Melodram-Aha!

This is a game design concept document I submitted as part of the June Game Designer Showdown at the Board Game Designer’s Forum. Fortunately for you, I was limited to 500 words. Unfortunately for me, several of the thematic links, as well as illustrations, were omitted from the entry. In time, as I complete a prototype, I’ll have more resources made available. But below is the entirety of what was submitted for this month’s contest…Wish me luck!

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MELODRAM-AHA!

A narrative storytelling game for 2 players.

A classic melodrama climax from the silent film era is the scene where a helpless Engenue is tied to the train tracks by a ruthless, moustache-twirling, top-hat-and-cape-wearing Bad Guy. Fortunately for the Engenue, there’s a Hero on the way! The Hero must rescue the Engenue before the train brings about an untimely death. Of course, in the movies things always turn out right for the Hero and the Engenue, but in the world of board games, the story can turn out quite a bit differently depending on how the players play…Let’s see what happens!

GAME CONTENTS:

  • 1 Game Board

  • Four Winner Token: two each of the Hero and the Villain

  • 50 Tiles

  • Engenue Token

  • Hero Token

  • Train Token

  • 1 six-sided dice

SETUP:

  1. Place the Train Token, the Hero Token, and the Engenue Token on their corresponding start spaces. Either side of these tokens can be face-up (for each, one is obviously gendered male, while the other side is obviously gendered female).

  2. Each player takes one of each kind of Winner Token: Hero and Villain.

  3. Each Player decides which Character they want to be the Winner of the current match: The Hero or The Villain. They place the corresponding Token in front of them, face-down, and move the other out of that match. These Winner tokens are revealed only at the end of the game.

  4. Turn the remaining tokens face-down, and shuffle them. This will be the Draw area for new tiles.

  5. Each player draws 3 tiles, and the game begins.

GAMEPLAY:

  1. Each player chooses where their 3 tiles will go:

    1. One tile is Played, and placed face-down in front of them.

    2. One tile is Moved to the Mystery Row and kept face-down.

    3. One tile is Discarded and removed from that match.

  2. The order of Tile Play is resolved, with the highest-numbered tile going first, and then proceeding in descending order.

  3. Once the Mystery Row is filled, that tile is selected by rolling the six-sided dice and selecting that tile. It is then resolved, and the rest of the Mystery Row tiles are Discarded.

  4. Play continues until The Hero reaches The Engenue (and The Hero wins), or The Train reaches The Engenue (in which case The Villain is the winner).

  5. Players then reveal their selected Winner. Each player that selects the matching Winner Token earns 1 point for the match. Both players may win points, and/or both player may also earn 0 points for a match.

  6. The Player with the most points at the end of a series of matches is the winner!

EXAMPLE TILES:

Train +1/ +2: move The Train forward 1 or 2, respectively

Hero +1/ +2/ +3: move The Hero forward 1, 2, or 3 respectively

Thug 2, 3, or 4: Hero must roll that number or higher to move forward 1. If unsuccessful, move Hero back 1.

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Author’s Note: astute readers will notice that I pointedly had two clearly-gendered sides for the Hero and Engenue tiles, each with gendered characters. I think it’s just as likely an obvious male could be rendered helpless as much as a female, and an obvious female could come to the rescue as much as a male. It’s not an excuse to have a chainmail-bikini-clad woman running around in a game I’d created (I think in this context she’d be best dressed as a rancher, for example), and additionally these two-sided tiles allow for same-sex couples to be Hero and Rescued characters.

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