Particle Panic

Torus Lab is the world's largest particle collider, unleashing new exotic particles unknown to science. Now the lab is out of control! The scientists must input the self-destruct codes or the unstable particles will endanger the world.

Stuff You Need
1-4 players
A pawn for each player
A six-sided die
Two decks of playing cards shuffled together
Lots of particle tokens

Shuffle the deck and deal three cards to each player. (Seen at the corners of the above image.)

Cut the remaining deck into six roughly equal stacks. Arrange those stacks in a circle face-up. (Seen in the center of the above image.) Each stack represents a space on the game board.

Each space is numbered 1 through 6, clockwise from the top as shown in the image on the right. Each player's pawn starts at the space marked 1.

Place one particle token each in spaces 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Finally, keep the die within easy reach of all players.

On Your Turn, you can perform one of the following basic actions and one of the following special actions. (In a two- or one-player game, you can do two of each.)


Move your Pawn: Roll the die. Your pawn may move up to that number spaces clockwise or counterclockwise.

Neutralize Particles: You may remove particles from the space your pawn occupies. If you want to remove a particle, roll the die. If the result is 4-6, you may remove the particle. If the result is 1-3, your hand limit (which is normally 6) is reduced by one and the particle remains. You may remove as many particles in a single turn as you're willing to try. (In a two- or one-player game, you can neutralize particles on a 3-6.)

Collect a Card: If your pawn ends a turn on a space with no particles, you may collect the top card from this space and add it to your hand. (In a two- or one-player game, you may collect the top two cards from this space and add them to your hand.)

In the examples above, you just moved your pawn into a space that contains a particle. You roll to neutralize this particle and get a 5. So, you remove the particle from this space. Now, you collect the top card (a heart) and add it to your hand.


Spend Cards: You may spend as many cards from your hand as you like.
Spend a HEART to reroll a neutralization die.
Spend a CLUB to add 1 to a neutralization die result.
Spend a DIAMOND to move your pawn to an adjacent legal space.
Spend a SPADE to move a particle to an adjacent legal space.
When you spend a card, place it in a discard stack away from the game. It is no longer in play.

Share Cards: You may give any number of cards to another player as long as both your pawns are in the same space. They may not give you cards.

Enter a Self-Destruct Code: You may spend five cards of the same suit to input a self-destruct code for the lab. There are four self-destruct codes total, one for each suit. In other words, you must discard five HEARTS to enter the heart code, five CLUBS to enter the club code, five DIAMONDS to enter the diamond code and five SPADES to enter the spade code.

Particles Emerge
If the lab has not been destroyed, more particles emerge at the end of each turn. Roll the die twice. The first result is how many particles will emerge. The second result is the space where the particles will emerge.

In the example above, the first die result was three, so three particles will emerge this turn. In the second die result was a five, so those particles are now on space number 5.

If a space ever has more than six particles, the extra particles spill over into the nearest adjacent legal spaces. Distribute those extra particles as you wish.

In this example, more particles emerged than could fit in space 5. So, you decide to move the extra particle to Space 1, which still has plenty of room.

Goal of Play
To win, you and the other players must cooperate to enter all four self-destruct codes before the game ends. The game ends if there is no more room for any new particles; if any player's hand limit is reduced to zero; or if a space runs out of cards.

Design Notes
This game originally began as a thought-experiment in how to play ZOMBIES!!! on a smaller, more claustrophobic board. As a commercial product, I can see the cards more diversified. Instead of dice rolls, the cards might handle particle emergence. They may also offer interesting powers when you have them in your hand. For a slightly harder game, try using land cards from Magic: the Gathering. That means you have to input five self-destruct codes.

[UPDATE: Distinguished basic actions from special actions. I also just added some easier variants for small groups.]
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.