Game Design Contest: Preparing Alien Ambassadors for Playtesting

Continuing from yesterday, I’m working on figuring out the cards, components, and rules for Alien Ambassadors for submitting for the 2017 Northwest Luci Award.

Oh, and since I forgot it last time, here’s a Cooltext logo for us to work with:


The Deck

Alrighty, got these banged out here. Weighted most of the Actions to being spoken nonsense words, but but there’s still a healthy splash of around 25-33% of the cards being physical things. Enough to get a little humorous physicality into the game, but not enough that it threatens the ability to do charades for your clues.

The revised Preference cards is covered in more detail in “The Rules,” below.

The Components

Other than the cards, we’ll need a board of some sort with the options for the Places, Things, and Animals to pick from, as well as a trio of identical Preference marker tokens for each of the 6 colors of aliens. Oh, and a 60-second sand timer for each player’s set of 3 clues.

For the Places/Things/Animals, let’s go with the following:


  1. Pyramids
  2. Serengetti
  3. New York
  4. Seattle
  5. Great Wall of China
  6. Taj Mahal
  7. Coliseum
  8. Big Ben
  9. Amazon
  10. Tenochtitlan


  1. Toaster
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Car
  4. Plane
  5. Boat
  6. Fork
  7. Spoon
  8. Knife
  9. Gun
  10. Pencil


  1. Dog
  2. Cat
  3. Mouse
  4. Crocodile
  5. Octopus
  6. Owl
  7. Elephant
  8. Tiger
  9. Cow
  10. Sheep

There will be tooooons of room here to expand and branch out with expansions, but for now the core game doesn’t need to be too complicated at this point.


The Rules

Whoa there, time to hold up for a second.

So, looking back at the way I wanted the game to go, with confusing and jumbled guessing, I foresee a possible problem: It might be way too easy for a Translator to just ask the player yes-or-no questions that basically directly point to the Preferences and gives the game away.

A solution to this would be to make the game end after a turn limit rather than after the Preferences are the only unflipped cards left, and use whiteboard-style hidden card information to make the game be much harder to guess: if Ambassador players are writing down their choices from whatever pops into their head, it becomes much more of an appropriate game of 20 questions rather than a two-step process-of-elimination.

The huge, huge downside though is the cost. Between the board and three sheets of cards, that’s about the same cost as six dry-erase pens and a single sheet of cards with UV-coating for dry-erasing. Still, I think the change makes the mechanics much stronger, and cuts a few bucks of component costs into two sheets of single dry-erase board (TGC Half-Mats)

Still, assuming that’s not an issue, here’s the current rule doc with the redesign and the older rules crossed-out. For the card list, we’re ignoring the old list of preference cards, and instead going with the revised deck.

Closing Thoughts

Despite the big changes, I think this new version will work even better, and I’m excited to crack into playtesting it as soon as Green-Circuit Mercs gets some finalized playtesting in!

Please let me know what you think of the game and the changes in the comments and reblogs below. Cheers!

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