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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: Area Movement

It’s time to flex my brain muscle once again! Why? Because it’s a Design Me Friday! Every other Friday I do some exercise… of the mind! The idea behind these Design Me articles is to practice being creative and see what I can come up with in the spur of the moment.

In the last two exercises I designed a dice rolling worker placement game about brewing beer and a grid movement resource collection game about flying your aircar around a distopian world. What ever might I come up with today???

Once again I am using the tool from Boardgamizer for the inspiration for today’s exercise. Let’s see what it came up with:

Time traveling boats capturing other boats while only having 18 cards. This could be challenging to design!

Time traveling boats capturing other boats while only having 18 cards. This could be challenging to design!

Quantum Orcas

A little closer and that boat’s a goner!

Alright, where would one begin with a time traveling boat game based on capturing other boats all while having less than 18 cards?? Time Pirates is the first thing that came to mind, but I cannot compete with the Alan R. Moon version of that game. So I’ll go a different route. Whales.

This is only my third Design Me article, but all of the names of these fake games have been terrible. So there’s no reason I can’t call this game Quantum Orcas. But I admit, it is a pretty lame title.

In Quantum Orcas you are a killer whale that likes to eat boats. You also possess the awesome ability to jump through time. Okay… you can’t really jump through time. You can merely freeze time to make it appear that you are jumping through time. I guess the whales realized that swimming was too slow so they had their scientists (Beluga whales) design time jumping suits for them to wear so they could eat more boats.


I’m designing this as a two player game of epic boat munching awesomeness. Here are the components:

  • 48 Cards (16 for each player and 16 for the grid)
  • 8 Number tokens to mark the grid (4 gray and 4 blue)
  • 2 Four-sided dice (one gray and one blue)
  • 2 Whaleeples
  • 6 Large boat pawns
  • 12 Small boat pawns
  • Rulebook

The objective of the game is to chomp the most boats. To set up the game, shuffle and randomly place the 16 grid cards into a 4 x 4 grid. Then line up the blue and gray number tokens along the top and left edges of the grid as shown below. Then each player will roll the two 4-sided dice to determine their starting grid location. In the image below Blue rolled Gray-4 and Blue-1 while Green rolled Gray-2 and Blue-3.

Each player has a hand of 16 cards that represent the grid locations. Throughout the game you can only play each card once. The game is played over 10 rounds, so not all locations will be visited by both players.

At the start of the game each player will roll the two dice to determine the location of a small boat and a large boat. Therefore there will also be 4 boats out on the water. Note: Boats cannot be placed on the whale locations, so if that happened, the dice should be re-rolled until the boat can be placed on a vacant spot. Here’s the game after initial setup:

The orcas are getting hungry!

The orcas are getting hungry!

How to Play

In each round (except the first) players will each roll the dice to determine where to place a new boat. Once rolled, players will choose whether to place a big boat or a small boat at that location. At this point it does not matter whether or not a whale is already at that location. Place the boat there anyway because the whale will be moving off of that spot.

Once the boats have been placed then the players will choose a card from their hand, which represents a grid location. Each player will reveal their card simultaneously. Players will then move their pawns onto the corresponding grid spot.

If there is a small boat at that location, players will “EAT” the boat and move it to their area on the table in front of them. If there is a big boat at that location, players will “EAT” the boat and move it to their area on the table in front of them AND randomly discard one of their remaining cards. Over time a whale may come to a spot where there are more than 1 boat. If this is the case, the player may discard cards from their hand equivalent to the number of boats on that location and then eat them all. For example, if the green player moved to a spot where there were two small boats, that player may discard two cards and eat both of them. A player may choose to not discard any more cards and then would get to eat only a small boat from that spot. Big boats always require the discarding of a card, so if a whale came to a spot where there was a small boat and a big boat, it would cost three cards to eat them both.

Note: discarded cards are removed from the game.

Once each player has moved their whale and eaten a boat if possible, then it’s on to the next round. Note: this movement mechanism represents the whales jumping through time to come up on the boat without the boat being able to flee.

If, however, both players chose the same location then it becomes a Whale Duel! Players check to see how many boats they have eaten (Big boats count as 2 small boats). If one player has eaten fewer, that player wins the duel since their voracious appetite would cause them to womp on the other whale and win the battle. If both players have eaten the same number of ships then each player will choose and reveal a card from their hand. They will add together the blue and gray values. Whomever has the highest total will win the battle and will have to discard their card. The loser does not have to discard their card. If there is still a tie, no player eats the boat and the bosun and captain grab a bottle of rum and celebrate!

After ten rounds each player will total their value of boats eaten, keeping in mind that big boats count as 2 small boats. The player who has eaten the most boats wins the game!

Your Designer Perspective

So what would you change about this game design? Did I miss anything major? Are there holes in the design? Anything seem broken?

Those are all excellent questions that designers need to constantly be asking about their designs. I challenge you to use the Boardgamizer tool to try and come up with something on the fly. It can be a lot of fun!

Today’s Design Me exercise was actually a lot of fun. I think I could mock this game up relatively quickly and see how it plays out. Thanks for reading today, and don’t forget to exercise your game designer brain!

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