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Introductory Junkyard Wars rules: simple enough for masses?

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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi! I've been fiddling with my Junkyard Wars rules and managed to concoct an introductory set of rules for the "Level 1" version of the game. There are going to be two versions of the game, one for the real gamer (money, damage to components, tools, powerups, you name it) and one for the mass market -- or less avid gamer.

These are the rules for the "mass market" version of the game. Tell me if you think these are too complicated. If so, how can I simplify them further?

Thanks in advance,

Junkyard Wars: Introductory Version

AGE: 8 to adult
DURATION: At most 1 hour

10 double-sided maze tiles, each with a 5x5 section of labyrinth and four exits
1 deck of machine cards [test game: English words]
1 pad of tracking sheets
1 set of percentile dice
1 rule booklet
100 junk marker tiles [test game: Scrabble letters]
6 sets of 4 worker tokens (red, yellow, clear, dark green, light green, and blue)
6 24-sided dice [these exist -- should be a good draw in themselves because even D&Ders don't have them]

To construct a machine out of the materials found in the junkyard. If the game has not ended after one hour, the player furthest along in constructing a machine wins.

Start by choosing nine of the maze tiles and arranging them in a 3x3 square. This creates a 15x15 grid which will serve as the junkyard maze. The square at the center of the maze becomes the construction zone, where all of the teams build their machines.

All players take a tracking sheet, choose a color, and place that color’s worker tokens in the construction zone.

Take the set of junk tiles, flip them face-down, and place them on the gray squares in the diagram below. The cell containing the communal construction zone is highlighted in black.

[picture of the board setup: imagine a 15x15 gray and white checkerboard with the center 5x5 region empty]
Finally, shuffle the deck of machine cards and deal two cards, face down, to each player. Each player’s goal is to build one of these machines, though he need not decide which immediately.

The players roll the percentile dice to determine who goes first: highest number starts, with 00 counting as 100. Play proceeds clockwise.

This game is based on a television show in which teams of four workers are asked to build some kind of machine out of scraps of metal and wood in a junkyard. They have a few hours to do so and are racing against the clock as well as their opponents. Starting out with nothing but a few tools of their own, the workers run through the junkyard, trying to find pieces of junk which could help in the construction of their machine.

Each worker brings his components to his team’s headquarters, where the machine is actually constructed. It often takes a while to transform a pile of junk into a machine.

When time expires, each team tests out their machine. The team whose machine works the best wins.

MANAGING THE WORKFORCE Each player issues one or more “action” commands to his workers during a turn: work on assembling or debugging the machine, search the current square for junk, or move to an adjacent square. Different workers on the same team may receive different sets of orders.

Workers may interleave their actions. For instance, Worker A may take two actions and may hold off on his remaining actions until one of his coworkers, B, has spent three actions to move into Worker A’s square. They may also take actions simultaneously: for instance, Worker B can help Worker A carry a heavy object after joining Worker A in his square.

A worker may only take action during his owner’s turn.

The best way to keep track of which workers have taken action and which have not is to manipulate them in numerical order: first manipulate worker #1, then worker #2, and so forth. If the player wants the workers to move in a certain order or he wants them to interleave their actions, the player must keep track of who has moved himself.

Determining the Number of Actions Available for a Worker: First Turn Only
On their first turn, and on the first turn alone, each of a player’s workers takes a number of actions equal to three times (2 players), twice (3 players), or once (4+ players) the number of players who have played before the current one. This serves to stagger the start and limit the first player’s advantage. Note that the first player’s workers take no action on the first turn.

Determining the Number of Actions Available for a Worker: All Other Turns
An unencumbered worker may take up to 6 actions. A worker carrying one or more objects is penalized 2 actions per object carried for the simple reason that he can’t run as fast carrying around heavy objects.

If two or more workers work together to carry an object, the penalty drops to 1 action (though the penalty is imposed on everyone carrying it).

Assembling the Machine
A worker may spend an action putting one man-action (MA) of work into building a machine. If two objects need to be connected to each other to make the machine work properly, the team must spend 24 MA in order to link them together. The player can keep track of these on his 24-sided dice.

A worker may only work on assembling the machine (or debugging it) if he is in the construction zone.

Moving and Carrying Objects
Under normal circumstances, a worker may spend an action moving into an adjacent square (either horizontally or vertically). They may not move through walls.

A worker may pick up and drop objects during a move for free. If he picks up an item (or drops one) during his turn, he may continue taking actions if he has additional actions available. If the pickup or drop changes his load, his action limit for the current turn (and future turns) must reflect his new load.

Dropped items may be picked up by anybody, including the opponents. A worker must offload an item in his team’s construction zone if he wants it to remain the property of his team.

Objects offloaded in the construction zone are visible to all players and can be used by any worker on that particular team. They should be placed face up in front of each player. However, objects carried by an individual worker may only be looked at by that worker’s owner.

Any number of workers and/or pieces of junk may occupy a given space.

Finally, note also that there are twelve gaps in the outer wall of the 3x3 grid. Workers may use these to travel outside the maze and re-enter it through a different gap after using move actions to travel around the outer wall to the new entry. Going around the maze will often be faster than traveling through it.

Searching the Area
A worker may spend an action searching his current square for junk. He does so by looking all tile(s) lying on that space.

Note that there are several “blank” tiles in the game. These can represent ANY object known to be in the junkyard. Once a “blank” has been assigned a function by a given player, its function may not be changed (though if it is dropped and picked up for the first time by another player’s worker, the other person may redefine its role).

The players may barter equipment (and/or Fake Money) at any point in the game. For instance, if the Green team needs a shopping cart and sees that Red has one, the Green player can ask for a trade. Interesting auctions can result in games with three or more players.
When a player believes his team has finished assembling a machine, he throws the switch and sees what happens. At least one of his workers must be in the construction zone to throw the switch.

The player reveals the card indicating which machine was built and rolls the percentile dice: there is an 80% chance that the machine will work. If the value rolled on the percentile dice is less than or equal to 80 (with 00, as 100, meaning failure), the player’s machine works. If not, the machine has a problem which needs to be investigated.

Successful Tests
The first player to successfully test his machine wins the game.

Failed Tests: Debugging a Broken Machine
If the test fails, the workers’ next task is to study the machine and figure out what went wrong. At the end of each turn, the player rolls the percentile dice. If the number rolled is less than or equal to the number of MA the workers’ spent debugging the machine during the past turn, the problem has been found and is immediately fixed. A team which spends all 24 MA investigating the problem has roughly a 1 in 4 chance of finding (and therefore diagnosing) it on that turn.

A player may retest his machine at any point once the workers have fixed the problem. He rolls the percentile dice again with the same probability of success (80%). If the test fails again, his workers have to start rolling the percentile dice once more as they search for the new problem.

Any attempt to test a machine ends a player’s turn.

Good luck!

[This variation of the game combines several simplifications: only one machine needs to be built per player, components all have the same weight and quality grade and do not take damage, all require one hand to carry, there is no limit as to how many objects can be stored in a player's area in the construction zone, and there is no money, powering up, or tool use]

Xaqery's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Introductory Junkyard Wars rules: simple enough for masses?

Wow, that’s the mass appeal version? In my opinion it is still very much a complicated literal simulation of the show. There is a lot of fiddling with which worker is supposed to work now and determining the number of actions that are available. It all seems to be a lot of work for the non-gamer.

I think you need to set aside the complicated version, stare at all the parts you have in the box and come up with a new not-so-literal simulation of the game.

You need something where the mechanics do most of the work for the player and the player does a lot less worrying about logistics and physics.

I love the show. You need to concentrate on what is fun about the show. To me it is the racing around and building of something fun and at the same. It is also about the viewer learning how something works that most people don't know but I think you should just stick to the outrageous stuff, like over-the-top cow throwing catapults, something.

Please remember this is just my 2 cents.

- Dwight

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