Space Station Escape – Game Design

Space Station Escape is a game about a mad scientist who has created terrible creatures with plans to unleash them to cleanse the planet below of humanity. A secret agent has infiltrated the station to rig it to explode. At the last moment as the Agent rights the station’s power core to overload, the mad scientist discovers the plot and ruptures the hull of the agent’s craft, but both the agent and the mad scientist are in a mad race to the lone escape pod, using gear and weapons they pick up on the way to get past obstacles such as monsters (gosh, somehow they got released in all the chaos!), fires, fallen bulkheads, locked doors, and security systems gone haywire. I have only played this once, with myself, but thought I’d post it, and see what people thought. Give it a play, and let me know if it works, or is broken. Then maybe I can fix it. I’ll play it more too. Additional info on the process after game instructions below. See the game posted on Unpub! Setup Standard playing deck. Set aside jokers and face cards. Shuffle deck. deal 10 cards face down, 5 in each row. Set a joker beside the first card in each row. Shuffle all remaining cards and deal five to each player. Play The joker represents the player trying to overcome the obstacle on their side of the rows. For example, if the revealed row card is a 6 of hearts, their row card suit is hearts and it’s rating is 6. Flip the first two cards over. Players may play up to three cards. Cards have the following effect. A-10 of same suit as row card: add together to create a value. A-10 of Different suit, but same color and row card: Add together with number of card of card -1 to create a value. Face card of same row card color -on self: Add two to value. -on opponent: Subtract two from their value. A-10 that do not match row color have no effect. Face cards that do match the row card they are played upon have no effect. Players secretly choose up to three cards to play. Any cards may be chosen to be played. Once chosen, players simultaneously lay down first their face cards on either their side of the rows, or the opponents side. Face cards are then placed overlapping the row card if they affect that card. Make sure the row card’s rating is still visible. Players then play their other chosen cards. Compare the value with the rating of the obstacle card. If the value is above the obstacle rating, they have conquered the obstacle. If both players passed, compare the differences between each player’s values and ratings. The player who’s difference is higher was faster this round. If the jokers are on the same row, move the faster player’s joker ahead one row. If the faster joker is ahead of the other joker, move both jokers up one row. If the faster joker was behind the other joker, move it ahead to the same row as the other joker. If neither player passed, turn them upside down. They were wounded! If both players ever don’t pass at the same time again, no one wins. Discard all played cards. If there is another row ahead of the current row, flip over the next card in each row, and flip the past row cards face down. Otherwise, move to the end game. Repeat the turn as above. End game If there are no more rows to flip up, the station is moments from exploding! If one joker is ahead of the other, that player wins. They got enough of a lead to reach the escape pod first and leave the station before it was destroyed! If however they are on the same row, each player find the suit in their hands with the highest value, with A = 1, # = # on card, J = 11, Q = 12 K = 13. Whoever’s highest suit is higher is the winner! They had enough leftover gear to get that last little bit of an edge on their opponent on the straight away to the escape pod, and got their first! If the secret agent won, the galaxy is safer. If the Mad Scientist won, their madness is still out there, and maybe some research notes to create more terrible creatures. If no one escaped, the galaxy is safer, but there’s one less agent to stop the next nefarious villain!
  Originally, I’d imagined three obstacle types, different obstacle types on the cards, and was about to try and decide how to balance it, and what values to put on all the cards. Then I grabbed a standard deck, and started to divide and wonder if face cards were the obstacles, if the other cards could add up to consistently overcome them. But then I kind of set most everything I had come up with aside and just did the setup, and started playing, making and adjusting the rules as I went along. It seemed to work, so I wrote it all down and saved myself a whole lot of time! Daniel Solis told me on Twitter once that a huge part of game design is reduction,  and that’s pretty much exactly what happened. I’ve now completed the first draft of a game, and that feels good. It might not work, it might have problems, but as far as designing games goes, it is going in the right direction, for this game, and for me personally in general! If the game works, maybe I can have a special themed deck made that will work as the game and double as a regular playing card deck.

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