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


Setup
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.)

BASIC ACTIONS

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.

SPECIAL ACTIONS


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.]

7 comments:

  1. On first skim, this reminds me a lot of Pandemic (or its little sibling, Forbidden Island). We're those inspirations too?

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  2. Oh yes, definitely. The competitive nature of ZOMBIES!!! gradually morphed into a cooperative game like Forbidden Island, until they sort of blended together a bit.

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  3. Just a small matter of phraseology:

    Under the 'Collect a Card' rules, it says that "if your pawn enters (or begins a turn) on a space with no particles, you may collect the top card from this space and add it to your hand", yet in the example of play the top card is collected when the pawn was on a space *with* a particle.

    This phrasing also leads to ambiguity as to whether a pawn which started its turn on a space *without* a particle but then moved to a space *with* a particle could collect the top card from the latter spot (though I assume rules-as-intended would not allow this), seeing as though the actions can be performed in any order.

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  4. Wow, I should have re-read that another time or two before posting. disregard my previous post for the corrections in this one, please.

    Under the 'Collect a Card' rules, it says that "if your pawn enters (or begins a turn) on a space with no particles, you may collect the top card from this space and add it to your hand", yet in the example of play the top card is collected when the pawn [had moved to] a space *with* a particle[, and its space of origin is undefined - and therefore irrelevant, which brings me to my next point.]

    This phrasing also leads to ambiguity as to whether a pawn which started its turn on a space *without* a particle but then moved to a space *with* a particle could collect the top card from the latter spot [without first removing the particle, seeing as though the condition of beginning its turn on a space with no particles was met] (though I assume rules-as-intended would not allow this), seeing as though the actions can be performed in any order.

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  5. Ack, you're quite right. I've re-ordered the steps so that "Neutralize" comes first, then "Collect." The phrasing of "Collect" now reads:

    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. All players have a total hand limit of six cards. If you have more than your hand limit, spend cards or share cards until you are at your limit.

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  6. We played this with two players, and we had absolutely no chance. I'm going to try it with 1 as well as 3, but I'm having a difficult time seeing how fewer players can actually manage this!

    When your hand size is reduced through missing particles, that's permanent, right? Because it got to the point where we were effectively crippled and couldn't go against particles because doing so meant death.

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  7. Thanks for the feedback, Keith. I made some phrasing updates to make things a bit easier to follow and also added some variants to make the game just plain easier.

    * Split up the actions into BASIC ACTIONS and SPECIAL ACTIONS. In the normal game, you can only do one of each on your turn. In an easier mode, you can do two of each.

    * In NEUTRALIZE PARTICLES and COLLECT A CARD, I added parenthetical notes for games with two or one player.

    And to answer your question, yes, your upper hand limit is reduced if you fail your neutralization roll.

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Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.