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Design Me: Manhunt

It’s Friday and I haven’t exercised my brain lately. So today I am doing a Design Me challenge.

Design Me challenges are all about exercising your brain. Like soccer players need to practice when not playing games, so I believe designers should practice their design skills. A Design Me challenge is a great way to exercise your designer mind. So let’s exercise our minds using this combination of theme, mechanics, and victory condition from Boardgamizer:

FBI tile placement with a dexterity aspect! Piece of cake!

FBI tile placement with a dexterity aspect! Piece of cake!

If you have never checked out Boardgamizer, go do so right now! You just might be inspired for your next awesome game design.


Manhunt is a tile (card) placement dexterity game for 2 to who knows how many players. Let’s say 8. So 2-8 players. Each player is given an objective card at the beginning of the game. On each card are two goals. The first player to complete both goals will win this fast-paced fun and interactive game!


This game has very few components. They are:

  • 8 Objective Tiles
  • 46 City Tiles of varying terrain
  • Manhunt tokens
  • Objective tokens
  • Rulebook

How To Play

ManhuntLogoDeal each player one Objective tile. This represents that player’s victory condition. Shuffle the City deck and place it face down near the edge of the table. Flip one tile face up and place it in the center of the table. Then flip two more tiles and place them face up next to the deck.

On your turn you will either choose one of the two face up tiles OR you will draw a tile off the top of the deck. Then you will flip, drop, toss, or whatever you need to do to get the tile onto the table. However, you simply cannot place the card on the table.

No matter where the tile lands it becomes part of the city.

Of course you will want to try to do certain things. Let’s look at the tiles and then discuss some strategy:

Some sample tiles. The lines that separate the colors represent roads.

Some sample tiles. The lines that separate the colors represent roads.

Some of the objectives require you to earn Manhunt tokens. To earn a Manhunt token you you to get your tile to cover up a cross-hairs icon. For each icon that you cover you will earn 1 Manhunt token.

Some of the objectives require grouping colors together. So if you can get a group of four brown city sections together then you might meet your objective.

Some objectives could be to get roads together. If you can get three road sections to line up you might meet your objective.

When you complete an objective you should take an Objective token and place it onto your objective tile to indicate that the objective has been met.

So using roads, city sections, and cross-hair symbols you can have a slew of different objectives to meet. The first player who can meet their objectives from their tile will be the winner.

Design Thoughts?

I have successfully exercised my mind and created a tile placement dexterity game that I think could be a fun 10-15 minute filler. I have not played Jason Tagmire’s Maximum Throwdown but I imagine this is similar to that. Sorry, Jason, if this is a rip-off of that. Or I suppose this is similar to FlowerFall. If you think a game like this could be fun, then I suggest you check out Maximum Throwdown or FlowerFall.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to exercise you designer mind!


Design Me: Route Building

Ah… it’s an exciting day on Boards & Barley. Today is the first Design Me article of the year! What is a “Design Me” article? It is a design exercise. Like soccer players who run for practice to exercise their muscles, I think it is important for designers to exercise their brains. So every once in a while I choose a random theme/mechanic/victory condition and see if I can come up with a decent game design on a whim.

Today’s random stuff, via, is this:

Route Building + Space Colonization? I can do this!

Route Building + Space Colonization? I can do this!

Note: for this design me I am changing the victory condition. Instead of solving a puzzle or mystery, the player who builds the best route will win.

Armada Galactica

In Armada Galactica you are a galactic superpower trying to create a new trade route through whichever galaxy you are currently in.

As a galactic superpower it is your job to make sure you are providing enough vacation spots for your population. The way to do that is to spread your empire throughout the galaxy.  You can colonize a new location if it is within a certain location of your currently existing locations. But there are a few steps you must take. These include SCOUT, TERRAFORM, and then COLONIZE.

On your turn you can also perform some research upgrades. Each planet or moon you colonize will begin with basic capabilities based on its characteristics. As you bring technology along your colonization route, those planets/moons will get better at allowing you to reach further and explore/colonize more distant locations.

So the concept is to build a route from planet to planet by utilizing the characteristics of those planets to allow you to further colonize. The winner will be the person who has built the best route by the end of the game.


  • Game Board
  • Planet tokens
  • 12 Rocket meeples (3 each in four different player colors)
  • 40 Colony tokens (10 each in four different player colors)
  • Research tokens
  • Population cubes

How to Play

A game of Armada Galactica is played until someone has placed their tenth colony token. To place a colony token, the desired planet/moon must be able to support enough population. A planet/moon can support enough population if it has been terraformed correctly for the type of body it is.

Players will each have a home planet (not dissimlar to Ascending Empires – I’m trying hard not to simply duplicate that game here – I feel I’m failing at that). The board is composed of a grid of planets/moons. Each location will have randomly received a planet token, so the grid is never the same from game to game.

There will be four main types of celestial bodies that you can try to colonize. These are:

  • Earth-like
  • Mars-like
  • Europa-like
  • Water worlds


These planets are the rarest in the game. But they are the easiest to colonize. Without the need for terraforming these are the hot spots that you’ll want to go after!


These planets were once Earth-like, so it will take some work to get them back to that state. That means you’ll have to devote some effort to terraforming. But these are still relatively easy to colonize.


These are planets that possess water under layers of ice or rock. Terraforming won’t be enough on planets like these. You’ll need specialized research that can warm the planet from the inside to sustain life on it’s surface.

Water Worlds

These planets are basically covered in water. So terraforming isn’t exactly possible. Instead you’ll have to haul a serious amount of infrastructure to the planet to essentially create boats/structures large enough to sustain a large population while floating on the water. If your terraforming research isn’t very good you may want to build a network out of these bad boys.

Those are the four main types of celestial bodies you will encounter while attempting to grasp galactic supremacy. Yet the goal is not simply to build all ten of your colonies. Scoring is also based on the populations you can sustain.

On your turn you can choose either EXPLORE, RESEARCH, or POPULATE as your main action.

The EXPLORE action allows you to use your three rockets to scout the nearby planets. All of you network must be in a continuous line, so it’s important to look ahead and see what’s coming. Also during the EXPLORE action you can transport equipment to the newly selected planet. This could be infrastructure, terraforming equipment, or research scientists.

The RESEARCH action allows you to utilize scientists that you have placed on your planets to increase that planet’s capabilities. For example, if a planet has a high exploratory research level, then if the rockets are launched from that planet they can travel twice as far, which would allow you to spread your network over a wider area. If your planet has great earth-like resources, and if you increase its terraforming capabilities, then it can become a hub for your terraforming infrastructure to expand to new locations. Research will play a key role in the game and you will want to maximize the capabilities of your planets.

The POPULATE action allows you to colonize a new location. This can only be done if that location has met the colonizability standards. Players will place a colony token on the new location. This action can also be used to increase the population in your existing colonies. This is a key to victory since population is the main scoring category.

On your turn, in addition to the main action you can also perform a secondary action. These are like dumbed down versions of EXPLORE, RESEARCH, and POPULATE. But they can allow you to take advantage of certain planetary characteristics if you really wanted to accomplish something awesome on your turn.

The Endgame

Once a player has placed their tenth colony, all players will have one final turn, including that player. At the end of the game players will total their population cubes and their colony tokens. Each colony token counts as three population cubes. So players could earn a maximum of 30 points from their colonies alone. Research levels and infrastructure will also be scored on a low-level basis. The idea behind awarding points for those is because they are what set the population limit for a player.

I expect final scores to be in the 70-90 range. I had a lot of fun coming up with this design despite not creating any graphics or images for it. That’s a rare thing. I really like this idea and I think I might move forward with it. I am still on the lookout for the other game that I’d like to put on The Game Crafter this year. If this comes together nicely maybe it will be that game.

Your Opinions…

Do you have any thoughts about this design? Are there any obvious problems? Are there areas where I really fell short?

Don’t forget to exercise your brains!

Design Me: Press Your Luck

It’s been a while since I posted a Design Me article. I blame that on awesome things like Thanksgiving and BGG.con. But today I’m back with a new Design Me challenge.

As a reminder I do these Design Me articles to exercise my brain. Like soccer players exercise their bodies during practice I think it’s important that if our brain is what we use to create things, then we should exercise our brains.

Using, this is what it came up with for today’s challenge:

At least it didn't choose zombies!

At least it didn’t choose zombies!

Abra CadAlien

Abra CadAlien is a mini game for 2-4 players using only cards. The goal of the game is to cast the right spells in the right order into the sky to eliminate the aliens that are approaching Earth.

Each player is a witch or wizard with their own special book of spells, or grimoire. These are specialized player decks composed of different cards. Each card shows two different spells that can be used. During your turn you will cast a spell from one of your cards into the pool of Aliens set up on the table. Your spell will have a certain effect given the type of Alien you are facing. To determine whether or not your spell succeeded you can “drop” the rest of your cards from above the table. Each card dropped will work like a coin flip. To be successful you will need to have a greater number of “heads” or “tails” based on the spell that was cast. Some cards will be “heads” on both sides and others will be “tails” on both sides.

So the press-your-luck aspect comes in from dropping the cards while using spells. The more spells you use, the fewer cards you have to drop.


  • Alien Deck – 16 double sided cards
  • Spell Decks – 9 double sided cards per player (36 total)
  • Rulebook

Alakazam! – How to Play

Poof! I just created some artwork. The game setup includes taking 9 of the alien cards and placing them in a 3×3 grid for 2 players or 16 cards in a 4×4 grid for 3-4 players. Players are working toward eliminating the aliens. They will have to work together toward the goal, but there can be only one winner. The first person to eliminate 5 aliens in a 2p game or 6 aliens in a 3-4p game is the winner.

The idea is that you will cast spells that allow the aliens to be grouped in certain patterns. Those patterns are required for you to be able to eliminate them. The spell cards are two sided. One side is green and the other is purple in the examples below. If you cast a green spell, for it to succeed you will need to have more green sides land face up during the card drop. If you cast a purple spell, then you will need more purple sides to land face up during the drop.

Each turn you can continue to cast spells and work toward your goal on the turn as long as you keep having successful card drops. Here are two examples of spell cards that manipulate the alien cards:

You've got to get the Aliens in the right order before they can be eliminated. These cards would help.

You’ve got to get the Aliens in the right order before they can be eliminated. These cards would help. (Book icon from

There will be other cards in the player’s grimoire (deck of spell cards) that can be used to eliminate an alien once certain conditions have been met. The idea is that on your turn you may cast a manipulation spell to get aliens where you need them, and then cast an elimination spell to eliminate an alien. You can keep casting spells as long as you keep having successful card drops. If your card drop fails you must undo one of your cast spells from that turn.

The grid will be composed of aliens of different types on different color backgrounds. For simplicity this image shows two types and two colors:

The Alien grid that must be eliminated! (icons from

The Alien grid that must be eliminated! (icons from

The idea is that your spells will manipulate and rearrange the grid to get the aliens right where you want them. Once you’ve got them in the right spots you can cast an elimination spell that allows you to capture one of them. Once the required number have been captured by a player the game will be over.

Your Designer Perspective…

What did I miss? Is this a concept that could work? Are there any glaring holes in the design? Anything broken?

These are some of the best questions you can ask other designers at designer prototype events like Unpub and Protospiel. I like to ask them of myself and step back to take a birds eye view of my game designs from time to time. That’s all part of these game design exercises! Thanks for reading.

Design Me: Action Point Allowance

It’s been a couple of weeks off on Friday’s for me, meaning I haven’t posted a review or Design Me article since life gets in the way sometimes. But I’m back! And today we’ve got an interesting Design Me Challenge. Here’s the result that I liked best from Boardgamizer:

Action Point Allowance to crusade the moon and beat a bad guy! I can do this!

Action Point Allowance to crusade the moon and beat a bad guy! I can do this!

Moon Rattler

In the game Moon Rattler you are in command of one of several military space fleets sent from Earth to destroy the moon. Little did we humans know that the moon is actually a giant rattlesnake. It has laid some eggs and it’s getting really feisty. We humans need to prevent those babies from hatching. It’s time to save the world!

Moon Rattler is an action point allowance game where players are moving around a rondel throughout the game trying to defeat the moon rattler. The player who accumulates the most points during the game will be the winner. Points are obtained by contributing to the destruction of the moon rattler, which can be accomplished in several ways, shown here:

Moon Rattler WeaponsBut these weapons cannot be used freely. Each player will have to charge their weapons or obtain bombs using their action points. Let’s dig in a little deeper.


  • Main board
  • 6 Space ship meeples
  • 6 player mats
  • Numerous cubes in each player’s color
  • Point tokens
  • 18 Wooden egg tokens (3 per player per game)
  • Health cubes

How To Play

Players will be flying their ship around the circle in clockwise fashion. At each location they will have 4 action points to use. In any turn the player may save two of their unused points for a later turn of their choosing. So on any given turn a player will have 4-6 action points available.

At each location the player may charge or obtain the item listed. This means that if they spend action points, then they would place a cube onto their player mat in the appropriate location. Charging their weapons or clock or obtaining a bomb require different amounts of action points. Here’s a tentative list:

  • CHARGE LASER: 1 AP = 1 cube
  • CHARGE CANNON: 2 AP = 1 cube
  • CHARGE BOMB: 3 AP = 1 cube
  • CHARGE CLOAK = 2 AP = 1 cube

Here is a look at the player mats, showing the maximum goods a ship can possess:

Moon Rattler player mat for orange player

Moon Rattler player mat for orange player

Therefore a ship can hold 2 bombs, a charge of 3 for their cannon, a charge of 3 for their cloak, and a charge of 4 for their lasers.

Here’s the catch: Players have to balance obtaining/charging weapons with moving and actually using those weapons. Let’s take a look at the board so you have an idea of what’s going on here:

Moon Rattler Rondel Board

Moon Rattler Rondel Board

Let’s pretend we are the orange player. First of all, we are in a red region. The three red regions near the Moon Rattler’s head are the regions where the rattler can strike you. In the dark red regions you lose 1 AP if you are not cloaked. In the bright red region you lose 2 AP if you are not cloaked. Using the cloaking device does not cost AP, but the cubes must be discarded from your player mat.

So the orange player is in a region with CHARGE LASERS. The region also shows that only lasers can be used to attack in that region. So the orange player is basically deciding if the want to charge or attack with their lasers.

The green player is in the same situation in the image above with the exception that they are either charging their cannon or using their cannon to attack the eggs. They are also in a red region, so hopefully they had a cloaking cube to discard.

Here’s the other thing. Players may stay in a region as long as they like. Their ships will fly only when they use AP to move around the rondel. A player may use any number of AP to move 1 spot per AP around the rondel.

On a turn a player will use AP in any order. So let’s imagine we are the orange player again. We might have a bomb on board. So we could spend 1 AP to move into the bright red region at the head. Then we could use 1 AP to drop a bomb (and earn 5 points), then we could spend 2 AP to move off the head and onto the CHARGE CANNON region. That would be a great turn if we did not have any more cloaking cubes.

At the start of the game, an appropriate number of health cubes should be placed on the octants of the board. For example, the head region should begin with 3. Each time these regions are attacked, the attacking player will remove one of the cubes per attack. These regions can still be attacked but are only worth 1 point each. The game will end when all cubes have been removed.

My Thoughts: I think this could be an interesting concept. I like the balance of using AP to charge versus to attack. With the rondel in the game it makes it important where you are located. I think I may mock this one up and give it a try.

Your Designer Perspective:

What do you think about the design for Moon Rattler? What would you have come up with for the design based on the Boardgamizer criteria? Any thoughts about my design?

Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to exercise your brain by doing design exercises like this! Have a great weekend.

Design Me: Auction/Bidding

Welcome to another Design Me exercise day on Boards and Barley. As a former competitive athlete I know the importance of practice. As a soccer player it is important to practice with your team so that you can learn how you work together on the field. But it is also important to practice and exercise on your own so you make sure your body is in the best shape possible so that you can be successful when it’s game day!

I feel like exercise and practice are important for the brain as well. That’s why I’ve been writing these Design Me articles. The idea for these articles is to exercise my brain so that I can perform as well as I can when actually designing games with the intent of pitching them some day.

I’ve been using a cool new online tool called Boardgamizer. It is perfect for coming up with a topic for these Design Me articles. The way it works is that it spits out a mechanic or two, a theme, and a victory condition. Then you can take that and see if you can come up with a game design around those things. Here’s the result I got for today:


Such a cool tool for inspiration!

So today we are going to exercise our brain and come up with a bidding/auction game with a holy theme where the goal is to place all your pieces. Piece of cake!

In The Beginning

How would you build the Earth?

The idea behind “In The Beginning” is that you are playing a role in building the earth. There are mountains, rivers, forests, deserts, and other terrain that need to be placed onto the bare Earth. The winner will be the player who can put out all of their pieces first.

The pieces that players must place are sets of different terrain tiles. Each round a set of terrain cards will be available for auctioning. Players will then obtain terrain cards from the auction. These terrain cards can then be played according to a small set of rules, which will then allow that player to place some of the terrain tiles from their supply.

Each player begins with the same number and types of terrain tiles. For example, each player might have 2 desert tiles, 3 forest tiles, 4 river tiles, 5 ocean tiles, and 6 mountain tiles and so on. The desert tiles would be the most difficult to place while the mountain tiles would be the easiest to place.


  • 1 Board showing a bare earth covered in a hex grid
  • 27 Bidding tokens in each player color numbered 1 to 27
  • 1 Blank bidding token in each player color
  • Deck of terrain cards – 20 of each terrain type
  • Hexagonal Terrain Tiles – 20 per player
  • Guide sheets for terrain interactions
  • Rulebook

How To Play:

In each round there will be a number of piles equal to the number of players plus 2 placed next to the board. The number of cards in the piles will vary as the game goes on. During the first three rounds the piles will each have 2 cards. During rounds 4-6 the piles will have three cards. And during rounds 7-9 the piles will have 4 cards.

Players will be bidding on these piles of cards simultaneously by using bidding tokens. Each player has a set of bidding tokens numbered 1 to 27. They may place only one token at each pile face down. Players MUST bid on at least one pile. Players may bid a total of 35 bidding points in any given round. For example, a player may bid on one pile with their “27” token. Then they would only have 8 bidding points left. They could place any combination of bidding tokens totaling 8 points onto remaining bidding piles. All players will place their bids face down. Players may “bluff” by placing their blank token at a bidding pile.

After a round of bidding with the bids revealed.

After a round of bidding with the bids revealed.

Once all bids are placed they are flipped face up. Whichever player has the highest bid at a pile wins those cards. Their bidding token is then discarded for the rest of the game. If a player loses an auction by less than 5 bidding points they can draw a card from the deck. Their bidding tokens are also discarded. If a player loses an auction by more than 5 bidding points they will keep their bidding token but do not get to draw a card.

So in the example image above here are the results:

  • Pile #1: Yellow wins, discards their bidding token and takes the cards. Red loses, but is only 5 away from the winning bid, so Red discards their bidding token and draws a card from the deck. Blue is not within 5 of the winning bid so they keep their bidding token but do not get a card.
  • Pile #2: Red wins, discards their bidding token and takes the cards.
  • Pile #3: Blue wins, discards their bidding token and takes the cards. Yellow loses, but is within 5 away from the winning bid, so Yellow discards their bidding token and draws a card from the deck.
  • Pile #4: Red wins, discards their bidding token and takes the cards. Blue loses, and is not within 5 of the winning bid, so Blue keeps their bidding token but does not draw a card.
  • Pile #5: Blue wins, discards their bidding token and takes the cards.

These bidding piles are important because of the cards that they are offering. Because placement of tiles is what wins the game players will be looking to make combinations of cards that allow them to place as many tiles on each turn as possible. So once players obtain cards they can turn them in, in player order, to place their terrain tiles on the board.

Placing terrain tiles follows a logical order. For example, you wouldn’t put a desert next to a forest. Well, you could, but it would cost you an extra card. At the start of the game one mountain tile is placed as a starting tile on the board. Any other tile can be placed next to Mountain. But after that there are a series of logical rules for placing the other terrain types.

These rules are things like, if you place X terrain by Y terrain then it costs one extra card, or 1 fewer card, or “you must place three”. So there would be a series of these types of rules. So players will want to build the right combinations of sets of cards in their hand so that they can play more terrain tiles than their opponents.

This exercise could turn into a full game design if I put in the effort to create the terrain placement ruleset, which I just might do.

Your Designer Perspective:

So what are your thoughts about this game design? Are there any glaring holes in the design? Is anything obviously broken?

What would you have come up with for the design based on the Boardgamizer criteria? I imagine there are an infinite number of ways to go with those criteria. So make sure you are exercising your game designer mind! And have a great weekend!


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