Translating Sports to Tabletop Mechanics [Design]

Men's Pole Vault

It's Olympics season and I've been particularly fascinated with the game design behind the rules and formats for each sport. Here are some quick notes about how they might translate if they were rules for a tabletop game.

Modern Pentathlon has a fencing round where the lowest ranked fencer duels the second-lowest. Whoever wins moves on to duel the next lowest. This continues with the winner of each duel climbing the ranks and the loser being removed from that round and earning points accordingly. I could see a Magic: the Gathering tournament being formatted like this as a casual event.

Miss and Out Cycling has a large group of cyclists on a track doing laps around the course, but the last cyclist to cross the finish line is eliminated from that race. Laps continue in this manner, with more cyclists being eliminated. This is more or less how Get Bit works, replacing individual racers with 5 hit points for each player.

Olympic Diving has 7 scores from judges kept separate from one another, then the highest and lowest two scores are ignored, the remaining scores are multiplied by the difficulty level. It's a bit convoluted, but I could see something like this in an early Euro sort of game.

Volleyball has an interesting combination of racing mechanics and tennis victory. There are some variations, but generally each round of play may only end after a team has X points. Once a team has a point difference of Y points over their opponent, they win the round. This might lead to some extended games at the table, but I'd love to see a 2p abstract formatted like this.

Pole Vault has a classic push-your-luck mechanism. The difficulty is raised (literally) throughout the game, then players must decide to pass or attempt the vault. Three missed attempts eliminates the player. This reminds me a lot of Welcome to the Dungeon, but it might work with any push-your-luck tabletop game.

Cool stuff! Any other Olympics games you think might translate to tabletop mechanisms?

Belle of the Ball - Second Edition Rulebook and Errata Feedback

Hello party people! I'm happy to show you the Belle of the Ball second edition rulebook and some of the card errata. We wanted to get public feedback before going to print, especially from fans and owners of the original edition.

Here's a link to the rulebook for your review.

I'll keep that PDF updated as folks find typos or errors. We're looking for feedback before August 19, 2016 ideally. There's a teeny bit of wiggle room on that deadline, but not much.


In the basic game, start each player with one random Belle card.
Swap step 1 and 2 so players can use a Belle card on the same turn it was acquired. No more waiting a full round to use it.

Remove step 3. Instead, your group scores immediately when it is full, even if it’s not your turn. This might clean up a few of the awkward bits of explanation for new players. Now it’s clear that if it’s on the table, it can be added to. This also is more merciful to players who get a full group before it’s their turn when the game ends.

The rules now state that a county power is used as if it were a Belle card, during step 2 of a players’ turn.

5-player rules are now incorporated into the standard and advanced game modes, not as a separate variant.

What was formerly the 5-player variant is now renamed “Shindig Variant,” highlighting its more chaotic play style.

For detailed errata list and changes to the cards, see the live doc at the link below.


County Cards

CHANGE: Dismiss a Belle card (and its regrets) from the line.
TO: Discard a Belle card from the line. Take its regrets.

CHANGE: After scoring a group, keep one of the guests in your party.
TO: If you scored a group, keep one of those guest cards in your party in that group’s space.



CHANGE: When scoring a group, earn double points from each of these interests: [[ICONS HERE]].
TO: Score 2 points for each of these interests in one of your groups: [[ICONS HERE]]


CHANGE: Dismiss a guest card (and its regrets) from the line.
TO: Discard a guest card from the line. Take its regrets.

CHANGE: When taking a card, you may take one more, following normal rules.
TO: You may take one more card from the same line you took a card this turn, following normal rules.

CHANGE: Use this power as a substitute for spending one regret.
TO: Take a guest card from the top of the deck. Turn it face-down. It is now a regret in your supply.

CHANGE: Move one of your guests to another one of your groups.
TO: Move one of your guest cards to one of your other groups.

CHANGE: Swap a guest in your party for a guest from the line.
TO: Swap a guest card in your party for a guest from the line. (Any regrets in the line remain in place.)

CHANGE: Force a player to score (and dismiss) one of their groups of your choice.
TO: Force a player to score and discard one of their groups of your choice.

Belle Cards

The Belle seems to be Everywhere
CHANGE: Add this card to an opponent’s group.
TO: Discard this card from your hand.

The Belle Welcomes the Lords
ADD TO END: (Lords have “Lord” in their name and have a blue background.)

The Belle Welcomes the Ladies
ADD TO END: (Ladies have “Lady” in their name and have a purple background.)

The Belle Makes Room
CHANGE: This group scores when it has seven cards.
TO: This group is considered full when it has seven cards, not four.

The Belle slips a VIP Pass
DELETE: This counts as your invitation.

The Belle finds a Secret Entrance
DELETE: This counts as your invitation.

The Belle wants a Classy Party
ADD TO END: (Ladies have “Lady” in their name and have a purple background. Lords have “Lord” in their name and have a blue background.)

The Belle Keeps Things Casual
ADD TO END: (Ladies have “Lady” in their name and have a purple background. Lords have “Lord” in their name and have a blue background.)

The Belle is feeling Rushed
ADD TO END: (Full groups are scored at the end of their owners’ turn.)

The Bell says Vive la Difference!
CHANGE: Difference
TO: Différence
ADD TO END: (In other words, score 1 point for each unique icon in this group.)
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.