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[GDS] JULY 2013 "Order of Play"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

JULY 2013 Game Design Showdown - "Order of Play"


School of Fish

Swam away with the lead spot with a full quarter of all the votes.
Runners up:
Dirty Business
Space Conquest

Now let's get over to the board and talk about them! Thanks for sending in all the entries this month, and here's to an unstructured rest of the summer!

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

Entries are up!

There are a lot of submissions for this month's GDS, so I'm hoping for a lively discussion by all you designers on the merits of a mechanic like this, how each design implemented it, and general feedback on each others' designs.

But first, remember to vote!

  • Voting: Through to the the 16th. PM your votes to mindspike.
  • 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.

One of the fundamentals of a game is the meta-game order each turn plays out. Often times a player must perform actions in a set order, or everyone carries out the same action in a series of "phases." Of course this helps players grasp the outline of a game by either limiting their decision set and by giving them a framework for the timing of your game's rules (where a player might say, "...if I buy this improvement now, I can collect taxes from it later in the "resources" phases...")

It isn't ALWAYS this way...

Many games play with the turn order a bit, like Race for the Galaxy, where only some phases are played each round, or As Astra where players have many actions to choose from but play them in the order they wish in relation to the other players.

Then there are games with free reign by the players, summed up by a single line in the rules: "Players may perform as many of the following actions on their turn as they wish," followed by a list of half a dozen or so actions. But that isn't quite what I mean here, since that chaos is usually contained in an "actions" phase of the game.

An thus is your task to create a game with Changing Orders. This means that your game must NOT proceed in exactly the same order from round to round. Exactly how this is done, and to what degree, is up to the designer.

Theme Restriction: None.

Mechanics Restriction: Changing Order of Play. Each round the play can take place in a different order.

Word Limit: 500 words. Focus on your implementation of the restriction, and gloss over the rest. Remember, you're not writing the full fleshed out rules to a game.

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 Meal (that's "Fool's Gold") worth -3 votes!

If we end up with only 2 or 3 entries this process will be altered so as not to end up in a tie again.

When submitting your entry: Please PM submissions to richdurham with the following subject line. PLEASE use the correct subject - it makes my job much easier!

Subject: GDS - JULY- [your username]

  • Submissions: Monday the 1st through Monday the 8th.
  • Voting: Through to the the 16th. PM your votes to mindspike.
  • 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 were handled on the July GDS 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 July GDS 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.

Good luck!

  • Rich and Mindspike
richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #1 Roomba Rumble

It was an awesome session of late night hacking when you and your buds converted some Roombas into remote control crumb gladiators.

Pity, the three am trip to Wally World ended up with remotes running on the same exact frequency.

To make the most of it, you set up an arena, scatter some crumbs and lay on with the competitive button mashing. May the winner be bathed in crumbs!

In Roomba Rumble, each round players are dealt a hand of actions which they can play in any order. However, every player has to follow the action of each card in sequence. Actions include turns, moves, edge detection, collision checking, etc.


  • 10 by 10 square grid
  • 50 crumbs in a crumb box
  • 4 Roombas (disk with directional arrow)
  • 14 Action cards
  • 4 obstacles


Place each Roomba in its starting square in the center pointing out.

Give each player 3 crumbs.

Game ends:

When a player plays the Game End Test card and someone satisfies the victory condition. (tie goes to the first player in the round rotation)

Each round:

Deal out all but 2 of the cards so that each player has the same number of cards:

  • 2 player - 6 each
  • 3 player - 4 each
  • 4 player - 3 each

Rotate starting player each round.

Round action:

Starting player plays a card then follows the instruction, next player follows the same instruction, etc.

Next player plays a card.

Continue playing cards until no one has any, or someone plays the Round Ends card.

Resolving actions:

  • Roomba collision - Roomba with an arrow pointing at it loses a crumb backwards (crumbs sent out of ring go to the crumb box); i.e. in a head on collision both lose crumbs.
  • Other collisions - Lose crumb to an adjacent square that doesn't have a Roomba or Obstacle on it.
  • Cards with decision are made by each player (e.g. Move 1-4, first player could move 1 and next move 3)
  • If you move onto a crumb, collect it.
  • Roomba cannot push or move obstacles/other roombas


  • End Round
  • Game End Test > 12 Crumbs
  • Game End Test > 15 Crumbs
  • Collision Detect - Lose crumb if adjacent to edge, roomba, or obstacle
  • Move 1
  • Move 2
  • Move 1-4
  • Turn Left
  • Turn Right
  • Turn Any
  • Edge Detect (if near edge turn any then move 2)
  • Drop 3 Crumbs (anywhere there isn't already a crumb, obstacle, or roomba)
  • Move Back 1
  • Place or Move Obstacle

Mechanics Explanation

  • A standard design would have each player on his turn:
  • Place a Crumb
  • Turn and/or Move
  • Check for Collision
  • Collect Crumb (declare win)

By swapping individually controlled turns with synchronized actions with player controlled step sequences, this approach shifts towards a strategic feel while also adding a higher level of luck.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 Agronomics

A card game for 3-6 players.


The game consists of an action deck for each player, a special goal die, resource tokens (2 * Number of players), and tokens that represent gold/victory points.

Each action deck consists of one copy of each type of card. Each card represent an action that a player can do.

The goal die has 6 sides. Each side has a primary and a secondary resource goal that ranges from 0, 1 or 2. The values are 0/1, 0/2, 1/0, 1/2, 2/0, and 2/1.


  • Farm – All players gain a resource (max 2).
  • Tax – All players lose a resource, if able.
  • Steal – Take one resource from another player who has at least one resource.
  • Gift – Give one resource to another player with less than two resources.
  • Gamble - Discard top card of active player’s action deck.
  • Build – All players collect gold based on resources and the resource goal die is rerolled. 2 gold for each player that has the primary goal number of resources, and 1 for each player with the secondary goal number.
  • Mirror – Copy the effect from the top card of the active player’s action deck.


At the start of the game each player is given one resource token and their own action deck.

Players can then sort their action deck in any order they’d like, and then place the deck face down in front of them.

Once every player has decided the order of their deck, the resource die is rolled.


Each player must reveal the top card, and only the top card, of their action deck at all times.

On the active player’s turn they may choose which action card they would like to use from the revealed cards of each other player. A player may not choose the action card from their own deck.

After the player makes their choice, they perform the action listed on the card and discard it from the other player’s deck.

If any player has no more action cards in their deck, there is automatically one more “Build” round and the game ends. If not, the player whose action card was selected last becomes the active player and the game continues.

The player with the most gold at the end of the game wins.

Example Play:

PlayerA’s top action card is Farm, PlayerB’s is Build, and PlayerC’s is Gift. They each have one resource. The die currently shows 0/1.

On PlayerA’s turn he can choose between Gift and Build. He picks Gift, and gives his resource to Player B. PlayerA discard’s PlayerC’s Gift card, and PlayerC reveals the next card from his deck.

Because PlayerA used PlayerC’s card, it is now PlayerC’s turn. PlayerC has to choose between Farm and Build, and choses Build. PlayerA has 0 resources, which matches the primary goal, and gain 2 gold. PlayerC has 1 resource, which matches the secondary goal, and gains 1 goal. PlayerB has 2 resources, and gains 0 gold.

Play continues with PlayerB.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3 The Host With The Most

A party game for as many players as possible.

Every turn, the first player draws 3 cards from the Game deck, the second player draws 2, the third draws 1, after that - no draws. After each draw, the drawing player can offer to trade cards.

Some of the cards contain letters or combinations of letters that, if in the correct quantities and in the right order will spell the phrase THE HOST WITH THE MOST.

The play order changes with each round. This is decided by turning over a card form the 'Order' deck. These cards say things like: - 'Number of cousins' - 'Length of inside leg measurement' - 'Number of African countries you can name in 30 seconds' - 'Amount of time you can hold your breath'

Every player must submit their own numerical value for whatever Order card is drawn, often by completing a challenge.

Then, a spinner with the words 'Most' and 'Fewest' is spun, and accordingly the order is decided.


Order card: Number of pairs of shoes currently owned. Players: 5, 12, 3, 8, 1, 14. Spinner lands on 'fewest'. Therefore the player with 1 pair of shoes gets to go first with the draw+trade, 3 pairs of shoes goes second and so on.

Some of the cards in the Game deck bump you up the order, some bump opponents down, some flip the order completely. These can be played after the order is established, but before the drawing phase.

The game continues until someone can spell out 'THE HOST WITH THE MOST'. They win.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4 A Handful of Knowledge

A Handful of Knowledge is a trivia game, where questions are distributed among all players, as well as three clues that will help answering. Further, there's some piece of information available that tell which clue is connected to which question. 2-4 players.

Every game has its own unique deck of cards. Vice versa, one card deck is one game.


A deck (shuffle together and deal all): 20 question cards, one card has one question; opposite side red. 20 cards, 3 clues printed on each of them; opposite side yellow.

A game board with crossword. Actually board is only one sheet of paper, where you can see the empty crossword (no clues).

Plenty of letter tiles, letter side up on the table.

A electronic device. Player can check a connected pair at a time (which clue number is connected to which question number). Or player can verify if his or her letter tile was correctly placed on the board.

A customised dice. Sides (actions): draw and use the device (2), draw twice (2), use the device twice (1), skip (1).


On his/her turn player tosses dice once. He/she does the action, that came up. If action is draw a card, player blind draws one card from other players hand and gives one card exchange.

After the two actions player is always ought to lay five letter tiles on the board. Player is allowed to scatter tiles how he/she wishes.

Player then must use the device to check whether each letter is correct. If letter was false, it is returned to stack. If right letter was in right place, player scores points. If a word was finished, player scores a bonus.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #5 Teen Sensation

You play as a teen sensation, moving up through the ranks of Tiger Beat culture, and making prepubescent children swoon. The cards in your hand represent actions you can take in an attempt to increase your fame.There are 3 kinds of actions.

Standard Actions: Doing a movie or releasing an album, which enables you to draw a card from a separate deck indicating how much of a success it was and how much star power you gained.

Stardom Actions: Doing an interview or accepting an award, which is easier to do, and helps you maintain your stardom, but rarely adds anything.

Headline Actions: Getting caught doing coke, or sleeping with Justin Bieber. These things actively damage your health and well being, and grant you no star power, but they allow you to control the press cycle from that point on (until another player plays a headline) You will move first, and choose what stars move after you.

The winner is the person with the most star power when you all turn 20. That person will get a small role in a Spielberg film and have a chance at an actual career.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6 C&T Action Mechanic

A Card- and Token-based game mechanic for altering the order of play. (The rules describe a game of Area Control, but can be easily altered to work with any game that uses action sequences as a game mechanic).


Each player receive 5 Tokens, 10 meeples, and 3 Cards. 3 meeples are placed in any 2 or 3 Cells within the Players starting Area. The remaining tokens are put in a Bank pile. Place the Actionmarker on the first Action.

At the beginning of each round of play (Turn), Players use Tokens to bid for the opportunity to either become the Starting player, or Reserve one of the Actions for himself. The winning player pays his bid to the Bank and all other players pay 1 Token. A tie is won by the player closest in play order to the latest Starting player.

Tokens are used to pay for Actions and to skip one or more Actions in the list. Cards (worth between 1 and 5 Token each) are converted to tokens or used to Attack other players.

Each player in turn either plays the current Action or skip any number of Actions (paying 1 Token per Action skipped) to reach and play the Action he prefer this Turn. (See Reserved Actions).

The next player, going clockwise, then starts on the Action following the one just activated. The Starting player begins on Action #1 in the first Turn of the game, and on ’the next Action’ every following Turn.


The Action list is printed on the game board:

  1. Draw 1 Card (or pay 3 tokens and draw 2 Cards)
  2. Trade 1 Card (for the number of Tokens printed on it)
  3. Expand to an adjoining area (the cost in Tokens is printed in the Area)
  4. Fortify 1 Area for 3 Tokens (Fortified Areas can not be attacked)
  5. Combine 3 Cards to attack an opponents Area

Reserved Actions:

If the player who won the Bid Reserved an Action, he skips to that Action on his turn (regardless of where he would otherwise have started), and no other player can use that Action this Turn.

A Reserved Action need not be skipped, it ‘does not exist’ for the other players during the entire Turn.


Only adjoining cells can be attacked.

Both players select 3 Cards, and compare the sum of Token values. A draw means the Attack failed. On a successful Attack the Attacker replaces the other player’s meeple with 1 of his own. The removed meeple goes back to its player. The Attacker always removes his highest Attacking Card from play. Cells with 2 meeples are Fortified and can not be Attacked.


The game ends when any player places his last meeple in a cell.

Victory Points are calculated by summing up the values of cells with meeples, and adding the Token values of any Cards the player have. Remaining Tokens have no value.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7 Grumpy Dwarves

Once upon a time there were 7 grumpy dwarves. Each of them could be made ungrumpy by showing them gems of their favorite colour. Once ungrumpy the dwarf would help the adventurer to new gems in the mine.

Put the 7 dwarves in random order. Each dwarf prefers one of the 7 colours of gems. Gems can be found in the mine. The mine is a square board (6x6) with about ¼ of the fields empty. On all other fields, put a card with a number of gems in various colours, and, victory points (1 to 5). Example: 2 red gems, 1 white gem, 2 victory points can be one card.

Every player starts with some basic cards in hand, different, but with the same amount of gems. All with one victory point.

Take the first dwarf and throw two dices and place him on those coordinates on the board. If there is a card there, remove it. Look at the longest straight line from this dwarf to the edge. Those cards are available now (1-5). Every player can play as many cards from their hand as the length of that line. The playing order is defined by the player who has the most stones of the preferred type of the dwarf. That player selects one of the cards from the line on the board. He has to drop the card with the fewest victory points that he played, unless he takes a card with just as much victory points. (Example: Player plays 3 cards with 2, 3 and 5 victory points. He takes a card with 2 victory points, he can keep all his cards. Would he have taken a card with 3 victory points, he needed to discard the one with 2 victory points). If there are no more cards left in the selected row, the other players do not have a turn. Playing order is that important. Take the dwarf from the board and put at the end of the dwarf-queue

The next round will be with the next dwarf who will like a different type of precious stone.

Some cards have special functions, like moving a dwarf in the queue, taking an extra card, keeping a card or showing an extra card to determine majority.

Sometimes a princess appears out of nowhere. She is happy to help the player with the fewest victory points (again, throw dices, play cards).

First player to reach a certain amount of victory points wins.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #8 School of Fish

Turn! Eat! Move! Who’s gonna be the biggest fish in the school?
a game for 2–5 players


  • 25 fish tiles (5 red, 5 blue, 5 green, 5 yellow, 5 orange)
  • 20 ocean tiles
  • 1 shark tile

The tiles should have rounded corners for easier handling!


Each player selects a color. The goal of the game is to get the biggest fish possible in your color! A fish gets bigger by eating other fish, creating stacks of fish tiles.


Place the tiles randomly in a 7×7 grid. Make sure that the facing of the fish tiles is randomized.


Check which player’s fish are threatened by the most enemy fish. A fish threatens another fish if it’s orthogonally adjacent and facing in the direction of the threatened fish. That player goes first (youngest if tied). Play then proceeds clockwise.

During your turn, select the order in which everyone must do two of the following three actions:

  • Eat!
  • Turn!
  • Move!

Do this by shouting the words in sequence, e.g. “Eat! Turn!”

Each player, starting with you and going clockwise, selects one stack of fish (of any color) to perform the first action. You can’t select a fish that’s previously done that action this turn. Follow the same procedure for the second action.

If this reminds you of the behavior of shoaling fish, that’s exactly the point!


When eating, move one fish stack on top of another, orthogonally adjacent stack in the direction that your fish is facing. You can’t eat a fish that’s bigger than your own (same size is okay). The shark can eat any fish regardless of size; no other fish can eat the shark.


When turning, you can freely change the orthogonal facing of one stack of fish—or the shark. You may elect not to change the facing of any stacks at all if you don't want to.


When moving, move one stack of fish—or the shark—as far as you like (min. 1 space). You must move in a straight, forward line in the direction that the stack is facing.

  • Your move must end on an ocean tile.
  • Your move may cross other fish stacks.
  • Your move cannot cross murky water (empty spaces).

The shark can cross murky water, but it still needs to end its movement on an ocean tile.

No moves: If no available fish can do the required action, you must simply pass.

Murky Water

Whenever a round is over and there are 25 or more empty spaces on the table, you may remove any one ocean tile from the game. Night is approaching!


The game is over when every stack of fish has been boxed in between murky water, with no other fish within possible reach (the shark doesn’t count). The player with the biggest fish wins!

(If there’s a tie, compare the second biggest fish, then the third biggest, etc.)

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #9 Dirty Business

Dirty Business is a trading and market manipulation game in which players draft cards which let them program their actions for the turn.

Players: 3-6

Setup: Give each player 10 money and shuffle the deck of action cards. Set all goods (colored cubes) to the default price (2) on the portion of the board reserved for tracking good prices. Prices range from one to five.

First each player will draw seven cards and perform a draft, taking one card at a time and passing the remaining cards to his/her left. The cards will have actions such as buying cubes of a specific color, exchanging cubes for those of a different color, selling cubes of a specific color, and manipulating the market. Each card will also have an "initiative" number which can be used when bidding for turn order.

After the draft is completed, all players will determine which cards they will be using to bid for turn order (players bid one or more cards - at least one is required). They will also stack the remaining cards in order from top to bottom showing in what order they will perform their actions.

Players will set the turn order based on the sum of initiative on the cards that were bid (highest first, lowest last). After this, each player will perform their first action in the order determined. Actions are performed by playing their card to the board in the area required by the action. An action cannot be performed if that location has been filled (spaces may be limited to somewhere between 2-4 spaces). All actions are mandatory and must be performed if possible. Buy/sell/exchange cards will have only one preset action, while market cards will often give a choice of two options to choose from (i.e. Green +1 OR Red -1). The second and further actions will be performed similarly, skipping players who do not have cards because they have used more cards to bid for turn order.

After 4 rounds, each player with unsold cubes must sell them for 1 money and the player with the most money wins the game.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #10 Space Conquest Game

The idea I have in mind is a space conquest game. The players are fighting over a small region of space, and must make important decisions about what actions to take.

The phases of the game are Combat, Trade, Development and Income. Each phase has a corresponding dice(d6), and at the beginning of each turn all four dice are rolled, and then placed in order from lowest to highest. This is the phase order for that turn. Any dice that match have their phases at the same time, which can lead to some hectic situations.

The rest of the game is a space game that would rely heavily on the interactions between the phases.

  • Income is where resources are earned from the planets.
  • Development is where those resources are spent, on building ships or improving planets.
  • Trade is where resources can be traded with others.
  • Combat leads to redistribution of resources as fights are won and lost.

Possible situations:

  • If income happens before combat, then combat becomes a smash and grab affair, where everyone is trying to get all those delicious resources from their enemies in order to spend them later.
  • If Trade/Development happen next to each other, then the player has to plan what to spend, and what to keep for trading. The risk is that anything kept could be lost in combat.
  • If combat happens first, then the rest of the turn will be peaceful, but the next turn will be unknown.
  • If development happens before combat, then the fleets will be stronger.
  • If two combats happen on consecutive turns without a development phase in between the fleets will be weaker.

Other possible rules:

All players get their own 4 dice and roll them. This would lead to players taking phases in different orders each and would be utter chaos.

Add an upkeep phase where players would have to discard half of their resources and ships. This would prevent stock piling and encourage spending.


The phase dice rolling mechanic is simple, but would lead to unpredictable resolutions every turn. Half of the challenge would be trying to plan around the possible outcomes.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #11 4 Square: the card game

Four player game, A-D. Game plays out like Crazy 8s/Uno meets Animal Snap and the winner is the player who spent the most time in the A square when the deck runs out. Cards are lettered A, B, C, and D, and come in four colors.

Player A goes first and plays a card from their hand by playing it on the table and shouting a letter (B-D). The player whose letter matches the card (the replying player) has to play the next card, matching the color of the card played. So, Player A opens with a Blue C, then Player C replies with a blue card.

If the replying player can't play a card, they're out; they get demoted to the D square and any players below them get bumped up a letter. Player A gets a point as long as they weren't the player going out.

There's four tricks you can do when playing your card:

  • Stalling - If you can't match the color played, you can play a card of your letter, but of a different color. It's still your turn and you can now try and match the new color. Do this more than once and you're out.
  • High Bounce - Play multiple cards matching the same letter and color. The replying player must match as many cards as you did, or they're out.
  • Cornering - Shout a different letter than the letter you played. If the player whose letter you shouted can play the matching color AND letter of the card before the replying player can play their card, then the replying player is out.
  • Bounce Back - After you play a card, you immediately play a matching color card of your letter. The replying player now has to match your letter instead of the color.

You can combine High Bounce, Cornering, and Bounce Back, if you want; you could play three Blue Cs and shout, "D!" for example.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #12 Between the bombs

In this dice game, players will be playing leaders of social groups arising after much of the earth’s surface has been destroyed through non-conventional warfare. This destruction thwarted the evil Dr. Heatdeath’s ultimate plans so he has set up another devastating bomb on a time delay that will devastate the earth.

Players need to cope for survival and hope that they can provide their little communities with enough shelter from the coming barrage (being a bit of an attention seeker, Dr. Heatdeath thoroughly menaced all of humanity with ample warning)

Each turn players will roll their available dice and make choices with them. After rolling the dice, players will choose which dice they will use for their actions and which will be used in the course of these actions. Any 6’s rolled will be returned to the scrap pile and will remove a time counter from the time bank that counts down Dr. Heatdeath’s ultimate death machine. (the previous nuclear devastastion has made the countdown erratic)

Players will pick any number of the 5 actions (salvaging, building, harvesting, raiding, storing) to place dice that have the corresponding number onto their board. Then they will use dice that they haven’t placed executing those actions.


Max rolls 10 dice: 1,3,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6. He immediately pitches the 2 6’s to the scrap pile. He decides that on this turn he will salvage and harvest. He places his 1 and places all three of his 3s onto his board. He’ll then use his 4s and 5s as workers to execute those actions.

On following turns, dice rolled will not include the dice used for actions on the previous turns. The dice will stay on the board, marking which actions were used, blocking them for use on the following turn.

The game is intended as a fast game of important decisions to make best use of what opportunities are available to the player, and using the varying actions motif to try and predict what you won’t want to deny yourself in future rounds.

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