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[GDS] January 2012 "Back 2 Basics"

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sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

January 2012 Game Design Showdown - "Back 2 Basics"

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

The votes are in, and WE HAVE A WINNER!

First of all, let me thank everyone who entered the Game Design Showdown this month, as well as all the people who voted. I had hoped the new format would encourage more participation - both entrants and voters. This month we had 5 entries and 11 different people voted! I think that's a step in the right direction :)

The next step is to see if the critique thread is more robust this time around, as people discuss how they'd proceed with these games (if they were going to do so). Maybe some of these ideas will evolve into real games one day, perhaps not. The thing about the GDS is this: whether the idea ever becomes a game or not, everyone becomes a better designer through the process!

And the winner is...

Here are the 5 entries and the votes they received:

  • Hollow Words, by GreenO: 5 votes
  • The Dam, by kviki: 10 votes
  • Greed and Government, by richdurham: 16 votes
  • Horde, by dobnarr: 11 votes
  • Vice, Virtue & Values, by ddm: 7 votes

Congrats Rich, and everyone else who participated. The Critiques thread is now open for business!

January GDS:

Starting with the new year I'm going to shake up the Game Design Showdown a little bit in order to make both entering and voting participation easier. I thought it would be good to move back towards the roots of the Showdown... rather than full rules and images for the game entries, this month you need only to describe your game in a short (200 word) blurb. After the GDS, entrants can expand on their entries and post more thorough rule sets in the forums.

The challenge will be open for entries for a week, but I do not expect anybody to spend a week working on their entry. Rather the 1 week entry window should give everyone a chance to see the challenge and send an entry at their convenience.

Main Design Requirements:

  • Theme Restriction: Resolutions.
    January is a time for New Year resolutions! To celebrate that, this month's GDS challenges you to design a game in which players make - and keep - resolutions. This can manifest any way you like - some form of pre-planned turns like RoboRally, or binding deals, or game end goals set by the players. Up to you!

  • Component Restriction: Pairs of stuff.
    Other than basic commodities in the game, all significant player pieces (or communal pieces which players can use) must come in pairs.

  • Submissions: Sunday January 1st 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 - Hollow Words

Hollow words
A bidding game of flexible promises for 2-5 players

10 bid cards
60 currency beans (30 blue, 15 red, 10 green, 5 yellow)
20 artifacts
Start player marker

The object of the game is to have the highest value of artifacts and magic beans remaining when the final artifact is sold at auction.

Deal two bid cards to each player, these cards detail how a player MUST bid during the course of the game in order to gain a bean bonus at the end. A player can break their resolve and throw in their bid card at any point, but in doing so they also lose the possibility of the bonus. Players choose one of the two cards dealt to them placing it face up in front of them.

The bid cards list the number and type of currency beans a player starts with. Bean values: blue=1; red=2; green=3; yellow=5.

The start player turns over the top two cards of the artifact deck: (s)he may now place a bid for one of the artifacts by laying out beans bid next to the card. Play passes to the left. Players have three options on their turn:

  • Place/raise a bid for one artifact
  • Pass, dropping out of this auction and paying one of their bid beans to the supply.
  • Decline to bid ONLY if they are winning at least one auction.

When two players with winning bids have both declined or there is a single bidder remaining, players pay full winning bids and one bean of any failed bids to the supply. If there are no bids on an artifact it is discarded.

Place any artifacts won in front of the winning players and execute any effects from the start player clockwise around the table. The start player marker passes to the left.

Players may not trade beans with the supply unless an artifact permits them to. The numbers of beans in the supply are limited to those available.

Bonus material

Sample bid cards:

Player MUST bid at least one bean on every artifact (discard this card if you did not do so after each auction)
Start with: 10 blue beans, 5 red beans
End game: This card is worth 10 beans

Player MUST bid beans of two different colors when they place an opening bid (discard this card if you did not do so after an opening bid)
Start with: 2 blue beans, 2 red beans, 3 green beans, 1 yellow bean
End game: This card is worth 9 beans

Sample artifact cards:

Blue Tome
You may trade up to 6 blue beans with the supply for beans of other colors with the same total denomination. End game: This artifact is worth 2 beans for each tome you have including this one.

Jar of bat wings
Gain one yellow bean from the supply. End game: This artifact is worth 1 bean.

Strange metal ingot
If this artifact is purchased with another in the same auction, ignore the effect of the other artifact, draw the top card of the artifact deck and place that artifact in front of you. End game: This artifact is worth 1 bean.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #2 - The Dam

The Dam

The Dam is a cooperative played game, where the players are building together a dam on the board. They have to choose the time available for it first (in weeks = turns) and an amount they borrow to pay the bills. Every week, they can choose two actions to perform from: buying materials (three types), transport (all bought material), building (with workers), evacuating people and hiring workers; by placing their two tokens (people) in action fields. There can not be more than two tokens at each action in a single week. After performing the actions, the tokens are removed from the action fields. The players have a loan and the material, transport, evacuation and hiring is paid from it. There is a given amount, how much they get from building the dam in different times, with sanctions, if they build longer than they chose to. The payment is equally divided to the players. The winner is the one who has the most money after paying the debt.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #3 - Greed and Government

Greed and Government

This is a game of promising as much as possible, while getting filthy rich and influential enough to win re-election. After 12 months (each round is a month) the player with the most Influence wins. Each round players “Pledge” a number of cards to out-do each other, since the player who pledges the most determines what resources are provided that round, but risk losing Influence at the end because of built up Public Ire.

Pledges cost various Resources. The Pledge winner will claim Resources in PAIRS. One goes into a Public Support pool, the other into a Public Ire pool. Players will pay for Pledges using only the resources in the Public Support pool.

After each round, players can choose one they played to have a lasting effect, which will give them a bonus in future rounds, like counting for a free resource or making other Pledges not count against Public Ire.

At game’s end, the Public Ire pool will subtracts from players’ Influence for each resource that matches Pledge types played. Players can spend Money or discard extra Pledges to remove resources from the Public Ire so that it won’t impact them later.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #4 - Horde


2-6 players


Build the highest-scoring horde of monsters


  • 10 Rule cards – 5 colors, 5 monsters (red, yellow, blue, black, white; ogre, dragon, knight, goblin, ooze)
  • 50 monster tokens - pairs of monsters (2 each of five colors and five types)
  • Scoring board – 10 score spaces (0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10)


Shuffle the rule cards and place them and all other components between players (rules face down).


Each turn, a player first draws a rule card and places it on the board on any open scoring space. This establishes (resolves?) the scoring for the monster or color shown. Next, the player chooses one, two, or three monsters from the common pool. None of the monsters can match (same color or same monster). The other players then each take the same number of monsters from the pool. These monsters also may not match each other. Players unable to take the full number legally must take fewer.


Game ends after ten turns (all rules played). For each rule card, the player with the most of that color or monster type gets the point value shown for that rule on the board.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #5 - Vice, Virtue and Values

Vice, Virtue and Values

Each player commits to conquering the seven Vices. Players agree in advance how hard it will be to conquer each Vice by paring them with a difficulty value. For example, everyone would need to agree that the struggle value for Sloth is a 6. Each player then arranges their seven Vice cards face up.

Virtues conquer Vices, and each of the Virtue cards have a overcome difficulty value. It may take several Virtue cards to conquer a Vice because the total overcome points on the Virtue cards must be greater than the Vice difficulty value. For example a player could use a 3 and a 6 Virtue cards to conquer a 6 difficulty Vice.

A central shuffled deck of Virtue cards are placed face down with one face up as the 'Virtue in Play'. Players in turn draw Value/Action cards from a Values deck and use matching Value pairs to attain the 'Virtue in Play'. For example, matching two 'Love' Value cards could be used only to attain a Charity Virtue. In doing so they move the Virtue card to their matching Vice. The first person to conquer all of their Vices wins.

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