Working on a color pallet for a Wild Wild West Coast game

At Gen Con, Will Niebling suggested I make my Roman Carnival game a Barbary Coast shanghai game. I like the idea. The game uses area control and kidnapping other people’s people to sell to ships for their return voyages or to employ in your own markets. There are a lot of photos from 1850′s San Francisco to inspire the art but I need a color pallet to unify it. So, what about the pallet from the intro to the 1960′s TV show “The Wild Wild West”?

Looking into it shows there is a nice restriction to the colors, blues, greys, red-browns, and only a splash of purple. Skin tones were mainly light shades of blue! Need to do some simplification of the range but this should work very nicely. Also I loved the show, that along with “Star Trek” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” were my favorites.


MatrixGames accessible to visually impaired gamers

Met with Pat Tussing at Gen Con. Pat is a blind gamer who played in some of my Matrix Games ten to fifteen years ago. She really enjoyed them and was impressed at how accessible they were to her. I know that Mark Kinney has run Matrix Games on the actual play pod cast “The Gutter Skypes” and that one of their players is blind. Since many games are not accessible to visually impaired gamers (including the most recent Matrix Games), this is a subject of potential interest.

Recent Matrix Games use cards – character cards, location cards, action cards and scene cards. They have a picture and a phrase that acts as inspiration to the player. Players have a hand of action cards which limits their choices. This is helpful activating people’s creativity because too many choices leads a lot of players to decision gridlock. The trouble with this mechanic is that it totally shuts out the visually impaired. To make things accessible I need to go back to the total freedom of action of the earlier rules and have all the scenario information be verbal. The rules need to be very simple and guide the conversation of the game rather than rigidly control it. The following scenario is a shot at doing that. I will post it as a video on You Tube so that visually impaired gamers can start playing.

First the rules:

Matrix Games are a story telling game in which players make up stories about what happens next. Players champion one character but are able to say what other characters do as well. The players are the authors of the story rather than just actors. One player acts as the host of the game. Their job is to keep things moving by encouraging players to make the next action.

Games are about specific situations called scenarios. A scenario write up includes an introduction, a short description of the characters and locations, and the type of actions that have to happen for the story to unfold. The host reads the scenario to the players before the game begins. Players then pick characters and start playing.

Each turn one player starts. They make up a story about what happens next. This may be very short or long and detailed but something in between these extremes is best. The other players (including the host) get to make one addition or make one challenge to the tale. If a player adds to the story they say what happens next or what is happening elsewhere. No dice are rolled, additions automatically happen. If a player doesn’t like the initial move or an addition, they may use their one action to challenge the story. They say what happens instead. The two players roll two six-sided dice. The high roller wins, re-roll ties. The winner decides which action happens. Usually they pick their own action but they can pick the other if the other players persuade them to. Once everyone has had a chance to make something happen the turn ends. The host picks who starts the next turn. The game continues until the story is finished.

Players may make anything happen in their stories. They say who is there, what they do, and what results from it. They may move characters to a scene, make up new characters and locations and even jump back and forth in time. It is helpful to not do everything in a single turn. Leaving blanks allows other players to fill them in and share in the action. Blanks also create suspense. Players are free to make anything happen, which can be a little daunting to some people. The host can help them by saying “If this was any other kind of game, you were your character and this was the situation, what would you want to do first?” Whatever the player says is their story.

Optional Rule: Allow players to challenge any story that says their character does something they don’t like. The challenge must say what their character would do instead of the first action. This challenge does not count as the player’s one action a turn.

Next a scenario:

Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Madona

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are sitting in the parlor of their residence at 221B Baker Street when the solicitor of Sir John Wilkes arrives. The solicitor tells them of the resent tragic death of Sir Wilkes. The death is suspicious but has been ruled of natural cause by the coroner. A priceless icon of Mary should have been in the room Sir Wilkes’ body was found in but was gone. The authorities decline to investigate further.

Holmes and Watson take the case and immediately go to the scene of the death, the home of Sir John Wilkes.


The home of Wilkes: Sir Wilkes lives in a fashionable neighborhood in London with his wife, daughter and son. As a Member of Parliament he often entertained dignitaries but the house is modest, with a main house, a nice garden and a stable.

Mortuary: Wilkes was found dead in the study of his home but the body has been removed to the mortuary. The coroner has ruled it a natural death despite the fact that Wilkes face was contorted and his tongue was swollen and black.


Lady Wilkes: A middle aged woman who once was a beauty but who is now past her prime. She is distraught about her husband’s death.

Darby Wilkes: Sir Wilkes’ 17 year old son. A student at Oxford home on break. He is reading history and is bound of a career in the Foreign Service.

Emily Wilkes: Sir Wilkes’ 16 year old daughter. A pretty girl, but not too bright. She appears to be distracted by more than her father’s death.

Bridget Jones: The Welsh housekeeper. She is an older woman who has served the family for forty years. She sees all and tells all, but is she telling the truth?

Captain Reggie Wilkes: Wilkes’ first cousin. He is a dashing army officer who is bound for greatness. He shows an unnatural interest in the families’ fortune.

Nico Papadopolis: A Greek merchant financier. He is a guest at the house. He is somehow tied up in Wilkes’ fortune which was largely made in Greece.

Holmes and Watson are also characters but they have no relationship with the family prior to the beginning of the game so they are not involved in the death.

What needs to happen in the game?

This is a murder mystery game. One of the players is guilty of murder! The goal of the game is to make Sherlock Holmes appear brilliant by revealing who did it and having them arrested. While two players may run the detectives, all the players will uncover/make up clues. They may do this by saying what Holmes finds or by having other people find them and show them to Holmes.

In the first part of the game the players will make up clues that show who had the means, motive and opportunity to commit murder. Players may offer alibis for their own character or plant clues that point suspicion elsewhere. Each new clue narrows down who could have done it. When the finger points to one or two players someone may accuse a character. They do this by saying who they think did it. So players make Holmes look good and pin the murder on one of the characters.

After the accusation the player running Holmes explains the case to the players, spelling out how the clues lead to the conclusion that the person is guilty. If the accused is championed by another player they get to point out holes in the case. If they players like they can then vote on whether they think the accused is guilty or not. Majority vote wins.

Thoughts on how this could be distributed to gamers.

When I was talking with Pat, the problems that loomed largest was how a game to the blind could be sold. Clearly the text of the game must be spoken which suggests it could go up as a You Tube file easily. The down fall of that is that it would be free. No payday for me. On thinking more, why not do the game up as a CD? It could hold the rules and many different scenarios. Each game would need appropriate background music to sound professional but I don’t see why that couldn’t work. There must be some sound engineer gamers around Bloomington I could talk to.

Anyway, the game above is ready to play. Please play and spread it on to others.

Chris Engle


Working on art games

Work on Undead America, Vanity Fair, Supply Line, and Alea Jacta Est (a Roman themed gambling game) and progressing apace. They will all be ready by Gen Con. Along with making the games I’m making frames to display them on walls. The first experiments are in and look promising. I will get some pictures up soon.


Origins 2014

I was over at Origins last week. Ran Fairy Tale Assassin League: City of Broken Dreams, Die Romeo Die, Hungry Dragon, and Bob’s Brain. I recorded a number of the games and am slowly getting them up on youtube. Things worked out well. Looking forward to Gen Con.


Vanity Fair: A game of power and greed in a medieval city. First Draft

My God I’ve been on a rules writing binge in the last four days! Three new rules sets in four days, and I’ve got another scratching at the door of my brain now. Amazing! These art games are going to be so cool, and so different from my line of story games. Enjoy!

Vanity Fair Rules
First Draft


Greed, envy, and lust for power are all the things that make up Vanity Fair and this game is all about those things.

Vanity Fair, the game, is set in a medieval city and is about the struggles for power between two to six important families. Players will collect retainers, gather resources from trade, trade their surpluses for what they lack, occupy territory and the offices associated with territory, and fight one another for control (especially at the end of the game). The game lasts between one to two hours.

Vanity Fair, the idea, is a very old allegory. In Piers the Plowman, it is the fairgrounds between the white city on the hill (St Augustine’s City of God), and the dark abyss (the fiery pit of Hell). On that plain of life all manner of corrupt and evil things happen, but also good things. A few centuries later, Pilgrim’s Progress coined the name Vanity Fair as a place visited by Christian on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Vanity Fair, the game, ignores all this and concentrates on life. It may be life that will lead you to hell, but that is between you and God. Enjoy the game!


One City Map – divided into city block areas
120 Retainer Tokens (divided into 6 teams of 20 tokens each)
120 Resource Tokens (20 Grain, 20 Fish, 20 Cloth, 20 Wine, 20 Men at Arms, and 20 Priests)
3 Cloth Bags – One for grain and fish, one for cloth and wine, and one for men at arms and priests
6 Leader Tokens – one per family

Explanation of the components

The City: The city is a map divided into different spaces by roads, walls, and canals. They also have important places like docks, town halls, cathedrals and citadels marked as well. Players vie for control of these areas.

Retainers: Each family has a unique color (corresponding to a resource). Retainer tokens are placed on the map to show interest or control of places on the board. Retainers may also be used to kill other player’s retainers.

Resources: Resource tokens represent trade in the game, which is the life blood of all communities. Each resource corresponds to a color: Grain=Yellow, Fish=Blue, Cloth=White, Purple=Wine, Red=Men at Arms, Black=Priests. Each resource token has five plain sides and one colored side. This is so because resources are rolled as dice in combat. When the colored side comes up, it scores a hit and kills one enemy.

Leaders: Each family has one leader, represented by a larger token of the same color as their retainers. Leaders count as two retainers for area control purposes and are much harder to kill than regular retainers (they can only be killed by men at arms dice).

How to play the game

Players take turns moving and making actions. The youngest player goes first, play then goes around the table to the left. At the beginning of a player’s turn they pick a policy, that defines what they can do that turn. Policies both give and limit actions.

In their turn a player may: recruit new retainers, collect resources from one of three bags, trade resources with other players (to try and form ever bigger sets of colors), move retainers and leaders, and fight other people’s retainers (to kill them and take over territory). Once a player has completed their actions, the player to their left starts the next turn. Players may always stop play at any time to talk and strategize.

Policy Choices

Players chose one of three policies to follow for a turn: Recruit, Trade, or Fight.

Recruit: The player gains two new retainers from their off board stash and place them on the board. They may move retainers and their leader to take over areas by intimidation but may not fight and kill other people’s retainers or leaders.

Trade: The player picks one bag to draw resources from. If they have a retainer in the area associated with that bag, they draw two tokens. If they don’t have a retainer there they only draw one token. After drawing tokens all the players may trade with one another to try and form ever bigger sets of colors, the more sets the better. The player may not move any retainers or their leader, or fight.

Fight: The player may move all their retainers and leader and take areas by intimidation or roll resources to fight. Defending players may roll resources to defend if they are hit.

Winning by Intimidation

When a player has two retainer tokens for every one retainer another person has in an area, they may intimidate that player’s retainers. The loser moves their retainers to a neighboring area.

Areas may hold retainers from all the players, so the board will inevitably be a mixed up mess. When intimidating, the attacker picks one other player to beat up on. The rest of the players sit back and watch. Players may not combine their forces at this level.

Fighting = Rolling Resource Tokens/Dice

Players may fight retainers in areas where they have retainers. They may move in retainers to do this or use retainers who are already there. Having more troops present in a fight is not needed unless you want to intimidate the opponent rather than fight. A determined foe, like Cyrano De Bergerac, can face down a hundred opponents if they are brave enough and dedicate enough resources to the fight.

The attacker decides how many resource tokens they want to use, but there are limits. Tokens are rolled as sets of colors so if only one color is used, only one token is rolled. To roll two tokens they need to be of two different colors, for three tokens, three different colors etc. If a player dedicates a full set of six colors to a fight they do not roll and score instead an automatic hit.

The player scores a hit for each token that rolls its colored side up. Each hit kills one retainer, so it is possible to pull off a major massacre with luck.

Fighting leaders is a little different. Players still roll resource tokens to try and score hits but the only hits that can affect leaders are men at arms, so only red kills leaders.

Once the attacker has rolled, the defender may opt to roll dice to save their lost retainers and possibly do a counter-attack. The player picks sets of colors to roll and rolls. For each colored side rolled one hit retainer is saved. It takes a red roll to save a leader. If there are colored sides left over after all the retainers have been saved (not including leaders) they count as hits on the attacker, who lose that many retainers. The attackers may then roll a defense of their own. This goes back and forth until one side decides to take their lumps and lose retainers.

Victory Points

The goal is to have the most victory points at the end of the game. Players get points for the following reasons.

1 Per area you solely control
10 Additional point if the area is the city hall, cathedral or citadel
1 Per three color sets
3 Per four color sets
6 Per five color sets
9 Per six color sets
5 If your leader lives to the end of the game
5 If you have all twenty retainers out on the board

When the game ends

The game begins to end when the last token is drawn from one of the three bags when means the game could be as little as twenty turn but could be much longer.

When the last resource is drawn that player finishes their turn as normal. Play then will go around the table one more time in an orgy of violence as players fight one another for last minute advantage. The player who drew the last resource token goes last, which may be an advantage if they have anyone left alive to use it!

The final push for Victory Points

The last go around the table is an orgy of violence. The players must pick fight as their policy. They then move retainers and roll fights. Players do not have to fight but if you have a resource tokens that don’t fit into sets of three or more colors, this is your chance to use them up to advantage.

When the last player finishes their fight, the game ends. The players tally up their victory points. The player with the highest total wins. Players may share victory if they are tied.

At the end of the game it is good to return to the allegory of Vanity Fair and remember that all is vanity. The winner and the loser are the same. The only real winners are those who leave the fair headed in the right direction. Consider if your actions point you towards the city on the hill or the dark pit. If that teaches any lessons they are of your own creation because this is just a game!

Chris Engle
Hamster Press


Supply Line Game rules: First Draft

This set of rules is a lot rougher than Undead America but i wanted to get them down. It is a straight up war game that uses some of the same ideas as the previous game but which is more complex. I’ve been thinking about this game for weeks.

Supply Line Game
First draft



Taking Turns

Supply Line is played in turns. The two supreme leaders roll to see which side goes first. The supreme leader who wins starts their side’s turn by selecting a policy and moving resources out to the military commands. The players running those commands then carry out the actions they want to do. When they have done all their actions, the other supreme commander starts the other side’s turn.

Command top to bottom

This is a war game and uses the hierarchy structure of modern militaries. On the top is a supreme leader who sets policy and allocates resources. Below them are commanders who try to carry out their missions using scouts, military units and resources.

High Command: Choses policies, allocates resources manages supply lines.
Commanders: Send out scouts and military units from their command token to carry out missions. They may expend resources to fight and defend.

High Command – Policy Choices

The supreme leader controls the High Command. They set the overall plan for the war. They decide on basic policies and then send out resources to their various commanders to carry out the mission. The policies they set determine what new tokens they get and what limits are placed on the lower commander’s actions.


Peace time footing: 20 Resource Tokens + 2 Scout Tokens + 1 Military Token No command, scout or military tokens may move.
Pre-War time footing: 10 Resource Tokens + 1 Scout Token + 1 Military Token Command, scout, and resource tokens may move but no military tokens may be moved or deployed. Scouts may fight scouts.
Politics: 5 Resource Tokens + 6 Scout Tokens All units may move but may not attack. Scouts may fight scouts
Recruitment: 5 Resource Tokens + 4 Military Tokens All units may move but may not attack. Scouts may fight scouts.
Production: 20 Resource tokens All units may move but may not attack. Scouts may fight scouts.
Offence: All units may move and attack. The other side’s units may defend.
Strategic Retreat: The High Command token may be move away from the enemy. No other units may move. When the High Command stops moving they may lay out new supply lines. All the resource tokens in the old supply line are lost.

Supply Lines

Supply Lines always follow roads. If there is no road then no supplies can go there.

All the new tokens appear at High Command and must be sent out to the commands down supply lines. The supreme commander decides how many supplies each commander starts with and then lays out resource tokens one move apart between the High Command Token and the command Tokens. The supreme commander uses Re-enforcement Tokens to move new scout and military units down the supply line to commands to hide what is going where.

The supreme commander places the command tokens at the beginning of the game. They decide how many scout, military and resource tokens a command has. These are held off board by the commander and are only placed on the board to scout out positions, to hold positions, and to launch attacks.

The supreme leader is responsible for setting up and maintaining the supply lines. A supply line that connects to a command token may send one or two resource tokens down the line to the command a turn but they don’t have to send any. Re-enforcement tokens move down the line one move a turn and sit next a resource token in the supply line. It takes a while to build up forces for an offensive.

Supply Center

The supply center is marked on the board with a High Command token. This is often in the capital of a country but may be in any major city. All new tokens in the game start here and must be sent out to command tokens down supply lines. Everyone can see the supply lines on the board but they do not know how many resource tokens are sent down them each turn. Players may move scout and military tokens down the supply line openly or hide what they are sending using a re-enforcement token.

Resource Tokens

Resource Tokens are the supplies of war (food, ammunition, replacement soldiers etc.) Each Resource Token is a cube with one side colored red. When moving Resource tokens up to the commands always have the red side facing down.

Resource Tokens are the dice of the game. Players roll Resource “Dice” to attack and defend. Once rolled, the Token is used up and sent back to the off board stash till it is brought out again by the supreme leader.

Resource Tokens may be captured by the other side and used against you so protect your supply lines.

Military Tokens

Military Tokens represent combat units. They show the location of front lines and mark where attacks can be made. Initially Military Tokens are not on the board. They are assumed to be in hidden in the Command Token. They only come out when a player choses to place them to stop a scout or when they are going forward in an attack.

When Military Tokens are hit in combat they are destroyed and removed from the board. They go back to the stash until the supreme leader brings them out again.

Re-enforcement Tokens

The supreme commander has a set number of Re-enforcement Tokens at High Command to send out hidden Scout and Military Tokens with. Once a Re-enforcement token reaches a Command Token, the Re-enforcement Token teleports back to the High Command to be used again. They do this because they are really just hidden movement markers rather than anything real.

Scout Tokens

Scout Tokens represent recon, police and secret police units that fan out across the land to find the enemy and establish political control over areas. They are not strong military units and can be easily brushed aside by military units. They may combat other scour units, capture enemy resource tokens and even overrun Command Tokens if they are empty of all scout and military tokens.

Command Tokens

Command Tokens represent the forward headquarters of armies. They are mainly used in Supply Line to hide forces and obscure where attacks will happen. The Command Token is placed on the board but what is in it is held off board by the commander. Command Tokens hold Scout, Military and Resource Tokens or may be completely empty and be there just to fool the other side.

Moving Command Tokens

Command Tokens move just like other Tokens but carry all that is in them along for the ride. It is assumed that the Tokens inside it are actually on the board somewhere near the Command Token but they are not placed on the board until forced by enemy scouting or when a player wants to set up a strong point or prepare an attack.

Creating Supply Lines

The supreme command sets up and maintains supply lines. They lay out Resource Tokens one move apart between the High Command Token and the Command Token. Supply lines are laid out all at once and don’t move after that. If a line gets re-routed or lengthened, the supreme commander lays out new resource tokens but the tokens that are made redundant are then removed from the board lost.

Supply lines may be attacked by enemy scout units who come in contact with them. When that happens, the resource token is removed from the board and taken into the Command Token of the player who controls the Scout.

Moving Scout Tokens

Scout Tokens move out from Command Tokens and spread out across the land. They may move cross country over any terrain. When they get near an enemy Command Token they may be stopped if the enemy commander places a scout or military Token in their way. In this way scouting feels out the front line of the enemy without needing to place all tokens on the board at once.

Cutting off supply lines

If a Scout or Military Token can reach an opponent’s supply line they can cut it. They do this by capturing a Resource Token. The Token is captured automatically when the Scout or Military Token moves up next to it. After the line is cut the commander gets no more Resource Tokens from it. It also blocks Re-enforcement Tokens from moving up but the supreme leader may bring the tokens hidden in that token out on to the board to fight the raiders.

The supreme leader may re-establish the supply line by placing more Resource Tokens on a new route to the Command Token but if the raiders are not dealt with they can cut the line again.

Deploying Military and Scout Tokens

The supreme leader may move Military and Scout Tokens along supply lines to Command Tokens. They make one move a turn and remain under the supreme leader’s control until they reach their new command. The drawback of moving units up like this is that they can be seen. The enemy will know exactly where the threat is and be ready to defeat it.

Moving up Re-enforcement Tokens

Re-enforcement Tokens are controlled by the supreme commander until they reach commanders. A Re-enforcement token may contain as many scout and military tokens as the supreme commander likes. The contents are marked off board. A Re-enforcement Token may be empty so you never know exactly where the enemy is going.

Re-enforcement Tokens move down supply lines to Command Tokens. The Re-enforcement Token sits next to a Resource Token and during the move moves to the next Resource token until it reaches the Command Token.

Fighting and Defending with Military Tokens

When the supreme commander calls for an offensive, Military Tokens may move up and attack. The commander may use Tokens already on the board or place Tokens held off board into attack positions. The Tokens may make a move to close with the enemy. Fighting can take place where ever tokens are next to one another.

If the Military Token faces a Scout Token, the scout is automatically defeated. The attacker does have to use up Resource Token but they do not have to roll it to score a hit. The Scout Token is destroyed and removed from the board.

The attacking commander decides how many Resource Tokens they want to throw into the attack. The tokens are rolled all at once. If a red is rolled the defending token is destroyed. If no reds are rolled the defenders held off the attackers.

The attacked player may choose to throw resources into defense. They decide how many Resource Tokens to commit. Roll them all at once. If the defender rolls a number of reds equal to the number that hit them, they are not destroyed. Any reds rolled above that destroy the attacker. The attacker may then make a defense roll of their own to save them. The fight continues until one side is destroyed, or both remain safe.

The active player may make attacks in as many places as they wish. Once attacks have been made the attacker may exploit any openings in the line.

Fighting and Defending with Scout Tokens

Scout Tokens may move up and fight other Scout Tokens. If three Scout Token converge on one defending Scout Token, no roll is made. The scout merely expends a Resource token and destroys the enemy. If the attack is two to one or one to one the player must roll Resource Tokens to score a hit. The defender may roll a defense just like Military Tokens do.

Exploitation and Rushing in Re-enforcements

When an attacker destroys a token in front of them the defender may deploy another Token from their Command Token to fill in the gap. The attacker moves up into the whole left when the first unit was destroyed. The new defender goes right in front of them, blocking their way to the rear. The attacker may then attack the new defender.

When the defender can no longer put a Token in the attacker’s way, a breakthrough has been achieved. The attacker may then exploit the breakthrough by moving units held off board through the gap. They start their move from the victorious attacking token. Exploiting tokens may try to overrun the enemy Command Token or try to cut their supply lines. If they encounter more defending tokens they fight them as described above.

Once all the attacks and exploitation are done the player’s turn ends. They may pick up the attack on their next turn. Offensive can continue as long as the player has Resource Tokens to spend. Since bringing up supplies is a hard thing to do, offensives will naturally peter out quickly. They need to be carefully planned ahead of time.

Pushing the Exploitation further

An attacker may try to move farther in the exploitation. They decide how many Resource Tokens they want to roll. They move one more move per red rolled. This can potentially take them very deep behind enemy lines.

Attacking Command Tokens

If a Scout or Military Token comes into contact with a Command Token they automatically destroy it at the cost of a single Resource Token. If the commander has any units – be they scouts or military tokens, they must rush them out first to defend the HQ. If they are destroyed or the defender runs out of resources the defender loses.

All Resource Tokens in the Command Token are captured by the attacker. Any scout or military units still in the Command Token are taken prisoner (effectively destroyed). The Command Token is removed from the board and goes back to the defending player’s stash. Any remaining Scout and Military units connected to that Command Token are cut off. They may not move or fight. They remain where they are until destroyed or a new Command Token moves to within one move of them. When that happens they fall under their command.

Returning Military Tokens to Command

After each turn a player may opt to pull back as many Scout and Military Tokens from the board as they want. These are pulled off board and go back in hiding.

Air Power

If the game includes air power the attacker does it by placing resource token red side up behind enemy lines, next to Resource Tokens on the supply line. Each Resource Token scores a hit and destroys the enemy Resource Token. The supreme commander will have to repair the supply line of their next turn.


Undead America – first draft – an art game

Here is the first draft of an art game I plan to make this year. I’ll have them available at Gen Con 2014. I thought of the game yesterday and the rules just poured out. I think it will be a very fun game to play and done as an art game it will look very pretty. I love a pretty game!

Undead America
First draft


The zombie apocalypse is upon us! Who will survive?

Undead America is a zombie survival game set in the United States as the world goes to hell. Most of the players run groups of survivors, intent on staying alive but also maintaining as much quality of life as possible. One or sometimes two players run the zombies. At first there are not many walking dead but soon the world will be overrun by them.

Each turn the survivors gather resources, try to stay away from the zombies and sometimes fight them. It is a desperate situation because there are never enough resources to go around.

So get ready to die, the game is about to begin.


1 game board
1 turn track
1 victory point track
60 survivor tokens (6 different colors, 10 per color)
255 zombie tokens
500 resource tokens
1 rule book
1 turn token
6 victory point tokens of different colors

What you are doing in the game

Undead America is a game of survival through a zombie apocalypse. But it is about more than just survival. You have to have a life worth living. This means holding towns and cities to gain victory points. The more points you have the better your life is. In the end the player with the best quality of life wins – if any of their people survive!

While the living concentrate on comfort and luxury, the undead player (or players in an eight player game) concentrates on killing everyone. At first there are very few zombies, so they may hide, but each turn more and more zombies appear until they overwhelm the living. At that point the zombies are able to isolate and surround the survivors and then overrun them.

The game lasts for twelve turns so players need to think fast on what to do. Before you know it the world will be overrun with only a few haggard survivors left.

How to win the game: Victory Points

The living players gain victory points for living the best lifestyle. This is shown by being in cities and towns. The player gets 3 points for having a survivor in a city, 2 points for having a survivor in a town and 1 point for having a survivor in a small town. To maximize victory points the survivors have to spread out. A player need only have one survivor per town so there is no reason to double up anywhere. Living players gain no victory points for survivor tokens that are outside urban areas. because camping sucks!

Survivor tokens are never stacked. Zombie tokens may be stacked up to aid in moving them.

Definitions of cities and towns

City: Cities are marked on the map in shaded outlines that can hold five or more survivor tokens.
Towns: Towns are marked on the board with shaded areas that can have at most four survivor tokens touching the shaded area.
Small Towns: Small Towns are marked on the board as black circles. Small towns may hold only one survivor token.

How many people can play?

Undead America is a game for two to eight players and plays in an hour.

Two players: One player runs the zombies and the other runs one color of survivors.

Two to Seven players: One player runs the zombies. The other players run different colored teams of survivors.

Eight players: Two players run the zombies (dividing them equally except on the first turn when only one player gets a zombie token). The other players run different colored teams of survivors.

Placing the living on the board

Place the map on a table and give the living players 10 survivor tokens of the same color.

The players start the game by populating the board with survivors. The youngest player goes first. They place one survivor token on the board, in any city or town they like. Play then goes to the left around the table. Each player places one survivor a turn until all the survivors are on the map. Once that is done the apocalypse can begin!

Zombie Infestation

The zombie player starts the game by placing a single zombie token in any city or town on the board. When movement starts happening, tokens may end up on roads in between towns but at first everyone must start in an urban area.

Each subsequent turn the zombie player gets twice as many zombie tokens. The zombie infection spreads through the general population like wild fire. Unlike the survivors, most people are not ready for the apocalypse and fall easy prey to the undead. The zombies get 1-2-4-8-16-32-64-128 in the first eight turns. After that the plague burns itself out as it runs out up new unready victims to convert.

Zombie players may place zombies in any city or town on the board so soon the urban areas will be overrun with the undead and the survivors will be cut off and surrounded.

Zombie Movement

During the zombie player’s turn they may move three groups of zombies (or two if there are two zombie players). A group of zombies may include any number of zombie tokens. The moving player may move the group as a whole break it up and move down any road to the next town or city. The zombies crowd up on the urban area and attack any survivors there. If they encounter a survivor on a road between towns they stop and fight them.

Zombies always move along roads from town to town. They never move cross country. They aren’t very smart after all.

Zombie Attacks

When a zombie token or group of zombies come in contact with a survivor they attack and eat them. Count up the number of zombies present and roll that number of resource tokens. For each red rolled a survivor token dies and is removed from the board.

Zombies also get to attack during other player’s turns if they are in the same town as a survivor and the survivor does not fight them or tries to fight but scores no hits on them. The zombies roll as many resource tokens as they have zombie tokens present.

If the zombie player has multiple survivors in a town they divide up which resource tokens go at which survivors before the rolls are made. Roll each attack separately so it is clear which survivors make it and which get eaten.

The zombies have a tough task, hunt down and eat all the survivors. They do this by spreading out and surrounding survivors. Then swoop in on the cut off living and fight them to the death. It helps to have a large centrally located zombie horde that can spread out suddenly to overrun a whole area at once.

Two Zombie Player games

When eight people play the game there are two zombie players rather than one. The zombie players divide up the zombie re-enforcements so half appear in each zombie’s turn. The acting zombie player places their new zombies and then gets to move two groups of zombies (rather than three – which is what happens when there is only one zombie player). They may move and fight using all the zombies on the table. The zombie players trade off on who makes counter-attack rolls.

What are the living to do?

The survivors have a rough time in Undead America. They have on one hand the need for comfort. They need to be in towns or cities to gain victory points but they also need to stay away from the zombies and possibly even fight them off. The living players control ten survivor tokens of a single color and as many resource tokens as they gather to help them survive. At the start of each player’s turn they need to decide what policy they want to follow that turn. A policy determines what they may do.

Harvest Resources: The player may not move any of their survivor tokens. Instead they stay put and systematically gather resources. The player collects 10 resource tokens. They may fight any zombies in the town with them.

Forage: The player may move half of their survivor tokens (round up). They are quickly gathering resources as they move so they only get 5 resource tokens. They may fight any zombie tokens in the town they are in or that they encounter on the move. If a survivor starts a turn in a town with a zombie or in contact with zombies on the open road, they may move around them to the next town with their move.

The player is allowed to move one group of zombies that has four or less tokens. They move down roads to the next town.

Move fast: The player may move all of their survivor tokens but does no collect any resource tokens. They may fight any zombie tokens they encounter on the way. If a survivor starts a turn in a town with a zombie or in contact with zombies on the open road, they may move around them to the next town with their move.

The player is allowed to move one group of zombies that has four or less tokens. They move down roads to the next town.


The living need resources to survive in Undead America. Resource tokens represent food, fuel, weapons and medical supplies. A resource token is a wooden cube with one side colored red. Players will roll resource tokens as dice to fight, evade, and save themselves when hit.

Resource tokens are always in short supply. The living players will never have enough. Deal with it! Use them sparingly. Run rather than fight whenever you can. In the end the zombies will overwhelm the world, your job is to survive.

The zombie player uses resource tokens to attack with but they don’t store them up. Instead they pick up resource tokens equal to the number to zombie tokens present in the attack and roll them.


Survivors move along roads just like the zombies. Moving tokens go down roads to the next town encountered or until they meet zombies who stop them. If a road has no towns on it (like interstate highways) a survivor may go a long way in a move, but moves on minor roads in congested areas can be very slow due to all the small towns in the way.

Players may choose to stop movement on the road between towns. If they do they are considered to occupy the whole road between the towns. They encounter any zombies that are also on that stretch of road.

Fighting Zombies

When a survivor is in the same town as a zombie token or horde, or meets them somewhere on the road, they may fight them. The living player decides how many resource tokens they are going to put into the fight before the resource tokens are rolled. They roll the tokens all at once. For every red rolled, a zombie token is destroyed and removed from the board.

If a player scores no reds in their attack the zombie player gets to roll an attack. If the attacker hits even one zombie though, the zombies do not get an attack. Zombies also get an attack if they are in contact with a survivor that does not fight back. These zombie counter-attacks are only on the moving player’s survivors, not any other color survivors present. They stand by and watch as you die!

Fighting other survivors

Living players may choose to attack other player’s survivor tokens. These attacks are rolled just like attacks on zombies with each red killing one survivor token. If an attacker scores no hits, the defending player may roll a counter-attack.

As twisted as it may seem for survivors to fight one another, it may happen because of victory points. If a player has more victory points than you, they will win the game, but they have to have at least one survivor left alive to win. This means it might make sense in the last desperate days of the apocalypse to turn on one another.


If a survivor is moving down a road toward a zombie filled town they may try to evade the zombies instead of fighting them. The player decides how many resource tokens they want to roll. If they roll a single red they may move around the town to the other side or move cross country to another road.

Which roads a survivor may jump over to is determined by the open space to either side of the road. The player may move a survivor token over any length of open ground to reach another road. Movement is bounded by the roads but movement is blocked by rivers and lakes (which may only be crossed by bridges).

Saving Yourself

If the zombies attack a survivor and score a hit the survivor is killed and removed from the board. The hurt survivor may try to save themselves by rolling resource tokens. The player decides how many tokens they want to roll and rolls. They save one survivor token per red rolled. The survivor remains in place and is not removed from the board.

Helping out

Other living players may give resource tokens to the acting player to help them out. The moving player decides how they want to use the resources, including keeping them to use later.

Scoring Victory Points

At the end of each living player’s turn they add up the number of victory points they scored that turn. This is recorded on the victory point track. At the end of the game, the living player with the most victory points, who has at least one survivor token left alive, wins the game.

The zombies win if they kill every last survivor.

Turn Track

The zombie player keeps track of the turn track. They start the game by placing the turn token on the turn track and getting their first zombie. They start each turn by advancing the turn token and collecting their new zombies. They do not get any more zombies after turn eight. The last four turns of the game are about hunting down the remaining survivors.

Killing all the zombies

It is theoretically possible to kill all the zombies. It is a statistical near impossibility but it is possible. If you gather all the resources in a seven player game and score a kill with almost every dice rolled, you can do it. It is very unlikely though. Better to look out for your own self-interest and run.

Influences on the game design

Undead America is designed to be an art game. This means it is a one of a kind, handmade piece of art that you can play a game with. The box, board, playing tokens and even these rules are meant to be beautiful. It is a joy to play a pretty game.

The actual game player is influenced by classic board games like Fox and Geese, Go, and European resource management games. In Fox and Geese, the geese player adds in more and more geese while trying to surround the fox to kick them to death. Meanwhile the fox maneuvers around trying to eat the geese by jumping them. Go is a game of area control done by the placement of game tokens. Again you win by surrounding your opponent. Euro Games are about managing limited resources to accomplish a task.

I hope you enjoy the game, both as a play experience and as a work of art.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press


Bob’s Brain: A decision simulator

Bob’s Brain is a game I’ve used in psychotherapy sessions for over twenty years. I’m finally putting it out in a commercial form. It can be played for fun or to learn. I could see it working as a party game. All the players are part of Bob’s Brain. One player presents problems Bob faces. The players come up with solutions and then the problems that come from their answers. It can be a hilarious romp or you might learn something about yourself.

Here is some card art.

BB Cover 2
Bob's Brain Card Front
I'm not good enough


Die Romeo Die

Imagine you are playing GTA 6 (a game that doesn’t exist – yet). In between crimes you see the cuts scenes. They tell of a love story between people in rival street gangs. It’s going to end badly…

In Die Romeo Die you get to play the cut scenes. Each time the story comes out differently so unlike GTA you can play this for years and years.

Here is some of the card art.

DRD Card Front
Blood on the street
Bad Boy
No you didn't
Location House

Die Romeo Die plays like Fairy Tale Assassin League. Check out a video of FTAL.