All Aboard the Shenanigans Express!

I've been trying to get a few more advanced projects progressed, but the problem is that those pesky ideas keep coming, and the only way to get them out of the way seems to be to make a prototype.  Well, a couple of days ago a plan fell through and I ended up with a free evening, so I just had to get on with it.  After an extended Twitter storm in which I blurted out the main concepts that had been keeping me awake, I settled down with nanDECK, a Google spreadsheet, and a browser tab pointed at game-icons.net.

By the end of the evening, the main cards were designed and printed out, then a couple more hours the next day completed the prototype.

This may look like I've tested the game, but I haven't; it's all just arranged in a plausible set-up.
So, what is the game?

The concept is that a load of people, all of whom have personal objectives, are on an Orient Express type train, and they all need to wander around, locating essential items, and trying to be in the right place with the right items and the right other characters in order to complete their objective.  These character roles are all secret, by the way, opening the way for elements of bluff and deduction if I get it right.  At the moment I have 6 roles, including a murderer, who wants to get a weapon and then be alone in a location with a victim, a detective who wants to catch the murderer as they are making their murder attempt, and a pair of lovers who want to be alone with each other while in possession of some romantic gifts.

The way all this works is that at the start of each round everyone simultaneously selects whether they will be moving or acting.  Once the selections are made, all this is resolved sequentially, going around the table.  If you are moving, you move your token/meeple to an adjacent location.  If you are acting, you may look at the stack of item cards in your current location and maybe keep one, or you may attempt to complete your objective.

That is more or less it.  I haven't yet had a chance to test the game, and this type of game is a difficult one to test solo, which would normally be my next step.  I have, however, already identified a few potential problems, like what would stop you picking up an item that is needed by someone else, thus ruining their chances? Or do all the character roles have a realistic chance of winning? I think that, in the case of that first question, I will initially just ask playtesters (when I get them) to simply be honest and not take an item that isn't needed by them; this is probably unrealistic, but should allow us to see if there is any merit in the rest of the game.

It may be a couple of weeks before I get this tested properly, but it's at least nice to get the idea out of my head and into physical form.


  1. How about items have to be shown to everyone else when you pick them up, and you can steal/some friendlier thematic version of steal like 'borrow' a card, but that's chosen blind and hands would have to include some stuff other than those open picked up items that people might still want, so it's not blatantly obvious who's fishing for what, at first...

    1. Hi Sarah. Thanks, that bit about showing everyone is a really good thought. I'd like to give that a try and see how it feels. I've also been thinking about being able to examine the cards held by other players under certain circumstances and possibly steal from them. I think the trick here though is to implement whatever the solution is in as few rules as possible. A blind steal like you suggest might be best, but we'll see...

    2. Mm, good luck with it :) You know where you can find willing guinea pigs if you need them!

    3. Thanks, I really appreciate that. I'm sure I will lean on your goodwill sometime soon. :)