Games that went nowhere – Bunker 13

Bunker 13 card game where players are stuck in a nuclear bunker/vaultBunker 13 was a card game idea where players have to survive for 30 rounds on limited food and resources in a nuclear bunker. After 30 rounds the fallout would have dissipated enough for players to successfully leave the vault and survive.

The problem was that players only begin with enough food to last ten turns (with 4 players) and less if there were more players.

Players had to contend not only with starvation, but also radiation and health problems, as well as a suspicious overabundance of weapons stored in the vault.

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Players receive a random job at the beginning of the game and get their own deck, starting with 5 cards. Each of the decks are job specific but also with a set number of food and weapons cards shared equally, for example the chef may recieve 5 standard food cards as well as an extra 10 randomly shuffled into his deck as the chef.

Players then vote for who the bunker leader is, however as some players such as the security team have a better chance of drawing weapons, the vote is often either ‘persuaded’ to be a certain member, or fully taken over by the person with the largest weapons cache in hand. This then decides who sets the policies for the bunker.

Policies include limiting food and weapons to the crew or opening and closing the bunker doors.

The game was playtested a few times, and whilst it was quite fun in parts, it needs a lot of work to make it truly playable – it is too complicated and players who are killed at the beginning of the game then have to wait until the game ends, which could be 20-30 minutes. Removing players from games is usually a bad idea in lengthy card games, so an alternative is needed – such as making them an outside group of raiders or traders.

Overall: an interesting idea and one I would like to return to in a simpler format, but one that needs a lot of work to make fun.

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State of the game – The Regent

The Regent is a game loosely inspired by the politics of medieval Europe, especially as shown in the ‘Guild’ series of games which I enjoyed growing up. The politics part has players voting their friends into different council offices, with largest cities having a Regent as the local ruler. The economic part of the game is more similar to ‘Splendour’, but with a much simpler chain of production.

The Regent takes this idea to create a board game with the same idea, supporting anything from 4 to 12 players in a bid to become – and stay, Regent. Players earn income and abilities not only for their own profession, but also from their council office – voted in by other players – or if lucky enough, automatic if no one is available to vote in or out (either because the position above them is unfilled, has been voted out, or even thrown in prison).

Play continues each round until one player has 50 coins.

The regent game board where players try to become the regent

The 8-12 player board allows for 12 different offices to be in play, leading to a wide variety of diplomatic engagements and medieval ‘office politics’. The dungeon can sometimes get quite full if the Magistrate gets heavy-handed.

Landlord game piece

Players pick from one of 4 professions, each with different bonuses and faults

Professions list including, landlord, patron, philosopher and rogue

Some professions are naturally suited to different jobs – the Rogue for example makes for a far better Dungeon Master – but not such a likely Bishop.

Voting is done to allow people to become certain jobs… Or not

Offices allow for different roles to be played, including arresting other players

The economy runs by players using their cards to buy buildings. A second way to win

A quicker and more concise version of the game involves using only the politics or economics parts of the game.


A slightly outdated version of the game can be found on TableTop Simulator at the following link.

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State of the game – Tranquility Station

Tranquility Station is about a very unlucky space station following some sort of accident that has killed the previous crew. Players are assigned to be the new crew, taking on jobs from Captain, to Personnel or Chef. 

Players must work together to run the station, overcoming different situations and ensuring the station and players survive. Each round a new situation is presented which players can work together to normalise.

Unfortunately for the staff aboard Tranquility Station, one of the staff members is not all that they seem. One staff member has been influenced by a criminal element to undertake a special mission and destroy part of the ship, murder a staff member or force the crew to evacuate.

The dedicated team of security staff are always aboard to help out and eradicate any traitorous elements amongst the staff.

So don’t worry and enjoy life amongst the stars! Where nothing can possibly go wrong! 

Tranquility station game board

The game board showing the different sections and escape countdown

The Head of Security looks after the safety of those on board

Many heads of department can also undertake secondary jobs – the Head of Personnel is often found dabbling in the kitchen cooking up a storm!

Traitors have certain objectives to complete, from destroying part of the ship, to forcing it to be evacuated.

Scientists can research better equipment to help keep the starion and its staff in top shape

New situations arrive every round, sometimes with disastrous consequences for the team

Setting up the game in Table Top Simulator

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State of the game – Sandbrook Heist!

Playtesting of Heist version II was completed earlier today, with three games taking approx 20 minutes once everyone had arrived and set up. 

Set up was pretty quick as there are only 50 cards in total with 6 of them as the character cards. It was the same playgroup as the previous version so little explaining of the rules was needed and playtesting got under way quickly.

We ended up with a fair spread of points over the three games, one player ending with 5 points and the rest between 3 and 1. One unlucky player not received any points having been on the losing team each time! Players seem to enjoy it though even when not winning. Having no cards that remove players from the game seems to have been a good decision.

Playtesting heist version 1

Heist during play – here most of the cards are face down and not visible to the majority of players. Theres a card protecting one player, and another has had his turn skipped by the red player. We can probably deduce that the yellow is the mastermind and the red a policeman or investigator that the red player has guessed.

Having designed the game for a further 2 players it will be interesting to see how 8 players affects the dynamic as it is working well with 6. I would still like to see it expanded to allow further variation etc. Variation has definitely helped keep SS Sandbrook fresh for the playtesters, who still come to play at lunchtime months later.

Playtesting with revealed cards

Here we can see that as expected the player with the yellow card protecting them was the mastermind. With a final plan card the mastermind is due to win on their next turn, collecting 3 treasures for his team – not a massive win, but a win nonetheless.

Further playtesting this week so hopefully some good feedback leading to further changes as needed. Will update when I have more!

Playtesting in action with 7th character added

Lunchtime blind playtest

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State of the game – Cat Academy Battle!

Cat academy battle, cute kids game

In Cat Academy Battle, players fight to get the best scoring cats for their team – Friendly or Ferocious

Cat Academy Battle! Is a 2-4 player card game where players have to collect the best possible 5 cards, mixing Cat cards with adjectives to score points for their team. In Battle mode players also compete to win “Friendly” or “Ferocious” points and make sure they don’t accidentally give points away to the other team.

Players either pick up one card to add to their collection, or pass one card to another player each turn, keeping turns quick and rounds about 5 minutes per game. Play ends when every player has at least 5 cards, with players not being able to have more than 7 cards in their hands.

Playees play either Cat cards or adjective cards, scorimg points for each.

Scoring is done at the end of each game, with adjective cards being attached to cat cards up to a maximum of 2 adjective cards per cat. For example Tiddles (1 point) is attached to “unsubtle” and “acrobatic”, 3 points each, scoring a total of 7 points over 3 cards.

Playtesting has gone relatively well so far, with players enjoying the game, however we have found the scoring system to get complicated if too many games are played. Players picked up the rules pretty quickly however and found the idea to be good. Playtesting so far has focused on players from 6-14 years old die to the nature of the games theme.

More next time!

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Shelved ideas 2

I thought it might be interesting to make a list of game ideas I’ve shelved over the past year or so I’ve been designing as a hobby. 
Part 2:

Fast Food Inc.

A game similar on many ways to “Sushi Go” but with players building their own fast food themed restaurant, players collect from a group deck and have to build up a starter, main and dessert with extra points for whether the dish makes sense (same type of food) and if it fits their theme. Lack of good / inspiring pictures etc made me lose interest, but I often find myself coming back to it as a good idea.

The Regent

Playtested pretty successfully on Tabletop Simulator with some friends, and based heavily on the “guild” series of games, this get is in two parts – one part where you are trying to become the regent and a second part where you are trying to get as much money as possible. Political titles give you a turn by turn up front payment but also give you additional powers, like the ability to tax or imprison your opponent’s. The second part involves buying up buildings that create a production chain, giving you more money each turn. A fun game but one that has been sadly forgotten recently due to my focus on card only games.

The Regent – Lite

A card game of the above, but it wasn’t complicated enough so needs more work.

Murder in Sandbrook

A prequel to the Sandbrook theme games, evolved into Sandbrook Heist.


A cat based economy game. Evolved into Cat Academy. Which I need to get back to.


A card based game where players produce propaganda to fulfil a mission. I had fun making it but didn’t go anywhere.

Space Agents

Turned into Tranquility Station. A space station with one player as a traitor with a mission. Unfortunately the station is also unlucky and plagued by other problems. Players have to escape the station before the traitor completes his mission.


A card game of magic vs emerging technology to influence public opinion to create laws benefiting either side. The winning side is the one who passes 5 laws first. I never completed the cards, but thought an interesting idea in a steam punk world with magic.


A game of escaping teachers to truant class. Never went anywhere.

Unlikely Heros

A funny game where the townspeople must band together to kill a raging monster. Trouble is the townspeople consist of farmers, miners, blacksmiths etc. Players work together to create tools, weapons etc and fight the monster.

Shelved ideas

I thought it might be interesting to make a list of game ideas I’ve shelved over the past year or so I’ve been designing as a hobby.

A pen to change the world

This was an idea of four newspaper companies vying for attention to produce propaganda pieces to persuade the population to protect or revolt against the government – done through a political compass system. A nice idea that never got beyond the basic idea


A board game idea with players trying to escape from an insane asylum, each with their own lovecraftian style abilities. Nice idea but became more and more complex until it didn’t seem fun.


A simple card game where 2 players take turns building up their castle taking cards from a draw pile whilst also attempting to destroy the opposition castle by taking out their main hall. A little fun game but I got bored making it and never took it to the playtesting stage.

City builders

Another board game before I moved to making card only games. Players place pieces on a hex map to build a city, collecting points based on the piece and those around it – eg putting shops next to houses earned more points. Ended up being similar to what is now concrete jungle. Never got very far due to the number of pieces and complexity involved.


An island survival game where players collect cards to try to survive on a desert island. Never left the idea stage.


Players survive and influence a corrupt government playing as protesters, different sections of government etc. Fun idea that I stopped working on as it got more complicated. I could never find a good way of making it simple and also include everything I wanted in it.

Earth / NSA

Players have to write coded messages to each other whist avoiding the police/government/NSA (lol). 1 player the government, 1 a criminal and the others are normal People. Government has to try and catch the right person whilst the criminal has to do criminal stuff. Had a large complicated board that could in future be simplified. Lost interest but might return to. 

To be continued