24 Hours of Wet Treasures

The last time I took part in the BGG 24 hour game design contest was in December of last year, and I am trying to progress existing designs as my focus this year (please ignore the recent discussion about that co-op game!), but sometimes I can't help myself.  The 24 hour contests are such a good exercise, and such a great buzz when they work out well, that I plan to keep doing them every now and then.

Just as a reminder, the contest is structured so that each month the organiser, Kai, gives a requirement, which is often interpreted as a theme, but really is just something that has to be included in the game in some way.  Then participants have to find a time during the month to work on their game, starting by announcing their participation on the contest thread, and finishing by posting up to two files, one for the rules and one for any print and play components that are required, within 24 hours of their initial post.  This isn't policed: it is certainly possible to cheat, but there is no incentive to do so as the whole thing is more as a personal challenge, and the community around the contest is a fairly small and very supportive one, so people are more likely to disqualify themselves than try to bend the rules.

The requirement for April was 'Atlantis'.  While some people were thinking of the Space Shuttle and other stuff, I went for a more literal interpretation and decided to create a push-your-luck game about "rescuing" treasured from the mythical city as it sinks beneath the waves.
Four players versus the rising sea levels...
Well, OK, so all four were me, but nobody else was available at the time.

The plan was to have the general shape of the game being for each player to turn over a card from a deck and add it to a line, and decide whether to stay in the round or not, putting their personal marker onto the latest card if they are dropping out.  If a certain number of cards with "sea" on them are turned up, then anyone still in the round misses out, and those who retired get to draft the cards that have been set out, though only having access to the ones between the start of the line and the location of their marker.  The draft is in order of when the markers are placed, so if you drop out early you get the first pick, but you are likely to be able to take the fewest cards.

Of these cards you are collecting, most of them are treasure cards and collecting sets of treasure scores points in different ways.  Some of the cards are sea monsters, and collecting a pair of them forces you to discard one of your treasures.  There are sea cards, of course, and boats, which you can discard to allow you to put your marker onto a sea card.

A short time fiddling around with nanDECK set up some usable cards, with the help of a bunch of images grabbed from game-icons.net, which remains my favourite source of simple images, even if they don't quite have something for every occasion.  Then some solo playtests to try a few possible variations of the rules and I settled on something that seemed to work OK, so I started writing up the rules.

After picking Miss B up for school, she was happy to help me out with a playtest and gave me a definite thumbs up for the design ("better than Boogie Knights" she said, though she isn't a fan of that after playing it quite a few times early on) so I finalised the rules and submitted my entry with only a day of the month left to go.

I'm reasonably happy with this game but, of course, a game created in 24 hours will never be perfect.  It needs a heap of playtesting to shake out whatever problems it has, and I already have one significant change I would like to try, which is to give everyone a limited number of tokens that they can use, so effectively everyone can only participate in a limited number of rounds, and that might add some extra weight to the decisions. Only playtesting will show if that works how I think it might.  I think I may keep this game in my set of reasonably active games, at least for the time being, so we'll see how things go.

Update: the voting list is here if you would like to see all the entries.


  1. Great work! I imagine that these contests are great motivation to get an initial concept bashed out. Even if it's not great, it's probably more that you would have otherwise done, and to get the approval of your wee girl is fab!

    1. Thanks, Bez! Yes, these contests are great exercises in scoping, focus, and just getting a playable prototype ready. The short deadline means that you can't mess around too much, you just have to keep moving forwards. And it's a great way to try out ideas that may turn into more later. Boogie Knights was originally one of my 24 hour efforts!

      Actually, didn't Wibbell come out of a quick game design exercise?

      (And if anyone is reading this, please go and check out Bez's current Kickstarter project for Wibbell++, a deck of cards for playing a huge variety of word and letter based games. http://kck.st/1NOMoOV)