Gamification + Dinosaurs

In the ADVENTURE chapter of UNBORED, we have a feature on “Game Hacking” — which includes a Q&A (by our friend Courtney Stanton, an online game producer) with the famous game designer Stone Librande (Spore, Diablo III), and a sidebar in which my son Max describes how he and his friend Jon (and I) added rules of combat and dice-rolling to our LEGO minifig battles.

This summer, while camping out on Cape Cod (Massachusetts), Max and Jon and I bought some cheap plastic toys (cowboys, Native Americans, dinosaurs), designed a battlefield in our campsite, got out the dice, and had a lot of fun. Here are our rules.

1. On your turn, roll a 4-sided die to determine how many moves you get that turn. (If you don’t have a 4-sided die, use a 6-sided die and count a roll of 1 or 2 as one move, 3 or 4 as two moves, 5 as three moves, and 6 as 4 moves).

2. For each move, shift one of your figures (e.g., cowboy, dinosaur) and then use it to attack an opponent, if possible. Red figures get to move one space (i.e., their own width), yellow figures move up to two spaces (i.e., twice their own width), green figures three spaces, and blue figures five spaces.

3. Attacking works as follows: A figure with a rifle can shoot six inches (we used a 6-inch twig), a figure with a pistol or bow and arrow can shoot 4 inches (another twig), and a figure with a spear or dagger requires 2 inches. Native Americans get +1 added to their dice roll if they are fighting hand-to-hand. Dinosaurs always get +2.

4. Defense works as follows: A cowboy that is concealed (behind a fence, pinecone, etc.) gets +1 on defense, a Native American that is concealed gets +2 on defense, a dinosaur can’t be concealed — but they automatically get +2 defense.

5. The attacker rolls a 6-sided die, and adds any bonuses. The defender rolls a 6-sided die, and adds any bonuses. Ties go to the defender.

I think that was pretty much it. We also had a pterodactyl with special rules, but I can’t remember what they were. Oh, and Jon built a tree that cost two moves to climb, but once you were up there you got +1 or maybe +2 when attacking.

Note: The Native Americans always won, except once when the cowboys went on the offensive instead of holing up in their fort. I don’t know why the dinos did so poorly — they weren’t very good strategists. Perhaps this explains why they went extinct in real life.

Click on image for larger version

PHOTO CREDITS: Josh and Rick (Jon’s dad)