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[GDS] April 2015 "Losers' Lounge."

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richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009

We have a winner!

Drop In Drag Race

by anthiasgames

Lots of discussion this month regarding what makes a game able to drop contestants in and out and still be competitive with a clear winner. That discussion can still be followed in this month's Comments and Questions thread. Share your thoughts on this month's challenge in the critiques thread and look for a complete posting of results.

Entries are posted!

Could it be that one of these will find a way onto your game table between games in the future? Which one should it be?

Read the entries, post your vote here

Votes are due one week from today, at the end of the 19th of April.

Voting details:

  • 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.

Please Read: Details on entering the Game Design Showdown.

Ever get to a game night about 20 minutes too late? Everyone's mid-game, and no matter how awesome your friend's collection of solitaire games is, it'll just be abandoned once a game finishes up. But what if it didn't have to be like this? What if, in this beautiful, wonderful game-filled world, there was a game that you could start solitaire, and add in players as they came up?

Not only that, but they could drop-out at any time and not mess up the game for anyone else?

Easy come, easy go, as they say.

The use for this, other than inviting players to join even if you're mid-way through, is that you could use it as a game to go in-between other games. There are still player-elimination games out there, and some of them still have long play-times.

In classroom-ed speak, you need a sponge-activity; keep the kids working while the rest finish up.

So here's your challenge for April, as inspired by a suggestion by Zag24:

Design a game to be played in-between games. It must be able to start Solo, and add-in or drop-out players at will with a minimum of fuss.

And since it's an in-between game, it should also be able to end at any point - or else it'll create its own "wait to be finished" conundrum!

Now the details:

Theme: Whatever you feel like

Mechanic: Game can start solo. Add-in and drop players at will. Can end and score at just about any time.

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: Thursday the 2nd through to Thursday the 9th

  • Voting: Through the 19th. 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 Drop In Drag Race

Drop In Drag Race

A game for 1 to 12 players

1 deck of 12 vehicle cards
1 play deck of mod and event cards
12 six sided dice.

Played in short rounds, each a quarter mile on an infinite drag strip.

Each player takes a random vehicle card on their first round. Vehicles have an acceleration and a speed stat, different for each one.

Each player places mod cards they wish to play. Some mod cards are permanent mods to the vehicle and remain in play, while others are single use then discarded. Mod cards may be held until needed.(eg a nitro is a single use card, giving a boost in acceleration and speed for one round, but extractors are a permanent mod to the vehicle.) Some mod cards require the vehicle to have stats over a certain amount, so if acceleration is low, you need to improve it before playing a card requiring higher acceleration.) Other mod cards can effect events, such as event immunity, which could be played if you knew you had to play a wipe out event, to protect yourself from the disaster while other players are ruined!

Each player then rolls their dice, and their scores are calculated. This is done by multiplying their speed by acceleration as well applying any modifiers. The result is then multiplied by the dice roll.

After this, any event cards in hand MUST be played. Such things as a crash (player with card nominates the player effected), or Wipe Out (all vehicles destroyed, start from scratch), or Track Inversion (swaps scores, last player wins). When crashed or destroyed, discard vehicle and mods to start fresh.

Once all events and mods are taken into account, the highest score wins the race. The players then draw a card from the deck for each player they defeated (unless they crashed or their vehicle was otherwise destroyed). So, if you have four players, the winner takes three cards, second place getter takes two cards, etc. If playing solo, you draw 1 card for every twenty five points in your score for the round, with the goal of boosting your score and your vehicle stats.

Anybody leaving the game discards their vehicle, their hand and all their mod cards in play.

Anybody joining the game collects a vehicle from the newly shuffled vehicle deck, and commences from the start.

Events can and will destroy your vehicle or mods at any time! A crash event card in solo play must be played against yourself. Try to counter events with event immunity, instant repair, airbag, mod salvage and other cards to to survive!

The game can end at any time, winner decided either as the person who owns the highest total acceleration and speed from vehicle and permanent mods, or the vehicle with the most wins. The winning condition should be chosen at start of play.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #2 - 5 by Five


Lower your score to ZERO.


  • 6-sided Dice x5
  • Pen and Paper

Entering the Game

When a player joins the game and doesn't have a score, the player must roll all 5 dice and add the total of the dice together. This total, plus 5 is that player's starting score. No starting score will be less than 10 or greater than 35.

Playing the Game


Player adds points to their score equal to amount of dice they want to roll this turn, up to 5. For example, Jim is at a score of 12 and wants to roll 5 dice. He adds 5 to his score of 12 to make his score 17 and rolls all 5 dice.


Players roll the dice and score any 3 numbers that are the same. Players will score the face value of the set PLUS 1 additional point for each die in the set beyond the first 3 and subtract the points from their score. For example, Jim rolls four 4's and one 3. He scores 5 points(4 for three 4's and additional point for the extra 4.) Jim immediately subtracts 5 points from his score of 17. Jim is now back to a score of 12.

If the turn player wishes to roll again after scoring (or not) they must give 1 of the dice to any player(including themselves) and that player must immediately add 1 point to their score. Turn player then rerolls ALL remaining dice, including the dice that scored in the last roll. No dice are allowed to be carried to a new roll. For Example, Jim wishes to reroll all the 4's he rolled. He passes the 3 die to Alex, who immediately add 1 to his score of 14 - making Alex's score 15. Jim then rerolls the remaining 4 dice.

The turn player may only choose to reroll twice per turn as rolling a third time with 2 dice will not yield any points.

When a player is satisfied and doesn't or cannot roll more the next player to the left collects the dice and begins their turn.

Leaving the Game

A player may leave the game at any time. If leaving during their turn, pass the dice to the next player on the left and the game continues as normal. To avoid score resets(a player with 100+ points leaving for an hour just to come back to roll a new starting score) a player may not return to the game once he leaves without assuming the score he left with.

Winning the Game

If a player reaches ZERO points, that player wins!

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

The object of the game is to score points by making words and logging time. The game is scored and tracked on a leader board. The goal is to have the most points at the end of the night.

Components: *Several sets of Scrabble tiles *score sheets for each player *master tracking sheet *clock *game board

The game board is a traditional clock face. At each number are blank spaces equal to the clock position. (1 blank at 1, 2 blanks at 2, etc.)

When a player joins the game, he logs his entry time on his individual score sheet. He then spells out his name (as much or as little of it as he cares to use) in letter tiles and contributes them to the pot. He places his name on the master tracking sheet next to the current game board. A player may only contribute his name to the letter tile pot once per game board.

The group must work together to form single words or phrases using only the letter tiles that have been contributed to the pot. Starting at 1, players must make a word or phrase on the game board with exactly as many letters as the clock position. Numbers must be filled in order and may not be skipped. When position 12 has been filled, the board is cleared and play begins again. No letter tiles are saved between game boards.

When a word is completed, every active player scores a number of points equal to the total value of the letter tiles used. (Scrabble tiles have a number value on the letter tile.) The word is then placed on the master tracking sheet next to the current game board. If a completed word is already anywhere on the master tracking sheet next to any game board, the clock position is filled but players do not earn points for it. When a player leaves the game, he fills out his exit time and scores a number of points equal to the number of minutes spent playing. He then updates his score on the leader board.

A player may join the game, contribute his name to the letter tile pot, and then leave the game. He may rejoin at any time, and will score points for any words completed while active as well as the time spent at the game.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #4: Colourific

Colourific (1-3 Players)

An abstract game of colour and number matching. The object of the game is to use action cards to manipulate the locations and values of dice in the game grid until they match the aims on your objective card.

Component List

  • 4 x Red D6
  • 4 x Green D6
  • 4 x Blue D6
  • 4 x Yellow D6
  • 1 x Game Grid (4x4 dice tray in the style of Boggle)
  • 12 Objective Cards
  • 40 Action Cards


Put all 16 coloured dice into the game grid and shake to give a random arrangement of colours and numbers.

Deal 1 objective card to each player.

The objective card will have a 4x4 grid printed on it representing the game grid and will contain 3 objectives, worth 1 point each:

  • 4 spaces filled in with 1 of each of the different colours
  • 6 spaces filled in with each of the numbers on a die
  • A number below, representing the total value of all the die showing on the grid.

Example objective card:

Red 5
6 Blue 3
4 Green
2 Yellow 1

Grid Total 63

Deal 4 action cards to each player, plus 1 extra for each player in the game.

Example action cards

  • Swap the location of any two dice of the same colour.
  • Swap any two dice of the same number
  • Turn all 6s to another value.
  • Change any red dice to the face value you choose.


Each turn you will choose 2 action cards and place them face down in front of you, these will form the start of your action pile. You will also choose one of your action cards for each of the other players in the game and hand them over so the other players can add them to their action pile. Remaining cards from the deal should form a discard pile. Add action cards from the draw deck to top up your action pile to 4 (2 additional cards in solo play, 1 in 2 player games and 0 for 3 player games)

In turn, players pick up their action piles and then play all four actions in the order they choose, hoping to manipulate the grid so that it matches the aims shown on their objective cards. Any spaces not filled in on the objective card can be any colour or dice value that you like. At the end of your turn, you must reveal how many objectives you have achieved, but not necessarily which ones. Once all players have played their 4 actions, new action cards (and objective cards for new players if necessary) are dealt and the round starts again.

The game ends if one player reaches all 3 aims on their card by the end of their 4 actions. The game can be stopped at the end of any player's turn. The player who achieved the most aims on their objective card at the end of their last turn wins.

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

Eternal Quest

Number of players: varying Components required: A Hex grid for all players, a sheet to track a party’s stats per player. 1D12 to explore the map, 5D6 per player, 20 Life tokens per player.

Gameplay: Before joining the game, a player creates his party of 4 Heros, if he does not have a party from a prior game already. A Hero consists of his race and his class. Race and class give a modificator to the attributes as well as a selection of skills. Attributes are: Physical (for physical combat), Mental (for magic), Social (to influence encounters) Races are: Human, Dwarf, Half-Orc, Gnome, Halfling, Elf, Half-Elf Classes are: Adventurer, Cleric, Mage, Paladin, Soldier, Thief, Warlock Depending on class, a Hero has got access to 1 armor set (e.g. scale armor) and 1 mainhand/offhand set (e.g. sword and shield). Starting on level 1, a Hero has access to 1 skill. During his adventures he will learn more, but he will only be able to „equip“ up to 5 skills for a quest. A Hero has 5 life. For each life he may roll 1 die for all kinds of checks. Checks resolution is based on the number of successes rolled. The hexmap is generated randomly, by a roll of the D12. Possible terrains are: Plains, Forest, Desert, Hills, Mountains, Steppe, Swamp Depending on the terrain you are currently in, there is a table stating, which terrain can be found at which probability in the surrounding hexes. The whole game starts in a plains hex in a city. In a city there are always questgivers as well as skill trainers, as opposed to villages, where there is only a questgiver. It is up to the player to name and to breath life into the cities and villages.

Quests are selected randomly from a questgiver. Quests may be

  • Travel to next village/city
  • Kill X monsters
  • Kill certain bossmonster (unlocking the „dungeon“ option for encounters)
  • Explore area

It is up to the player to invent a story around the quest. At skill trainers you can buy skills. Moving into a hex, you have to resolve an encounter, such as: Nothing, roaming monsters (depending on terrain), dungeon (depending on quest), city, village. Monsters‘ reactions start at a certain level (agressive, hostile, neutral, friendly, questgiver). A certain number of successes rolled may change the reaction. Questgivers give random quests (see above).

Combat takes place on an abstact level with dicepools of the Heroes pitted versus dicepools of the monsters. At any time players may join in or drop out. If more than one players plays Eternal Quest, players have to agree, where they move to. Each party bayond the first raises the difficulty level of encounters (mostly by raising monsters‘ life points).

Players may leave at any time, too. They no longer participate until they join in again. A party of a player not playing Eternal Quest does not gain XP or gold, of course.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #6: Have Sword, Will Travel

Players are mercenaries in a fantasy setting. The goal is to have the most Gold when the game ends (see below). There are 4 decks of cards: Monsters, Locations, Mercenaries, and Good Things. Each Monster has a health value, a reward, and an attribute, like “immune to magical attacks” or “-2 to all melee rolls”. Each Monster is randomly paired with a Location card that modifies the setting, such as a cost in Gold to attack there, or a restriction like “no more than 3 Mercenaries may fight here”. Some Monsters are listed as Great Monsters.

Players may enter the game at any time by drawing a Mercenary card. These Mercenaries are all unique, but all have a Wage, 2 Attacks and 1 Ability. Attacks come in 3 flavors, depicted by a sword (melee attacks), a bow (ranged attacks), or a fireball (magic attack). Each Attack also is defined by a number and type of dice. For example, a typical melee Attack might be 3d4, with the results added together; a typical ranged Attack might be 2d8, using the highest single die results; and a typical magic Attack inflicting a fixed amount of damage, but only if a target number is met.

Abilities are in keeping with the archetype of each Mercenary, and may include things like “instantly inflict 10 damage to any undead-type Monster” or “disengage from combat without suffering any penalties”.

Players take turns going on quests to slay Monsters and gain Gold. On their turn, a player first chooses who they want to bring on a quest. They may hire any Mercenaries, including Retired ones (see below) or other active ones, by paying the Wage of each Mercenary they want to bring. Once the party is formed, the active player then picks a face up Location and examines the accompanying facedown Monster. They may then either attack or flee (pass). If they attack, they use each Mercenary once, using either its Ability or one of its Attacks. If the combined damage of the party exceeds a Monster’s health, the player wins, gaining the reward specified, usually some Gold and/or Good Things. If not, the player's Mercenary must suffer the penalty specified, like lose a Good Thing, some Gold, or even death!

Good Things are artifacts that improve that Mercenary, like “+2 to all your ranged attacks” or “+2 to your Wage”. Good Things may be discarded at will from your Mercenary, but no Mercenary may ever have more than 3 Good Things.

After a player is done playing, he Retires his Mercenary, which simply means that it is no longer leading quests. That Mercenary may still be hired by the other players, and the Gold it earns is deposited in a pile nearby.

Anytime the last active player Retires his Mercenary OR after 3 Great Monsters have been slain, the game ends and the Gold accumulated by each Mercenary should be compared. Player with the most Gold wins.

richdurham's picture
Joined: 12/26/2009
Entry #7: Roads, Rivers, and Railways

First off to make this challenge work we need easy setup and cleanup. There's a large supply of square tiles kept in a draw bag, plus 5 meeples and 3 connection tokens per player. To start you just grab the draw bag and a baggie of pieces and off you go. To cleanup, just quickly throw everything back in their bags.

Next we need short turns. Each turn is a simple choice of one of four options: Play a tile, play a meeple, move a meeple, or play a connection. We'll get to more details shortly.

Now we need fluid scoring and the ability to resolve the game at any time. The scoring is goal based relative to the number of tiles played, the more tiles out, the higher score you need. Of course with multiple players, you also need to stay ahead of everyone else.

The game will end either because everyone agrees to stop, or more likely, because it's triggered. A selection of tiles will say things like "one more turn for all players." Therefore, the game can end anytime, so you're always forced to try and stay ahead of the scoring curve.

Lastly, since there's a solo option we need an element of fighting against the game itself. There are several tiles that may end up forcing you to lose tiles, meeples, or connections.

Ok, let's get to some specifics. There are three types of territory: city, country, and forest, and three types of links: road, river, and railway. The tiles have varying combinations of territories and links on each side. As tiles are placed they'll have to match on all sides. Each tile indicates a good it makes and a good it needs. The goods are: food, wood, equipment, and raw material. City makes equipment and needs raw material. Country makes raw material and needs wood. Forest makes wood and needs equipment. Additionally, every type of territory might make or need food.

Meeples can be played on any tile, but only one per tile. Each meeple played scores points for every tile it is linked to that makes what is needed by the tile where the meeple is played. 1 point if linked by road or river and 2 points if by rail. Some city tiles generate pollution which, if you're not careful, can negate what an adjacent tile makes.

Connection tokens allow you to continue link lines where they're blocked. For example, serving as a bridge connecting roads on opposite sides of a river.

Finally, we need to talk about players jumping in and out. When someone leaves, she adds things up to see how she fared and everyone else keeps going. When someone joins, he immediately places as many meeples as the least played by another player. It's easily fluid because of the common play area and the constant pressure of the scoring goal, whether or not anyone else is getting in your way.

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

Inevitable ending

The warriors acquired the Springfield carbines from the dead soldiers and formed a complete circle around the last of Custer's command. Soldiers shot their horses for breastworks. One by one the soldiers died, the firing lessened. Last Stand Hill was covered in dust and smoke.

Replay the battle of Little Big Horn as general Custer and the Cavalry. The game is divided into two separate phases. Your goal is to survive phase A and as many rounds you can in phase B. Custer can get reinforced by 2 players, Banteen and Reno, with an extra optionally seat playing as Native American leader Crazy Horse.


Game mat with a card-sized grid in 5 rows of 10. With terrain indicators. 60 Unit, Command and reinforcement cards. Reload tokens, markers & dices 80 hostile cards in 10 predefined waves. 9 turn board.

A. Fortification

Place all 20 units on one side of the mat in 5 groups. Distribute first wave of hostile cards face down opposite. Move the turn marker and flip the number of hostile cards written on the turn board. Increasing with each wave. You’re lucky if it is empty otherwise it’s an charging group of indians (on horse or foot). Indian cards immediately advance 1 or 2 spaces. Ground forces can use terrain cover.

Draw 4 command cards ( to a maximum of 8) and plays any number. (move, treat wounded, morale, fire, fortify/skirmish, scout, flee). Keep or discard the remaining.

The Indian are controlled by simple rules - always moving forward and firing when within range.


A dice for each firing squad, modified by distance, determine any kills. Units shooting get a reload marker until the end of the next turn. Indians fire in the same way - but only after the US player. On close combat - only the flee command is allowed (which leaves some behind to die). To resolve a close combat you roll a dice for each unit in combat. Successful roll on 1-2.

B. Overrun

Reshuffle all indian cards without the empty cards. All cards are distributed and now even more units will charge forward each round - impossible to survive?


Fortification: Survive 10 waves. 1 point for each US card left. Overrun: Survive as many rounds possible. 1 point pr. round. Indian player gets 1 point for each dead US unit and -1 point for each round in the Overrun phase.


Players may join at any time.

US players enters with 6 extra units. They draw and play their own command cards. The Indians will reveal extra cards each round to increase difficulty.

Crazy Horse may look on and swap the wave cards and draw his own command cards affecting the Indian charge.

Remove extra units when leaving and Indians will again advance more slowly.

Quick end

At any time players can choose to switch to the Overrun phase. This will surely end the game quickly so players can attend other games or have an ice-cream.

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


Jackpot can be played with one to five players; there will always be a total of five positions, regardless of how many actual players there are. Players can join in, abandon, and even change positions at will until the Jackpot hits and scoring begins.


  • Deck of 60 cards
  • 50 poker chips in 10 sets of 5 colors:
    • Gold: VIPs
    • Red: Honeymooners
    • Blue: Professionals
    • Green: Weekenders
    • White: Locals
  • 21 Star tokens
  • Jackpot track with 13 spaces

All cards consist of an effect (examples below) and a poker chip icon of one of the five colors.


The first player to earn five Stars, or who has the most Stars when the game ends, is the winner.


Each position begins each round with one White and one Blue chip, with the remaining chips in the common pool. Live players are dealt five cards. All positions begin the game with one Star. The Jackpot marker begins at position 1.


Live players choose a card and play its effect. Many effects pose a choice (“Take two White chips from the pool OR one Blue or Green chip from another player.”) and are often balanced between gaining guests (“Take one Green chip from every other player.”) and advancing the Jackpot track (“Return one Blue chip to the pool AND advance the Jackpot by three spaces.”). Each type of guest behaves differently; Honeymooners are always gained or lost in pairs, and Weekenders are highly erratic (“All players give their Green chips to the player on their right.”). VIPs are hard to gain or lose, and Professionals often trigger special effects.

Live players then choose a second card from their hand to discard into the facedown pile in the middle. The color of the chip on the card is their secret vote to determine which type of guest will determine the winner that round. Live players end their turn by drawing two cards.

Empty positions randomly play a card off the top of the deck. When an effect card played this way affects or targets another player, live players take turns determining which position is the target of the effect. A second card is then dealt off the top of the deck into the facedown pile.


Once the Jackpot marker reaches the 13th position, or when the game is declared to be over, the round ends. Immediately flip over all cards in the facedown pile; the poker chip color that appears the most often is the only one that scores that round. Whichever player has the most chips of that color earns a Star. If there is a tie, use the color that appears second most.

Additionally, whichever position has the most of the color that appears the least in the facedown pile loses a Star. If this player has no Stars left to lose, or there is a tie for the color that appears the least, no penalties are incurred this round.

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