Last night Ian and Marc showed up at my place, and we did a bit of playing and a lot of design talking. Here are some of the highlights:

Lab Work 

I asked if we could try out Monkey Lab with some suggested rules. There were some clever plays, and a few evil ones.  In the end, I beat Marc by one point. Ian was spinning his wheels working on one cage the whole game, and wound up with only mooched points.

We discussed the merits of the rules changes. The first rule change (a monkey can’t open a cage in a room with the guard in it) didn’t come into play. The second rule change (the guard moves two spaces toward a cage being opened) worked alright. It was noted that the guard usually ended up in a room that was already tapped out of points. I think we were all ambivalent with the moving rule because there were good reasons for having it and good reasons for leaving it out.

Hell and Back 

We also tried out a game Ian and I made a few weeks back about escaping from hell. The game is a kind of set collecting game where you are trying to endure tortures without losing your will to escape. The sets being collected are actually runs of numbers, so collecting a “4-5-6″ would be a valid run that you could cash in to move one step closer to escaping from hell.

In our first version we used a d8 and some stones as a way to track our stats. In order to clean it up, the second version used a personal board for each player with some sliding counters to represent the stats. The funny thing was that the cleaner version was harder to use. It is much easier to glance at your opponent and see he has a pile of stones than it is to look at his board and see where his counters are at long their path.

Ian proposed that the cards utilize color in some way. I was against is because I think there is something novel in games that don’t use a suit. Games like No Thanks! and Category 5 just have that uniqueness about them that separates them from games with color and suit like Lost Cities. I eventually conceded to the “color matters” design, but I pushed that there only be two colors, red and black. The colors will be used as a way of progressing yourself out of hell a bit faster using a Candyland-like mechanic. Both Ian and I are going to try our hands at making a hellscape board that makes use of this mechanic and gives the player incentives to make progress rather than hoarding cards.

 Sci-Fi Party Game

As we were discussing game designs, Marc said that we needed to make a party game. I told him that I had an idea for a social game that is based on the game Zobmondo. Where Zobmondo likes to focus on sick dilemmas like “Would you rather eat a jar of spoiled year-old mayo, or drink out of a spittoon?”, the idea I had would focus on science fiction quandaries. For example, “Should it be legal to marry an intelligent being of another species?”, “Now that we’ve colonized and found oil on Mars, which country has rights to it?”, “If your brain is surgically transferred into your clone, is the clone you for legal purposes such as taxes, debt, and property?” We also discussed putting the game into a format where players would be debating these issues as futuristic presidential candidates. Marc jumped right on this one and is planning on working on it.

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