Exodus: Earth - A worker removal game played on a RISK-like board? [In the Lab]

Perseid Meteor Seen From Space (NASA, International Space Station, 8/13/11)
[In the spirit of Earth Day this week, I'm going to brainstorm some ideas for games with an ecological or natural theme. Imagine these games printed on 100% recycled chipboard. Also see my post on sustainable game components.]  

And now we come to the last in this series. Hope you've enjoyed this idle brainstorming this week. Half the fun of this exploration has been figuring out mechanics for non-combat, non-colonial themed games. It was in that "non-colonial" direction that I started considering the opposite of colonization: Evacuation.

You know me, I'm a big supporter of getting off the rock. The notion of a massive planetary evacuation was a very tempting idea. This has the ingredients of a very interesting big box board game, too.

First, start with a basic world map and divide it up into distinct regions. Does this need to be countries as in RISK? Cities, as in PANDEMIC? Not sure, but there is some serious juice in literally playing on a world stage. All it needs is a sense of urgency, like an existential threat... like a meteor.

A rough mockup of the world board and the countdown tracker.

Thus, we have a story. A meteor is on a collision course with Earth. It will arrive in seven years. Let's say each round represents one year. Each round, the marker (a meteor token) moves inexorably closer and closer towards earth. The game continues until the meteor hits Earth. The player who gets all her meeples off the board wins. Seems like a simple enough core for a game.

If this is an evacuation game, it makes sense to have some mechaphor about removing meeples from the board – a worker removal game. There are a few games already in this genre, most notably Forbidden Island and Survive! Escape from Atlantis. Both those games have a very narrow scope, focusing on a handful of individual escapees. This game would expand that scope over a larger space and time.

Each player a has limited number of meeples, representing international teams of specialists performing different tasks. The game begins with each player takes turns placing meeples on spaces of the board. During each round, players take turns moving their meeples from one space to another. Leaving a space triggers a special action based on the space being left, usually harvesting limited resources, "hiring" more meeples, or building special infrastructure.

The ultimate goal is to build a Spaceport. The spaceport has only one special action: "Remove this meeple from this space to remove it from the board." The goal of the game is to evacuate all your meeples from the board via a Spaceport. Bear in mind that over the course of play, you might create many, many meeples to help you build the spaceport.

If you get all your meeples off the board, you win. If the meteor hits Earth and no one evacuates all their meeples, then the player who evacuated the most meeples wins. There might be alternate paths to victory, too, like lasers to push away the meteor for a round or bunkers that allow meeples to survive on Earth at the end of the game.
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.