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RULES: "Engineers at Play" (Junkyard Wars) version

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Joined: 12/31/1969

I've heard a lot of people asking about it, so here is the full-blown game. I'll send an introductory set of rules if these are too complicated (much simpler).

I've excluded the appendices (descriptions of tools and powerups) for now: I can send them out if you want.

Have fun!

Junkyard Wars: The Game

AGE: 12 to adult
DURATION: At most 3 hours

10 double-sided maze tiles, each with a 5x5 section of labyrinth and four exits
A package of Fake Money
1 deck of machine cards
1 pad of tracking sheets
6 20-sided dice (d20's)
4 normal, six-sided dice
1 rule booklet
60 prefabricated tool marker tiles (5 of each type of tool)
60 damage/improvement markers
A set of strength and stamina markers
100 object (junk and powerup) tiles
100 quality tiles: 50 Grade D, 30 Grade C, 15 Grade B, 5 Grade A
6 sets of 4 worker tokens
6 truck tiles, one for each of the six colors
24 clear boxes
1 game board

To score points building machines out of the materials found in the junkyard.
Suggested target scores are 150, 250, and 400. If the game has not ended
after three hours, the player with highest score wins after three hours wins.

Start by choosing four of the maze tiles and placing them (in any orientation) in the four slots in the game board. This creates a 10x10 grid which will serve as the junkyard maze.

Each player rolls a d20 to determine who goes first: highest number starts, and play proceeds clockwise. The first player takes the four six-sided dice.

The players next choose entrances to the 10x10 grid (there are eight of them) in reverse order. They claim their entrance by choosing a color and placing that color’s truck tile in the construction zone just outside that entrance. This is where that team will build its machines.

Next, each player takes his four worker tokens and places each inside one of the clear boxes. The box will be used to hold all the item(s) a given worker is carrying. The player then places the boxes inside his chosen construction zone, next to the truck token.

Each player gathers $1,000 each of Fake Money using whichever denomination bills is convenient. Strong players may be handicapped by giving them less money. Inevitably, one person will be assigned the task of dealing out the money.

While one player is dealing out money, another takes the pile of quality tiles and the combined pile of junk/powerup tiles, flips them face-down, and place one of each on each square in the 10x10 grid. The two tiles, together, represent one object.

Finally, shuffle the deck of machine cards and deal three cards, face down, to each player. Each player’s first goal is to build one of these machines, though he need not decide which immediately.

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.

On the TV show, all of the teams are attempting to build the same machine. This is not the case, however, in this game. Here, the players earn points building working machines, with the more difficult machines earning more points.

BUYING PREFABRICATED TOOLS Workers may attempt to speed up their construction work by buying prefabricated tools at any point during their turns. Each construction zone comes with a tool shop, where any player can buy any (or all) of twelve different kinds of tools.

Only workers in a construction zone may purchase tools, and (unless stated otherwise) only the worker holding the tool can use it.

Worker may sell used tools back to a tool shop for half price.

All tool transactions require one man-action of time (described further on).

Note that the stock of 60 tools is shared between all of the tool shops. It is not unusual for a particular tool to sell out.

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; buy or sell a tool; 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.

Tracking Sheets Players may buy tracking sheets for $500 on their first turn and only on their first turn.

Determining the Number of Actions Available for a Worker
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”. Players can keep track of how many actions his four workers have performed on the four six-sided dice, passing the dice to the next player at the end of each turn.

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). Objects carried by multiple workers are placed on top of the appropriate workers’ boxes (face down).

A worker driving the truck has his own rules. More on that later.

Assembling or Dismantling the Machine
Under normal circumstances, 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 (or to separate them from each other). The player can keep track of these on his 20-sided die (reuse the numbers 1-4 for 21-24).

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

Certain objects can help expedite labor. For instance, a Standard Tool Kit can help one individual worker assemble machines more quickly.

Components which have been connected together may only be discarded (or picked up) together. A player must disconnect one component from the rest if he only wants to pick up, or discard, one of them.

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).

A worker may pick up and drop objects (tools, junk, whatever) during a move for free. Objects carried by a single worker are placed face down (quality tile on the bottom) in that worker’s box, underneath the colored token. Dropped items are left face down in the square the worker had dropped them in, where they can be picked up by anyone who wanders over there.

If a worker 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 the worker’s load, his action limit for the current turn (and future turns) instantly changes to reflect his new load. If his new limit equals or exceeds his current action count for the turn, he can do no more work this turn.

Note that individual workers only have two hands, and as a result cannot carry more than two hands’ worth of objects.

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.

Due to space constraints, a team may only store ten or fewer objects in its construction zone. These includes tools and powerups as well as pieces of junk. Furthermore, a parked truck counts as five items.

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 objects the player has already offloaded, selling objects, trading objects, or temporarily picking up objects already in the construction zone.

If a player decides that he no longer wants an object he has already offloaded in the construction zone (and is therefore visible in front of him), he may turn it over and place it in the construction zone, face down. This frees space for additional objects and allows other players to pick it up like any other dropped item.

Note that objects may be placed in a container (shopping cart, sack, etc.) to save space. In that case, only the container counts towards the limit. Containers may not be placed in other containers.

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).

Driving the Truck
A worker in the same square as his team’s truck token may climb into, or out of, the truck for free. A worker takes the wheel by placing the truck token on top of his box. Once he is in the truck, he, his passengers, and his cargo will be able to move up to three spaces per action of the driver regardless of how many passengers (or objects) are in the truck.

The truck can carry up to five units of cargo, where a unit can be either an object, driver, or passenger. It cannot enter the maze itself: all it can do is travel around the perimeter, passing through the construction zones in the process. A truck may pass through any construction zone. However, the only construction zone it may park in is the one belonging to its owner’s team.

Loading (and unloading) an object with N Action Penalty onto, or off of, the truck will require N/2 MA each (round up). Objects cannot be used in a machine until they are unloaded from the truck.

Passengers and cargo may not enter or leave the truck unless the truck has stopped moving at the end of one of its driver’s actions.

Passengers are charged one action for each action the driver spends chauffeuring them around. A passenger who has run out of actions can still be driven around that turn: it’s just that he must wait until next turn to do anything other than passively ride around.

Finally, only one worker may drive the truck during a given turn.

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, taking care to keep each junk tile associated with the appropriate quality tile.

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.

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.

Strength and stamina markers are placed inside the box representing the worker.

Passing Items to Workers in the Same Square
Workers may hand off objects to co-workers in their square at no cost. However, tools and powerups may only be transferred at the beginning of a turn, before any actions have been performed.

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.

Blanks not yet associated with a component count as 2 Action Penalty, 1 Hand.

A player may find that certain items can be used for unusual purposes (for instance, he may want to lift a magnifying glass with a shovel to keep a hand free). Unorthodox uses for items are permitted as long as all opponents agree to them (and to any proposed Number of Hands and/or Action Penalty requirements). Once an unorthodox use model has been agreed upon, it may be used by any player.

Players may add their own powerups and/or tools to the junkyard. Each player is entitled to add the same number of objects, and one of the existing objects must be removed to make room for each new one before the game begins. Any unusual powerups and tools must be described in detail to all the players before the game begins.

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.

If all instances of the components required to finish a machine are either out of the game (for instance, sold to the tool shop for cash) or in the opponents’ hands, a player may reveal that machine’s card at any time and trade it in for new one. He gets no points if he does so, and trading in the card ends his turn. However, he will be able to score points if he trades with the opponents to acquire the remaining components and assembles the machine. He may only trade in a card if he has already obtained all of the other resources required to assemble the machine.

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 Success Value of 17 – that is, rolling a value 17 or lower on a 20-sided die means that the test has succeeded. Each Grade A component increases this value by 2 to a maximum value of 19. Each Grade C component decreases it by 1, and each Grade D component decreases it by 2 (minimum value is 1).

The player then rolls the d20 to determine if his machine has passed.

Successful Tests
If the test succeeds, the machine has worked. The player earns the number of points specified on the machine card and removes his three cards from the game. He then draws three new cards to determine his next project. Note that a 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. Damage is indicating by placing a damage marker on an object for each quality grade lost (the quality tile associated with it is not changed). Grade D components become nonfunctional if they are damaged, and any machine with a nonfunctional component has a Success Value of 1. Repairing a nonfunctional component will bring it back to Grade D.

Failed Tests: Debugging a Broken Machine
If the test fails, a player’s next task is to study the machine and figure out what went wrong. At the end of his turn, he rolls the d20 to determine if he has found the problem. The Success Value of this roll will depend on the number of MA his workers spent debugging the machine during his turn.

Number of MA Success Value for Fixing the Problem
0-2 0
3-7 1
8-12 2
13-17 3
18-22 4
23-27 5
etc. etc.

A player may retest his machine at any point after the workers have fixed the problem.

Failed tests generally do not damage a machine’s components. However, there is a 5% chance each time the switch is thrown that a machine will suffer a major malfunction – in this case, if the player rolls a 20 on the test. A major malfunction causes a machine not to just fail but for components to take damage as if it had passed.

If a component is replaced with a spare (by disconnecting it and replacing it with one not yet used in the machine: see Assembling and Disassembling the Machine), it may be retested as soon as the new component has been installed.

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

1. DON’T only ask for a trade if you only need one more component to complete your machine! This is because if other people figure out what you are doing, they will never want to trade with you (especially if the goal score is 150 and your score is something like, say, 142). Ask for trades often, possibly for components you do not really need! Bluff, if necessary.

2. If there’s only one of it, take it even if you do not need it. If someone else needs it to finish his machine, you will have him at your mercy. If there are two of it and you already have one, by all means take the second as well! Corollary: if you can buy five of it, you can scalp prices.

3. If there are many of it, don’t automatically grab the first one you find if its quality is Grade D (or possibly even Grade C). With many components running around, the odds are that one out of every five is Grade B or better.

4. Specialize your workers. You can have a team consisting of a Hercules (who has enhanced strength), a Roadrunner (who has enhanced stamina), and so forth. If you need someone to pick up your 6 Action Penalty item, Hercules will be happy to help.

5. Ride the Pony Express to deliver objects quickly. An object with Action Penalty N can be transported up to 24-4N spaces in one turn by spacing your workers 6-N spaces apart and passing the object from one to the other.

6. Trucks are useful for looting objects opponents have discarded from construction sites, especially if it seems as if they want them but ran out of space. These objects will often be placed in one big pile in the construction zone. It will be easy for a truck to sneak over there and steal them, especially if there the opponent has no workers around the construction site to pick them up!

7. Wait until you have both hands full before returning to the construction zone – unless your first object is unusually heavy. Going back to your construction site to drop off an object (especially if you have no truck around), coming back, and returning with the second object will require three trips between your current location and the construction site. One slow trip often takes less time than three fast trips.

8. Wheels are useful, especially if they come with a container. These include the Radio Flyer Wagons, the shopping carts, the dollies, and (technically) the truck.

9. If you have opted not to track and have no idea what is where, search all of the squares from scratch once you start work on a new machine. Very often, a component which would have been ignored (and dropped) for the first set of machines will come in handy for the second set.

10. Don’t waste a blank on a common item unless you know what you are doing. The more common the component, the more likely you will pick it up later on. Remember that a blank may only be defined once per player.

11. If it’s heavy, get two people to carry it. Action Penalties will halve.

12. If it’s Grade A, take it even if you don’t need it. Good components are hard to come by the in junkyard. Someone will probably want to buy or trade it off of you.

13. If your opponents are tracking, move things around the board. You will enjoy the expression on your opponent’s face when he rushes over to a square to pick up a magnet and finds...a sledgehammer. This is especially effective if there are only one or two of the objects on the board. Corollary: track in pencil.

14. If you have a hand free, don’t want it, and can’t move any more, pick it up and drop it next turn. This will prevent opponents from taking it. It will also make it harder for your opponents to guess whether or not you actually want an object.

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