Podcast #23: Expansions and Submissions

ExpansionsIn this extra long episode of Games With Garfield, the gang discusses the upcoming King of Tokyo expansion and the design process and philosophies around expansion creation. In addition, Richard shares his thoughts on the submission process for games to publishers.

LINKS: Iello | Zman Games | The Game Inventor’s Guidebook |

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com


Inoki – The Poison Word Game

On a trip recently I came up with a simple game that takes no equipment. It is designed as a two player game, though the addition of extra players seems pretty straight forward – and I will take a stab at this after describing the basic version.

Players agree on a poison word or phrase. Choose a player to be the maker. Subsequent games the winner becomes the maker. The maker is responsible for choosing the poison word. After a word is agreed upon the game begins. There are two ways to win a round of Inoki, either say the poison word so that your opponent hears it but doesn’t notice, or notice when your opponent says the poison word. The game may end in minutes or it may take days to complete. An integral part of play is the players being off guard – and therefore susceptible to the opponent slipping the word into conversation unnoticed, or tricked into saying the word. When claiming victory a player says “Inoki!”

A few examples of play will make it clear:

Orange is the poison word.

Player A: Can you peel an orange for me?
Player B: (Not Noticing) Sure!
Player A: Inoki! (Winning)


Player A: What fruit do we have?
Player B: (off guard) Two apples and an orange.
Player A: Inoki! (Winning)


Player A: Do you see that orange cat over there?
Player B: (Noticing) Inoki! (Winning)


The choice of word will have a large impact on how the game is played. You can choose common or uncommon words, and each has its’ own charm – though you will likely want to avoid super common words like ‘the‘. It is possible with tricky words and cautious players that no one makes a move for an unacceptably long time – in which case players can agree to end the current game and choose a new poison word.

One final detail, you probably want to allow the non-maker to be able to give feedback or even veto the maker’s word. This is a casual game and all players should buy in to the poison word. The game doesn’t officially start until the non-maker says ‘begin’. This prevents you from losing a series of games like I did where my opponent mumbled the poison word, then when I asked for clarification repeated the word then claimed Inoki moments later. Such trickery!

The thing that interests me most about this game is the way it bleeds into real life, things that happen to you and around you, conversations you take part in – they are all part of the battlefield on which you are playing. In this small way it reminds me of the game Assassin.

To play with more than 2 players, I would make it so that the maker must get buy in from all other players, who each must say “begin” before the game starts. When a player says the poison word so that any player can hear but doesn’t notice, they can call Inoki, and win the round. If any player notices and calls Inoki first all players other than the player who used the poison word wins the round. On subsequent rounds, the player who called Inoki is the maker. This could be unsatisfying, particularly with larger groups of players, since a particular player may lose or win the game while not even being around, but for small groups in reasonably close quarters – a car trip or a dinner party for example, it should work fine.

I think sharing the victory when catching a player saying the poison word (intentionally or otherwise) will keep it from becoming a speed game. The alternative, of course, is to rule that the first player to call Inoki wins – and that will probably be better for some groups.




Podcast #22: Deck Building Games

QuarriorsNew game genres come around more often than we seem to think. The most recent trend in board gaming is the deck building game – popularized by Dominion. These game design “revolutions” often lead to evolutionary games – like Quarriors – that twist the basic premise to give it a different appeal. In this podcast Jessica, Skaff, and Richard discuss this branch of game design as well as hand building games, bag building games, and chamber maids(?) And as a special treat, Richard gets us started with a little diddy.

LINKS: Dominion | Thunderstone | Nightfall | Heroes of Graxia | Fzzzt! | Innovation | Ascension | Puzzle Strike | Quarriors | Tanto Cuore |

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com


Podcast #21: PAX Dev (REPOST)

PAX Dev—REPOST—Apologies to those of you who get this podcast again. We’ve been having some problems with iTunes posting so we’re hoping the repost fixes this issue. Thanks for your understanding.
On August 24th in Seattle, PAX branches out and dedicates two days to the developer community for the craft that is game making. Casey Muratori, programmer with RAD Game Tools, discusses the convention and potential topics with Jessica, Richard, and Skaff.

LINKS: PAX Dev | PAX Prime | PAX East | RAD Game Tools | Zork | Photopia | Forum Warz | NYU Game Center | MIT Press | Omegathon | Spectromancer |

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com



Eleven+ is a game I made on a car trip. It requires no equipment, and so is easy to play on car trips, or in bars or restaurants. It is probably best with 3-5 players.

Eleven+ was inspired by the game Bartok: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartok_(card_game). In Bartok and related games players add rules to the game as it progresses, making it become more and more ornate over time. One of the charms of the game is that it becomes less and less about playing the game and more and more about your capability of following the rules without making a mistake. When Eleven+ was created I thought it might be fun to attach that principle to a simpler game, so I used the game “Eleven” which is a nim-style game. I was surprised that the simplicity and the determinism of the game made it more enjoyable, since the game was more focussed on the unique and fun elements of Bartok; navigating complex rules and adding new rules to the game.

Eleven: Players count from one to eleven, the player that hits eleven is eliminated – and the player to the eliminated player’s left starts the next game. Players can add one two, or three numbers to the count. Each game of Eleven has a loser, when only one player is left that player has won the round.

For example:
Alice: “1, 2″
Bill: “3″
Charlie: “4,5,6″
Alice: “7,8″
Bill: “9,10″
Charlie: “11″
Now Charlie is eliminated and it is Alice’s turn, with only Alice and Bill left.

Eleven+: Play eleven, and after each round the winner adds a new rule. Players are encouraged to identify problems that might come up during play because of the rule at this time; this feedback may lead to the rule maker clarifying the rule or ditching it in favor of another. The winner also begins the next game. In addition to being eliminated for saying “11″ a player is also eliminated for failing to follow the rules.

To illustrate the game I recorded the rules we used in a 4 person game on a recent car trip:

  • Once each game a player can halve an even number as a move (for example: “6, 3, 4″ would be legal provided no other player had used the half rule in the current game.)
  • Numbers on the licence plate in front of the car don’t exist (for example, if the car in front was license 348 YUY a legal move might be “2,5,6″.)
  • Start at 11 and go down to 1, the player that says “zero” loses.
  • Five doesn’t exist.
  • An animal is substituted for “10″. The animal must be different than one used by any player on the car trip.
  • You never say “11″, instead you say any other number that exists.
  • If a player makes only one move the next player must use more than one move.
  • Players must say “Tea for Two” rather than “2″.
  • All players use a second language for numbers.
  • If a player uses 3 moves the next player must say “slow down” before taking his or her turn.
  • If a player uses the “halving” special move listed above, the direction of play reverses. The direction is reset to normal in the next game.
  • If a player has to say “zero” he or she can instead read a word off a road sign. This restarts the current game, but this rule cannot be used in the restarted game.
  • Instead of saying “3″ a player must clap three times.
  • Instead of saying “1″ a player must use the color of the car in front. If there is no car in front “invisible” must be used.

I won’t even attempt to illustrate the above game being played, but rest assured that by the end few games were ending because a player reached 0!