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Junkyard Wars game play question

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi! I'm still working on my Junkyard Wars boardgame. I've got the play more or less straightened out. Now comes the tough part.

Right now, I need to think about what I need to put in the junkyard, and what I need to have the players make.

There are several possibilities: which do you think is best?

1. The junkyard has a whole lot of low-level stuff, sort of like what you'd actually see in the junkyard (screws, wires, cardboard boxes, and so forth). Each user may try to make any machine they wish. The more parts involved in the machine, the more points they get for a successful test.

PRO: I don' t have to do any work, and the game is very flexible (perhaps too flexible?)
CON: This requires the players to be VERY good engineers.

2. The junkyard has a lot of low-level stuff, as in case (1). The game will provide a list of machines which can be made with the junk, and provides exactly one way to make each machine (though the people can improvise). The more difficult the machine, the more points it is.

PRO: With a recipe for each machine, even weak players can build their machine.
CON: I need a whole bunch of engineers to tell me what to build and how to build it! Also, there are finite number of machines to build.

3. The junkyard has a combination of low-level stuff and high-level stuff in it, with the high-level stuff rarer (such as a complete motor).

PRO: This is similar to the TV show, where the junkyard is "seeded" with several large items.
CON: Finding the large item makes the thing too easy. Also, there are so many machines (in effect, the machine to be built for each player is taken from a deck at random) that we'd have to seed the junkyard with everything.

4. A version of (1) where there are several "jokers" hidden in the junkyard (this basically came about when I started using Scrabble tiles to represent the junk in a test playing and ran into a blank!). A joker may be used to represent any one item known to be in the junkyard. Like a blank in Scrabble, it may only be used once per machine. Once a machine is completed, jokers are thrown back into the junkyard. One player cannot use all the jokers on the board, and objects represented by jokers are always of quality D (the lowest).

PRO: Two players cannot block each other -- it's always possible for someone to pick up a joker and find his missing piece.
CON: Picking up jokers may make things too easy -- everyone will look for jokers.

What do you think?

Thanks in advance,


Joined: 01/04/2009
Junkyard Wars game play question

I think that the first idea would be best, maube #4 for the jokers. If the player steadily finds pieces and then gets to place them where tehy want on their machine, it might be hard at first, but one round or so should get the hang of it (I think). If the idea is that you build and then use a machine, I say one or 4. They are all good, though, and this looks like an interesting game. :)

Joined: 12/31/1969
Current Junkyard Wars Rules

Here are the current rules. I've done an extensive amount of test-playing against myself with Scrabble tiles, Monopoly money, and the such and ironed out as many of the major flaws as I could.

Warning, this is long. I'm wondering if it's too complicated, but I doubt it. I don't have a website -- sorry about that...

I've only attached the rules proper -- the examples of a turn and tool list aren't there. I don't think they're too long. What does everyone else think? Right now, people are making "words" [machines] out of "Scrabble letters" [components]. The actually junk definitions haven't been set yet.

JUNKYARD WARS: THE GAME [rename for copyright issues!]
Duration: 2 hours or so
Number of players: 2-6
Ages 10+

10 double-sided maze tiles, each with a 5x5 section of labyrinth and four exits [thank you, Seo, for the idea!]
A package of Fake Money
1 deck of machine cards
1 pad of tracking sheets
1 set of percentile dice
1 rule booklet
A set of prefabricated tool marker tiles
60 damage/improvement markers
A set of strength and stamina markers
100 junk marker tiles
100 quality tiles: 50 Grade D, 30 Grade C, 15 Grade B, 5 Grade A
6 sets of 4 worker tokens (red, yellow, clear, dark green, light green, and blue)

[SETUP -- each player is dealt 5 possible machine cards and $2000 (or $1000 and a tracking sheet to keep track of what is where). A machine is, literally, groups of components the player must find and assemble: option #2 of the 4 in the earlier post). It's effectively Junkyard Wars where you have to make the machines using whatever tools you have or buy. Each team has 4 workers. Goal is 100 points]

A player may attempt to speed up his construction work by buying prefabricated tools for his workers at the end of his turn. Only workers in the construction zone at the start of the turn may receive newly-purchased tools, and (unless stated otherwise) only the worker owning the tool can use it. Tools, however, may be bartered or traded between workers in the same square.

Players may sell used tools back to the tool shop for half price [Monopoly gave me that idea].

MANAGING THE WORKFORCE Each player issues one or more “action” commands to his workers during a turn: work on assembling, disassembling, or debugging the machine; use a tool; 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 the number of players who have played BEFORE the current one. This serves to stagger the start and limit the first player’s advantage [otherwise the first player takes everything nearby and everyone else is hosed]. Note that the first player’s workers take no action on the first turn (though they may still buy and sell tools).

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 may be penalized one or more actions each turn, depending on the nature of the objects carried. The heavier and bulkier the load, the greater this “Action Penalty”.

If two or more workers work together to carry an object, the object’s Action Penalties are distributed evenly among the workers (round Action Penalties up, i.e. round action limits down).

Assembling and Disassembling the Machine
Under normal circumstances, a worker may spend an action putting one man-action (MA) of work into building a machine (or stripping it for spare parts). 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 (or to separate them from each other).

A worker may only work on the machine if he is in the construction zone and has at least one hand free.

Certain pieces of junk can help expedite labor, as can tools. For instance, a Standard Tool Kit can help one individual worker assemble machines more quickly.

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 (though tools exist which can demolish walls or allow workers to drag objects over walls).

A worker may pick up and drop objects (tools, junk, whatever) 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. Note that individual workers only have two hands [they haven't found Men in Black aliens yet], and as a result cannot carry more than two hands’ worth of objects.

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.

Due to space constraints, a team may only store ten or fewer objects in the construction zone. These includes tools and powerups as well as pieces of junk. If an encumbered worker finds that his team’s area is full when he arrives, he cannot offload his items until his team makes space by either discarding, removing, selling, or trading objects. Discarded items are available for anyone’s use and are placed along the edge of the board.

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.

Certain pieces of junk can help change these rules for individual workers. For instance, a shopping cart will allow workers to carry more objects more quickly (wheels can be useful), and a bicycle will allow them to move more quickly.

Finally, note also that there are twelve gaps in the outer wall of the 3x3 grid [wasn't much I could do about that]. 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. If a square contains a quality tile without a junk tile, he draws a junk tile from the pool of junk tiles to determine the type of junk. That tile becomes associated with that quality tile for the rest of the game.

Certain pieces of junk, such as metal detectors, will make it easier for workers to search the maze.

Descriptions of each of the pieces of junk in the game (their composition, weight, function, and so forth) in the game can be found at the end of this document [not attached].

Using a Tool (or Piece of Junk) to Improve Strength or Stamina
Sometimes, a worker may want to use a tool for reasons which have nothing to do with building the machine. For instance, he can spend time on an exercise bike to increase his stamina for future runs through the junkyard. All special-purpose tools and objects are listed in the tool description section [you basically trade time now for increased mobility later on].

BLANK JUNK TILES [only reason these got introduced was because I was stuck with a Scrabble set. They've come in quite handy]
Note that there are several “blank” tiles in the game. These can represent ANY non-powerup 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).

Objects associated with blank tiles are always of quality grades C or D. If the quality tile associated with the blank is Grade A or Grade B, the blank tile is considered to be Grade C. Otherwise, it is considered Grade D [otherwise a blank is too powerful!].

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 computes the probability of the machine’s success based on the quality of the machine’s components. Each machine starts with an 80% chance of success. Each Grade A component increases this chance by 10% to a maximum chance of 95%. Each Grade C component decreases the chance of success by 5%, and each Grade D component decreases it by 10% (minimum chance is 5%).

The player then rolls the percentile dice. If the value rolled on the percentile dice is less than or equal to the probability of success (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
If the test succeeds, the machine has worked. The play earns the number of points specified on the machine card (with more difficult projects earning more points). The player’s five machine cards are removed from the game. The machine’s designer then draws five new machine cards to determine his next project. Note that the player may have to dismantle part of his first machine to build the second!

Each component in the machine takes one quality grade worth of damage during a successful test because of all the moving components. In that sense, it is more dangerous than a failed test (when the machine just sits there and does nothing). Damage is represented by placing a damage marker on the object – the quality tile associated with it is not replaced. Grade D components become nonfunctional if they are damaged. Repairing them will bring them back to Grade D.

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 [for all of you engineers out there: let me guess, if you build something and it doesn't work, you'd get mighty curious, right?]. At the end of each turn, as long as the machine is still intact (yet broken), 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. A team which spends all 24 MA investigating the problem has roughly a 1 in 4 chance of finding it.

A player may retest his machine once the workers have diagnosed the problem. He rolls the percentile dice again with the same probability of success (80% plus the modifiers for the components). 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.

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