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[GDS] JUNE 2015 "The enemy of my enemy is also my enemy"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

We Have a Winner!

Cabinet Affairs

by diluce

What a selection of entries this month! Huge thanks to all the designers who stretched their legs and put in a submission for this month's contest. There's lots to talk about, so head on over to the critiques thread for a full voting breakdown and let's get started. With the number of entries this month, we're slotting two per day. Don't be afraid to come back to an entry and make some more comments!

Entries are posted!

Fourteen entries this month, a number of them from new GDS posters. And I have to say, I'm quite impressed with the range of themes!

Now comes the difficult part: choosing how to spend your votes. Since there are a number of new people this month, note that voting is entirely subjective. Try to criteria like best fit for the contest, best written, best use of theme, etc. This will help guide the discussion later.

How voting works: 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!

Submit your votes using this form by the end of the 16th of June.

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

This past weekend I was playing a promisinng and fun prototype by BGDF'er ZDepthCharge, and it is the impetus for this month's GDS. Simply put, you need to create a competitive game (ONE winner) where players are forced to cooperate.

There are a number of games that could fall under the label of "co-petitive" games. These are cooperative games that don't allow full cooperation because of some ingrained element of distrust. For instance, there may be a traitor as in Shadows Over Camelot or Battlestar Galactica.

Others have a cooperative victory, but toe the line of competition by including personal goals. A popular current example is Dead of Winter.

Your challenge is to put a spin on this in the opposite direction. For June, the enemy of your enemy is also your enemy, because you are tasked with creating a wholly competitive game (one winner), where players are forced to cooperate for a common good.

This does not include the dynamic of games liek Diplomcy, where there is no common good - only temporary alliances to thwart others. Nor is it quite like Dead of Winter, where players have individual goals, yes, but me winning does not mean you lose - it's not wholly competitive.

A better example of this might be Cuthroat Caverns. Check it out.

The details:

Theme: Whatever you feel like

Mechanic: The game must have a single winner, but the players must cooperate on some common good.

Component restriction: None

Word Limit: Standard 500 word limit. Remember this is a concept pitch, not a full rules document.

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: Tuesday the 2nd through to Tuesday the 9th

  • Voting: Through the 16th. 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 Race for the Remedy

Race for the Remedy


  • 4 character pieces
  • 1 die (faces show 1,1,2,2,3,3)
  • 6 open tiles
  • 6 door tiles
  • 6 vent tiles
  • 6 dogs tiles
  • 6 hazard tiles
  • 1 entrance tile
  • 1 lab tile
  • 18 clear tokens


It's the end of the world. The infection is killing all of you slowly. There's a cure, but there is only enough left for one.

You have to get to the lab but many obstacles stand in your way. No one of you can make it alone. But if you work together, someone has to get there first. The only question is: Who?


Each player chooses one character. If they can not agree, deal the characters randomly. Each player takes the piece for their character and a mercy card. Decide start player randomly.


  • Electrician: may enter locked door tiles
  • Child: may enter vent access tiles
  • Hunter: may enter guard dogs tiles
  • Fireman: may enter hazardous corridor tiles

Shuffle in the 6 open tiles with the 6 tiles that match each character in play. Deal out the tiles face-down, in a column 3 tiles wide. (4 rows with 2p, 5 with 3p, 6 with 4p, etc). Place the entrance tile at one narrow end of the column (3 wide, 1 deep, open spaces) so it is in contact with all three end tiles. Place the lab tile at the middle of the column at the other end (3 wide, 2 deep, square (2,2) contains the cure the rest are open) so that it is in contact with all three end tiles and the cure space is not touching the face-down tiles.

Starting with the first player and continuing clockwise, players choose one of the 3 entrance tile spaces and place their piece there.


Players take it in turns to go, continuing clockwise from the start player.

On their turn a player rolls a die which will decide how many actions they may perform. For an action a player can: - Reveal an adjacent tile (flip it over) - Move to an adjacent space

Adjacency is orthogonal only.

A player may only enter tiles that are open, match their character or have a clear token. At any time during a players turn while their piece is on a tile that matches their character they may place a clear token on the tile.

A mercy card can be played once during the game at any time by a player that is not on their turn. They discard it and may dictate how one of the unused actions of the current player is used. They may also place a clear token if the current players piece is in a matching tile before or after using the action. Another player may override a mercy with their own mercy card.


The first player to move their piece onto the cure space wins!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2: Loot & Wenches

Dark forces are looming over the merry town of Dungshire! It is up to you, and your somewhat brave team of ~~misfits~~ adventurers to be the first ones to secure enough Lore, Glory, Loot and Wenches, to be able to pack up your stuff and leave the damn place to its fate, before it's too late!


Each player is dealt 4 random adventurer cards at the start of the game. The adventurers have a Type (Word/Sword/Cloak/Sorcery) and an ability which is not advantageous. A number of quest cards are put into play and a corresponding number of monster+reward (combined) tokens are placed randomly on each quest card. Quest cards belong to one of the three evil factions (colors).

On his turn, the player has one action: + Draw 3 adventurer cards. + Go on a quest - to complete a quest player must match the type iconcs on all monster tokens with the ones on the card(s) he have played. If the player defeats all the monsters, he keeps all the monster/reward tokens to keep track of how many Lore/Glory/Loot/Wenches he has. If he can't defeat all the monsters, the defeated monsters remain on the quest card face-down - their rewards can be claimed by the next contender.

On each side of the quest card there's a number (3-0). At the end of round turn all quest cards 90 degrees. If the quest is already on its '0' side - it is failed.

First player to collect 10 of either Lore/Glory/Loot or Wenches wins. IF three quests of a single color are failed, everybody loses!


Arrowmiss the Elven Archer, Belcheburb the Barbarian and Uzelezz the Halfling Berserker are facing a quest to defeat an Ogre and a Giant rat who are serving The-Most-Vile-Cult-of-the-Five-Legged-Daemon-Monkey (red quest cards) which has been ignored for three rounds and now is on its '0' side.

If the ~~not so~~ mighty heroes fail, not only the Evil Cult will be one card closer to victory, but 2 more quest cards will be put into play (the additional effect for failing this quest) and make the prospects of leaving the damned town behind rather bleak. They will get to draw an adventurer card after the quest though (the added effect of the quest) and by defeating that Ogre they will rescue the Wench and earn some Glory (The rat grants no reward, but the Ogre grants 2 since he is level II monster)!

It takes 1 Sword and 1 Cloak adventurer to defeat an Ogre and 1 adventurer of any type to defeat a Giant Rat. Luckily, the Arrowmiss's type is a Cloak and the Belcheburb's type is a Sword, and noone cares which type the halfling has, since, come on, anyone can defeat a rat.

The trio completes a quest, alas, the Wench runs away from the Belcheburb, snatching all the Glory (the Barbarian has the (dis)Ability - Bad breath: Wenches would rather stay in captivity, than be saved by you - discard any Wench rewards.) and to make matters worse, the Arrowmiss shoots the new adventurer they've just met, and, since he was the only remaining card in the player's hand, another player also discards a card. (the Elf has the (dis)Ability - "Sorry, I had lag!": Discard an adventurer. If you have no cards left, choose another player to discard a card).

Bottom-line: ~~it's all halfling's fault!~~ Choose your party and quests wisely, to make sure you will claim rewards and don't wait until the quest reaches zero!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3: Schwarzwald Asylum

The head of Schwartzwald Asylum, Dr Otto Zerstörer, is performing experiments and killing patient's for his own amusement. As the patient you have been planning to escape and burn the facility to the ground. It doesn’t matter who gets in your way, guards, doctors, nurses, even your fellow inmates. Is that a fire alarm I hear? The breakout has begun!

Schwartzwald was built on an old military fortification on a mountain pass deep within the Black Forest and it won’t be an easy escape. Numerous iron gates, and other obstacles designed to keep you in must first be overcome and you will need to cooperate with fellow inmates to overcome these obstacles and outwit the evil Dr Zerstörer.


In this competitive game players are placed in situations where cooperative play is required to overcome obstacles and defeat the game. An event deck and press your luck dice system combine to create growing excitement, chaos, and anxiety as the game moves towards it inevitable showdown with the evil Dr Zerstörer.

For 2 to 5 players, Age 18+ as it has a slightly gruesome theme, and playable in 45 - 90 minutes.


Each floor of the asylum consists of five hidden tiles and two staircases [s] that connect to the adjacent stairs on the other floors.

[ ][s][ ][ ][ ][s][ ] 2nd floor
[ ][s][ ][ ][ ][s][ ] 1st floor
[ ][s][ ][ ][ ][s][ ] Basement

Players start by selecting an inmate. Each inmate has a mental disorder that will affect how they must approach each obstacle. Disorders include; phobias, anxiety, panic, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive, psychotic, and more.


On their first turn each player chooses a room to start in on the second floor and draws an event card. After the event card has been resolved play continues clockwise around the table.

Event cards place obstacles, doctors, nurses, guards, and other inmates on your tile. You will need to make it past these in order to reach the basement and find the hidden tunnel out of this place.

A press your luck dice system that allows multiple players to work together, or against each other, adds to the chaos as players work to overcome the obstacles laid before them. Some of the obstacles require two or more players to overcome.

Some event cards will increase the intensity of the fire that the other inmates have set. When this happens the fire will spread. If the fire in a tile becomes too intense it will destroy that tile and spread to adjacent tiles.

Sixty events are included but only 20 are shuffled into the event deck along with 10 cards that are designed to provide intensity and excitement to the game. Some cards are removed as you work through the deck which lends to the overall escalation of anxiety.

Ultimately the players will need to work together to defeat Dr Zerstörer before they can escape. But do you really want anyone else getting out that knows you didn’t perish in the fire?

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4: Metal and Honor

“There I was, knee deep in the thick mud of the Saigon jungles, my squad waiting in ambush. After hours of silence, Charlie comes running through the trees. My lieutenant gets pegged first, the young medic hot on his heels to patch him up. Shortly after they get hit by my grenade and the explosive expert takes a bullet to the jaw. He survived that somehow to set off the last our flares. I "accidentally" put a bullet in Jimmy. Now it’s all left in my hands; because you know the green, doe-eyed private aint doing a damn thing! For what seemed like hours, alone, I took out wave after wave of those gook bastards before the rescue helo arrived. And what do I have to show for it? A damned medal?........ You're damn right I do.“

Players take on the roll of satirical fame hungry soldiers trying to survive an onslaught by enemy forces while competing for a Medal of Honor.


Have the highest amount of life when the enemy deck runs out.


  • Deck of 15 enemy unit cards
  • Deck of 6 soldiers roles with health limit and five abilities
  • 15 cubes


  • Shuffle the enemy deck and place it in the center of the table.
  • Each player chooses a role card and places that role card in front of them, placing 3 cubes on the predefined ability slots.

Playing the Game

During each turn, the highest ranking role will reveal the top card of the enemy deck. Each card in the enemy deck has a health value, damage rank, and some have special abilities that trigger when revealed or destroyed.

After the top card of the enemy deck is revealed and any effects resolved, players must move one of the cubes on their role card to an open ability slot that doesn’t have a cube and resolve that ability in order from lowest rank to highest. Players cannot move the same cube they have moved the previous turn.

  • If the total damage done by the squad each turn is lower than the health of the revealed enemy unit, all players suffer damage equal to the enemy units damage rank and the enemy unit is placed on the bottom of the enemy deck.

  • If this total is higher than the health of the revealed enemy unit, the unit is destroyed without dealing damage to the squad.

Squad Member Abilities
  • Low damage ranging from 1 to 5
  • High damage ranging from 5 to 9
  • First Aid: reduces damage tokens by 1
  • Grenade: 10 damage to enemy unit and 1 damage to each squad member.
  • Special Class Based ability

If a player’s role card reaches zero health, they are eliminated from the game.

Winning the Game

If the game ends because all members of the squad are eliminated: no player wins. OR If the game ends because the enemy deck is depleted: the player with the most health wins, or the only player left.

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


2247. AIs have turn the world's production centers into computer-controlled factories of destruction. In the aftermath, the survivors have little choice but to place their trust in mechanized mercenaries who fight more for money than the people's safety.

You are one such mercenary. Victory over the AI is important, sure, but you, and your "team" in it for the money. Hold off the attack, and collect all the salvage that you can in order to make it worth your while.

Watch your back; your friends are doing the same, and there's nothing stopping them from taking salvage off of your corpse either.


  • Select a map from the box (some maps have terrain or salvage piles that vary gameplay)
  • Place the Upgrade deck in the middle of the table.

Give each player the following:

  • One Mech miniature (and its matching player aide mat)
  • 5 cards from the upgrade deck

Before the game is set up, you get to customize your mech. This is done in a draft system.


  • Take 5 cards from the Upgrade deck, select one, discard one, and pass the rest to the player on their left.
  • Take the cards from the player on your right and draw two more (you'll have 5 again).
  • Repeat step one until every player has 5 Upgrades. Put these onto your player mat.

On each player mat, you'll have 5 different clock circles, with "FIRE!", 1, 2, and 3 like this:


       1     X     3


You'll put your Upgrade where the X is shown. This area is used to show how quickly you can use a given item again. Pictured on the card is a clock with a number inside: after you use the item, you'll rotate the card to point to the number shown. At the end of your turn you rotate the card to the next lower number (thus, powerful cards with a 3 can only be used once every 3 turns). Each turn, you'll use as many as you want (and have ready), in addition to movement.

You may keep your items face-down so as to keep them a surprise until used!

Many of these items are guns. You'll need them. Waves of enemies are created after each player's turn, placed with dice, and they advance according to instructions shown on the enemy after each player's turn. After a certain number of enemies make it to the opposite end of the board, the civilians are destroyed and everyone loses.

You collect salvage from the destroyed enemies, granting points for end-game scoring. There is other scoring involved, but it's not important for the concept; suffice to say that more salvage is good. However, "allies" can turn their weapons on you to blast off your collected salvage for others to collect.

It's a free-for-all, with a semi-altruistic twist. Work together just enough to win; but make sure that you're the one that comes out on top.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6: The Tribe, a prehistoric strategy game

Main mechanics: Worker placement, card play
Theme: A prehistoric tribe trying to prosper in a hostile environment
Players: 4


The tribe consists of a number of families, each a part of one of four groups: shamans, warriors, craftsmen and producers. Each player assumes command of one of these four groups. The goal of the game is to make your group the most influential one, while at the same time allowing the other groups, and the tribe as a whole, to prosper (somewhat).

About the different groups

No two groups contain the same number of families (meeples). The biggest group, the producers, have four times as many families as the smallest group, the shamans. However, each group also have different functions within the tribe: the producers need to provide enough food and supplies; the craftsmen makes tools and goods used for trade with other tribes; the warriors defends the tribe from threats such as wild animal attacks and other warring tribes; the shamans provide stability and spiritual support. Thus, even though the providers starts the game with many meeples, at the start of the game a significant number of the actions of this player have to involve food production in order to feed the whole tribe. This group also has to place its meeples last.

Game play

Each round, each player places ALL of his/her meeples, starting with the group with the least families, in action spaces (hut building, reproduction, resource gathering, etc). The actions are carried out. Then each player chooses one card from among a unique set of 10 cards associated with each group. The cards are played simultaneously. Each card then needs the support of at least one other group, and will have negative effects for at least one other group, as well as providing a bonus to at least one group. If support is not gained, the card is discarded and the player gains nothing. Lastly, each round is ended with a semi-random disaster card, for example that an animal attacks, or that there is bad weather. Each group must cooperate during this event, both to gain influence, but also to aid the tribe as a whole.

Card examples

  1. The card “New wheat field” makes food acquisition easier for the producing player, but makes defending the tribe harder for the warrior group.
  2. The warrior player may want to play the “Training camps” card, which makes his/her meeples better fighters, but which also makes them demand more food and tools, which puts pressure on the craftsmen and the producers.


Players gain influence by fulfilling the duties of his assigned group, through action spaces, card play and event resolutions. The Warrior group wants many well fed fighters that have won many battles, for example. After the event of the fifth round, if the tribe as a whole is better off than during the start of the game, the group with the most influence wins. Otherwise, all groups lose.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7: Cabinet Affairs

Cabinet Affairs

The election is over and your party has a clear majority! Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is … a touch absent-minded. As Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, it is your job to manage your portfolio, influence bills, and deal with controversial events – all the while ensuring that the Prime Minister stays in the public’s good will. But don’t forget! There will be another election soon and you want to place yourself in the perfect position to lead the party.

2-6 players 60-90 minutes

Components - 6 player mats - 6 player decks (40 cards each) - 1 shared ability deck - 1 bills deck - 1 events deck - 1 national board - markers to track stats & upgrades


  • Be the Minister with the highest popularity in your riding at the end of the game But
  • Players must also ensure that the PM is in favour domestically and internationally; all players lose if the PM’s popularity falls too low


Each player takes the role of a Cabinet Minister with a specific portfolio (i.e. Labour, Foreign Affairs, etc.) and a deck of approx. 40 cards. These decks will contain the skills, connections, and abilities needed to manipulate the government’s affairs, either positively or negatively.

Player mats represent individual ridings and will track players’ popularity and relationship with special interest groups in that riding (e.g. large metropolitan area and big business; mountainous area and forestry/mining companies, etc.).

A national board will track the PM’s popularity and international relations. A shared deck will also be available with general abilities and funds to improve ridings and thus increase popularity.


Players begin with a hand of cards that is replenished each round from either their deck or the shared deck. Each round 3 bills and 1 event card are drawn. On their turn, players choose cards from their hand to: - Lay face-down on the bills (to influence whether they pass); - Lay face-up on the event (to influence how the government responds to the situation); - Make improvements in their riding (to increase local popularity)

At the end of the round, cards on the event and bills are tallied. Each event and bill will have different outcomes depending on how the Ministers played. For example: A bill to lower CO2 emissions will increase support from the population and from international allies, but will lower the support from big business. That loss of support can then affect trade and tax income. The player with the closest relationship to big business has no incentive to vote in favour, but what if the PM’s popularity is low? They may have no choice!

Negotiate, bluff, and skillfully manage your hand to influence important bills and keep your popularity high – but watch out for the other Ministers who seek to undermine your efforts!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #8: Promotion

Flavour The rumour is that following the office party scandal a management position is going to be opening up soon. If your team can out-perform the Parkdale branch, and if you can make it look like you worked harder than everyone else in your team, then that corner office could be yours.

Overview A card game for 3 to 5 players. Play alternates between ‘working on a project’ and ‘claiming credit’. Each player needs to balance playing cards of a high enough value to ensure that the team is successful, while also saving high value cards so that they can snatch credit for themselves. The team from the other branch is simulated by randomly drawing cards to see how well they did.

Setup Agree on the number of ‘projects’ to play (an included table will give suggestions based on the number of players).

Each player receives: * 3 cards * 5 Kudos markers

Game Sequence

Working on a project: * All players draw 1 card

  • Declaring cards is split into two rounds, and the players choose which round they will declare in. For each round: ..* Players taking part place a card face down ..* Face down cards are revealed ..* The same number of cards are drawn from the deck to represent the team in the other branch

  • After both rounds if the sum of all the players’ cards is greater than those drawn for the opposing branch, then the players won, and move to the ‘claiming credit’ phase. Otherwise the team lost and all players declaring in the second round lose 1 Kudos marker. If nobody declared in the second round then the player (or players if there is a draw) with the lowest value card loses 1 Kudos.

Claiming credit: * All players draw 1 card * All players place a card face down * Face down cards are revealed * The player (or players if there is a draw) with the highest value card gains 2 kudos. If only 1 player had the highest card then the player (or players if there is a draw) with the second highest value card also gain 1 kudos.

The Cards All cards have a single value ranging from 1 to 5; but two sets of flavour text - one for each phase. Text for the project phase (from low to high) could be along the lines of:

  • Did it in the lunch break
  • 16:00 on Friday
  • Of course I remembered
  • Gave it 110%
  • Spiral bound with a hard-cover

Text for the credit phase (from low to high) could be along the lines of:

  • Daydreaming
  • In the toilet - you missed the pat on the back
  • Drop some hints - talk loud enough and someone might “overhear”
  • Got the last edit - everyone else’s names seem to have disappeared
  • Don’t stop talking - Presentation or meeting; if you talk the most you did the most
richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #9: Bottleton Prize Garden

Bottleton Prize Garden

The Bottleton annual allotment garden competition for 2 to 4 gardeners, is about to start. The owner of the most well grown plot and highest variety of vegetables wins. But with great crops follows a greater common enemy - the garden pests.


  • The main board contains a 15x15 grid. An edge loop and a center cross divides it into 4 smaller 6x6 square plots. Players choose a personal starting plot to cultivate.The cross lanes between plots each got their own color. A rainwater tank is illustrated on the center tile.

  • 6 Special garden dice. Each with 2 suns, 2 rains, 3 clockwise, 3 counterclockwise

  • Sun and rain pie tokens.

  • Green plant tubes (each can contain 5 pies).

  • Garden cards - containing seeds, pest control tools etc..

  • 4 meeples.

  • 24 pest tokens.

  • A vegetable/ pests summary sheet

  • 20 Season progress cards.


Each turn corresponds to two weeks. So the game lasts 10 rounds.

  1. Draw and execute a season card
  2. Roll for weather
  3. Spawn pests and resolve attack
  4. Each player can trade up to two cards.
  5. All players may in turn move 6 spaces in straight lines and take two actions of the following: fill/empty watering can, play garden card, draw two garden cards or plant care.
  6. Resolve pests actions on each lot.


Players place their meeple on the plot and take 4 Garden cards and may redraw up to 4 cards. 10 of the season cards are stacked in a pile - one for each turn.

The starting player reveals the top season card. It shows the number of weather dices you should roll and any new pests that spawn and on which colored lane. Some pests are dependent on the weather - others only arrive if a certain vegetable is in play. Pets are; slugs & snails, spider mites, doves, deer, gophers, caterpillars. Each pests follow their own set of rules. Doves go for the seeds while deers only eat plants more than 3 tubes high.

When pest spawn in the middle lane you roll a dice for each to see which side they attack and move their tokens onto the lot.

Weather roll reveals sun and rain, and the corresponding pies should be put in EVERY green tube on the board.

When a tube is filled with 5 proper pies a new tube is placed on top to indicate growth. Each plant behaves different. Tomatoes, Beans, Strawberry, Herbs, Pumpkin, Melons, Salad. For example herbs needs 3 sun and two water to bush, opposed to Melons that need 3 water and 2 sun to grow. All plants have two stages, growth and blossom.

How many actions will you use to fight off the common enemy? Or go get water from the water tank before your neighbours.


The round where last season card is turned the game. Points are calculated from the crop output - and a Bottleton winner is announced. Will you beat last year record?

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #10: Broken Unicorn

Broken Unicorn

A semi-cooperative space-themed worker-placement game for 2-4 players.

In 2222, the charismatic cult leader M. Son Brokard left Earth with his followers aboard the colony ship USSC Brokard’s UNICORN. Now, sixty years and 10,000 AU later, Brokard is dead and the ship is falling apart. The crew of Broken Unicorn (as they call it) needs a new leader.

In The Broken Unicorn, you lead one of four worker castes in a struggle to maintain the ship while jockeying with the other players to be Brokard’s successor.

Gameplay snapshot

Each cycle,…

  1. Acting Brigadier (AB) makes a public announcement
  2. AB may distribute resources from their pool to other players.
  3. Players take turns...

    1. placing workers to gather resources, maintain the ship, and advance politics.
    2. contributing to active malfunction cards.
    3. drawing their own event cards, which can trigger new malfunctions or provide other bonuses.
  4. Critical rooms fail if inadequately crewed.

  5. Auction for new AB.

Each player promotes their secret philosophy using hidden politics. Halfway through the game, the philosophies divide into parties. At the end of the game, the party with the most influence wins the Election, and the player with the most resources in that party wins the game.

Components: caste workers, generic workers, event cards, philosophy cards, room tiles, resource tokens, philosophy tokens, player screens, opaque bags (event, philosophy), 30-second timer, ‘AB’ marker.

Philosophies: Players draw one of five philosophies from a deck of ten cards. Four of these look to the future, and must reach the Election to finish and win the game. The fifth are nihilistic Voidists who only win by reducing morale to zero.

Win condition: The player from the winning Party who has the most resources wins.

Game Features:

Interdependent resources The four castes--Water, Food, (raw) Material, and Systems--each depend on two others (to produce Water, for instance, requires Material and Systems support). Each resource is also required by the caste whose resource it doesn’t need (Food requires Water, but Water does not need Food). This interdependence demands lots of trading and negotiating.

Constant problems Many event cards introduce ship malfunctions. If the group resolves the malfunction, a new room is added, providing varying benefits to players. If they fail, that room is lost and additional penalties may apply.

Changing leadership The Acting Brigadier (AB) goes first, gets an extra communication phase, and can distribute resources to other players. At the end of the cycle, players bribe the current AB to become the new one.

Limited communication Players may only discuss game strategy or offer trades during the 30-second period after they place a worker in the board room, and then only with players who also have a worker in the board room. The AB also gets a speech at the beginning of a cycle.

Alternate rules Broken Unicorn works best with four players, but has alternate rules for three and two.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #11: A Lasting Mark

A Lasting Mark

”Captaine Smith, you may understand that I having seene the death of all my people thrice, and not any one living of these three generations but my selfe; I know the difference of Peace and Warre better then any in my Country. But now I am old and ere long must die…”


A Lasting Mark is an area control game in which players take on the role Native American tribes vying for power while trying desperately to stave off the rising tide of European settlement. The game is played over a set number of rounds. The player who has the most victory points wins the game. If at any point the European settlers reach the west end of the board all players lose the game.


Players start by placing their tribes–represented by different colored meeples–in spaces on the board to form their chiefdom. Players may place their tribes on occupied spaces as long as there are no more than 5 tribes in a single space. Once all players have placed their tribes each player places a white settlement–represented by white meeples–on a space adjacent to the coastline or a river delta and play begins.

Gameplay Summary

There are 3 phases: Resource, Action, and Settlement. Players will start a round by collecting resources based on the spaces they occupy. A space they have a majority in grants a bonus when collecting resources. If the European settlers have a majority in any space, no one collects resources in that space.

During the action phase, players take turns performing any one of the following options: trade, war, and move. Once all players have passed, play moves to the settlement phase.

The resources Native Americans have are: Corn, Furs, and Canoes. Corn allows growth, Furs grant victory points, and Canoes allow movement along river spaces. The Europeans have: Guns and Tools. Guns provide additional Furs and are useful in war and Tools grant a bonus when determining area control. Players may trade with each other or with the European settlers.

Instead of trading, players may conduct war on one another or the European settlers. Players seek aid from other players from adjacent spaces and then add together the tribes of each side. Players may discard resources to increase their attack or defense value. The benefits of war are a resource card from the opponent and victory points.

Tribes may move as an action to avoid disease or war but must sacrifice resources in order to do so.

Once all players have passed, a card is drawn for the European settlers to determine their actions, how many more arrive in ships, and whether players are affected by disease. If any space has more than 5 meeples in it, the person with the majority is forced to move. If they cannot move due to lack of resources or space, they are removed from the board. Play then passes to the next round.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #12: Escape Reality


After years of sending in audition tapes you've finally been selected to compete on the world's top reality TV show, Escape Reality. You will be dropped into the middle of a walled habitat covered with a variety of treacherous terrains and forced to work with a wild cast of strangers to ensure everyone escapes before time runs out. You must beware as new obstacles and challenges can be thrown at you without warning. If you (or anyone else) hope to claim the million dollar prize everyone must get out together, but only one person gets the money. You can't just think about yourself or you'll be too selfish to win, but you also need to make a name for yourself or you won't stand out enough to win. The challenge is finding the right balance.

Basic Idea

As you play cards, you're constantly faced with the same fundamental choice: help yourself or help the team. Each card can always be played either way. There are two scoring tracks on the board, one for helping yourself and a second for helping the team. Your final score is the lower of the two, so the winner is the highest lower score.

How it Works

The group must overcome a bunch of obstacles/challenges in order to escape over the wall, under it, or through it before the marker on a Time Track reaches the final space. Each obstacle/challenge requires a different combination and quantity of aptitudes to complete. There are five aptitudes in play: strength, endurance, survival, problem solving, and mechanical. Player's aptitudes are initially set by rolling three dice and allocating each to one of the five aptitudes (you get one re-roll and cannot have multiple sixes). Players will pool aptitudes and supplement with cards to meet the requirements of the obstacles/challenges.


Each player's pawn is a D6 (starts at 6) and the marker on the time track is also a D6 (starts at 1). The two added together dictates how much energy you have for your turn (called Energy Pips, EP). Functionally, this is similar to an action point allowance system, but when you use EP from your die, it is not automatically reset next turn. Turns consist of some combination of: drawing cards, playing cards, and moving. The more you do, the more EP it uses. Cards can be played for immediate benefit (like more EP) and points for yourself or the team. Alternatively, cards can be collected to complete a challenge/obstacle (faceup for the team, face down to complete one by yourself). Some cards, when drawn, force you to roll a D6 called the "Game Changer." It introduces new obstacles and challenges, decreases the time marker D6 or moves you along the Time Track.

Sample Card

Catch a Chicken:
Help the team (1 point) - Increase community D6
Help Yourself (1 point) - 2 extra EP this turn and next
Used for obstacle/challenge - 1 Strength, 1 Endurance

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #13: The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On

It’s tough being a cutthroat circus performer, and it hasn’t gotten any easier since Monsieur Loyal befell that tragic “accident” last month. But that’s show business! And now that there’s a vacancy, it’s up to you and the rest of the troupe to determine the Ringmaster's successor. The Show Must Go On!

For 4-8 players.


  • 10 Performer Roles
  • Big Top deck; determines the target Fame each round
  • Action deck; usually modifies the Big Top card
  • Fame deck; used to win shows and score Fame, valued from 1 to 5, with eight "0 Fame" cards


Players start with five Action cards; a "0 Fame" card, kept after every round; and a randomly selected Performer Role, each with a special ability. Some Roles allow Fame or Action cards to be exchanged once per round, others gain powerful advantages used only once per game.


When the role of Ringmaster has gone once around the table, the game ends and scored Fame is counted. The player with the highest total Fame wins.


Each round, the Ringmaster draws as many Fame cards as players, secretly assigning one to each person, including themselves. Next, the Ringmaster draws a random Action card from another player's hand. This player becomes the Main Attraction this round, who then draws and assigns all players a second Fame card.

Every player always has these two numbered Fame cards and their "0 Fame" card for bidding each round. The Ringmaster reveals a Big Top card, showing the total combined Fame that the troupe must collectively meet or exceed in order to succeed this round.

Action Phase

Action cards can be used to lower ("Pyrotechnics, -3") or raise ("Uncooperative lion, +6") the Fame target, or commit other acts of sabotage. When all players pass, the Big Top Phase begins.

Impossible Show?

If, after an Action card is played, the Ringmaster or Main Attraction believes that the troupe cannot meet or exceed the current target, either may declare "The Show Must Go On!" to skip the Big Top Phase. All Fame cards are revealed. If the combined total is indeed less than the target, the Ringmaster and Main Attraction keep all of their own numbered Fame cards, while everyone else scores none; if not, every player except the Ringmaster and Main Attraction scores. Unscored Fame cards are discarded, and the next Ringmaster takes over.

Big Top Phase

Players may discuss, cajole, or threaten before bidding Fame cards face down. Bids are revealed simultaneously. If the show succeeds, players score only their unused Fame card(s); numbered bids are discarded. Each player may only bid their "0 Fame" card once per round.

If the first bid is unsuccessful, the troupe is On the Ropes: the Ringmaster and Main Attraction may play additional Action cards before everyone bids a second Fame card. If the show still fails, no Fame is scored that round, and the Ringmaster and Main Attraction must discard one of their own scored Fame cards.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #14: Minions!


2-4 players, 60 minutes.

Do you have what it takes to be an Evil Overlord? Vie for the title among your fiendish peers by growing in Infamy and evilnicity. As your Infamy grows, so will your following of Minions. Extend your influence over Locations within the realm through traditional corruption and bribery, as well as good old-fashioned conspiracies. Decide whether you want to cooperate or work against other players, or a little of both. Is there honor among Overlords? Is that a dagger up your sleeve? Is the realm big enough for more than one supreme ruler? Find out, in Minions!


Tiles: Locations (board extensions)
Card Decks: Skill, Conspiracy, Mischief, Luck, Action
Bits: Gold, Gems, various Counters

Mechanics and game play:

Successful conspiracies require an investment of resources, specific board conditions, and sending a Minion safely to the correct destination to trigger it.

The key game concept is hybrid cooperation. Cooperative players spread affluence to all, as well as generating future dividends for themselves. If all players work against each other, resources become scarce. Any player lacking rent money triggers Bank foreclosure on all Evil Overlords, and everyone loses.

Minions are not hired or fired; reputation attracts them to your Evil Lair. Due to the chaotic nature of Minions, they don’t always do what they’re told. Minions are prone to switching sides, running away, doing brilliant work, or even recruiting their friends.

A complimentary mechanism of Minions! is an adjusting economy. The game rewards cooperation through a limited supply of gems that players invest through cooperative decision making. Cooperation increases the supply of resources for all (economic growth), and makes advanced conspiracies possible. However, stingy choices net you a one-time bonus, making communal decisions a constant value judgment.

Locations—represented by fixed and purchased corruption tiles—define the game world and available actions within it. Locations produce Gold, Gems, Bribes, and Waivers. Gems are only obtained by constructing a 4-tier stack of escalating corruption/locations. Cost, rent, and productivity are correspondingly greater on higher tiers. Locations disappear after producing 5 resources. If not immediately replaced, all tiers attached to it are also removed from the board. Player ‘attack’ may consist of strategically crumbling the Location structure (feeling evil yet?), while proper maintenance boosts the evil schemes of all Overlords.

Other game mechanics:

  • Get one random skill at the beginning of the game, and learn more at the University, giving each player a unique persona.
  • There is always one frequently-changing Chaos Rule that affects the availability and effectiveness of specific actions.

Turn Summary:

Turn actions include Minion and Location deployment and maintenance. Players draw Mischief (usually bad) and Luck (usually good) Cards each turn. Other players may force a redraw with a Waiver. These cards present choices that engage all players out-of-turn, and reveal just how evil you really are!


Once a player successfully ‘hatches’ 10 conspiracies at the Chicken Coop, the game goes 1 additional round. High score wins.

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