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[GDS] JANUARY 2016 "Stronger together"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

We have a winner!

The votes showed a clear top three entries this month. The top winner is:

The King's Gold

by Elkobold


by Andymakespasta in second place


by Markgrafn rounding out the top three!

Congratulations to the winners. Now head on over to the critiques thread to check out critique schedule.

Take a look through and prepare your votes. You've got all week, so please take your time and take some notes while you read the entries. It'll help when critiquing afterwards!

And remember, you get 3 votes - Gold, Silver, and Bronze. When you're ready, submit your votes using the form here.

Reminder on the details:

  • Voting: Through the 15th. Votes will be through a form (link posted after submission period is ended).

    • Voting Format: Each person has 3 Medals (Gold, Silver, and Bronze - with values 3, 2, and 1 vote respectively) to distribute any way they choose among the GDS entries with the following restrictions:

    • Entrants may not assign any Medals to their own entry!

    • Entrants must assign all 3 Medals.

    • An entrant who does not assign all 3 Medals will receive a Pyrite Medal (-3 votes) as a penalty.

Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2016. If trends continue, this year will have the highest number of new game releases and new audience members. With a widening market comes widening tastes - which is good since the market will be so cluttered! One of these is a taste for couples' games. Games like the recently released "...And then, we held hands." or the recently rereleased Onirim.

Both of these titles revolve around a cooperative, two-player experience. And preferably, as in the case of ATWHH, one that requires the two players to participate, rather than providing a one-player experience that others just happen to be part of (as so many cooperative games tend to do).

In the spirit of ringing in 2016 on a positive, cooperative note, this is your challenge:

Create a two-player only game, that is purely cooperative. It must require both players to participate individually, ie. you can't play it by yourself and simply "play all the roles" as one might do in a game of Pandemic.

The game can be any theme, any mechanics, any components, any scope at all.

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

And now the details:

Component restriction: None

Word Limit: Standard 500 word limit. Remember this is a pitch, so focus your thoughts on the task and a summary more than explaining every detail

Voting: Award a Gold, Silver, and Bronze (worth 3,2, and 1 points respectively) Medals to your three favorite entries. Any entrant that does not award all three Medals will receive a Pyrite Medal (that's "Fool's Gold") worth -3 votes!

When submitting your entry: PLEASE USE THE FORM LINKED HERE.

  • __Submissions:__Friday the 1st through Friday the 8th

  • Voting: Through the 15th. Votes will be through a form (link posted after submission period is ended).

  • Voting Format: Each person has 3 Medals (Gold, Silver, and Bronze - with values 3, 2, and 1 vote respectively) to distribute any way they choose among the GDS entries with the following restrictions:

    • Entrants may not assign any Medals to their own entry!

    • Entrants must assign all 3 Medals.

    • An entrant who does not assign all 3 Medals will receive a Pyrite Medal (-3 votes) as a penalty.

  • Comments or Questions: Comments and questions about this Challenge are 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, visit the GDS Wiki Page.

Enjoy, and good luck!

-Rich and Mindspike

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 1 - The King's Gold

The King's Gold

The game is played on a board with a number of locations, connected to each other, with the Castle in the middle.

One player is playing a wise King, the other player is playing the mighty Hero.

King player uses two separate decks: Kingdom cards and Troubles cards. Hero is using his own deck of Quest cards.
Both players are dealt 4 Kingdom and 4 Quest cards, respectively, at the beginning of the game.

The round starts with the King drawing the top Troubles card and examining it.
Troubles can be monsters or events. If it's a monster, it's placed on one of the entry-locations on the board, face-down.
If it's an event it's resolved immediately.
Events may move monsters around the board (one area closer to the castle - If a monster ever reaches the castle, both players lose.) and cause other kinds of random misfortunes for the players.

After the Trouble is resolved, the King collects gold coins (at the start of the game, only the castle location produces gold) and draws a kingdom card.
These coins are used for two things:

1) Constructing buildings - most of the kingdom cards are buildings - they are placed on the board locations and provide additional income and/or help the Hero player.

The catch: King player MUST play at least one Kingdom card. If he doesn't have enough coins to play any of the Kingdom cards, the kingdom falls into chaos and both player lose.

2) Assigning bounties. King may place some of the gold coins on any one Monster card as a bounty. If the hero defeats the Monster and survives, he collects the coins.

The catch: King doesn't know which cards the Hero has, but knows the monster card.
Players are not allowed to discuss game state, cards etc. with one another, show each other cards etc.
Bounties are the only way of communication between the King and the Hero.

After the king is done with his turn, it's Hero's turn.

The Hero draws a number of quest cards from the deck and spends the gold he have earned previously to keep some of them, then discards the rest.
Quest cards can do a variety of things, such as allowing faster map movement etc., upgrading hero stats etc.
Quest cards can have level requirements (hero gains a level when he defeats the monster) and location requirements (can only be obtained, if there's a blacksmith building in the kingdom).

The hero then moves around the board and fights monsters if they are in the same location.
Combat is simplistic. The hero discards a number of quest cards from his hand to beat the monster's power level.

Players lose if any monster has reached the castle, or the King ran out of gold.
Players win if they survive for 15 turns, or until the hero defeats the "Evil Overlord" monster found in the troubles deck.

Can you spend the King's gold wisely and bring peace to the Kingdom?

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 2 - Twain

Object: The object of Twain is for 2 players to cooperate to form words.

A set of letters (Scrabble or Bananagrams letters would do)
A timer (10 seconds to 4 minutes)

Players take turns playing roles “A” and “B”. The game is played in series of rounds which ends when a player says “Pass”.
Each player selects 10 letters and places them face up so that both players can see them
Player A sets the timer for 4 minutes
Player A choses a letter and places it between the two players. Player B discards a letter. This process is repeated until Player B says either “Play” or “Pass”. No discussion is allowed until this point.

If player B says “Play” then the players use the letters to form a word. The following rules apply;
I. The word must contain all of the letters chosen by player A and at least one of the (non-discarded) letters chosen by player B.
II. The first word of each round must be at least 4 letters. Each subsequent word of that round must be at least one letter longer than the previous word.

If the players form a legitimate word, then they score 1 point for every letter in the word. The players then discard all letters and pick letters for the next word as before. The players switch roles.

The round ends if the B player says “Pass”. If a player says “Pass” all of the letters are discarded. Players may not pass on the first word of a round.

At the beginning of each new round, the following changes are made:
The time allowed decreases by 30 seconds. When the time allowed reaches 30 seconds it decreases by 5 seconds a round until it reaches 10 seconds at which point it stays at 10 seconds until the game ends.
The number of letters the players start with decreases by 1. When this number reaches 4, it stays at 4 for the rest of the game.

Game end
The game ends when the players can not make a legitimate word within the time allotted. 100 points could be a winning score for beginners. The target can increase as players gain experience.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 3 - Pirate Jailbreak

Pirate Jailbreak

Set in the Caribbean in the 1700s, you and your cell mate have broken out of prison, but are still shackled together. Together, you must try and make it to your pirate ship, trying to pick up members of your crew and treasure along the way. Watch out for British soldiers and natives. If you’re caught by either one, the game is over. Yes, you are working together, but like any pirate, you are out for yourself as well.

Board is a grid map of a ‘Port Royal’ type town with the jail at one end, the port with the pirate ship at the other end, and a native village outside of the city.

Natives and British soldiers are cardboard tiles laid out on the indicated spots. Treasure, items, and crew members are cardboard tiles laid out on indicated spots on the board face down with the same design on the back. Natives will stay outside of the city and soldiers will stay inside the city. Both will have numbers and arrows showing the direction they will move each turn. They’ll follow one arrow one turn and the other arrow the next turn. Each player will be responsible for moving either the soldiers or the natives. NPCs may move through each other. Items and crew members, once found, are put in front of the players. Crew members may be discarded if you are caught by a soldier/native. It’s up to the players to decide whose crew members will meet their fate each time. Items are mostly treasure tiles, but may be something that can be discarded to be used, like a pistol or bomb to get out of getting caught. If the player tile interacts with a native or soldier tile, and there are no items or crew members to be discarded, the players are caught and lose the game.

Players will decide who is player one and player two. The player token is a two-space cardboard tile with the numbers 1 and 2 to indicate player position. Players draw individual goal cards (i.e.: Make it to the ship with 3 treasure tiles). Players then draw a hand of 3 movement cards. Movement cards will have a direction and a number of spaces to move. Both movements will be made, but one at a time. The players will have to discuss their best options. The player whose number lands on an item/crew member owns that tile. Within the movement deck are ‘reinforcements’ cards. When drawn, soldier/native tiles are placed on any empty start space (item and player spots included) on the board.

Players win if they reach the boat without getting caught. The supreme winner is the one who is able to complete their goal as well.

  1. Players move
  2. NPCs move

The difficulty level can be changed in two ways. 1) Add more reinforcement cards to the movement deck. 2) Add double the soldiers/natives at the beginning.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 4 - Mirrors

Imagine a slightly warped mirror. The image essentially is the same, even if it is a little different.


  • 50 card deck with 5 of each number 1 - 5
  • 8 Shatter Tokens


Shuffle the deck and deal out 5 cards to both players. Then place the top 2 cards of the deck face up in front of each player. 1 for each player. Then reveal the top card of the deck, the number on the card is the crack number.


To match your partners score at the end of the game as closely as possible.


Players will draft 1 card from their hand and place it face down in front of them, passing their hand to the other player afterwards. Players will reveal their face down card before looking at the next hand and only after both players have chosen a card.

This will continue until players have a hand of 2 cards. Players will draft one card as normal and then discard the last card in the hand. Players will then decide to use as many of their Shatter tokens on either themselves, or their teammate or any combination before revealing the last drafted card. Shatter tokens do not need to be used.

Shatter tokens are printed with a "-1" on one side and a "+1" on the other side. When used at the end of a round, the player chooses which side to use. Shatter Tokens will remain in play for the rest of the game once used.


Players add the value of all their face up cards and their Shatter Tokens for their score. If players have a score equal or within the crack number of each other they win! Otherwise they fail the round. For example: The crack number is 2. JIM has a score of 11 and SAM has a score of 15. They fail the round. If SAM had a score of 13, then they would win.

If players fail the round, they each receive a Shatter Token. Shuffle ALL cards back into the deck and follow setup rules again. All Shatter Tokens remain in play and with the players that have collected them.

Once players have failed a round and are unable to receive Shatter Tokens, they lose the game.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 5 - Up a Creek


One raging river game board - Board is divided into a square grid, each space containing one of either: (a) calm water, (b) quick water, (c) rapids, or (d) rocks or obstacles

Two identical decks of cards (18 cards) - Each deck has three copies of each number 1-5, and several special action cards.

One Raft Token

Tokens to indicate damage


Reach the end of the river with your raft intact

Set up:

Place the game board between the players and place the raft Token on the starting space Players decide who is “Left Paddle” and “Right Paddle” if not already clear from board placement Each player chooses one deck of cards and draws 6 cards

Game play:

  1. Action Phase

    1. Paddle: Each player secretly chooses and simultaneously reveals one of the cards in their hand.
    2. Move the raft: The raft moves in the direction of the player who played the largest value card a number of spaces equal to the difference of the two cards. The raft also advances downriver by 1 space if the turn started on calm water, 2 if quick water, 3 if rapids. The raft must complete all moves in a single direction before moving the other direction, at players’ discretion.
    3. Example: The raft starts on a quick water space. Left Paddle plays a “3”, Right Paddle plays a “1”. The raft will move left (because left’s card was larger) by two spaces (3-1 = 2), and advance two spaces downriver. The players choose to move two spaces downriver first, then two spaces left.
  2. End of Turn

    1. Take Damage: If the raft’s movement crosses or ends on a rock space add 1 damage token for each rock hit. If the movement ends on a rock, shift the raft left or right until it sits in a water tile, taking additional damage tokens for each rock space it must pass over.
    2. Draw: If players have no remaining cards in hand, draw 6 new ones from their respective decks.
  3. Game Over

    1. Players win if their raft reaches the end of the river. Note: Damage taken is calculated AFTER movement, thus it is possible to limp to shore then have your raft collapse around you.
    2. Players lose if:
    3. They end a turn with all damage markers placed.
    4. They are unable to draw new cards
richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 6 - 3..2..1.. Showtime

A two player game of bad communication and high tension.

You blacked out for a moment from the stress, and suddenly you can't remember what you were going to do, just that it's really important. At this point, you're too afraid to ask your partner sitting across from you, what you were going to do. Unbeknownst to you, your partner has forgotten too.

Basic Gameplay

Each round, both players play a card at the same time. Players are not allowed to communicate in any way. The objective is for both players to play the same "Showtime" card on the same round. If a player plays a showtime card, and the other player doesn't, or it's a different showtime card, both players lose.

Components and play

Each player has a separate deck of signal cards, and seven different showtime cards which are distinctly colored for recognition. At the start of the round, randomly take three showtime cards from each player's seven cards. Shuffle each player's remaining four showtime cards into their decks. Each player then draws five cards as their starting hand. Each round, both players play a card face down, which the other player takes and looks at. New players should keep the cards face up and in order for easy recall. If the card has extra instructions, follow them. Each player then draws a card and another round begins.


Both players instantly win if both players play the same "Showtime". Both players instantly lose if a player plays a showtime card, and the other player doesn't, or it's a different showtime card. On the round any player's deck runs out, the players have one last chance to play the same showtime card. If they fail to play the same showtime card, they both lose.

Signal Cards

Most signal cards will have a number 3,2,1 or X (no) and 1-4 colors on them you can use these in a variety of ways, in the hopes of the other player understanding. For example, playing 3,2,1 with a common color across all the cards is a clear signal of going for a showtime. The other playing an X can be a signal they don't have certain colors, or abort the showtime. There are special signal cards which have an ability, for example: Do Over: Receiving player may discard and redraw any number of cards from their hand Get Ready: Receiving player may search through their deck for any card instead of drawing. Double Play:Receiving player may draw two cards this round, and play two cards on the next. (If you play two showtimes, if either one matches, you win)

Showtime cards

Diverse high tension jobs, like a theatrical performance, business presentation, armed robbery, etc. Each are colored distinctly to match the colors on the signal cards.


Players are allowed to discuss strategies in between rounds, but beware the randomness of the draw.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 7 - Where are you my love?

The game component is a postcard.

The front of the postcard displays an image of a big group of people both men and women standing in rows posing to the camera. It looks like a high school class picture taken inside a gym. In the lower right there is written “84’” in hand. Also a heart around the text “me” with an arrow pointing on a blonde girl is written onto the picture. There is approximately 6 rows with 10 people.

On the back there is a handwritten message.

“Dear love,
How strange it is that everything is finally coming to an end after so many years. I couldn’t have wished for a different life - and thinking about how it all started back when we meet at that school party. Do you even remember that time - how we always went to lake Tikesh to just lie in the sun - and all the games with played with Tim and Brenda? To refresh you memory you can see this picture from a year before we dated the first time. I’ll give you one last game to play my love - can you find me?“

Next to the message, dividing the backside in two halfs - written vertically in very small size it says;

All secretly imagine to be one of the persons on the photograph. Each place a die with 6 up in front of themselves. I turn clockwise everyone may ask a yes/no question to someone else about who they are. If the answer is “no” , rotate the die down one number. Reaching zero - the player is out and may not ask or answer anymore. The questions can be “are you a man?”, “Do you stand above the middle row?” or “Are you her?”. If it is not possible to answer clear yes or no - the question may be changed.

Instead of asking a question a player can tell a (not unique) fact about their secret person by paying with 1 die point. Any person that is guessed may continue to ask questions. If two players guess each other they win.

If the imagined person is guessed that player is out. The last player not out is the winner.

Address field is left empty...

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 8 - For love...

For love…

Working together for fulfillment of self and relationship


Cooperative dice rolling, resource management game


20 dice (10 red and 10 blue)
30 goal cards
10 green financial goals
10 red relationship goals
10 white personal goals
50 achievement cards
50 heart tokens
Locked dice board
2 listen cards
2 dice cups (maybe to help keep track of used dice)

Everyone starts with one color of 10 dice and 3 private goal cards (1 of each color/type).
Set out locked dice board and place the 2 listen cards next to it. Set out the shuffled deck of 50 achievement cards and set 5 of them out in a row between both players. Place the 50 heart tokens and the remaining goal cards within reach on the side of the play area.


Work with your partner to achieve financial, personal, and relationship goals.

HOWEVER- communication in relationships can be difficult. At no time may you openly discuss what your individual needs/goals are.


Every round, everyone rolls as many dice as they want. Any dice that results in an argument is immediately locked and placed on the locked dice board. The remaining dice may be spent to pick up achievement cards available (the 5 that were laid out). Each achievement card can be used towards one of your personal, financial, or relationship goals. The symbol on any dice may only be used once, and then it is returned to your cup so that it can be rerolled. You may use your dice and/or borrow from your partner in order to meet the purchase requirements needed for the card. When you purchase relationship cards- you can immediately collect that many heart tokens. When a card is purchased, new cards replace them only when the dice are re-rolled. Purchase cards are collected and held to meet requirements for each goal.

You have 2 listen cards. When too many of your dice are locked, you may “listen” to each other. Using this card returns all dice from the locked dice board and you shuffle all cards available for purchase into the deck and deal 5 new cards.

The game is over when no further cards can be purchased. No more purchase cards available or too many dice are locked in arguments and no more listen cards.

Examples of financial goals- purchase 5 possessions; own 2 cars and 1 house, etc…

Examples of personal goals- run a marathon get a promotion, etc...

Examples of relationship goals- earn 15 heart tokens; earn 25 heart tokens, etc…

To win the game you and your partner must fulfill the requirements of all of your goal cards (6 total).

End Game

Discuss your goals and how far you came to achieving them. If you both achieved your financial, personal, and relationship goals: you win and your relationship survived together! If one goal was unmet, you were unfulfilled from the relationship and you both lost.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry 9 - Strategic Partnership

The premise is starting a business. You win if you profitably reach one million dollars of sales in three years or less. You lose if you don't, if you run out of money or if either partner gets burned out trying.

To ensure both players are equally involved players choose their actions simultaneously. Each turn both players choose a card to play paired with an action indicator card. Cards can be used four ways, so the indicator card shows how it will be used (specifics later).

Total sales and total expenses are tracked around the perimeter of the board (100 spaces of $10k). The board features a dial of twelve months. The pointer moves one month per turn, three full rotations for the game.

Inside the sections of the dial both players place a vitality token. If the pointer reaches a token, the game is over, because you've burned yourself out. Players must maintain balance to keep moving the token away from the pointer.

Another token tracks cash flow. The inner circle of the dial moves with the pointer, assigning a value to each section. The values are on a removable disc. New discs are placed as expenses go up. In other words, when you move the pointer, you're spending money automatically to represent monthly expenses. When money is needed for other costs, the token is moved to a different section. When you get to zero you must play a $10k chit which moves the total expenses marker and resets the money token on the board. If you don't have a $10k chit (gained from sales, loans, or investments), the game ends.

To start you get targets in a variety of categories like strategic planning, production, marketing, etc. (represented by icons). As you hit the targets, you open up greater levels of potential sales. To hit targets you must set goals and perform tasks in a timely manner to accomplish them.

Back to the cards-action types are: goal, task, third party, and miscellaneous. When you set a goal the card is placed on the outside of the dial a number of months ahead. One or both players depending on the goal must play other cards as tasks with icons to match the requirements of the goal card by the time the pointer reaches it. Third party is things like loans, venture capital investment, warehouse space. Miscellaneous is things like moving the vitality tokens, drawing or swapping cards. Achieved goals help hit targets and provide ongoing benefits to help sales and reach additional goals.

The outer ring of the dial dictates two types of events: count sales and unexpected (you have to expect the unexpected). The more targets you've hit the better your sales will be and the less likely you are to be adversely affected by the unexpected (it could even be positive). The outer ring is removable, a different ring is used each “year” to vary the timing of events (used rings also allow for tracking the “year”).

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