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Getting into a lava

June 13, 2014

I have recently been getting into game design as a hobby, and Miss B has been experimenting herself a little. After our recent visit to UK Games Expo, she has got a bit more fired up on this, partly due to seeing a bunch of new and interesting games, but largely due to the seminar on gaming with kids, where the chairman was encouraging everyone to have a go at inventing games.

Another yellow meeple falls foul of the volcano.

Another yellow meeple falls foul of the volcano.

This week, Miss B has been working very industriously on a new game, based on the idea of trying to escape from an erupting volcano. The inspiration for this came from our play of The Downfall of Pompeii that we both enjoyed at UK Games Expo. We bought a copy, so hopefully there’ll be a write-up on it soonish.

Miss B’s Volcano game is basically a Snakes & Ladders style roll and move game, where you race from the top of the volcano to the base. As you go, you may land on a “question mark” space, in which case you draw a chit from a cup. Some of the chits either move your marker forward or an opponent back, but many are volcano chits, meaning that one of you (selected randomly) loses a life and the other gains a gold coin (yeah, I’m not sure why). When someone gets to the bottom of the volcano (or loses all their lives) you score points by adding the number of the square you reached to the number of gold coins you have, and the highest score wins.

OK, so it’s not sophisticated, but it’s a good attempt to apply a theme to the roll and move mechanic, and it was pretty fun to play.

Later on we played another game that Miss B has been working on: Doctor Who versus Harry Potter. Now, regardless of the quality of the game, it’s awesome that Miss B is getting into this sort of nerdy fangirl mashup. There’s awesome right there.

The game itself gave each of us a small stack of cards that she had made up. On mine were monsters from Doctor Who (Daleks, Cybermen and so on), and on hers were monsters and enemies from the Harry Potter books (dragons, Dementers, etc.). We had a pile of counters each (actually we had little ducks as counters), and had to take it in turn to play cards on each other. In order to defeat a card you had to hand over to the other player enough ducks to cover the strength of the card, and on doing this you score some victory points (which are added to by remaining ducks at the end of the game). This went smoothly, but ended in a victory for the Doctor Who player simply because there were more victory points available on the Harry Potter cards.

I don’t think this worked as well as the volcano game, but it must be said that Miss B was moving away from standard kiddy-game fair here and trying to design something new. I’m not sure how we can make this work properly, but I’m sure there is a way to do it.

We’ll see how we go with both of these games over the coming weeks.

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