game design

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gnome death

Emperor's Favor


Assignment: Identify the problems with hopscotch,

and design a game addressing some of those problems.


My first assignment in the game design class, I tried to take hopscotch (a kiddie game of indirect competition and few decisions), and convert it into a game of alliances/betrayals and delicate maneuvering.


During the process, I lost the 'hopping' portion, but I felt it was a small price to pay.



Final Ruleset

The game requires:

Chalk/tape to draw the game board.
Four markers (bean bags)
Pack of playing cards
2 to 4 people


In this game, the players take the role of cutthroat courtiers in the palace of the Majestic Emperor.  Each player has a hand of cards that represents their own strength of will and political acumen.  Each player has a personal Honor that determines the maximum amount of cards they can have in their hand.  Each player also has a direction they are facing (north, south, east or west).  Players perform their actions one after the other.   The initial Honor of each player is five.  At the beginning of the game, deal five cards to each player.


White squares on the game board are passable, black squares represent walls that you cannot pass/see through.  Feel free to come up with your own boards to play the game on.

Determine the order of the players as such.  Each player draws a card from the deck.  The players are then numbered in the order of card worth (Ace->King), (Spades->Clubs->Diamonds->Hearts).  This is the order they will perform their actions throughout the game.


At the beginning of a turn, a player draws a card if they are carrying fewer cards than their Honor.

The player now has the option to make a gift to an opponent.  This involves passing any number of cards from the current player to an opponent.


The next step is movement.  A player may move to any square that they can reach in five squares or less.  A player may not skip squares, and must step on each to reach the goal square. 

A player may then do one of the following:


At the end of a turn, a player must discard cards so that the number of cards in their hand is equal to or less than their personal Honor.  A player may discard more cards than necessary if they so choose.


After discarding, a player may change the direction they are facing.


Dueling is done as follows.


The winner of the game is the last one standing.  Only you are worthy of the Emperor!


Click on this to download the document describing the design process,
along with initial rules and playtest data.