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GDS May 2010 Challenge: "Home Improvement"

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sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

May 2010 Game Design Showdown - "Home Improvement"

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

This Challenge has been completed.

Congratulations to the winner of this month's Game Design Showdown with 8 votes:

  • "Real Estate Madness" by Simon Stump (simons)

Congratulations to the runners up as well, tied at 6 votes apiece:

  • "Mansion" by Dave Dobson (dobnarr)
  • "Cul de Sac" by Richard Durham

Main Design Requirements:

  • Theme Restriction: Home Improvement.
    The theme of this month’s GDS is remodeling or renovating a home. There is no Mechanics restriction perse, but the game must feature each of the following aspects in some way:

    • Rules: There are always rules imposed by people when it comes to remodeling or renovating. Maybe these rules are imposed by the City or County (building permits), maybe by a Home Owner’s Association, or maybe by the Building Code. The game must address such rules in some significant way.
    • Plumbing: When adding onto a house, plumbing can be a very large expense. Perhaps adding a bathroom is somehow ‘better’ for the player, but the additional cost of plumbing weighs against that. In some way the game must address plumbing as an important consideration.
    • Plans: Before any construction can be done, the contractor will need a set of plans – Floor plans, Electrical plans, Plumbing plans, Structural plans… The showdown requires that players address this need for plans as a significant factor of the game. It is up to the entrant to decide in what way they factor in.
    • Building Materials: Another important consideration is materials of construction. Will you build out of masonry, or will you use wood framing? Those are the most common for use in homes. Maybe one is more expensive than the other, maybe one is more prestigious than the other, or maybe one is more available than the other. The game must address this dichotomy (wood vs masonry), or at least address building materials, in some non-trivial way.

To be clear, each of these restrictions should be addressed, but while some may be the focus of the game, others could be addressed peripherally. I don't expect to see a single game focusing on each and every one of these items in detail!

  • Mechanics Restriction: None.
    As mentioned above, there is no Mechanics restriction this month. Instead, there are some very specific thematic restrictions. I hope to see some entries who’s mechanics really evoke the theme.
  • Bonus: No bonus theme or mechanism this month.

  • 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
    Comments or Questions: Comments and questions about this Challenge were handled on the Comments Thread.
    GDS Details: For more details on how these Game Design Showdown Challenges work, especially the details around the word count and graphics limits, visit the GDS Wiki Page. Enjoy!
sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #1 - Short Sale by Aaron Belmer (zenmaster)

Short Sale

A game for 2-5 players

Playing time: 90 minutes

Game mechanics: point-to-point movement, economic, negotiating, commodity speculation


A game about investing in and renovating properties.

Players begin with an income of $200k from your current employment. You work 8 hours a day, leaving another 8 hours for investing and renovating. If you can quit your job and live off of rents alone this gives you additional freedoms and advantages when buying, selling, bidding, as well as first shot at short sale situations.

You can borrower money from a bank at a certain rate of interest. When another player borrows money, rates go up. When a player pays off a loan, or when borrowing is slow, rates come down.

Players may invest in:

24 single family residences.
16 2-family properties.
8 4-family properties.

There are 6 different districts of the residential city of Homewood. Each time a person buys a property in a district, the values of the other properties go up. If a property is sold, the value of the properties goes down.

If a player is unable to pay their mortgage from shortage of funds or job loss (event card), the home is under foreclosure and short-sale. While short-sales takes longer to acquire, they can be purchased at a great discount.

Different paths to victory and victory points: players can spend their time buying and selling properties. They can also renovate the properties they own, which adds value to the surrounding properties in the district, as well as increase rents from rental properties.

There is also a General Event deck that happens in phase 4, possibly affecting everyone or only a certain district of properties.


  1. District ratings
  2. Collect rents and income
  3. Upkeep
    1. Pay mortgages
    2. Pay taxes
  4. General
    1. Put home(s) on market
    2. Buy home(s)
    3. Borrower money
    4. Renovate
    5. Auction
  5. Event deck
  6. Gain victory points, check for game end condition

Further details:

PHASE 1 – Districts are rated 1-6 (1 being most affluent/successful) according to:

  • Number of properties for sale on market
  • Most upgraded/renovated


  • If a player has a ‘renter’ marker on a property, the player receives income equal to the rent of that district. (see corresponding district chart).
  • A player also receives $200k employment income unless he chooses to quit and becomes a property manager.


Players pay any mortgages they’ve taken out, plus real estate taxes (see district chart)


  • announce homes for sale (for sale marker)
  • make offer to purchase homes (from bank if unowned) or from another player if owned
  • Borrower money at current market rate
  • Visit hardware store to purchase materials
  • Renovate current properties
    • Adding a bath/upgrade plumbing
    • Add swimming pool
    • Add bedroom(s)
    • Paint
    • Replace cabinets
    • Etc
  • Visit foreclosure property auction Players will spend time to move and visit various places, striving to make efficient use of time and money, while making the best investments and renovations in areas they believe to be ‘up and coming’.


An event card is drawn which announces something that may affect a player, all players, a district, a particular home, a job, or a market. Some examples:

  • Fire
  • Mortgage rates increase
  • Renters leave
  • Zombies attack district 5!
  • Etc


At the beginning of the game, a pool of victory points is placed next to the game board depending on the number of players. In Phase 5, players acquire victory points based on:

  • Most properties owned
  • Highest income (including rents)
  • Greatest gross assets of properties Once pool of victory points is depleted, the game ends and the player with the most victory points wins the game.

DISTRICT CHART (formatting may be lost in translation)

District number: District1 ----- District2 ----- District3 ----- District4 ----- District5 ----- District6
One family rent: $1550 ------- $1475 ------- $1400 ------- $1325 ------- $1200 ------- $900
Two family rent: $1200 p.u. --- $1150 p.u. --- $1100 p.u. --- $1050 p.u. --- $950 p.u. --- $700 p.u.
Four family rent: $1000 p.u. ---- $900 p.u. ---- $800 p.u. ---- $700 p.u. ---- $600 p.u. ---- $400 p.u.
Real estate tax : $3000 ------- $2500 ------- $2000 -------- $1500 -------- $1000 -------- $1000

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #2 - Money Pit by Patrick Mullen (saluk)

The Money Pit

Carcassone meets the Tom hanks movie

Game overview

Each player controls a couple who, are trying to repair their homes, after excessive damage was done while trying to remodel. It is a tile-laying sort of game, where each house has two floors - a main floor and a basement. Each turn, players expand onto their homes, but also suffer from disasters as other parts of their home break. You may pass which results in no expansion or disaster. If all players pass, the next round must be complete (no passing).

Expansion and repairs cost money. Each player starts with a fixed amount of money, with more money coming in at set intervals. Some repairs require the use of a electrician or a plumber, of which there is only one in the game. The electrician and plumber each are available to be used only by the player with the worst wiring, or worst plumbing, respectively. Ties are settled with bidding.


Players start with a pre-set house, along with a choice of remodeling plans. You can add a kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, or a patio with a hot tub. Each kind of expansion has an associated potential victory value.

The game ends with the first player who completes their expansion and has it in working order. This player gets a victory bonus. Other than the victory bonus, scoring is based on adding up points for all tiles in your home, according to completed systems. Here is an example of how scoring may go:

  • Each appliance connected to a working subsystem (plumbing/electrical) earns 10-20 points
  • Furniture nets varying points based on the kind of furniture
  • Each wall connected to a completed rectangular wall earns 1 or 2 points depending on material
  • Each floor which is in a completed room (walls and floors) earns 1 point
  • Each incomplete plumbing cord is -5 points
  • Each incomplete wire is -5 points

All plumbing and wires are placed with a tile system in the basement, rooms are on the plans already and must be laid out as shown. Appliances may be placed anywhere in their respective rooms, and should match up to a subsystem in the basement.

Contest parameter breakdown

Building rules

  • The neighborhood has a power quotient (50,000 watts for instance). Each connected electrical appliance subtracts from this, once the quotient is reached, no more appliances may be built.
  • Each addition has a specific building rule that you have to follow
  • can only add a bedroom if the old bedroom is 3x3 in size etc


  • Plumbing and wiring are huge in this game. To net the high VP items requires a functioning plumbing/electrical subsystem, and these systems are expensive to build, and most likely to break
  • Two of the expansions, the kitchen and the bathroom, make heavy use of plumbing, others have more space and balance.


  • Each expansion has a specific plan showing where walls and floors must go, also with some optional features for more points. The basements have plans with some fixed items (where the boiler or generator are, but not the wires)
  • Some tiles when placed are semi-permanent. When damaged, they are flipped to damaged status but cannot later be placed elsewhere

Building materials

  • Walls and floors can be purchased at different prices for different materials
  • Floors have a maximum weight, the material used defines this. You don't get more points for better materials, but you are less likely to have something fall through the floor
  • Once a room has been started in one material, another kind can't be used Choose carefully! If you use high quality materials, and suffer a lot of lost money from repairs, you might not have enough to finish the room.

Anatomy of the turn

  • Decide whether to make repairs or not. If you do not make repairs, you pass.
  • If you make a repair, you can buy a tile from the center of the table. There are no random tile draws, and some resources may be rare.
  • You can only buy plumbing/electrical tiles of the plumber or electrician respectively is available. You may, at purchase time, work through the rules to see if he is.
  • You pay the cost in dollars for the tile, and place it on your house wherever you can.
  • After placing the tile, you draw from the disaster deck, and show everyone what it shows. Disasters may affect you or other players, and may be based on what addition/repair you made this turn.
  • After the disaster takes effect, play continues to the next player.
  • If your expansion is completed, score and see who wins!
sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #3 - Real Estate Madness by Simon Stump (simons)

Real Estate Madness


Make the most money by building the best house in the neighborhood.


Each player receives 3 workers, $20, and a Headquarters and Building card. Each player randomly draws a “Neighborhood Association” card. Place the Day Labor, Rock Quarry, Lumber Yard, Supply Yard cards in the middle. Each player then looks through their building deck, and secretly decides on their set of rooms (their plans). For example, a player may take “Wooden Bedroom,” “Stone Master Bedroom,” “Bathroom,” “Second Bathroom,” “Basic Kitchen,” “Medium Living Room,” “Superior Grass Lawn,” and “Olympic Sized Swimming Pool with Waterfall.” Once this has been done, each player reveals their plans, and players randomly select an early bird player.

The Turn

The turn starts with worker placement. The early bird player (the person who was to the left of last turn’s early bird) may place a single worker on any of the 6 possible areas. Next the player to her left does the same, and so on. Once each player has placed all 3 workers, players are given the option of hiring temporary workers at the price of $10. Play continues in a circle, with each player allowed to hire as many temporary workers as she likes (one at a time). Temporary workers act just like regular workers, except are returned to the labor pool at the end of your turn. Work things out in the following order:


If you have a worker in headquarters, you may change you plans. You may place a new room card or remove a card at the cost of $2 per card. If you remove a room that you have already begun room, half of the resources return to your hand (rounded down), and half return to the bank. Additionally, for every room that you have begun building which you do not change, you must pay $2 and 1 worker for alterations (alternatively, you can have a “quick fix,” by paying $6 and 1 worker for 2 rooms).


Each room has a certain cost, a timing of resource costs, and a certain amount of time on it. For example, building a Delux Kitchen requires 3 time, and 2 wood, 3 stone, 2 copper, and 2 money (order: 2s-1w, 1s-1c, 1w-1c-2$). This means the first time a worker begins working on the Deluxe Kitchen, you must pay 2 stone and 1 wood. The second worker must pay 1 stone and 1 copper, and so on. You can have multiple workers working on the same room at the same time (so, if you had 3 workers and all the required resources, you could build a Delux Kitchen in 1 turn).

Day Labor

For each worker you have as a day laborer, collect $5.

Rock Quarry, Lumber Yard, and Supply Yard

At the beginning of each turn, draw two cards for each area. Cards will name some number of resources, and a minimum bid (for example, “3 Lumber: Min. Bid $2”). Starting with the first player who placed in that area, that player is able to bid on one of the cards (if she has 2 workers, each may bid on different cards). The next player may then bid on one of the cards. Play proceeds in the order in which workers arrived. A player must increase the current bid by at least $1, bid on the other card, or leave. When everyone has had a chance to bid, the player who bid the highest for each card pays that money to the bank, and takes that resource tokens. Players buy wood from the lumber yard, stone from the rock quarry, and copper piping (for the plumbing) from the supply yard.


At the end of the turn, players are allowed to trade resources, money, or worker. If a player trades a worker, then that player loses one worker during the next turn, and the other player receives a “free” temporary worker. Resources do not need to be traded for the amount on the card (e.g. if you bought a “5 Wood” card this turn, you can trade each wood token individually).


The game ends on turn 10. At the end of the game, each player may sell wood for $1, stone for $2, and copper for $3. Each room has a “Selling value.” Each player collects that much money if the room is complete. Rooms also have an “Unfinished penalty.” If the room is not completed, the player loses that much money. Neighborhood association cards give several bonuses (such as “If you have 4 small bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, +$20”), and penalties (“If you don’t have a finished bathroom, -$20”). Whoever has the most money at the end wins. In the event of a tie, the player with the highest value house wins.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #4 - Renovation Ninjas by Matthew L Hamm

Renovation Ninjas

As a contractor you have been hired to remodel a specific part of someones home. You do not like the idea of working with other contractors, but the home owner insists on having different contractors. It is your job to finish your assignment in a timely manner, with out to many disruptions. Its not about finishing first, its about how good of a job you did, how much money you made and how satisfied is your customer, and the customer insist on not paying until everyone's jobs are done, so try and help your fellow contractors.

Game Mechanics: Cards, dice


6 Floor pieces,
16 Client Cards,
12 Permit Cards,
36 Floor Plans Cards,
32 Worker Cards,
80 Material cards,
30 day to day cards,
30 Hazard Cards,
100 Yellow Coins,
60 color beads (20 red for a Crappy job, 20 Blue for a Normal job and 20 Gold for an Outstanding job)


  1. Stack card in this order: Client cards, Floor Plans, Worker Cards, Permit Cards, Materials (4 stacks of each) and day to day cards. And all coins.
  2. All player start with $50 in coins.
  3. Players choose a floor piece and connect the pieces in center of table (door to door)
  4. Any player can pick a Client card with out looking. The Client Card will let each one of you know the specifications that you are to do in your room. It will also tell you what kind of architect and how much they will pay you for the job.
  5. Roll die to see who goes first. Take turns clockwise.
  6. The first Player will draw a floor plan for his job. The floor plan will show type of permit skill level and materials needed. All players do the same. Make sure that the floor plan design is the type the client wants. You can sell plans to other players at your discretion. You must pay for each plan you draw. One plan per turn.
  7. When hiring workers, keep in mind their happiness level and salary amount. Keep workers happy or accidents tend to happen.
  8. Permits allow you to work on a home. You cannot start building with out a permits. Must match Permit with plan type.
  9. Then each player takes turn buying materials needed for the job.

Playing Instructions:

  1. Player one will take the skill of his worker and match it to the skill of the plans, so if job skill is 5 and worker skill is 3, player has to roll a two or a higher to complete that section of the job. (Player has to do this for all materials needed for renovation, once they are done, he will be finished with the job, he can only do one piece of material per turn) If player rolls below the needed amount to get the job done he/she will loose material for that action. If player rolls 1-3 numbers higher, the jobs will be crappy, normal or outstanding
  2. Second player will do the same. Players will keep doing the same until they have all gone through.
  3. Every time you go to the depot to buy materials, you have to draw a day to day card. Day to day card may aid you, cause sabotage to other players and even make your job more difficult.
  4. To win the game players all players must have completed their jobs (or being fired at least)


  1. Players can only draw one card per turn. (except materials)
  2. When hiring workers if skill level is to low, and you wish to hire another, you must pay their salary and dismiss them.
  3. When picking a permit, if its not one you need you can sell to another player at your discretion.
  4. When buying materials you can get all materials in one turn.
  5. When you succeed at building you will place the material on your floor piece. Add a color piece on the floor card, depending on quality of work.
  6. All cards have their own rules.
  7. Every time there is an “Incident or Sabotage” your client satisfaction goes down, if it reaches 0 you are fired!.
  8. When workers happiness drops, you must draw a hazardous card.
  9. Player with the highest achievements wins, Cash, Customer satisfaction and performance, if there is a tie, two highest achievements.
sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #5 - Lowball Battle by Matt Saunders (oicu12b12)

Lowball Battle

The house renovation business is booming, and construction companies are eager to win remodeling contracts and become the most respectable company in town. Company owners try to bid lower than others to win contracts, but if they can't fulfill their end of the deal, they won't get fully paid and will lose the respect of the townspeople.


  • One deck of property cards. Each card shows a picture of the property and indicates the number of renovations required (1,2, or 3) and the value of Respect Points that can be earned (1, 3, or 5).
  • One deck of renovation cards. Each card names a type of renovation (e.g., new addition, new shower, etc.), lists a permit fee, the quantity and type of subcontractors needed for the job, and the cost for various materials options (using higher quality produces additional Respect Points).
  • One draw bag and 36 Subcontractor “Meeples”: 5 plumber meeples (blue), 6 mason meeples (brown), 7 finishing work meeples (green), 8 electrician meeples (red), 10 framer meeples (yellow)
  • Respect Point chits (in values of -3, -1, +1 and +3)
  • Currency in $50's, $100's, $500's, and $1000's denominations
  • 16 plastic bid tokens, four dry erase markers, four player shields, four erasers, and one starting player token

The game board contains the following sections: - Coffee shop, with four tables, numbered 2, 3, 4, 5 (where subcontractors are recruited for jobs) - Office, a place for property and renovation cards (each property card space has three spaces beneath it for renovation cards to be placed) - Bank, a place for the money to be stored - Newspaper office, a place for the Respect Point chits to be stored


  • Each player receives a player shield, a dry erase marker, an eraser, four bid tokens, and $5000.
  • Shuffle the two decks of cards and place them on their respective draw piles.
  • Place all the meeples in the draw bag and mix.
  • Give one player the starting player token

Game Summary

The game is played over a series of rounds with five steps until one player reveals a total of 10 Respect Points: - Reveal contracts and subcontractors - Bid and award contracts - Recruit subcontractors - Pay contract costs, receive earnings and points - Check for win and cleanup

Reveal Contracts and Subcontractors

  • Draw up to four property cards to be placed in the office, keeping those left over from previous rounds
  • Draw and place the number of renovation cards as indicated by the property cards
  • Draw and place meeples in the coffee shop (two at table #2, three at table #3, etc.), keeping ones left over from previous rounds

Bid and Award Contracts

Players bid blindly and simultaneously on one or more projects by writing on the bid tokens. A bid must include the property number and an amount rounded to the nearest $50. Players should consider all the costs of the project (fees, wages, materials) before making their bids. When players are finished, bids are revealed starting with the first property. The lowest bidder wins the contract. In case of a tie, the player with the most respect points wins. If still tied, the two players rebid, using lower amounts. Continue with the other three properties. Any property not receiving a bid remains in the office for the next turn and receives a +1 point chit.

Recruit Subcontractors

In player order, players may pass or take all of the meeples from one of the tables in the coffee shop.

Pay Contract Costs, Receive Earnings and Receive Respect Points

In player order, players pay for all of their contract costs:

  • Permit fees
  • Wages for subcontractors ($250 each and returned to the bag)
  • Materials

When players pay for the costs of their project, they are awarded the earnings and Respect Points. Additional Points are awarded for using higher quality materials. If a player fails to pay for the contract costs, the player receives negative Respect Points associated with the property, but still receives half of the earnings (rounded down to the nearest $50).

Check for Win and Cleanup

If any player has 10 or more Respect Points, the game ends, and the player with the most points wins. In case of tie, the player with the most cash wins. If play continues, perform the following cleanup actions:

  • Discard property and renovation cards bid upon this turn
  • Pay $50 for each subcontractor the player wishes to hold over, return the rest to the bag
  • Pass the starting player token one to the left
sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #6 - Mansion by Dave Dobson (dobnarr)


(2-4 players)


Billionaire Clayton McMansion wants a new home, something with fancy trimmings and Italian marble. The object of the game is to collect parts and plans and construct the most elaborate home for Clayton.

Game Components

  • 30 each of coin, wood, marble, and plumbing tokens
  • Plans deck (80 cards)
  • 4 Bid boards with covers
  • Turn indicator board and pawn


  • Shuffle the Plans deck and deal five cards to each player.
  • Flip four more Plans cards face up in the center of the table.
  • Place the rest of the cards in a pile face down.
  • Give each player 5 wood, 5 marble, and 5 plumbing tokens. Place the remaining tokens in the center of the table.
  • Place the coin tokens in a pile.
  • Give each player one bid board and cover.
  • Place the pawn on Turn 1 on the Turn Indicator board.
  • Choose one player to be the Starting Player.

Game Play

Game turns are broken down into two phases, Bidding and Building.


Collect Income - At the start of the bidding phase, give each player five coins to use in the bidding.

Placing Bids - In the bidding phase, each player secretly places coins onto his or her bid board. Players may allocate coins in whatever way desired, including leaving areas empty. Players need not spend all of their coins and may save for future turns. When finished bidding, players covers their bid boards. When all players are finished, they reveal their bids.

No Bid Means No Reward - If players do not bid in an area, they do not take part in that area and receive no resources.

Building Materials - The bids for the three building materials (wood, marble, and plumbing) are resolved as follows, depending on the number of players in the game:

  • 4 players: top gets 4, 2nd gets 3, 3rd gets 2, and lowest gets 1.
  • 3 players: top gets 4, 2nd gets 3, lowest gets 1.
  • 2 players: top gets 4, lowest gets 1.

If there is a tie, both players get the value for the tied rank, and the next lowest rank is skipped.

Plans - For the plans bidding, players get their pick of the four plan cards shown on the table in order of their bids. In case of ties, whichever tied player is closest to the Starting Player (going clockwise) picks first.

Finishing up - When all bids are resolved and players have collected their rewards, dump their bids in the coins pile and replace any plans cards taken by players with cards from the Plans deck, up to four.


New Construction - Beginning with the Starting Player, each player may build from his or her plans. Each plan card lists the costs for building. If the player has the resources required, he or she may pay those resources to add that room or staircase to his or her mansion, played face up, arranged in rows representing floors.

Building Codes - Players must follow these rules in constructing their mansions:

  1. Each complete floor of a mansion may contain 3-5 rooms plus a staircase. One of the rooms must be a bathroom.
  2. Each floor of a mansion above the first floor must contain the same number of rooms as the first floor.
  3. Floors are built from the ground up. A player may not start a second floor until the first floor is complete. Once a player adds a room to the second floor, the first floor may not be expanded. Once the size of the first floor is set, the other floors must contain the same number of rooms.
  4. Every floor except the top floor must contain exactly one staircase.

Let’s Make a Deal! - Players may trade materials, coins, or plans with others. Trading is restricted to resources the player currently owns. Trades can be made at any time.

Finishing up - when all players have had an opportunity to build, the Building phase is over. Advance the Turn Indicator pawn to the next space. After 20 turns, the game is over; calculate scores and determine the winner. Otherwise, continue the game by starting a new Bidding phase.

End of the Game

The game ends after 20 turns. Scores are calculated as follows:

  • Players score the points indicated on each room and staircase card they have added to their mansion.
  • Players get a bonus of 10 points for a two-bedroom house, 30 for three bedrooms, and 60 for four or more bedrooms.
  • Players get a bonus for completed floors. 10 points for one floor, 30 points for two, 60 for three, and 100 for four.
  • Players still get individual room scores for incomplete floors.

The player with the highest total score wins the game.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #7 - Archideck by Steven Metzger (metzgerism)

Archideck (working title)

Summer is fast approaching, and life in the Sun Belt suburbs is all about showing off your money by having massive backyard parties. Utilizing raw materials and developments, you will attempt to make the most impressive deck structure in the neighborhood.

Archideck...the deck-building game about building a deck!


Archideck borrows the primary mechanic from Donald X. Vaccarino's Dominion, where each player has a deck of cards which they build up from the stacks of cards available on the table. However, there are changes to make the game more thematically relevant and give players more tactical control:

  • The clean-up phase only occurs when you need to shuffle your deck.
  • Treasure is replaced with raw materials (lumber, brick, cement, steel, plastic, land, water).
  • Raw Materials act as both purchasing power AND operational cost - they act as both money and workers.

There is more of a focus on optimizing a player's cycle instead of each turn (as in Dominion). Nothing in your deck will go to waste between shuffles UNLESS you decide not to use it. Because the materials must be allocated to structure and development cards (note: like Actions) each cycle, the game plays a little more like Magic: the Gathering, except that your deck runs faster, and multiple times. Most importantly, the rule-bending elements of the game are semi-permanent.

During a Turn

Each player begins with a deck that includes at least one of each raw material and some production structures and draws a hand of 5 cards. When you buy new cards, they go into your discard pile. At the end of each turn, a player may discard any unused cards that they wish from their hand, then draw back up to 5 cards again.

All actions are done simultaneously to cut down on wasted time. The effects of other cards are tailored to fit a game that does not require a turn order.


As stated previously, Archideck concerns itself more with each player's cycle, not their turn. When a player needs to draw cards and no longer has any in their deck, they initiate a "clean-up" phase. However, before doing so, they may replenish their hand with ANY cards that they currently have "in-play," giving players nearly complete control over their first hand of a cycle.

After replenishing their hand, all in-play cards are shuffled in with discarded cards, and a new deck is created.

Raw Materials

(Work In Progress) The raw materials are represented by single cards in your deck. On your turn, you may play any materials to your in-play area and either use them to buy other cards, operate the actions on other cards from your hand, or leave them out so that they may be used later in the cycle.

Basic Structures

There are six basic structures, three of which follow the "production" track and three which follow the "scoring" track. The production structures are cheaper to build and use, but score less. Each track has three levels of structure which must be improved (a 1 VP Frame upgrades into a 3 VP Patio, then upgrades into a 6 VP Deck). These six structures are present in every game.

Randomized Structures and Developments

Like Dominion, there are several (probably 7) stacks of cards that are randomly used out of a larger set of cards. All of these cards have rule-bending effects, such as:

  • Laborer: Draw two more cards than you would normally.
  • Weatherproofing: Unless they have a weatherproofing card in play, all opponents draw up to 4 cards instead of 5.
  • Toolkit: For upgrading purposes, any card may be trashed in place of the prescribed card, as long as the trashed card has at least the same VP value.
  • Compost: You may trash one card from your hand.
  • Building Codes: Unless they have a Building Codes card in play, no player may have more than 8 structures in play.

Unless otherwise noted, all effects are performed or used once per turn.


Most basic structures and some randomized structures score Victory Points (VP). When one player has ten Victory Point cards (not VPs) in-play, the game ends on that turn. Each player goes through their deck, counting their VPs. The player with the most VPs in their deck is the winner.

Designer Notes

This game has been an off-and-on work-in-progress for several months, and I felt like it really fit the "home improvement" theme of the GDS this month. I basically tacked-on some of the resources and cards simply because they fit the mold of the contest. Things like building codes, plumbing, and planning have only incidental relationships in Archideck, but the game still fits the theme well. The "deck-building game about building a deck" started as a joke, but after some time I merged several ideas together and kept the deck-building theme, with the mechanics that you see above.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
Entry #8 - Cul da Sac by Richard Durham

Cul de Sac

Once upon a time, some architect friends decided they would build their homes near each other at the end of a nice Cul de Sac. After looking over the grounds, each claimed that their home would be the most magnificent. So they made a friendly wager: each would help the other build their home, in exchange for money they would use to finance their own home. Thus the game was on.

Lay of the Land

  • The board consists of four properties, usable by 2-4 players. At the center lies a single fire hydrant as a water supply for the new homes.
  • The homes are made of pre-built room plans in 7 tetromino shapes (I, J, L, O, S, Z, an T shapes), each with a different sets of 1 -4 “Structure points” on them (circles in diagram), used for building stories and connecting plumbing.
  • There are two pools of construction materials: wood, and stone. These are large cylinders that will eventually stand on end in the “Structure points” in each room.
  • A supply of grey rectangular “piping” is set aside.
  • Victory Point tokens are set aside
  • VP Cards representing Longest 1st, 2nd 3rd Floor Piping set aside
  • VP Cards for Most Connected Structure Points 1st, 2nd, 3rd Floor set aside

Player Setup

  1. Each player randomly chooses 7 Tetromino shapes from a starting pool of 28, and puts them facedown in front of them.
  2. Each player starts with $7 tokens


The goal is to be the player with the most VP when the houses are complete by placing room plans, placing construction materials on them, connecting the structure points with plumbing, and - for big points - adding floors. Game ends after round where any player has no more Room plans.

Victory Point breakdown:

  • Each room = Points equal to number of structure points, only if structure points are all full
    • All Structure Points in room filled with wood = 1 point per Structure point
    • All Structure Points in room filled with stone = 2 points per Structure point
  • Most Structure points connected by plumbing in entire home = 7 points
  • Longest continuous pipe on a floor = 7 points
  • All points on second floor are doubled; all points on third floor are tripled, etc.

Game Play

In the first round, the burliest player will be the first player.

At the beginning of every turn, each player with less than 5 dollars receives enough dollars to bring them up to 5.

The game plays in a series of repeating phases: 1. Contract Offer phase 2. Accept Contract phase 3. Construction phase 4. Buy Materials phase


  1. *Contract Offer phase:** Each player, going clockwise, places dollar tokens on their Room pieces. These are Offers to other players to place those rooms in your house. No two players may place the same overall number of dollar tokens in the same turn!
  2. Accept Contract phase: Start with the player that has the least amount of remaining dollars, or in case of a tie, closest clockwise to player one. Each player in turn chooses a Room piece in front of another player, claims the dollar offer on it, and hands the Room to the player it belongs to, who now keeps it face up in front of them. Phase ends when all players have taken one Offer.

  3. Construction phase:

    Starting with player one, each player may now:

    1. Add their face-up Room to their home. There are building codes to regulate how homes are built:
    • Rooms on the same floor must be placed in orthogonal contact with other Rooms.
    • Rooms on higher floors must be built on top of at least two filled Structure points.
    1. Add any Construction materials to Structure points as desired. Each Room may have only one type of Construction material.
    2. Lay any plumbing pieces.
    • Pipe may only run straight between Structure Points, and only orthogonally
    • Pipe on higher floors only need connect between Structure Points
  4. Buy Materials phase: Starting with player one, each player may use their dollars to buy Construction material and Pipe for the next turn.

    • Wood Material – 1 dollar each
    • Stone Material – 2 dollars each
    • Pipe segment – 1 dollar each

Game End and Scoring

The game is over at the end of the turn where any player has no remaining Room pieces. At this time, score each house to determine a winner.

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