In Which I Give Myself a Design Challenge

I’m stuck in a mental rut right now, so I’m going to do something that may seem a little weird. I randomly selected some board game mechanisms and categories from the BGG lists, paired them up, and tried to see if I could come up with a game to go with them. This may go over like a lead balloon, but I’m going to try it.

MECHANISM: Programmed Movement
CATEGORY: Number

Programmed Movement is one of my favorite mechanisms. Basically, you select your actions before a turn, then reveal them and see what happens. The archetypal game for this is RoboRally, where you program your movement and can very easily get thrown WAY off course depending on what others do. Other games that include forms of the mechanism include Mechs vs. Minions, Colt Express, Space Alert, and Jamaica.

Number games are games that don’t really have much of a theme, you’re just trying to manipulate numbers to accomplish different goals. For example, in 6 nimmt!, you’re playing cards so that they go in different rows in ascending order. However, you don’t want to play the 6th card in a line or you’ll take the row and all the points (points are bad). Other number games include The Mind, NMBR 9, and On Tour.

There are no games listed in the BGG database that combine a number game with programmed actions. This does not mean that there are no games like that, just that they’re not listed. But, here’s my idea:

It’s a two-player game. There’s a number line, 21 spaces long. -10 to 10. Each player has a deck of cards with different numeric values preceded by a plus or minus. One player sits on the positive side of the board, the other on the negative. Each round, you choose three cards secretly and simultaneously. Then you reveal one card at a time with the goal of pushing a piece onto your side of the board and having it there in the end. You’ll score points based on how far into your territory it is in the end. So if you manage to end on the 10 spot, you’ll score ten points. But if the piece ever goes off your edge of the board, your opponent scores points instead.

There’s lots of balancing to be done with this idea, like the composition of player decks. But I think this idea is not too bad, and I may try to develop this a bit further. Let’s try another combo.

MECHANISM: Movement Template
CATEGORY: Animals

The Movement Template is a mechanism used primarily in miniature games. This is where you have some sort of physical object that helps you determine how far you can move. The Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game is a well-known use of this mechanism, but you also find it in the Wings of War series, Lazer Ryderz, and the HABA game Rabbit Rally.

A game in the Animals category obviously has animals in the game. The highest ranked game here is Great Western Trail, in which you are herding cows. I don’t know if I would classify it as an animal GAME, but there are animals. Other examples include Wingspan (which definitely is an animal game), Root, and Animal Upon Animal.

There’s only one game that combines these to in the BGG database, a dinosaur vs. dinosaur combat game called Only the Strong Survive. I also just submitted Rabbit Rally because it wasn’t listed as having the Movement Template mechanism, though it definitely does. But here’s my idea:

Let’s make it a Noah’s Ark type game. Animals are appearing at the door of the ark in pairs, and you have to successfully move them into enclosures using movement templates. I’m envisioning a kind of real-time race type thing where players are all sharing the same templates, and if someone else is using the one you need, you have to wait. Successfully getting the pairs into your enclosures gets you points in the end.

I don’t know if this is an idea that can go anywhere. It might be too chaotic. And it probably would be quite a bit of work to define the movement template and locations of the enclosures around the board. But it’s an idea, and that’s all this post is about. OK, one more.

MECHANISM: Dutch Auction
CATEGORY: Mafia

I’ve gone on record as not being a big fan of auctions. There are a few mechanisms in the genre that I like, however, and one of these is the Dutch auction. This is where the price starts high, and as time goes by, it drops until someone buys it. So I start the bidding at $100. Nobody wants it? OK, $90. $80? $70. The man in the yellow hat wins it for $70. Too bad, those of you who were waiting for it to drop to $60. There are only seven games in the BGG database that list this as a mechanism, including Vikings, Suburbia, Through the Ages, and Merchants of Amsterdam.

Mafia games are those that have to do with gangsters or other organized criminal gangs. Of course, this includes Mafia, which is the social deduction game that later morphed into Werewolf. But you’ve also got Ca$h ‘n Gun$, Nothing Personal, Famiglia, and 500+ others.

With only seven Dutch auction games, it would be pretty unlikely that there was any crossover here. And there is none. But let me take a crack at it:

Your crime family has limited funds, but you need to acquire some equipment to help you pull off big scores. So several things are put up for bid, and reduce in price each round until a family buys them. Meanwhile, there are various jobs that pay big if you use the right equipment, and less if you don’t use the right stuff. The goal is to have the most money in the end.

This is not a very fleshed out idea, but I think it has some merit. There would be a lot of work in developing the payouts for the jobs, as well as figuring out where the auctions should start. Also, as players gain more money, the starting prices need to go higher. It would be interesting to study out how this would work, but I fear that would make me take a deep dive into other types of auctions to dissect them.


Anyway, that’s my weird post today. If you have opinions one way or another about these ideas, feel free to share. But thanks for checking them out anyway. Hopefully I’ll be back to some more relevant content later this week. Stay safe out there and thanks for reading!

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