I remember growing up with two brothers, it was always important that food be shared around fairly (at least, to us!). For example, when dividing a cake, the person who was cutting would always have the last choice so as to encourage them to split the cake as evenly as possible. This experience is not limited to my family, and you can even see this exact mechanism used in Jeffrey Allers’ excellent game Piece O’ Cake.

As a mechanism, it seems there are many ways you can iterate on this ‘I divide, you choose’ idea, and indeed we have seen many games using this idea in various forms. Today’s game (well, more of an idea) offers yet another variation on this theme.

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Day 19: Cake Cutting Action Selection

At the centre of the game is a row of cards, each of which describes an action the players can take. There would probably be a few more than the number of players in the game. The specific actions themselves are not important – this idea could be applied to a resource management game, or to a war-like area control game, or numerous others. The only important thing is that there are many different variations of actions that can presented on the cards, as there would be 20-30 in the game.

Each turn, someone is the divider, and takes a number of dividing markers 1 fewer than the number of players. They choose to place these markers however they want between the cards in the row, with two caveats: there can only be one marker at most between two cards, and no markers can be placed at either end of the row.

Once the markers have been placed, they now define groups of actions that can be claimed by the players. A group is all the cards either between two markers, or between either end of the row and a marker. Starting with the player to the left of the divider, each player claims one of the groups, and once a group is claimed it cannot be used by any other players in the game. Therefore the divider will get the last choice of groups. Once every player has taken their actions, the all the cards in the rightmost group will be discarded, will the remaining cards shuffling to the right to take their place, and new cards being drawn from the deck and added to the left.

The game ends when the deck runs out and you can’t completely refresh the card row. In this way, the players can determine how long the game goes by choosing how many cards they place in the rightmost group – more cards and the cards will cycle more quickly and the game will finish more quickly also.

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The fact that there is some carry over from round to round in terms of available actions, it could lead to some tactical group making, as you try and encourage players to take certain actions in the current round, with the hope they will be available to you in a following round. There is also some power for the divider in making the last group, as all the actions placed in this group will only ever be used once more by a single player before they are discarded. As a further twist, you could imagine some sort of token that players can gain throughout the game which allows them to change the dividers on their turn, or choose a group that was previously chosen.

The only thing is that I have no idea how this could match to a theme, which in turn might suggest the style and type of game the actions would make. Does anyone have a good idea?