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[GDS] May 2013 "Change, she is a comin'."

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

May 2013 Game Design Showdown - "Change, she is a comin'."

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

We Have a Winner!



The Good Earth is coming back into her own!

Huge thanks to everyone who played this month; voting breakdown follows:

  • Tymor - 29%
  • Caterpillars & Butterflies - 24%
  • Kronopolis - 21%
  • Elemental Cycle - 19%
  • Merry-Go-Round - 2%
  • Rivers of the Underworld - 2%
  • Lir's Challenge - 2%

Now let's go talk about them!

Entries are posted!

There were seven entries to the May GDS, all posted below. As usual, you have one week to read the entries and send in your votes. Votes are being tallied by Mindspike, so PM him with your votes by the end of Wednesday, May 16th.

Remember the voting format!

  • 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.

With Seth calling in the troops for backup, Mindspike and myself are taking over responsibility for the GDS. The rules are the same, the process is the same, only now you should PM (richdurham) with your entries. When voting time comes around, Mindspike will be your man. With that, let's get down to it.

With spring upon us and a fresh GDS start, I am reminded of all the natural cycles in the world. From water to life to the seasons, change is everywhere. Games, while a lot of them have a regular cycle of turns, aren't always using the idea of "cyclical change" as a core theme.

And so this is the thematic and mechanical component to this month's challenge: build a game where some kind of cyclic change is a central part of both the story of your game, and how it functions.

And to make it interesting, or difficult based on your point of view, there is a component restriction as well. When faced with creating theme and depth of story in a game, designers often look to the cards in their game. And why not? There are often a lot of them, and they can fit a lot of great art and flavor text on to them. But what if they weren't there? How would you convey your theme then? And so the component restriction this month is no cards. None. All theme must be portrayed by a board, tokens, or some other means.

Thematic/Mechanical Restriction: Change comes in Cycles. It is a central part of your game mechanics, as well (and not just turn phases).

Component Restriction: No cards.

I hope you enjoy challenging yourself with this month's challenge!

Word Limit: 500 words, tops.

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!

When submitting your entry: Please PM submissions to richdurham with the following subject line. PLEASE use the correct subject!

Subject: GDS - MAY- [your username]

  • Submissions: Wednesday the 1st through Wednesday the 8th.
  • Voting: Through to the the 15th. 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 Comments Thread.

  • CRITIQUES: After voting has closed the entries will be posted for comments and critiques. Post constructive critiques and commentary about the entries to this Challenge in the Critiques Thread.
  • GDS Details: For more details on how these Game Design Showdown Challenges work, especially the details around the word count and graphics limits, visit the GDS Wiki Page.

Enjoy! - Rich and MindSpike

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #1 - Kronopolis

Kronopolis: City on the Edge of Time

Solo Game design (or 3 players, each controlling workers from different time periods)

Kronopolis is a city in peril. Time flashes forward or backward, pockets appear and swallow entire sections of the city only to spit them out in another time. The leading physicists believe that time is compressing to a single point and when that occurs, it’s all over. Now residents from the past, present, and future must coordinate their efforts to save Kronopolis, or be doomed to share its fate.


Long custom board representing a timeline track for the city of Kronopolis. This track will be divided into 12 spaces (eras) of 3 regions (time periods). Each time period will have a set of building tiles, workers, resources, and custom d6 (resources may be harder to gather in the future, but that’s also where the best technology is). There will also be 2 black pawns and a d12. The first pawn will track the era affected by “flux,” the second with track “Time compression.”

Gameplay overview

At the beginning of a turn, a player assigns their workers to a region within their period. These simple actions could be gathering resources, constructing a building (turning in resources), activating a building, or even traveling to another period with assets (requires a certain building). After they are all assigned, each worker is resolved, left to right on the timeline. Resources gathered must be stored in a square of an era, along with the worker who gathered them. Buildings enter a square as well. Once all the workers have been resolved, a Time Flux occurs.

The era with the Black Pawn is vulnerable to the next action. Roll a d12 and, should a building or resource exist in the topmost space vulnerable to Time Compression, they travel to the era rolled. (Workers sent to another period MUST stay in their destination until they find a way to travel to other eras) If there are no available spaces in the era they must go to, these resources, workers, and even buildings are lost to time and must be rebuilt. After this is resolved, the black pawn moves forward one era and all workers return. If the black pawn reaches the 12th era, reset the pawn and move the Time Compression track up one. The Time Compression track determines which spaces are the most vulnerable to the Time Flux. As the game progresses, more spaces become vulnerable to the Time Flux.

Success or Oblivion

If the player can build a Time Stabilizer Facility in all three periods and fuel it with Kronolium (rare material), the player must put workers on all three facilities in the same turn to activate it. Time is not on their side. If the Time Compression track reaches the end, (36 turns) the entire civilization is compressed to the point of a singularity and the game is over.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 - Merry-go-round word game

Merry-go-round word game

3 - 4 players

  • Dry-Erase Pens
  • Dry-Erase Board

  • Dice

The game board is a large circular disc, which has 98 letters around forming a chain like circle, near the edge. Letters have been printed in random order.
In the middle there is a square grid of 13 times 13, total 169 squares. Squares are of four colors and the color pattern is mixed.
Players have their own markers, which point a six letter sector from the disk. Once seated, the marker is not moved. Only the round game board can easily be rotated.

Players choose their color and keep it all the way.

On her turn a player make a word using 6 letters which are pinpointed by the marker. Player is allowed to use a letter multiple times. Player must utilize at least one letter that exists already on the grid. Words are written in dry-erase board grid, in the best manners of well known word games. One turn, one word.

The player earns points from all letters of her word. One point per one letter, except those letters that hit on player's own color square, three points.
If the player can't form any word, she throws the dice and the board is turned clockwise as many steps as the dice shows. Player's turn is over. One player can throw dice three times during a game.

When players get stuck and nobody can make any further words and dice throws have been ended, the winner is the player having most points.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3 - Caterpillars & butterflies

Caterpillars & butterflies

2-4 players

During the spring the caterpillars eat as much as they can, turning into pops at the right moment, at least before the leaf falls off. Once they are butterflies they seek a partner and lay eggs. A new season starts.


  • 20 leaves – numbered 9-28
  • 80 food tokens
  • a normal dice
  • seasonmarkertrack 0-28

Per player:

  • 6 butterflies/pupa – size 2-3-4 male/female
  • 6 caterpillars/eggs


  1. Put 5 groups of 4 leaves randomly on the table (with 3 players 5x3; 2 players 5x2). Per group the leaves are connected to at least one other leaf
  2. Put four food tokens on each leaf
  3. Seasonmarker on 0
  4. Players put caterpillars on leaves. First one clockwise, then counterclockwise, until all are on leaves.

Turn: Each player spends 3 actionpoints, then seasondice once.

  • Eat (1 actionpoint): One of your caterpillars eats one food. Keep token.
  • Short walk (1 actionpoint): One of your caterpillars walks to a connected leaf.
  • Long walk (3 actionpoints): One of your caterpillars goes to another group of leaves.
  • Turn into pupa (3 actionpoints): One of your caterpillars turns into pupa on its current leaf. There must be enough room to do so. Each leaf has four places, where each pupa needs as much places as the size of its number; each food and caterpillar takes one place. Pay as much food as the size of the pupa.

2 food left, 1 caterpillar can turn in to a pupa of size 2.

Throw seasondice and move seasonmarker forward. Each leaf with a number lower or equal to the seasonmarker falls off the tree. Food is put aside, caterpillars are lost. Pupas remain on the branches and are not lost.

This continues untill all leaves have fallen and only pupas remain. They turn into butterflies.

In the winter the tree changes: It looses a group of leaves, but adds one leaf in the other groups (now 4 groups of 5 leaves). Divide the food, earlier put aside, on the leaves.

The butterflies are looking for a partner to lay eggs. The player with the most food tokens begins. He selects one of his butterflies, and selects one butterfly with the same number of another player. Both may
lay one egg on one of the new leaves, and put as much food as the size of the butterfly on the leaves. The two butterflies are put aside.
This continues until all players’ butterflies have a partner, or can no longer find one with the same number, or the players run out of food.

Turn all eggs into caterpillars. Players keep surplus food. A new season begins.

Play one more half year (now with 3 groups of 6 leaves). Stop when butterflies are born.

The player with the most butterfly-points wins. Amount of food is tiebreaker.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4 - Rivers of the Underworld


2 - 4 players


Each corner of the board has a start dish (The Grave). There are 32 rows of peg holes radiating towards the center like spokes of a wheel. Each row has sixteen peg holes arranged as follows: a space (An Underworld River) then four holes, and a space then four holes, etc. There is a peg hole in the center shared by all rows (Elysian).

Peg holes farthest from the center are colored green. Moving inwards, the next peg hole in each row is colored red, next is orange and the fourth is black. Repeat the coloring pattern after each space.


Be the first player to get a peg into the center of the board.


PEGS - 4 sets (Green, Red, Orange, Black), 8 pegs per player

DICE - 8 - eight sided dice. Numbered 1 to 8, colored in one of 4 colors such that each die has two sides with the same color and two of every number is colored in the same color.

Obols (coins) - 15 - Each decorated with one of the powers of the Underworld.


Each player starts with 8 pegs in their Grave and 2 Obols.


First – The player must decide whether to roll dice or collect an Obol. If the player collects an Obol and their turn is over. They do not move any pegs forward or backwards and the dice are passed to the next player.

Second – Roll all 8 dice. Group dice so that other players can plainly see what sets you intend to move. Move pegs or declare that you are not using sets.


There are 3 types of sets: the same number, the same color or a run of 3 or more. All movement is one peg hole towards the center.

  • Sets of 3 - Move a peg from a green to a red hole.
  • Sets of 4 - Move a peg from a red to an orange hole.
  • Sets of 5 - Move a peg from an orange to a black hole.

  • Sets of 6 – Move a peg over a space from a black hole to a green hole.

  • Sets of 7 – Move a peg over a space from a black hole to a green hole and collect 1 Obol.

  • Sets of 8 – Move a peg over a space from a black hole to a green hole and collect 3 Obols.

Third – Use an Obol to move one peg one hole closer to the center, including over a space. The center hole, (Elysian) can only be reached using an Obol.

Fourth – If a player who rolled dice cannot, or chooses not to, move least one peg towards the center they must move one peg back to their Grave. This ends their turn.

No player may have more than 2 Obol at the end of their turn.


Game ends when any peg reaches the Elysian.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #5 - Elemental Cycle

Elemental Cycle is a 2-player Mancala-based game where you move stones representing the elements. The game setup has 12 bowls in a circle, with each quarter of the circle being the starting place for one element. Each bowl begins with only one elemental stone in it, as shown:

      F    F    F

 A                   E
 A                   E

 A                   E
      W    W    W

 F = Fire (red)

 A = Air (white)
E = Earth (brown)

 W = Water

One player sits at the top and plays Fire. The second player sits at the opposite side and plays Water. Players randomly choose a starting player and alternate turns. During a player's turn they may choose any bowl and place all stones from that bowl into the bowl's clockwise from the starting place, placing one stone at a time (per Mancala). The order they choose to place the different colors of stones is entirely up to them. Whenever a Water or Fire stone circles the entire board and lands back on a home space (any of the three spaces will do), that player immediately scores a point. The first player to score five points wins the game and this is the only way to end the game.

A few 'special' results can change the basic movement. If Fire and Air stones end the turn in the same bowl with no other elements present, a Fire stone is removed and placed back in any home space by the Fire player. This does not score a point. Similarly, Earth alone with Water will cause water to be moved to a home space chosen by the Water player with no points scored. Finally, if a player moves in a way that causes a bowl to contain exactly one of each element, that player may take an extra turn.

Summary: Air destroys Fire

Earth destroys Water

All elements in balance = extra turn

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6 - Tymor

Tymor: 2-4 Players

From the first dawn, the Good Earth favored mankind among all her children. Desiring greater power, men defiled the Good Earth. So She withdrew her affection, unhinging the rhythm of the seasons and ushering in a dark age.

Centuries after the apocalypse, you lead a remote settlement. To achieve prosperity, you must anticipate the chaotic seasons and manage limited resources.


Control 6 hexes at the end of any round, or the most hexes at the end of the 8th round. Resolve ties by counting Units.


The map is made of modular hexes representing four kinds of terrain, each with a season-dependent gold production profile. Players use gold to build Units and Settlements. With a Settlement on a hex, a player “controls” that hex and receives gold from it in the Income Phase. Winter is lean, and fall is bountiful.

Units move 1 hex per turn. There are 3 kinds of Units:

Soldiers attack, defend, build Settlements.
 Priests defend, build Settlements, give gold bonus on productive land.
 Merchants produce gold in enemy-controlled hexes. Settlements defend, produce 1 unit per turn.


Count 4 hexes per player, shuffle them together face-down, and take turns placing them face-up on the table. Randomly pick the first player, who places a Soldier and a Settlement in a single hex, followed by the other players. Place the Season Marker on Summer.


Rounds consist of four phases:

Season Phase

Pass the Season Die clockwise. That player chooses the Player Order and rolls the Season Die.

 1-4: Season progresses normally.

 5: Season does not change.

 6: Season moves backwards.

Income Phase

Terrain hexes display legends showing gold production in each of four seasons. Tally your hexes’ production for the current season. Receive gold in that amount. Tally your total number of Units and pay gold to the bank in that amount. If you don’t have gold to pay upkeep for your Units, kill 1 Unit per 1 gold shortfall.

Movement Phase

Players secretly give order tokens to each Unit/Settlement (move, build or defend). After all tokens are placed, flip them to reveal.

Players first resolve Move Orders, starting with the first player on the Player Order.

8 season-dependent dice (4 for attack, 4 for defense) govern combat. Summer favors attack. Winter favors defense. Spring and fall are neutral.

Resolving combat: Tally attacking Soldiers and roll the appropriate Attack Die. Tally defending Units and Settlements and roll the appropriate Defense Die. Player with the higher total score wins, and keeps Units equal to the difference in score. All other combatant Units perish. In a tie, 1 Unit from each side survives. If an attack succeeds and a defending Priest is killed, remove the Settlement. Otherwise, if an attack succeeds, replace any defending Settlement with a Settlement of the attacker’s color.

Expel a Merchant by giving a Move Order to a Settlement.

Build Phase

Priests/Soldiers with Build Orders build Settlements for 2 gold each.

Settlements with Build Orders build Units for 2 gold each.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7 - Lir's Challenge

Lir’s Challenge

Lir, the Irish God of the Sea, has issued a challenge to the river and seas sprites. The sprite who displays the best ability to manipulate water will become the new master of the sea! The challenge is simple. Over the next 4 years, demonstrate your skill with water magic by making lakes boil in the winter and freeze in the summer!

Game length: 60-80 minutes, 4 players

The game consists of 4 years (rounds) with 4 seasons that consist of 3 turns each. Season is shown on a circular track with 12 spaces and year in the center on a 1-4 track.

Each player as a single, three-sided pyramid that shows the 3 states of the water in their lake – frozen, liquid, and boiling. They will also have a playing mat to store heat/cold tokens and to mark the length of their current and highest scoring streaks. The longest scoring streak will be used for the end game bonus, which is 8, 5, 2, -1 going from longest to shortest. A scoring streak is how long they kept their lake in single scoring state, frozen or boiling, measured from the time the lake could start scoring.

Two points are awarded immediately when a sprite has a frozen lake in the summer or boiling lake in the winter, the two scoring seasons. If a sprite ends a scoring season with their lake still in it’s scoring form, they will receive two additional points. For example, if a lake is boiling at the start of winter, that player will immediately score 2 points. If it is still boiling at the start of spring, the player will receive 2 more points.

The game has 2 dice, one for the scoring seasons and one for spring/fall. The winter/summer die will have 1 one, 3 twos, and 2 threes, while the fall/spring die will have 2 blanks, 2 ones, and 2 twos. The ones and twos on the fall/spring die will be evenly split between red and blue.

Each turn, the appropriate die for the season will be rolled, and a number of hot or cold tokens equal to the number shown will be added to all of the players lakes, shown by placing them in front of the pyramid. Heat tokens are added in the summer, and cold tokens in the winter. In the fall and spring, the type of token added is shown by the color of the die.
After the die roll, players may choose to take the same number and kind of tokens added to their lake from the supply and put them in their stockpile or choose to add saved tokens to their lake. Once players have decided, heat and cold tokens are canceled out until only a single type or no tokens remain. It takes 6 heat/cold tokens to change a lake from one form to another, and when a lake changes state, those 6 tokens are removed from the lake.

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