Friday, November 8

NaGa DeMon 4: Rules and Revisions

I took the first version of Zombology to the Newcastle Playtest session on Tuesday night. We played with these rules (note, draft quality!):


The Science of the Zombie Apocalypse

3-10 players, 20 mins

It finally happened. The Zombie Plague has arrived, decimating entire continents and turning the masses into drooling, stumbling, brain-munching hordes. You're not that bothered though, you live and work in a high security government facility, and for you the plague is an opportunity. It's your chance to finally prove that you're a world-class genius in the field of curing diseases, not like that chump Dr. Gimlet at the CDC, what a tool! Seriously, the guy's an absolute fool, as if DNA retroviruses are a credible cure for anything.

You've got a few weeks to come up with a cure before you run out of the test subjects needed to show that your cure is the best. Choose a method or a few different ones and then quickly gather the evidence you need to prove your genius.


The game comprises of 120 cards, 10 each in the following 12 types:

1) DNA Retroviruses
2) Stem cells
3) Herbal extracts
4) Radiotherapy
5) Snake venom
6) Vaccines
7) Vegan Diet
8) Leeches
9) Pharmaceuticals
10) Crystals
11) Surgery
12) Chemotherapy

For each type there are cards numbered: -5 (forged results - flip 1-10), -3 (bad science - flip 1-5), -1 (strong rebuttal - flip 1-3), 1 (theoretical description), 2 (computer model), 3 (petri dish proof), 4 (works on mice), 5 (works on monkeys), 7 (successful small trial), 10 (successful large trial).

Aim of the Game

The aim of the game is to score high in the three most successful treatments and low in the two least successful ones.


Shuffle the cards and deal ten to each player, place the rest back in the box they will not be needed this game.


The game is played over 8 rounds. Each round the players secretly choose a card and play it face down in front of them. Once all players have chosen a card, the chosen cards are revealed and added to the players' collections.
If the card played was negative, chose a face up card in play of the same type belonging to another player, it must have a value within the range shown on the negative card. Flip this card face down - it will not contribute to the total when determining the highest and lowest scoring types, but will contribute to that player's score.

The players pass their remaining cards to the player on their left and receive the cards from the player on their right. Another round is now played as before. Once eight rounds have been played, the remaining cards are discarded and the game is scored.


Work out the total score for each type of cards across all players - do not include the values of any face down cards. The three types with the highest and two types with the lowest totals will score, the cards for the rest can be discarded.

Flip any face down cards back face up. Each player earns positive points equal to the total of their cards in the highest types and negative points equal to their totals in the lowest types. Add the positive and negative points together to get a final score. Highest score wins.


The feedback I received was mainly to do with too many suits and too complicated scoring. We played another game with five suits removed, but what I really need to do is make more cards rather than just remove some, so that there are still enough cards to play with 10 players.

What I'm thinking is that I'll cut it down to six suits (DNA Retroviruses, Stem cells, Herbal extracts, Vegan Diet, Crystals and Surgery) and up the number of cards to 20 per suit. To make the counting easier I'm using a smaller range of numbers:

  • 2x -2 Forged Results (flip 1-4)
  • 3x -1 Bad science (flip 1-2)
  • 5x 1 Theoretical framework
  • 4x 2 Petri dish proof
  • 3x 3 Works in mice
  • 2x 4 Works in Monkeys
  • 1x 5 Successful human trial

I'm still not sure how to simplify the scoring while keeping the concept of getting points for backing the most successful treatments. I think I'll cut out the negative points for the least successful treatments and just score the two most successful ones. I need to think on it more. Any ideas?


Anonymous said...

I think the lower numbers for scoring are a good thing...lower numbers make counting easier. I'm a little confused by the scoring, but I think I'm starting to get it. I think it might be nice to keep the lowest scoring type as a scorer. Don't make it negative, but discard the face down cards from that set (which may lead to a negative score).

The game seems very short to me. I like the method of drafting, but I might suggest doing several games/rounds (maybe three) to help mitigate some of the luck in what you're getting. Does that make sense?

Looks like a good idea...the theme is a good take on zombies, where the focus is on discovering a cure while trying to mess up your fellow scientists. Looking forward to reading more.

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Jesse,

Thanks for the feedback. Good point about the three rounds, I think that's technically what games like 6 Nimmt! and No Thanks say in their rules (though we only ever play one!).

I want the game to be quick, I want it to fill a similar hole to 6 Nimmt! which we can play the the beginning or end of a Games Night, while waiting for people to turn up without leaving anyone who turns up halfway through with a long wait.

I'm now thinking that I'll change the rules a bit more, to simplify it more. I've got an idea in my head (as yet untested) but I'll save that for another post though.



P.S. Two PIPs for the feedback - you've unlocked the BSc achievement :-)

Dave said...

Hi Jack, I think I'd have to see it played in reality to 'get it'. But I think I grasp (and like) the concept ;)

I like the idea of the negative scoring but see how it could prove to be a bit complicated, it'd be nice to find a way to keeping it in.

Am I right that you pass over your hand of cards at the end of each round? Would there be benefit to only passing over 1 or 2 cards? This might be beneficial if you had 'event' type cards which affected the game in some other way.

Again, I'm not sure this would actually work, but an event card could be played in the same way as a 'scoring' card (ie face down) but has an effect on the game, eg 'Refuted! You discredit your opponent's research, they score no points this round' or 'Salvage! Your poor research still yields useful data, just not in this field. At game end you do not score any negative points'.

Or perhaps assigning each player a 'role' at the start of the game? E.g. 'Guru: Points scored using crystals are worth double at game end'.

Of course, all of these would add a bit more complexity and extend the play time of the game, which would take away from the original intent. If you wanted to add something simple to the game, how about 'Zombie!' cards. These could be played in the same way as normal cards, but as soon as one is revealed, each player must immediately discard a card from their hand (or in front of them) above a certain value to immediately try to cure the poor victim. The player who played the 'Zombie' card would be excused.

Just my 2p worth, I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops ;)

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Dave,

Thanks for the feedback, I've got some ideas for simplifying the scoring which I'll describe tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll think on your ideas and try some of them our with the next version.



P.S. Three PIPs for some great ideas.