Beta Throw Down 0.1

A progress update on my Judo inspired card game.

Initial idea here. But basically I do judo and i like judo, I also like exploding kittens and think i can modify the core mechanics to create a easy to understand judo card game.

In essence what I am doing is acknowledging I like Exploding kittens and adding and changing how it plays to suit a new idea. I chose this game specifically because it seemed the most suited to show some of the themes of judo in a card game. In this judo themed game I wanted to express the finality of the Ippon in judo – this is the winning score no matter whether it happens 1 second nito the bout or 4 minutes into the bout. This led me to changing the game ending mechanic slightly from exploding kittens. The Ippon card in my game is much closer to the imploding kitten from the imploding kittens expansion pack to exploding kittens. 

Key ideas:

  • Anyone can win
  • Hard to win by being passive
  • Cant counter a winning throw (no defuse)

The Ippon card is not counterable and if you are forced to pickup the card you are out. In a two player game this is the end of the game. If there are more than two players the eliminated player takes the ippon card and places it back into the deck and shuffles the deck as the remaining players continue playing. The ippon card is placed face up in the deck and the front of the card is a bright colour – currently green highlighter. This is to servie the purpose of showing the threat is coming and how sometimes you can see someone is trying to throw you and you need to do something or it is inevitable. 

Cards overview:

All cards are currently just printed from a table in Pages. Not all cards have japanese names yet but they will once their exact purpose is finalised – some cards within the same group with have different names to add some variety like exploding kittens has lots of different basic kitten cards.

Playtesting changes:

Due to current restrictions I was beta testing with mum. This i believe helped me clarify what a turn is. As mum had never played exploding kitten before the entire concept of how the games mechanics work had to be explained well helping me understand how to do that well. We noticed that with two players and no other threat other than the ippon card that was visible there was never a reason to not pick up until you could see the ippon card and then one large back and forth of active card uses the game was over. 

This lead to the introduction of Wazaris – a half win point. These cards are face down in the deck and look like any other card. When you draw a wazari card it is like your opponent has scored a wazari against you and you place it face up infornt of you on the table. The first wazari is harmless but if you draw a second which could happen at any point you are out as two wazaris make an ippon. This adds pressure to be active in the game before the Ippon card is visible especially once you have already picked up one wazari card. There is however one card in the deck that can remove the wazari against you to free you up to more brazenly pickup cards. This also adds a high value card that makes it worth using 4x kumi kata cards to take it from the discard pile but this is also a risk as you cant use those cards to save yourself from an ippon later.

Some of the notes from playtesting were on this paper.

The intial key mechanics are written on green text cards to help track the rules and card numbers without having to have the card in your deck. – this information would be on a rule summary/cards sheet like exploding kittens has.

Changes made in between play throughs were penciled onto these cards to keep track of them for evaluation after each play through.

‘Big RIP’

What is a Big RIP story though?

This blog post is the recording of my contribution to the BCM300 group project. Here are The other epic memer lads posts Josh and Ben.

For this project my main focus areas are that of the game experience/theme, narrative and story world for our game.

As a group we decided the game would focus mainly on ingame interactions to create the story and have emergent Big RIP moments. These moments are the main catalyst of experience of the theme and narrative that is emergent each time the game is played. Like this video essay explains it doesn’t matter how good your story/idea is if you can engage the players in an interesting game. So that made these Big RIP moments very core to the story of our game. A Big RIP moment is basically any point in time throughout the game where saying BIG RIP would be appropriate/humorous. These include but are not limited to:

  • Your gravestone (card tower) falling down/being knocked over
  • Someone stealing your gravestone
  • Being penalised for being to far in front of your opponents
  • Having the biggest gravestone at the time of death but having the smallest once final karma cards play out
  • Trying to sabotage someone but you end up sabotaging yourself  
  • Fumbling a large lead or giving someone a greater lead but unsuccessfully sabotaging them 

This concept of player added content to the game comes from the idea of co-creation which is “in what manner, and to what extent, is it possible to entice players to add their own content”. (Eladhari, 2018) We really wanted each player to be able to bring their own background and meaning to the game.

To successfully pull this type of game off we really needed to know how and what interwoven game mechanics where to produce this story.

After some reading both me and Josh realised the truth in the fact that “Interwoven mechanics are mechanics that if removed change how the game is played significantly” – Scott Rogers on board game design lab

While the exact experience will be different from game to game the overall story and ways the game have to be consistent throughout every playthrough. We wanted the experience to be focused on making as many of these Big RIP moments each game as possible. This in physicality is shown on Josh’s blog where you can see all the game elements prototyped. 

The biggest piece of narrative material for this game is the round counter which is a representation of the inevitable move towards death which is a 10 round counter. This counter serves the functional purpose of counting the rounds so you don’t have to mentaly try and keep track of the round number. It also drives the inevitability that ‘death’ or in our case the end of the active rounds of the games is inevitable and coming. The only thing you can do after the counter is complete is watch as the karma cards play out and your empire crumbles or lasts the test of time after your death which you no longer have any control over.

Josh then met with an experienced game developer who gave feedback that we could harness the elements of our game which highlight death as an inevitable thing and how we can use this theme and further develop our game before the presentation. He provided both feedback that all three of us will be using but ill let  Josh’s blog tell you about that in detail as he got the feedback for us.

For the presentation i will: 

Create and present for 5 minutes on the story, narrative and theme elements of the game and how we incorporated feedback and research into these decisions to reach our final product.

Also I most likely will be presenting the entire presentation from my computer so we hopefully minimise any technical problems during the presentation.

Academic journal source not linked:

Eladhari, M. P. (2018) The story pile – Representing story in the board game mind shadows. Springer Verlag (Lecture Notes in Computer Science). doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-04028-4_30.

Throw Down

My idea of a Judo inspired card game

So I have an idea of creating a tabletop card game based on Judo a sport I have participated in since 2005 (this is me). So please come on this journey with me as I try to explain the idea I have in my head.

I wanted to choose something simple enough that I could practically make a useable set of cards and potentially actually fully complete as a functional properly done game. This meant given my skill I had to choose a game mechanic I was relatively familiar with so I chose to go with an exploding kittens mechanic style game. If your unfamiliar here is an explanation.

Exploding Kittens Game : Target

So why do I think this is a good idea?

Firstly the style of game here is a party-style game to be played with a few friends, while also existing in the niche market of that you probably won’t buy a game based on judo unless you have done Judo or another similar combat sport (martial arts, boxing, etc.).

Why this style?

The choice of style is something most young adults are now familiar with, due to the success of games such as exploding kittens and unstable unicorns. This will make the game understandable and playable even if you don’t understand why some of the cards are called what they are. they will have explanations on each card which players can read to work out their gameplay functionality intuitively throughout their playthrough. which Gamification in Education (Taspinar et al, 2016) talks about as one of the ways players acquire knowledge from games.

Other benefits of this theme & style?

A game like this could also potentially be picked up by the International Judo Federation. They are always trying to increase the general knowledge of Judo and the spectator friendliness of the sport. They do this by rule and referring changes, which is stated in and shown through their constant adjustment of the rules not just for competitive or safety reasons.

What about game mechanics? 

I plan the replace what would have been an exploding kitten card to be a ‘Time to throwdown’ indicating that you are up next unless you have an ‘Opponent withdraws due to injury’ (defuse) card -or something to that effect I am still working on card games. You will be up next with the next person to draw a throwdown card without an opponent withdraws card.

The two players will then duel using the cards in their hand they have been collecting as the game progresses (or from the top of another deck) to see who wins the throwdown and who is knocked out of the game. These dueling cards will be different throws, submissions, Hold-downs and their counters/escapes.

What about a feedback loop?

Within two weeks I plan on having a functional copy of this game printed with cards just being the card name and a description of what they do. This will be done in a  spreadsheet then printed and cut out. 

To achieve this I plan on creating gripping/movement cards that affect the turn order of play and fighting cards based on attacking techniques to be used in your duels to eliminate other players and keep yourself in the game. 

once this rough copy is done I will initially play this game with my family at home to see if my parents can understand the rules without ever having played exploding kittens as a starting point to determine the level of intuitiveness the game has after that is completed I play to play with friends either digitally if required or physically if possible. This will help with determining the viability of this game as a party game for friends of those with combat sports backgrounds.

Academic References:

Moon, C. and Bartholomew, S. R. (2018) ‘teaching manufacturing through board game creation’, Children’s Technology & Engineering, 22(3), pp. 18–21. Available at: (Accessed: 17 April 2020).

Taspinar, B., Schmidt, W. and Schuhbauer, H. (2016) ‘Gamification in Education: A Board Game Approach to Knowledge Acquisition’, Procedia Computer Science, 99, pp. 101–116. doi: 10.1016/j.procs.2016.09.104.

Minchin, P. (ed.) (2018) ‘In praise of tabletop games : Part 1’, Access, 32(1). Available at: (Accessed: 17 April 2020).

Castles – Building my very own castle in a new board game

In my 21 years of life I have played a fair variety of tabletop games both mass market and niche.  All sorts of styles from Monopoly to Risk, Catan to secret hitler.

I have always liked games where there is at least some some need to predict and consider other players behaviour. In games like Risk there is a very direct competition against each other to conquer the world. But in games like Catan this is a less direct and is more an economic battle to victory.

Recently we decided as a family we should try some new board games as we had been just going through our 3 or 4 favourite board games cyclically. So on the recommendation from a family friend we got Castles of Mad King Ludwig a game with a lot more complicated rules than 90% of our current tabletop game collection.

So my first time playing Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Castles), was fun but that’s not what we are here to discuss.

This is the common scoring and piece purchasing centrepiece of the game used by all players
Here is an example castle, each player builds their own, seeing it should help you understand the rest of my ramblings.

Firstly there are a lot of very specific rules, order and structure to the way you have turns in the game but after a bit if reading it made enough sense and we got that right. But one thing we didn’t d right is the room completion bonus rewards:

These rewards are in fact as it turns out not for when you build a room (when you first acquire the room) in your castle, but in fact for when you close off every opening into a room you then receive the bonus.

In our first playthrough of Castles we took the completion reward as soon as we added a room into our castle, this made the Living, Food and every second downstairs room highly desirable and probably overpowered rooms. Unbalancing the game cause myself to have over twice the victory points of the other two players. While i did very much enjoy the game it was clear we had done something wrong. This was as a eurogame does not rely as much on the luck of the cards drawn as this game had.

This imbalance clearly highlighted the importance and difficulty of balancing eurogames to be satisfying, winnable and not relying on luck to win. Another play through demonstrated the intend balance of the game and lead to a much closer competition.

In the new playthrough the master builder (person who chooses the price of the rooms, it rotates like a dealer in poker) had a much more impactful role. The master builders ability actually impacted the round if played well no matter what room cards were randomly added to the rotation.

This experience showed me the importance of user interface design for board games as misunderstanding of a single mechanic drastically changed how the game plays. On reflection maybe it was clear but for one reason or another it wasn’t clear enough in the game design for us and that is a problem.