A player asks permission to roll one of the dice, (column, row, or color) if a player Denies then the denying player must turn the crank on Jack’s box. If the player is not denied, they roll the die and move to the location shown.


Each player may only deny three times in total.

Rules for Jack’s Box:

The Jack in the Box is set to spring at any number of cranks between 1-12, the box itself is randomly set. (For emulation roll a d12 and jot down any number rolled, if the number repeats, BOING, and Jack is lost).


Only one player wins, when they have their bear on top of Jack, however everyone loses if Jack isn’t rescued. (Even though the whole team loses, the person who sprung the box is the REAL loser!)

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #4 - Fire That Catapult

Fire That Catapult

Number of Player: 2-5


  • 5 different colored D6
  • Target Board
  • Spring Loaded Catapult
  • Ammo Deck (104 cards)

Set Up:

Put the target Board on the playing surface along with the spring loaded catapult and D6. Shuffle the Ammo Deck and deal 5 cards to each player. To pick the start player the closest to the center of the board goes first.

Game Play:

The game is played in 5 rounds. A round plays as follows; the player taking the shot presents 3 Ammo Cards from their hand to the other players.(In essence asking the opponents to give permission to use that effect on the cards. But be warned each card has a negative effect that can affect all or some of the player at the table if a certain number is rolled.)

The other players vote on which one they give permission to use and place that card in front of the shooter for that round. In case of a non majority vote it becomes the shooters choice. The shooter then uses the catapult to fling the dice at the target. The dice is left on the board until the end of the round and the shooter draws back up to 5 cards in their hand. The round continues clock wise until all players have gone and the round is scored.

The player with the most points at the end of 5 rounds is the winner. In the event of a tie the players go into a shoot out.

Example Card:

Card Title: Exploding Ball

Ammo Effect: Add the number on the dice to the number on the board to get the total points for this shot.

Negative effect: It the player hit a 5 on the target the other players must roll a dice and subtract that amount from their score.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #5 - Artifacts of the Dark Jungle

Artifacts of the Dark Jungle

Deep in the jungles of the East Indies is a land full of ancient mysticism & magic unknown to the rest of the world. For the enterprising archaeologist, there are great treasures to be found. But alongside those treasures are traps designed to keep those treasures right where they are.

*You’re both an archaeologist & on the special council responsible for granting permission to dig. *


  • 1 Spring Loaded Claw Crane Machine
  • 9 Artifact Figurines (1 each of idol, staff, knife, covenant, diamond eye, mask, ashes, peace pipe, tablet)
  • 54 Treasure Figurines
  • 36 Trap Figurines
  • 114 "Gold" Coins (30 "12"s, 24 "8"s, 32 "4"s & 28 "1"s)
  • 9 Artifact Cards (1 to match each artifact figurine)
  • 6 "Permission Granted" Cards
  • 6 "Permission Denied" Cards


Have the most gold once the last artifact is uncovered.


Give each player 1 "Permission Granted" card, 1 "Permission Denied" card, & 10 gold. Mix all the figurines inside the machine.


On your turn, ask permission to dig & if granted permission, dig.

Asking Permission

State how many times (up to 3) you'd like to dig. Council may confer. Each player (you too!) chooses a permission card & places it face down. Reveal cards.

Tie or better = permission granted.

If granted permission, you must dig.


Dig by operating the machine once for each time you requested.

What you might find:

  • Traps

    Traps are small figurines & can easily hide among treasure & artifacts. If you collect a trap, you lose 10 gold & everything you found this turn. Artifacts are returned. Treasures/traps are discarded.

  • Treasure

    For each treasure collected, gain 12 gold. If 1 player other than yourself granted permission to dig (or 2 in a 5-6 person game), divide the gold evenly among those that granted permission. Otherwise, keep it all.

  • Artifacts

    Artifacts are not worth gold, but help in other ways. Example: the staff helps you avoid traps. Set a value for each artifact found. Other players may buy it from you at that value. If >1 wish to buy, they bid. Highest bid wins. You get the value you set. Anything over that is divided among the other players. If nobody buys, you must pay the value you stated, divided among the other players. Artifacts go into effect immediately and stay in effect until the game ends.

Game End

When the last artifact is found, the current turn is finished, & players count their gold. The player with the most wins!

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #6 - Tea with the Queen

Tea with the Queen

“A Proper Game of Manners”
You have been invited to high tea with her majesty! Around the table, the other lords and ladies all try to brew their greatest cup of tea to impress her majesty. Be clever, stay focused, and above all else, be polite!

3-5 Players
30 Minutes


A tea cup which is spring loaded to pop up and shake about when a switch is flipped (the Queen's Cup).
A deck of 60 Tea Ingredients of 5 Types (Milk, Sugar, Spices, Herbs, Lemon).
50 Brown Glass Beads (“Droplets”).
10 Secret Recipe Cards with a list of 5-8 Ingredients.
5 Noble Cards with names like, “Lord Snootbottom of Shropshire Abbey”


Give each player a Noble Card. Each player draws 5 Ingredient cards and 1 Secret Recipe card. The first player is the last person to have drunk tea.

General Note:

All questions and statements addressing one or more players must use the full titles of all players involved. Failure results in the offending player choosing and discarding an ingredient.

Turn sequence:

The player draws a single card from the Ingredient deck and politely proposes a trade with another player at the table.The other player then must politely either say they have none of that ingredient (they must tell the truth), or make an offer of a 1 to 1 trade for a different ingredient. The acting player must then accept the trade.


“Lord Mandlebrot of Fractalsberg, would you kindly pass the Sugar?”
“Surely, my lady Marie Curie of Glowington, and would you be so kind as to pass the Milk?”
“I would be most delighted, my Lord Mandlebrot of Fractalsberg.”

The acting player may now discard any number of ingredients from his hand to refill the Queen's Cup. Add 3 drops per ingredient discarded. Otherwise, play continues clockwise.

Once a round has been completed (every player takes their turn), the springloaded Queen's Cup is set off. If there are no drops in the Queen's Cup or if none are ejected then all players put their hands into a pile which is shuffled together and dealt out evenly to all players. Each player may then choose to discard their secret recipe card face down and draw the top one from the deck.

The game ends when any player completes their secret recipe.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #7 - May I come in?

“May I come in?”

5 Players

You are trapped in a haunted town. Every night the dead will rise and kill everything in their way. The houses in town can shelter you from the nightly horrors but you can enter them only if you have a key or if someone let you in. Will you be able to survive this nightmare? Did I mention one of your buddies could be a vampire?

Set Up:

  • Five toy crossbow, each spring-loaded with 1 arrow.
  • Ten Role cards, 8 humans and 2 vampires.
  • Thirty Key cards, 6 different colors, 5 of each color.
  • Six House tokens, 1 of each color.

Each player receives 1 crossbow, 1 random Role card and 5 random Key cards.

All cards are kept in secret.


  • At least one human survives past night 5 (Human Victory)
  • Everyone alive is a vampire (Vampire Victory)
  • Everyone is dead (No Victory).


  • Discussion.
  • Each player place a Key card face down.
  • Reveal.
  • Players who placed a Key card that matches an existing house is considered “inside the house”.
  • Players who are not in a house could still enter a house by asking people in that house “May I come in?”. People inside the house could respond by: o Let him/her in. (majority decision, a tie means no) o Do not let him/her in. o Shoot him/her with a crossbow (individual decision).
  • When either all players are inside a house or players outside the house have exhausted their options, the day is over. All players outside are dead.


  • Everyone put their hands on the table and close their eyes.
  • Vampires open their eyes.
  • If a vampire is in the same house as other humans, that vampire may choose to convert a human by tapping that person’s hand. That player will open his eyes and acknowledge the vampires, he is now a vampire.
  • Night is over after 1 minute.

Additional Rules:

  • If a house is not occupied during the night, that house disappears and cannot be used for rest of the game.
  • You may use the crossbow to shoot someone when
    - You are in the same house as your target.
    - Your target is asking to enter your house.
  • When a player is killed by crossbow he must reveal whether or not he is a vampire.
sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #8 - Body Wars

Body Wars

for 2-6 players


Players each take on the role of a critical organ (like the Brain or Liver) or system of organs (like the Skin or Lymph). Players create resources used by other players; take resources from other players; and plan during a timed turn (using a wind-up kitchen timer, with a spring).


Each player randomly takes an “organ card” which explains the organ, its role, what it needs to function, and what it produces. Players start the game with colored resource cubes as listed on their cards: red cubes for oxygen (in the blood), white for white blood cells, yellow for lymph, blue for water, brown for protein, etc. These are all pooled by the entire body in the center of the player area. Each resource has an organ that ‘controls’ it (as indicated on the organ card).

Turn order:

The turn round begins with a timed turn. The kitchen timer is wound and released. Players have this time to barter, offering their precious bodily resources for other ones. Players need to get another player’s permission to use the resource. For example, if the heart wants oxygen, it has to ask the brain for permission as the brain decides who gets it (the brain consumes the most oxygen). However, the musculature system controls who gets protein, etc. If the player doesn’t get permission they don’t get the resource – meaning the organ may itself not produce resources, get sick, or die. Of course one organ being sick affects everybody…

At the end of each turn, an event card is drawn. These indicate life events in the Human’s life these organs reside in. A wedding might indicate stress; unhealthy desk job might reduce protein and sunlight; a car accident might cause trauma. Also, each event card indicates the passage of time, and old age slowly wears down the amount of free resources of the “Human”.

Players continue until past accidents, clever resource management and weathering the storms of old age until all the other organs die off. The last Organ standing is the winner.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #9 - Tactical Frienemies

Tactical Frienemies

A game of negotiation, wheeling & dealing, backstabbing, & blowing stuff up. A game for 3-5 players.


Each player is given a section of game board. The board is the traditional small hex wargame-style board, with a twist. It's a half inch thick, and each hex has a cover over an empty well. Each player is also given a set number of spring-loaded landmines to put in their wells without their opponents seeing. All of the wells are then covered, so each player knows only where their own landmines are planted. The sections of the game board are then linked together. Each player is dealt an "Objective Card" which gives that players victory conditions, which are kept secret. Each player is given an army of pieces that function like other wargames. Each player is also dealt 3 "Permission Cards". These come in 3 types - Approve, Deny, and Backstab. Players earn more Permission Cards when they defeat enemy units.


For the most part, the game plays like a standard wargame, with the different units having different movement, range, attack, and defense. The difference is that when you want to move into an opponent's area of the board you have to ask that player's permission to enter. That player can either "approve" or "deny" your request - however they must place a "Permission Card" from their hand face-down in front of them and then verbally approve or deny you. If they approve you, you move onto the requested hex and then they reveal the card. If it's an "Approve" card, nothing happens. If it is a "Backstab" card, you must push down on the selected hex to determine if a landmine was buried there. If it is, the spring will activate blowing up your units. Any other hex that these units land in are also blown up. If they verbally deny you, you have 2 options. You can choose not to enter and nothing happens. Or you can choose to enter anyways, in which case you can must push down on the hex to determine if a landmine is present. This mechanic will lead to alliances, truces, and deals being made and broken - all of which are encouraged as part of the game.

End of Game:

This continues until one player has successfully met the victory conditions on their "Objective Card", thus immediately winning the game.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #10 - Out to Sea

Out to Sea

A game for 3-5 fishermen!

You never know what the catch the ocean will grant, and it’s a good idea to know where the other fellows are laying their nets so you don’t get tangled up!


  • One wave carrier (spring loaded platform with a trigger, when fired rolls the dice onto table)
  • Seven dice in five different colors (35 total six-sided 16mm)


Each player gets their seven dice in their color. Each player should have a separate area to make a scoreline with dice later on.


On your turn you may put from 0-3 of your dice onto the wave carrier.
Then you must ask another player who has dice on the platform if you can trigger it. If so, go to scoring below.
If the player denies you, you may remove one die of any color from the platform. Place the die on your scoreline with the one pip face-up.


When the wave carrier is fired, each player selects their own die with the highest value and places it on their scoreline. All remaining dice return to the player’s supply.

Game End:

When only one player has dice remaining, the game is over. The player with the highest total in their scoreline is the winner.

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