Game Design Blitz #6

And today’s card is…

The Card

Color: Yellow

Number: 11/Jack

Piece: Hex

Mechanic: Cooperative

The Idea

If you know me, then you know I’m not a fan of cooperative games. In general I think it is really hard to solve the alpha problem without adding a hidden role or bad guy to the mix. That said, there are a lot of variations to the cooperative mechanic that we could utilize. My first instinct is to do a puzzle type of game where players are working to tether to maximize points and create the most efficient board. Another thought is to go with a team game. The problem with a team game is that you tend to need a minimum of four players. Since I tend to play games with my wife, creating a four-player only game seems counterproductive to me.mOk… a hex-based spatial puzzle which starts with a volcano at the center of the table. Each side of the start hex has a lava flow connecting to the edge and the goal is to cap off each flow. Tiles will have lava flows, pools, and blank sides, as well as things like villages and farms that have to be protected. Randomly drawing and placing a tile each turn seems a little easy, so we can do things like give each player a special ability. We can have temporary blockages and things like that, and we can even have lava flows that break through the edge of a tile. Once or twice in the game we could have an additional volcano pop up. Perhaps there’s also the travel element where a player has to place their pawn on the piece that they played, and then future pieces that player places must be placed adjacent to the space that player is on.I’m not particularly sure how this particular game will attempt to solve the alpha problem. I think because the tiles that you place will be based on where you are located, there isn’t much that an alpha player can attempt to direct. Sure during the action phase they can get more involved, but I suppose that is a large part of cooperative games, interacting with your fellow players to solve a problem.Any ideas with how to do a surprise “underground” flow‽ You’ve seen the movie Volcano right?

The Pitch

The lava is flowing, ever spreading, destroying everything in its path. You and your team are specialists in geology, fluid dynamics, construction and demolition and you have been tasked with saving as many villages as possible as lava tears through the landscape.Flow is a spatial puzzle cooperative game where players are attempting to cap off every open end of an active volcano. On your turn you will first draw a tile then place it adjacent to the tile that your worker is on. Then you will take a number of actions that include things like blocking off flows, trenching flows so that they go where you want them to, and moving around the board to give help where it is most needed. Dotting the landscape are villages and farms that need to be saved as well so it is imperative to cap those flows the fastest.Volcanos and lava are anything but predictable, so be ready for random breakthroughs and even new volcanic eruptions that can wreck your carefully laid attempts.

Brief Overview – Bananagrams

Brief Overview

pic2463443_mdBananagrams is a word-tile game designed by Rena Nathanson and Abe Nathanson, and is published by Bananagrams. Each player gets a certain number of tiles at the start of the game and the goal of each player is to be the first to use all of their tiles to create words in a crossword pattern. If you have a tile that you just can’t figure out how to use you can yell “BUNCH”, put that tile back and take three more! If you use all of your tiles you yell “PEEL” and then each player (including you) takes a new tile. The first player to complete their crossword with no remaining letters either in their hand or in the center of the table yells “BANANAGRAMS” and wins!


Everyone has heard of Bananagrams and the many, many fruit-encased games that have come after it. I had never played the game before, but I must say I really enjoyed it. The game isn’t as serious as Scrabble, as everyone is racing to use all of their tiles first, and you aren’t worried about points or anything like that. But the tension builds as you struggle to find words for that “X” you just picked up, and you are hoping that the last tile in the middle is a stupid “Q” or something so that you can get your tile into place before your opponent! I enjoyed Bananagrams quite a bit. For such a relatively simple game, it really builds the tension and excitement.