Today’s idea came from reading about a game design competition run by Marbles the Brain Store, who are looking for a 1-2 player game centred around the idea of patterns. You can see more details at their website here. The very quick idea I had this morning is based partly on a car trip game introduced to me by Brett Gilbert on our way to the UK Games Expo this year, where players take it in turn to add letters to an ever increasing word. You always have to have a word in mind that the current fragment fits in to, without adding a letter that turns the fragment into an actual word! My idea takes this concept and applies it to more categories…

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Day 29: Pattern Challenge

The game uses a deck of cards, and on each card are a number of different elements – a letter, a number, a flag and possibly an icon or a colour. At the start of the game, each player draws an initial hand of 5 cards. A card is flipped over from the deck into the middle of the table to start the first round.

On your turn, you can either play a card to the middle of the table, or challenge your opponent. If you play a card, you must add a card so that all the cards in the middle of the table now have some common element, or can be arranged into a sequence within a certain element. For example, if the two cards currently on the table showed the flags of Germany and France, you could add a card with the flag of Poland, knowing that all the cards can be said to have flags of countries in the EU.

The key thing is that when you play a card after your opponent, you can choose to find a different sequence or common element, and are hence challenging your opponent to find bigger and better sets to fit all the cards into. In the example above, if the cards played had the numbers 4, 9 and 16, you could add a card with a 1, and claim that all the cards had square numbers on them, even if the card you added didn’t have a flag of an EU country.

On your turn, if you can’t play a card so as to find a set or a sequence, or you think your opponent has played a card in error, you challenge your opponent. Then your opponent has to explain how all the cards currently on the table fit into a set or a sequence. If they can, they take all the cards on the table into their score pile face down. If they cannot, then the challenging player gets to score the cards instead. In either case, the current round is over, and each player draws 2 more cards into their hand. Play continues with a new starting card being flipped onto the table from the deck, and the player who didn’t score the previous round getting to play first. The game ends once the deck runs out, at which point the player with the most cards in their score pile is the winner.

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I’m still trying to come up with some more categories that could go on the cards, but I think this idea has some promise! Apart from the nice mental challenge aspect, there is even some game there, as you have to try and assess whether adding a card to a round will help you win it, or simply will give more points to your opponent if they can add a card after you that you cannot respond to. What do you think – are there other elements that would be good to put on the cards?