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[GDS] NOVEMBER 2013 "The End is Near"

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

November 2013 Game Design Showdown - "The End is Near"

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

We have a winner!

The Housing Bubble

Edging out the other entries by a slim margin, The Housing Bubble takes the gold, while Quarreling Corsairs and The Last Castle tie for the silver. Check out the critiques thread for the points breakdown and join in the discussion!

The entries are posted!

**Please take the time to read them and then PM your votes to mindspike by the end of 16th.

  • 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.

This month's GDS idea comes courtesy my partner in GDS crime, Mindspike:

My wife loves to play BINGO. Personally, I listen for low-flying bombers whenever the caller says "B - 3". Still, BINGO gets one thing right that many games miss: dramatic tension.

Here's what I was thinking; the idea is that the game has an arbitrary or inevitable end-point built into the rules. Players know that the end is coming but not precisely when it will occur.

BINGO does a good job of building up to an inevitable but uncertain end point, but there is no skill or strategy involved. Any game can limit play time by restricting the number of turns, hands of cards, winning point total, or resource depletion. I think the community can turn out games that are much more creative....

Now the details:

Word Limit: Standard 500 word

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 PM submissions to richdurham with the following subject line.

Subject: GDS - NOV - [your username]


  • Submissions: Saturday the 2nd through to Saturday the 9th.

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

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

    • Entrants may not assign any Medals to their own entry!
    • Entrants must assign all 3 Medals.
    • An entrant who does not assign all 3 Medals will receive a Pyrite Medal (-3 votes) as a penalty.
  • Comments or Questions: Comments and questions about this Challenge were handled on the 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 Quarreling Corsairs

Quarreling Corsairs

Theme and Setup

Quarreling Corsairs is a game about a bunch of pernicious pirates searching an atoll for treasure and raiding Spanish galleons. At the beginning of the game, each pirate is dealt one card which shows a list of treasures. On the board are six small islands and two bigger ones. The smaller islands will each have two spots for treasure while the two larger ones will have four thus having twenty treasure spots total. To set up the game pull treasure tokens on of a bag and place one face down on each of the treasure spots. The player with the most R’s in their name goes first.


Each player gets five actions during their turn. The different actions they can take are:

  • Movement: A player can move their pirate captain, or pirate ship one space for an action.
  • Dig: The player if on a space with a treasure token may dig up the treasure and place it face up behind his player screen. The player then replaces that treasure tile with one from the bag.
  • Rummin’: A player may use an action to regain attack points
  • Piratin’: A player may attack a player that is sharing a space with them. If the attack is successful, the player may randomly take a treasure from the other player.
  • Market: If the player’s ship, or captain piece, are on a dock/market space, they may sell treasure for gold coins. Cards given at the start of the game give bonuses for selling certain items.

Spanish galleons are special ships that move around the board in a specific manner. These may be attacked like any other pirate but are harder to beat. If you do beat them piratin’. Then you may take a specific amount of gold coins straight into your hold.

Ending the Game

On eight of the treasure tiles are different pieces of eight. These do not need to be sold for gold coins and can be kept. When all eight pieces of eight have been dug up, the game is over. Gold coins are counted and treasure still in the pirate’s hold (behind the player screen) is counts for half its gold value. The pirate captain with the most gold coins is the winner.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 Aliens on Holiday

Aliens on holiday

Each player tries to get as much aliens into the rocket with holiday destination. As soon as the pilot of the rocket decides the trip is profitable, he will take off and the game ends.


  • 20 aliens per player
  • 100 gold coins
  • 7 cards per player
  • A rocket (board)
  • 20-sided dice
  • Pilot (pawn)

The cards show numbers 1-7 and gold (on odd cards) and aliens (on even cards). Each player has his own 7 cards and keeps them during the whole game.

The rocket has room for aliens and a gold-track. The track starts at -20 and goes up to 20. Gold is always put on the lowest position available and taken from the highest. (Start at -20, then -19 etc.)

Player starts with 5 gold and 3 aliens.

A round:

  • Every player shuffles his cards and takes as many as he has aliens (with 7 as maximum). Use discarded cards when pile runs out. Shuffle and make new pile.
  • Secretly the players play one card face down and gold in their hand (zero gold is allowed)
  • Turn around and add the gold to the number of the card
  • The player(s) with the highest sum can perform the action on the card. They loose the gold in their hand (to the bank) and the card (discard pile)
  • The other players only loose the card, or the gold. But they cannot perform an action. If they had no gold, they must discard the card. A card that is kept can be played again this round.
  • This continues until at most one player has cards left, he can play one more card and perform the action
  • End of round: Pilot advances. The pilot starts at the beginning of the gold-track. If the next step has gold he advances one place. His first step will be on -20, then -19 etc.


  • Alien on card: Take one extra alien.
  • Gold on card: Take 5 gold. Gold may be taken from other players (with maximum of 1 per player) the rocket (with a maximum of one, and not where the pilot is, or below) and the bank (no maximum). For example: Take one gold from other players A and B, one from the rocket and two from the bank.
  • Always: After taking gold or an alien the player, if he has at least 2 aliens, may put one alien in the rocket. He places the alien in the rocket (keep in order of placement) and pays two gold to the gold-track. If the gold-track reaches 1 or higher the 20-sided dice is thrown. This is the moment the pilot decides if he has earned enough money. If the number thrown has gold on it the rocket leaves and the game ends directly.
    The player with the most aliens in the rocket wins the game. With equal numbers the alien longest in the rocket decides.

(Aliens or gold should never run out)

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #3 One Clip Wonder

One Clip Wonder

Fame and riches await your amazing viral videos! With secrets, random events, horrific accidents, and a bunch of bad ideas, collaborate your way to one million.
For 3 to 6 wannabe stars; 5 to 20 minutes


  • 54 By the Way cards – Hidden powers and other game changers
  • 108 Crazy Idea cards – Objects, actions, and anatomy to be damaged
  • 54 Guess What cards – Events, situations, and outcomes


Play a series of hands each representing one video. Hands end suddenly when a Guess What card generates the money shot. Cards have hit counts on them and are banked out of play.
Once someone reaches One Million Hits, the game ends. Some Guess Whats generate a large number of hits, because well you died and the game ends after scoring that hand. You may posthumously “win,” but if you do, you can’t speak for the next five minutes. If you refuse to die peacefully, the runner up wins.

Crazy Ideas

Exploitable items and situations. Each has a number of potential uses
- Publicity - Anatomical moments – Stunts – Accidents - Mad skillz - Mind blowers -
Ideas are chained from player to player. The right side of the card are uses that can chain from this card, across the top are uses that chain to this one.

Guess Whats

Descriptions and multiple outcomes: Check them in order until one is met. Each card has at least one way to end the hand.

By the Ways

Facedown hidden powers list their game effect and when they can or must be revealed.


Shuffle decks, choose an initial dealer.

Hand Start

  1. Deal two By the Way cards to each wannabe. Each wannabe passes one and keeps one.
  2. Deal four Crazy Ideas
  3. Flip the top Crazy Idea to start the chain

Turn Play

  1. Draw a Crazy Idea
  2. Play a Crazy Idea that chains or discard and pass
  3. After dealer plays, flip a Guess What card
  4. If hand didn’t end, continue playing
    Rotate deal between hands.

Example round:

  • Wannabe 1 plays a hammer
  • W2 matches the hammer’s anatomy symbol and plays “groin”
  • W3 plays duct tape
  • W3 reveals the first “Guess What” card:
    Found some Nuclear Waste
    1. Laser, Rocket, and Evil Genius are not in play; so, the game does not end in a nuclear explosion group ”win” fatality
    2. No Boom Box or Mystery Mushrooms, so no Spontaneous Rave (hand ender)
    3. Default – “We glow” Mutation can score double this hand


  • Crazy Ideas: ATV, Necronomicon, skyscraper, Scottish broadsword, skateboard, leg, gasoline, mmm… fireworks, foot longs, Mentos, box of roaches, haiku, gorilla suit, mall, super soaker, unicycle, church, soda
  • By The Ways Not my real…, Do you believe in magic?, Yum, Former Olympian, Guess who I know!, I’m infectious, Impressive Anatomy, Grrlz, Yes… I’m a doctor, Possesed, “The Truth is Out There”
  • Guess Whats: Demon Summoning, Sky High, Viral... Literally, Beachy keen, Autograph my…, SPCA Called, Zombies…
richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4 The Housing Bubble

”The housing bubble”

The players play the role of ”housing speculators” in a market where prices are rising very fast. All realize that the bubble at some point will burst . The aim of the game is to earn as much ”quick money” in the housing market as possible to spend on luxury wich gives luxury-points. The one with most luxury-points and the least amount of unpaid dept in the end is the winner.


  • Property-Cards in 4 different colors. Each color represents a city-district etc. The cards give information about the size of the property and the standard.
  • Luxury cards with various luxury items that provide luxury points.
  • Market adjustment Cards, used to adjust the market value of properties in the different districts according to their size and standards . The cards adjust prices up and down , but there is a large majority of the price increase-cards. Prices will rise.
  • An indicator moved up and down on a scale according to all market adjustments. When this indicator reaches a certain point, the housing bubble burst and all prices fall back to the " starting prices "


Players start the game with 2 random marketadjustement-cards, 2 random property-cards and some money.


The game spans several rounds which is divided into the following phases:

1. Draw market adjustment Cards.

Total market cards to be drawn: d4 + number of players

2. Playing market adjustment cards .

Players take turns choosing which market card they want to play . Players can always replace a drawn market card with a card from the hand of the same colour .

3. Buying and/or selling properties

The number of new properties coming to market : d4 + number of players . In addition, players can choose to sell one or all of their properties . The properties can be bought and sold at market price according to market adjustment cards. Players can also bid over each of the properties .

4. Buying luxury items

Luxury cards are distributed on luxury cars, vacations, jewelry / watches etc in a few different categories. The cards give luxury-points on the basis of type , price and combinations. One can buy from the 4 open cards or draw a random card to buy.

5. Pay off the loan.

Players can at any time borrow as much money as they want. Each round you have to pay a low interest rate on the loan. When the housing bubble burst rate rises somewhat violently .

Game End :

The game ends immediately as the bubble burst. All players count the value of all their properties, subtract their loans wich now has to be payed back at a much higher interest rate. The player with the combination of the most luxury-points and the lowest debt in the end is the winner.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Endtry #5 Die Race 2000

Die Race 2000

It’s not a race to the finish, but rather a race to the end. The end is near! Your end.

A press-your-luck dice game for 2-4 players, where you fill up your vehicles fuel tank for long sprints, while timing your sprints to keep your fuel from being wiped-out in an explosion.


  • Scoring track (ranging from 0-199) – “wasteland”
  • A unique score marker for each player – “vehicles”
  • Large opaque bag – “fuel supply”
  • 40 standard (d6) dice [1][2] – “fuel” and “bomb” dice
  • An area for each player to store their unused fuel dice - fuel “tank”

[1] NOTE: The dice should all be of the same size, shape, and feel. However, four of them should have some distinguishing visual marking. These four dice are the bombs; the remaining dice are fuel.

[2] NOTE: If 40 similar dice are difficult to come by, you can use a standard deck of cards as the fuel supply by simply removing the face cards and using the Aces as bombs. However, you will still need a handful of dice to roll when making a sprint. Also, you could just use a notepad to keep score.

Determine the starting player and player order. Place the player vehicles on the wasteland at position 0. Place all of the dice in the opaque bag, and mix them up to prepare the fuel supply. Hand the bag to the starting player, and begin the race.

Each players turn will consist of him drawing a die from the fuel supply, and (if it is not a bomb) adding it to his tank. He may then either “make a sprint” or end his turn.

If the player wishes to make a sprint, he collects all of the dice in his tank, rolls them, chooses a value and then calculates his sprint distance as follows: Sprint Distance = (Chosen Value) * (Number of dice showing that value) * (Number of dice rolled)

For example:

  • A player rolls four dice and gets the values 1, 3, 3, & 5.
  • He chooses a value of 3.
  • He therefore scores… 3 * 2 * 4 = 24 movement points.
  • That player’s vehicle is then advanced that number of spaces into the wasteland, and his fuel dice are removed from the game. This ends his turn.

If instead the player drew a bomb, then that bomb and all fuel dice in players tanks (all players) are removed from the game. If this was the THIRD bomb drawn, the game ends immediately; otherwise it merely ends the current players turn.

At the end of a players turn, the fuel supply is passed to the next player.

After the game has come to an end, the player furthest into the wasteland wins the game. However, if there is a tie for first place, then the player who drew the final bomb wins the game, regardless of their position.

Future plans:

Additional dice types with special rules. (Nitrous, Dynamite, Solar Fuel Cells, etc.)

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6 Monkey Business

"Monkey business"

Continuing the last month's dexterity showdown but now with inevitable end point.
2-6 players are monkeys in the banana-plantation. They sit on top of banana-trees and throw bananas down.
The objective is to have the least bananas left at the end of the game.


6 bags - one for each player
120 yellow game pieces as bananas - 20 for each player
18 black game pieces as rotten bananas - 3 for each player
6 cups - one per each player


Each player takes 20 yellow bananas and 3 rotten bananas, puts them to his bag and shuffles.
Take as many cups as there are players in the game and place them in the middle of the table.

The game:

In round monkeys start simultanously taking bananas from their bags and dropping them to any cups on the table in any order.
If somebody takes the rotten banana from his bag he shouts immediately "stop" and place it in front of him.
The game stops and this player takes any cup from the table and put all bananas from this cup to his bag.
Now each other player in clockwise order does the same action until all the cups are chosen.
Place the cups back in the middle of the table and start another round.

Ps! If player chooses the empty cup no bananas go to his bag.
Ps! If 2 or more players shout "stop", the first player may place the rotten banana in front of him, others must put them back to their bags.

The end:

The game ends if either:
One player has three rotten bananas in front of him.
All players have at least one rotten banana in front of them.
The last time players choose the cups like described before and then count their bananas.
Player with the least yellow bananas in his bag is the winner.

Little bit dexterity and speed, little bit attention (what cups have less bananas and are more useful to take) and arbitrary end-point!

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7 The Last Castle

The Last Castle

2-4 players
20 to 30 minutes
Deck of 78 cards

The king has decreed that his lords and ladies may build castles. However, they may only use the services of the kingdom’s most trustworthy architects. Unfortunately, all four are quite elderly. Once all have passed away there will be no more castle improvements allowed.

Deal out 5 cards per player.

Order of play: Draw a new card or take card on top of the discard pile. Build (play one card on table) or discard.

The Architect Cards (4 cards)
When drawn, the Royal Architects must be placed to the side (in the Graveyard) and replaced with another card. Players may not keep architects in their hand. The game ends when four architects are drawn unless a Mausoleum is built (See Chapel).

Level Cards (32 cards)
These cards must be built in order (lowest to highest).
1. Servants Stairwell
2. Walls and Foundation
3. Grand Staircase
4. Towers (Lord’s tower and Lady’s tower)

Players may play only one level card for each level except that they may have both a Lord’s Tower and a Lady’s Tower.

Room Cards
Place room cards on corresponding Level cards. In the case of duplicates, only one may be built by a single player (Example, there are 4 kitchens. Each player may build a kitchen, but no player may build more than one.)

1. Servant’s stairwell (8)
4 each – Kitchen, Scullery, Larder and Dungeons

2. Castle Walls and Foundation (8)
2 each – Courtyard, Entry Hall, Garden

3. Grand Staircase (8)
2 each - Throne room, Grand Banquet Hall, Ball Room

4A. Lord’s Tower (4)
2 each - Exchequer’s Counting Room, Armory, Map Room

4B. Lady’s Tower (4)
2 each – Infirmary, Music Room, Tapestry Room

The Chapel / Mausoleum (2 cards)
The King Decrees the chapel shall be highest.
The chapel card may be attached to any level, after which no higher level or room cards may be built by any player. One chapel per game.

Mausoleum Rule - When the last Architect card is drawn any player may immediately play the chapel card from their hand to begin construction of a Mausoleum. Beginning with the player who drew the architect, ask if anyone has a Chapel card and wants to construct the mausoleum. If no one builds a mausoleum, than the game ends immediately. Only one mausoleum may be built.

No Chapel may be built once the Mausoleum is in play.

The turn passes immediately to the player who laid down the Mausoleum card. They take their complete turn. Play continues around the table until it is this player’s turn again. They take one last turn and the game ends.

Room and Level cards are worth their level. The chapel is worth twice the value of the level it was on. Architects and the Mausoleum have no point value.

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