Even More Pitch Tag with Fred and Daniel


This is the third installment of the ongoing Pitch Tag game between Fred and me. Fred inadvertently takes me way out of my comfort zone, into the world of improv rap battles. It is a scary place. I kinda felt like I was phoning in for a while there. Thankfully I recovered with Two Fast, which eventually became Bombs, Away! There is also some strong potential in Scooter Rebooter and What's Your Excuse?! I'd also love to test out Monkey Gonna Getcha!


Fred:
Spice Trade
Euro boardgame with a Ticket to Ride/Puerto Rico hybrid feel. You're building up a successful mercantile business back at your home country, while building routes around the world for your ships to ply their trade. Occasional misfortune can befall you -- ships lost at sea, cargo that rots in transit, etc. Much of the "resource management" aspect of the game comes from using your limited number of actions each turn to split your attention between developing your business at home and keeping your routes and ships healthy abroad. (I feel like that was a bit of a boring answer, but that sort of game felt like the strongly correct fit for the title!)

Your next challenge:
Nomnomnominee


Daniel:
Nomnomnominee
Who will be the next President of the United States? A wide array of hopeful candidates make for a challenging field, but only one will win. Candidate Ham Sandwich? Candidate Bean Burrito? Candidate Quinoa Salad? Candidate Meatball? Pairs of players work as a team to push their candidate to the top of the straw polls, coach them for televised debates, and keep them fresh during the long campaign season. Play honorably to win the loyalty of your constituents or create a scandal for a rival candidate. The race is on! (Oh man, I love the absurdity of chaotic electoral campaign all swarming around inanimate dishes of food. Ha!)

Your next challenge:
Expedition: Mariana


Fred:
Expedition: Mariana
A near future sci fi larp scenario oriented on creating submarine drama in the deepest reaches of the sea. Intended to be played in the hallway of a convention center: long and narrow. You divide it off into sections with masking tape, each representing a room on the submersible vehicle being lowered into the Mariana Trench. A saboteur is on board, and at various points during the scenario, a section of the sub will collapse/flood/whatever, turning it into a deadly hazard zone for those inside, potentially separating allies from each other, or trapping you in the same room with the saboteur. (Plus... what's that sound coming from outside the hull?) Over time, the space gets more and more claustrophobic, as survivors crowd into the few remaining spaces: they're fixed dimensions, and at some point there's only going to be one room left.

Your next challenge:
My I


Daniel:
My I
The game that puts you in the thick of the illicit identity theft trade. You and the other hackers go on phishing expeditions, trying to score new personal data to trade in the black market. The data has a short life expectancy and quickly loses its value. Will you use the ID to score quick cash for yourself or risk putting it out on the open market? In the former, you risk tipping off the cops but at least you can get better gear for future phishing. In the latter, you lose time and money, but make yourself known to high-level crime syndicates, who offer some protection from authorities.

[Honestly, I wouldn't play this game. The theme makes me feel squicky, but that's just where the title took me.]

Your next challenge:
Beholder Bowler


Fred:
Beholder Bowler
A game played with your spare D&D minis. Take a bunch of Beholder miniatures and get rolling! (You can substitute other irregular spheres if you don't have the Beholder minis handy -- the lumpier, the better.) Lay out a battle mat on the floor, and place up to 40 different miniatures at various locations on the map (each player places one mini, round robin style, until they're all placed). At the beginning of your turn, select one monster on the board and move it according to that monster's D&D movement rules. Then step back to an agreed upon launch distance, and roll your Beholder, scoring points for any miniature you knock prone with your throw. You score one point for a human or smaller sized target; two points for a Large; three for a Huge; and so on. Special bonus points exist for particularly difficult to capsize miniatures (rat swarms, etc) if you should happen to pull it off. (Fictional history factoid: Originally a game played by the folks at the WotC office after hours, became an actual published game when it caught on throughout the company.)

Your next challenge:
Scooter Rebooter


Daniel:
Scooter Rebooter
A fast-moving racing card game for up to 5 players, set in a race between automated scooters. The game begins with scooter tokens lined up in a row at the starting line of the game board. Players each have a small handful of cards: Left, Right, Up, Down, and Reboot, with some customized powers on the cards for each player's unique scooter. These cards also have numbers on the corner.

The goal of the game is not just to win the race, but to score victory points in unique ways like "Collide with a scooter: 1VP." "Spend a whole turn in the lead." "Spend a whole turn trailing behind." Etc.

Players each take their turn simultaneously. On your turn, play one card from your hand. Cards are resolved according to their number, lowest to highest. UP: Move your scooter one length forward. LEFT: Move your scooter one width to the left. RIGHT: Move your scooter one width to the right. DOWN: Move your scooter one length backward. REBOOT: Remove all damage tokens. Special powers on cards include dealing damage like "LEFT: Spikes: On a collision, the target scooter moves DOWN." or "RIGHT: Shield: Ignore collisions from this side." or "DOWN: Lasers: All scooters ahead of you move LEFT or RIGHT, if there is an open space."

The game ends when the lead scooter gets three lengths ahead of the pack or when the trailing scooter gets three lengths behind the pack. The scooter with the most victory points wins!

Also, random events occur if three players play the same card. I think. Okay, time to move on.

Your next challenge:
Rainbow Princess Power


Fred:
Rainbow Princess Power
A LARP scenario with some "magical girl" anime flair. Queen Spectra must marry off her seven daughters if she's to retain her magic for the next thousand years. But her daughters have other ideas. You play the Queen, one of the princesses (Rouge, Bergamot, Goldie, Emerald, Azure, Indigeaux, Violet), or one of the suitors. But whose side are you on? Will you work to ensure all the marriages take place, or will you disrupt at least one of them in the hopes of claiming the Queen's power for your own? And what happens if nobody gets married?

Your next challenge:
Textually Transmitted Disease


Daniel:
Textually Transmitted Disease
A mashup of tag, pyramid schemes and Hit a Dude. To begin, text one or more contacts the following message:

TAG! You're it. Step 1: Forward this text. Step 2: In one hour, tell me how many people followed these instructions.

Add up all the numbers you get in the next hour. That is your score. Share it with the world and compete on a global leaderboard for the high score.

Your next challenge:
Library of Clouds


Fred:
Library of Clouds
Everyone plays zephyr librarians working at the Library of Clouds. A variety of patrons, ranging from storm gods to wind spirits to weather scientists, come through the door (are drawn from a deck) looking for a particular kind of cloud or combination of clouds. Each round the librarians attempt to address one or more patron inquiries, round robin, with clouds (cards) they have in their section (hand) of the library. Satisfied patrons go into each player's score deck as appropriate, and are scored somewhat Alhambra style, according to their type and number in each player's score pile (runs, 3-of-a-kind, etc), whenever a "time to score!" card is drawn from the deck of inquiries. (Kind of derivative; this game needs something that takes advantage of the cloud notion beyond simple color. I'm grappling with the notion of cloud cards having a kind of "freshness" to them, with them dissipating -- or turning into different clouds -- the longer they sit around unused.)

Your next challenge:
Food Court Reporter


Daniel:
Food Court Reporter
A casual game for snarky players in a mall food court. The players quietly observe their surroundings and pitch Onion-style headlines like "Local Man Surprised by Velocity of Ketchup Dispenser" or "Clerk Just Wants You to Pick Something Dammit." The other players then identify the subject of the headline. No points are scored and there are no winners, this is simply a fun activity to pass the time.

Your next challenge:
Rainy Day Robots


Fred:
Rainy Day Robots
A game played at home with the kids when the planned outdoors activity can't happen. Explore the recycling bin (wash those cans and cups), and construct "robots" out of the pieces-parts found there. Lightweight miniatures battles rules are used to govern the last-robot-standing brawl that happens after robots are constructed; household furniture is the terrain. As pieces get blasted off of opponents, the attacker must collect them into his/her own recycling receptacle. Winner determined, if necessary, both by who's left standing at the end and how full your bin is. Once the rain's over, take the recycling out to the curb.

Your next challenge:
Time-Traveler Radio


Daniel:
Time Traveler Radio
A weirdo nomic game about warnings from the future transmitted between two or more friends. Each day, a player sends a message to the other players from 24 hours in the future. He warns the others not to do something or else it will lead to utmost DOOM! When the other players survive the day, the next player sends a new warning, from the new divergent timeline where following the last warning led to utmost DOOM! She warns the other players not to do something else. The game continues for a full round. If all the players survive, they win!

Your next challenge:
Piso Mojado


Fred:
Piso Mojado
Spanish for "wet floor". This is basically Robo Rally with a twist. Instead of Robots, you have goofy people who don't read wet floor signs. You don't program them as you do in RR; you program their environment, which interacts with the goofs as they walk through the area on a predetermined course (Goofikins walks from west to east, and tries to line up with door 2 on the east wall). Each player has an alternative destination they're trying to guide the goofs to through a series of floor hazards and obstacles. If you get a goof to your destination, you score their points. If the goof gets to its destination, it leaves the board and nobody scores.

Your next challenge:
Two Fast


Daniel:
Two Fast
There is a bomb with a lit fuse between all the players. On your turn, pass or roll a d6. If you roll, score the result as points. On every player's turn, record each die result. The game ends when all players pass or if the bomb goes off. The bomb goes off if any player rolls 2nd 6, 3rd 5, 4th 3, 5th 2, or 6th 1. If the bomb goes off, the game ends and both players lose. If the game ends without the bomb going off, the player with most points wins.

Your next challenge:
Big Street Draw


Fred:
Big Street Draw
A game of city planning played with ordinary playing cards. Players take turn drawing cards from the deck, then using those cards to build a street map on the table in front of them (each person gets a map). Players start with empty hands, and can't draw if their hand contains five cards. Players may lay down any number of cards from their hand on each turn as they care to, so long as the placements are legal. The first card played is the player's starting intersection. You can branch off of each edge of an intersection -- cards always in the same orientation, so you have a clean grid -- by matching the intersection's suit or its value. (So if I had the Ace of Hearts as my intersection, I could branch off with hearts or aces.) Your streets can build out the same way, continuing in a straight line, connecting by suit or value. (So maybe I branch from my Ace of Hearts with a Nine of Hearts, followed by a Nine of Clubs.) After a street is two cards long past the intersection, the next card (third past the intersection or more) can be treated as a new intersection, with branches going off from there. If you end up with a full hand (five cards) and can't place any of those cards, your map is done, and you can't draw any further. Otherwise, the game ends when the last card is drawn from the deck and everyone has placed what they can from their hands. You get 3 points for each intersection, and one point for each road segment that isn't an intersection, plus an extra point for any connection made by value instead of suit (since there's only 4 of each value in a deck). You can use a double deck for larger player counts (in which case you get a 2 point bonus instead of one point if you connect an identical card in sequence).

Your next challenge:
The Big Scram


Daniel:
The Big Scram
A game to play with magnets of various strengths. Each player has three magnets. The game is played on a small circular mat with five concentric rings and small key nodes scattered around. The game is played in several rounds, with each player getting a chance to take the first turn.

On your turn, place a magnet on a ring. That completes your turn. Each turn will cause magnets to scatter and move around the board in barely predictable ways. Continue taking turns until no player has magnets left to place. That completes the round, now you all score points based on the location of each of your magnets.

The center circle is worth five points. Each subsequent concentric ring is worth one point less. If your magnet is off the board, that is also worth five points. If your magnet is on a large node, you score double that ring's normal value. If your magnet is on a small node, you score double that ring's normal value.

At the end of the round, all players pick up their magnets and start with a clean board. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.

Your next challenge:
The Wellfield Experiment


Daniel:
The Wellfield Experiment
A competitive version of minesweeper. The board is a map of the "Wellfield", a vast area that hides abundant desired liquid resources -- reservoirs of water and oil mainly, though some other rarer things might be found here too. Some of the reservoirs, though, contain eldritch horrors from beyond the scope of history. Seemingly identical to oil at first when inert, once they "wake up" they can start wreaking havoc. Players take turns exploring the board, sinking their wells in various locations, trying to suss out the reservoirs below. Sometimes they'll dud out, hitting only rock -- no points. Other times they'll find a reservoir, and score points based on the type of liquid found and the size of the reservoir (which gets revealed after the tap is made). Oil scores particularly well, but comes with the risk of slumbering horror -- a random chance that any currently tapped oil reservoir will turn out to be the flesh of an ancient horror, causing it to invert its point value and corrupt (halve) the value of any adjacent reservoirs. Game ends when the board is fully explored or when three horrors have awakened, whichever comes first.

Your next challenge:
What's Your Excuse?!


Daniel:
What's Your Excuse?!
It's the reverse of the drinking game "I never..." Each player draws a card with a statement written out like this: "I never 1) sky-dived 2) from a zeppelin 3) with a rabid wolverine." or "I never 1) drove 2) a monster truck 3) in the circus."

The youngest player takes the first turn and states an excuse for why they never did the thing that's on their card without actually stating what's on the card. Towards this end, the excuse always begins with the word "Because..." and can only describe one excuse. For example, "Because I'm afraid of heights." or "Because I never got my driver's license." But a excuses like "Because I'm afraid of heights and blimps and rabies." or "Because I never got my driver's license and I'm afraid of clowns." would be illegal because they list more than one excuse.

The other players each guess what the "I never..." statement is. The more elements they guess correctly, the more points that you both get, as noted on the card. So if they guess "You never sky-dived from a zeppelin with a mad dog." then you'd both get three points. One point for sky-diving, two points for the detail about the zepellin. They got the last detail incorrect, so you don't get those points.

When every player has had a turn, the game is over and the player with the most points wins.

Your next challenge:
Bookmarks


Fred:
Bookmarks
So, your team has, like, 10 minutes between meetings and there's nothing really productive that's going to happen in that timeframe. So you play Bookmarks. One guy is the caller, and he determines the topic. Everyone else scrambles through their bookmarks only (including stuff like delicious and other bookmarking services if that's their preference) to find a relevant bookmark that matches the topic. No search engines allowed -- this is a test of your personal preparedness with your own collection of bookmarks. Person who produces a judged-as-relevant bookmark first is the next caller. Keep score if you like, but not strictly necessary!

Your next challenge:
Amazing Grease


Daniel:
Amazing Grease
Oink! A game about corralling greased pigs into their pen, for 2-4 players. The game board is an 8x8 grid depicting a muddy pit and one pen at each corner for each player. Each player has three six-sided dice. The game also comes with about twenty little plastic pigs in three colors. To set up the game, drop the pigs onto the board from about two feet. If any pigs fall off the board, put them back onto the board along the edge as close to their original location as possible.

On your turn, you can roll one die and place it on any square of the board. If any pigs are on that square, they move away from your die in a straight orthogonal line as many spaces as your die result. If a running pig hits the edge of the board, they change direction and continue moving in an orthogonal line. If a pig hits one of your dice that's already on the board, that pig sticks to your die. Place that pig on your die.

Thereafter, on your turn, you can either roll a new die and place it on the board, re-roll an existing die that is already on the board, or move a die with a pig on it. A die with a pig on it can only move one space at a time in any direction. When that die reaches a pen, you can drop the pig and count it as one of your own.

The goal is to get as many pigs as you can into your pen. You get one point per pig and +3 points for each set of three different colors of pig. The game is over when there is only one pig left on the board.

Your next challenge:
The Summit


Fred:
The Summit
Short and sweet on this one: The Summit is a Fiasco playset. It's backstabbing corporate politics meets the deadly climb up K2. Ostensibly a team-building exercise. A summit at the summit! But not everyone on this mandatory climb is a dedicated climber (and the self-professed dedicated climbers have a few screws loose). Then there's the bitterness and rivalry over how the Stevens deal went down last month...

Your next challenge:
Monkey Gonna Getcha!


Daniel:
Monkey Gonna Getcha!
A playground game for two teams and an unlimited number of players. One team are the monkeys, the other team are bananamongers. The field has two endzones, like a football field. Monkeys should have a backpack or satchel. You also need lots of bananas, but nerfballs or other random items are fine, too. The bananamongers want to deliver their bananas from one endzone to the other. The only thing in their way is all the monkeys.

When the game begins, bananamongers may start at either endzone and the monkeys start in a group at the center of the field.

At the whistle, bananamongers may move around the field freely, under the following restrictions: Bananamongers may carry as many bananas as they can. Once both feet are outside the endzone, bananamongers may not walk, run or jump while carrying bananas. Bananamongers may throw their bananas at fellow bananamongers, though. Thus, bananamongers can form special formations or relay lines to deliver their bananas across the field.

Meanwhile, the monkeys will try steal and intercept the bananas. Monkeys may run around freely, as long as they keep their arms raised above their shoulders at all times, like a crazy monkey. Monkeys can only lower their arms if they stand still. Monkeys can intercept bananas mid-air or gather them from the ground. Monkeys keep their bananas in their satchels and cannot give them to any other monkeys.

At the final whistle, the bananamongers score one point for every banana they delivered. The monkeys only score points from the individual monkey who gathered the most bananas; one point per banana.

Your next challenge:
Crash the Kobayashi


Fred:
Crash the Kobayashi
An anime-inflected, maybe jeepform game, where the players are part of an elite suicide squad that has infiltrated the enemy's starship (the Kobayashi) and are doing the only thing possible to destroy it: crash it, destroying the ship and everyone on board. As game play progresses, each character experiences at least one flashback that delves into their reasons for accepting the mission. Flashbacks are punctuated by "real time" present-moment scenes where the characters die, share a moment of gallows humor, try to save the life of someone other than themselves, plot a course that avoids endangering major population centers, etc. The scenario ends right at the moment of the crash.

Your next challenge:
Dance Commander VS Lyrical Gangster


Daniel:
Dance Commander VS Lyrical Gangster
A deeply embarrassing and awkward game for anyone but the most extroverted player. Okay, here we go. It's basically your classic improv game for two performers. The audience tosses out a handful of subjects. The Lyrical Gangster raps about each subject as best they can. The Dance Commander interprets the rap into modern dance. At the sound of the buzzer, the players switch roles. Continue until the players die of embarrassment. (Can you tell I find improv a little painful to watch?)

Your next challenge:
All the Tea in China


Fred:
All the Tea in China
Abstract-ish board game. Players take on the roles of great dragons, each associated with a particular type of tea (White, Green, Black to start; may also include Oolong), in distantly historical times before the introduction of tea. Ostensibly the board is a map of China, and the dragons are teaching the people of the benefits of tea. This won't always teach the people in each region to go for *their* color of tea (which scores most points), but it's a benefit to get them making any color of tea a part of their life (scores fewer points). Territories can contain more than one color, but only gain one color per turn. Places where your color has taken hold provide you a bonus to your efforts for spreading into neighboring territory. A final scoring bonus is tallied when all the territories on the map have at least one color of tea in them (signifying endgame), based on a color count (which does go only to the player with that colored dragon).

Your next challenge:
New Sex


Daniel:
New Sex
A wordplay game to idly pass the time. Each player takes turns creating a euphemistic phrase for a sexual maneuver, each one more absurd than the last. Common themes include "reverse," "French," "cowboy," and "swirl." Bonus points if you can explain the etymology or technicalities of the maneuver.

Your next challenge:
Crime Brûlée

Fred:
Crime Brûlée
Master Chefs... Master Villains! Crime Brûlée is the card game of gourmet misdeeds. Players are master chefs (TV stars, big names in restaurants, etc) who know the only way to get ahead is to crush the competition through illicit misdeeds. Drawing from the recipe deck, they get a card that gives a recipe for an outlandish, food-related criminal caper, which they can pull off only if they have the right cards in their hands. Once any of the players completes five recipes, the game ends, and everyone is scored for the recipes they completed (and docked for the ones they didn't).

Your next challenge:
What Are You, Some Kind Of Wizard?


Daniel:
What Are You, Some Kind Of Wizard?
A fantasy variant of Werewolf/Mafia/Resistance for 5-10 players. The play is basically like standard Resistance (short-form, non-elimination Mafia). Students of magic compete against each other in various school events, but some students are secretly agents of evil magic. At the beginning of the game, the players get a unique pair of voting cards with "spell" effects. When you vote, the spell effect is also triggered, usually revealing some small amount of information about player roles or advancing a particular victory condition. After each round, the unique cards are replaced with standard voting cards, then the voting cards are returned to each player. This means players can only use a spell once, but won't necessarily risk revealing their role.

Your next challenge:
Tick-Tock


Fred:
Tick Tock
Competitive hide-and-go-seek, like Marco Polo only where everyone's hiding AND seeking. Each side is divided into Tickers and Tockers. The tockers run somewhere and hide, as do the tickers, then everyone closes their eyes. The tickers shout "tick" and, after a moment, the tockers shout "tock". Then play begins. The tickers open their eyes and take five quick steps (about a second). Then they shout "tick" and close their eyes. When they do this, the tockers can try to make a grab, eyes still shut, to see if they can nab a ticker. If they do, the ticker is 'out'. Then the tockers take their turn, following the same procedure, shouting "tock", with the tickers making a grab. Play ends when all the tickers or tockers are 'out'.

Your next challenge:
Cat Skills


Daniel:
Cat Skills
You've heard the expression "herding cats." Well, those cat-herders were the real deal in the old west. In this game, you play the tough hombres on horseback wrangling herds of tabbies, gingers, and calicos across the great plains to the Catskill Mountains. It'll take seven weeks to reach your destination. You and the other players will co-operate to keep the herd focused and moving. Offer treats, dangle toys and pick up any strays on your way to the mountains. Loose ideas for mechanics: Roll a bunch of dice on a table, each die represents one cat. Group the dice into sets of matching results. The highest set makes the most progress, the lower sets move at a slower pace. The trick is getting the whole herd to stay relatively intact, slowing down the fast cats and speeding up the slow cats. If any dice fall off the table, those are strays. You can bring them back into the herd, but you'll lose time doing so. If you don't bring them back on the same turn they strayed, they're lost from the herd.

Your next challenge:
Tuki... Taku... Tay!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.