Friday, May 25, 2007

The Great Canoe Race Challenge

In a rather surprising finish, I managed to snag 1st place in the May 2007 GDS at BGDF. I pretty much left this game for the dead, and even considered not spending the time to vote, due to the way that people typically vote.

It all starts at the beginning....

Last Thursday, when the contest theme and requirements were announced, there really was no genre announced, it was simply "create a canoe race" with some limitation regarding the thematic application of the race itself: simulate a long distance race, use canoes, and have obstacles to overcome.

And so, I quickly went about coming up with a game. But of course, as with all Game Design Showdowns, everyone is allowed one snarky comment about the just-posted conditions. (Well, if snarky comment rule isn't in the rules, it should be!).

And my comment was: "Is this supposed to be a game based on a canoe race, or for an ACTUAL canoe race?"

And I gleefully walked away, tuning up my entry. Which was then submitted.

This started a series of emails back a forth between Byrk (the guy who runs the GDS) and myself regarding my game; with him making suggestions about reducing it to tabletop form and such.

Normally, he doesn't make suggestions on these things. He just collects the entries, fixes some formatting, posts 'em, and collects the votes. Which all sounds really simply, but from my experience guest hosting, is a lot more work than one would think.

Anyway, a later post revealed what had happened. Due to my snarkiness, he added the "card or board game" restriction. And my design is a lawn bowling/dexterity/croquet variant. And therefore, was was disqualified for not meeting the requirements.

Not having enough time to come up with something new, and still really liking the idea of the lawn game, I suggested that he just put a disclaimer on the entry. At one point, it did qualify after all. Well, before my smart mouth. And so it was resolved, at least on that end.

However, asI said, I figured the game was a dead issue at this point. Typically, the way I THOUGHT people voted is that noone bothers to even read entries that don't meet the requirements; such as those entries which go over the 800 word limit. So I figured that everyone would go "Hey, it's not a board game, I won't bother with it."

Not that I think this is a wrong way to do things. You have to narrow out your best games somehow when voting and it's a good way to start, so you can spend your time where it's needed; trying to parse through the 4, 5 or 6 games that you think are special and deserve votes.

Alas, I was proven wrong.

As a historical side note, the story of Major John Wesley Powell is pretty interesting, if only due to the fact that not only was he in command of the first group of Europeans to raft down the Grand Canyon, but he did it with ONLY ONE ARM which he lost in the Civil War. That's pretty hardcore.

Major John Wesley Powell's Lawn Rafters

After being the first to river raft through the Grand Canyon, Major Powell takes on his next great adventure--your backyard!

A Lawn Rafter Kit Includes
  • 4 flags to designate Campsites.
  • Each player gets 3 Explorers. Each Explorer has a clickable Health Ring. Also, when tipped upside down, there is a Magic 8 ball-like die hidden in the base (explained later).
  • Each player gets 8 Supply blocks.
  • Each player get one Canoe. Canoes are little larger than the size of an American football,they have large wheels, and there is a recess at the top for placing Explorers and Supplies.

Place the Campsite Flags throughout your yard, preferably faraway from each other. These are effectively race checkpoints.

Each player loads up his Canoe with Explorers (up to 3) and Supplies (up to 8). It should be noted that the recess of the Canoe cannot hold all 9 items; there is limited space, and it is up to the player to determine how much of what he wishes "to pack" and how to pack it effectively. Explorer's Health Rings should be set to 2.

On a player's turn a player may do one of the following:

A player can pick up their Canoe (filled with Supplies and Explorers) and roll it (like a bocce ball or a bowling ball) across the yard, trying to hit the Campsite Flags in order. Players must be careful when rolling their Canoes, as hitting large bumps may cause Suppies and/or Explorers to fly out of the Canoe, rendering them Lost.

Any Lost Explorers should have their Health Ring clicked down 1 spot. If a Health Ring points to X, the player flips over Explorer, and looks at the "Magic 8 Ball" window, which randomly determines if the Explorer has "NO INJURY," or "BROKEN LEG." An Explorer with a Broken Leg is removed from the game.

If a Canoe hits an Abandoned (explained later) Supply or Explorer, the player may Rescue it by picking it up and placing it in their Canoe if they wish. Non-Abandoned? (Lost) Supplies and Explorers can only be Rescued by their owner.

Lost and Abandoned Explorers that are hit by Canoes should have their Health Rings clicked down minus 1. And again, if a Health Ring is at X, check for a Broken Leg to remove the Explorer from the game.

However, if a player does not wish to move his Canoe, he can simply pass up a move to simply pick up one lost Supply AND one lost Explorer and put it back in the Canoe, without moving the Canoe. However, if a player decides to move and leave Explorers and Supplies that have recently been lost, then those are considered to be Abandoned, and can be Rescued by any player with a carefully aimed move.

The player Abandons Explorers and Supplies to "the River" by moving his Canoe. Abandoned Explorers and Supplies are left in the yard where they were lost.

After hitting Campsites 1,2, or 3 a player can HEAL or EAT:

A player remove Supplies from his Canoe to add points to his Explorer Health Rings. For each Supply removed, he can "notch up" 1 Health.

Whether or not a player Heals, one Supply MUST be removed from the Canoe to feed the Explorers. If there are no Supplies left, the player must remove one of his Explorers from the game (mmmm, cannibalism).

Once a player hits the fourth and final Campsite, each player has one more turn to make the final Campsite. If noone else hits the fourth campsite, the player is the winner.

If other players hit the fourth Campsite, then the winner is determined by:
  1. First, who has the most Explorers in their Canoe.
  2. Second, who has the most Supplies in their Canoe.
Out of the Game
If at any point, a player has no Explorers left, he is out of the game.

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