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Crayons, Circles And Diamonds Inspire Games At The Fall 2016 Bill Hart Merit Badge Midway

This Saturday I again volunteered at a local merit badge midway to run a workshop for the game design merit badge that I helped to create for the Boy Scouts of America. To earn this merit badge, the scouts not only have to create a game of their own design, but also engage in the process of playtesting and redesign for at least three iterations. Now, the average merit badge takes about ten hours of a scout’s time to complete, and Game Design is no exception.  So, in my three-hour workshop, I help scouts to either get started on the merit badge or to finish it up.  And therein lies a problem: how to deal with a dozen scouts at different stages during the limited time I have with them.

This time, I decided to try something different. Although I did my normal process of doing a “classroom lecture” about the elements of a game, different types of play value, game design terms, and intellectual property protection, I broke up the lecture into four segments for the scouts who were just starting their merit badge, this time I had these scouts do playtesting between the segments for the scouts who had already completed their games. This had the double benefit of breaking up the lecture for the scouts starting their merit badge, while providing playtesters for the scouts who were finishing up. And overall, it worked quite well.

To playtest a game in my workshop, scouts must first contact me with a vision statement, play value description, and initial set of rules for a game they want to make, and if I approve it, they can proceed with making a game to bring in.  Only three scouts did the prerequisites this time, but the rest who attended the workshop got to playtest their games.

Here were the games that we playtested.

 

Crayon Wars

Vision Statement:  Crayon Wars is a free-for-all party game where players uses crayons as money to defeat the opponent.    The game has play value of challenge because you have to practice to be better. It has stimulation because it is exciting and threat because you are challenging each other and it is fun to play

Set-Up: Each player is given 2 crayons for lives and two crayons for buying stuff.

Progression: Players take turns moving play around the circle to the left

The first player can buy something or skip and save up for later.  Each turn players get 2 crayons for money. You can also attack after the first round.

There are 12 items you can buy

  • plane 2
  • helicopter 3
  • army men 4
  • bazooka 5 strong against planes +1 crayon
  • 5.  jet 5
  • health pack 6 plus 2 health
  • take it 7 2 crayons health taken away
  • tank 8
  • hill 9 stops tank
  • Godzilla’s wife 10 stops Godzilla
  • Godzilla 11 defeats volcanoes
  • volcano 12 +2 crayons every turn

To attack, you pick a token to attack with.  It damages the other player’s token or their health the value of your token and your token will go down in value the amount of damage you did.  You can attack the other players health after attacking all of their resources.

Resolution: The game ends when someone’s health goes to zero.

 

Around

Vision Statement:  Around is a free-for-all board game for 2 to 4 players in which players roll dice to move along a circular path to reach the end.

Set-Up: Players place their pieces at the Start, receives $50 in play money, and then rolls the dice to determine who goes first.

Progression: The game is played in turns.

  • The player rolls the dice to find out the number of turns to move.
  • After rolling the dice, the player moves that number of spaces anywhere on the game board.
  • Some spaces will take or give money to the player.
  • The player must move the exact number of spaces to reach the Finish.

Resolution: The game ends when one player reaches the Finish.

 

Diamond Dreams

Vision Statement: Diamond Dreams is a Minecraft-themed board game for 2 to 4 players in which players try to reach a diamond block that rules everything.

Set-Up: Players place their character in one of four gray boxes around the edge of the board and are given 10 health points.  Players role a die to determine who goes first.

Progression: The game is played in turns.

  • Each player rolls a die to determine the number of spaces to move.
  • The player can move only left, right, or forward.
  • Some spaces have special properties:
    • Lava: Lose 7 health points
    • TNT: Lose 8 hit points
    • Creeper: Lose 5 hit points
    • Hole: Returns player to start
    • Armor: Adds 5 hit points
    • Wolf: Lowers damage done by monsters by half.
  • If the player looses all of their hit points, they return to the start and regain them.

Resolution: The game ends when one player reaches the Diamond.

 

Of the three games, I’d say the scouts most enjoyed Diamond Dreams.  It had the best presentation, the most complete rules, and the greater depth of game play.  Of course, earning a Game Design merit badge is not about creating the best game, but learning what it is like to be a game designer — that the game does not end with the initial design, but is refined and polished based on the experience of the players who are playing the game.

 

 

Card, Dice And Bowling Games At The Spring 2016 Bill Hart Merit Badge Midway

For the second time this year I volunteered at a local merit badge midway to run a workshop for the game design merit badge that I helped to create for the Boy Scouts of America. Last weekend I ran one session of my three-hour workshop at the Bill Hart District Merit Badge Midway in Santa Clarita, near Los Angeles.  I also ran a Digital Technology Merit Badge workshop, but — come on! — it’s the games we’re interested in!

To playtest a game in my workshop, scouts must first contact me with a vision statement, play value description, and initial set of rules for a game they want to make, and if I approve it, they can proceed with making a game to bring in.  Only three scouts did the prerequisites this time, but the rest who attended the workshop got to playtest their games.

Blitz
by Alan, Troop 2222

Vision Statement: Blitz is a 2-to-4 player card game in which each player tries to match all their cards before the other players do.

Play Value: Surprise and luck.

Set-Up: Shuffle the deck and deal each player 7 cards.

Progression:  The youngest person draws cards one at a time until the draw one matching the face value of a card in already in their hand.  The player then puts down the two matching cards.Play continues from youngest to oldest, and then back to the youngest.

Resolution: The game ends when all the cards have been drawn.  The player with the most matches, wins.

Resources: Cards, matches.

 

Lucky Strike
by Andrew, Troop 2

Vision Statement: Lucky Strike is a game of chance bowling board game in which each player races from home to the bowling alley. The first one to the bowling alley wins.

Play Value: This game is fun to play because it has an imaginative property where you imagine you’re bowling for fun at a bowling alley.

Set-Up:  Place the player pieces on the “home” space. Line up the bowling pins on the bowling lane. There will be a foul line where the the person playing will flick the ball down the lane. The marble will be placed at the foul line. There will be spaces on the main game board for the following cards:  Gutter, 1-4, 5-7, 8-9, and Strike. The cards will be shuffled and placed on the spaces.

Progression:

The play starts with the youngest player and the oldest player goes last.

The player will flick the marble down the bowling lane, knocking over pins. When flicking the marble, it must stay behind the foul line. The player cannot pass the foul line when flicking the marble. If they do, they lose a turn.

The player will pick up the card corresponding to the number of pins knocked down.  If the player knocked over 5 pins, they would pick up the 5-7 pin card. That player would then follow the directions of the card and move their piece on the game board down the path to the bowling alley.

  • You get 1 Credit every time it’s your turn
  • There are 4 types of land forms — Mountain, Ocean, Forest — each with a different cost
  • You can gain one of the following items when you take down a different land form — Ammo, Wild Cat, Wild Dog, Damage x2 — each with a different cost and damage
  • There are four types of cities — City, Airport, Skyscraper,
  • Metropolis — each with a different cost
  • There are 8 types of weapons — Combound Bow, Shotgun, Sword, Revolver, Uzi, Long Sword, AK 48, Mini-Gun — each with a different cost, damage and ammo

Resolution: The first player to reach the bowling alley wins.

Resources:

  • Bowling lane: Separate from the game board. (made of cardboard)
  • Game Board: There are places for 4 game players. They will follow a path which starts at home and finishes at the bowling alley.
  •  Marble (bowling ball)
  • Bowling pins: ( If unable to find small pins, I plan on using toy soldiers or frosting tips)
  • 7 cards each of the following values: Gutter Ball, 1-4, 5-7, 8-9, Strike

 

War of Chance
by Jake, Troop 2222

Vision Statement: War of Chance is a free-for-all card and dice game where players compete to get the most points.

Play Value: Competition and surprise.

Resources: Gold

Set-Up: Deal out all the cards among the players.  Give each player one die.

Sequence of Play:

  1. Each player rolls their die
  2. Player with lowest number finds the difference between his roll and the highest roll
  3. Player with the lowest score gives player with the highest score an amount of cards equal to the difference between rolls
  4. Repeat for 15 rounds

Resolution: The game ends after 15 rounds.  The players then tally their points (cards at face value, Jacks=11, Queens=12, Kings=13, Aces=15 ***If playing with Jokers, Jokers= -7points***).  The player with the most points wins.

Resources: Cards, die rolls, points.

 

The two card games were a good deal of fun for the scouts, but it was Andrew’s Lucky Strike board game that really bowled them over.  There can be fun in simplicity, but immersion is a great tool for drawing players into the magic circle of play.