Design Challenge: Mafia Mash

Last time… many (?) moons ago, I wrote a game design article detailing a game randomly generated from this page . The webpage randomly assigns a mechanic, a theme, a victory condition and a constraint (if you dare click the option) for a game! Here is a screen shot of what I got when I loaded it, just now.

Screenshot 2013-12-01 11.24.45Not that any of you can read that… it is asking for a game with Wagering Stock Holding and Paper and Pencil mechanics where in which you have a Bodyguard and Realm theme whose victory condition is to Help the Most Players… To be honest I may need to trim some of these things to make a game I’m thinking about. I honestly have little experience with making Paper and Pencil games lately… maybe I don’t know what a Paper and Pencil game entails? But I already have some ideas! I’m sure you do too!

The LAST time I visited the site (for the purposes of the design a game exercise) I got a Memory, Variable Player Powers game with a New York Secret Code theme where in which the player with the most amount of resources wins! Oh and no cubes. I cheated a little bit and have ‘player markers’ to help indicate control of territory.

This is a long post with many sections where in which I have optional rules. Skip them if you’d like. ALSO the set up is a bit of a bear. Just look at the picture to get an idea of the objective.

Try to enjoy!

Mafia Mash

Contents of game:
30 City Cards of 3 different colors (TBD). 5 river cards, 5 lakeside cards
30 Card Resource decks for each of the 3 colors (smaller cards, about ½ size of city cards)
10 Identity cards

Game Start
First, remove five city cards from the game. Look at their colors and remove a resource card corresponding to that color and place, in secret, face down under the city cards.

WARNING: SET UP EXPLANATION IS SUBPAR!!! SKIP IF YOU FEEL SO INCLINED! I’m really just trying to make a map look like this


Deal out the city cards to make a grid. DO worry about if the rivers connect. If you draw a river piece, go up a row and start on the far left and continue either building the river or filling out the row below until it has five wide, and then continuing above the river’s row until IT has five wide.
If you draw a lakeside card it must be the left most card. If you already HAVE a left card, place it to the left of a card already placed (yes this could make a row of six). Leave this column empty for possible future lakeside cards and fill those in as drawn, if at all. Start filling in the river row once you get down to four cards, starting from the far right. If there are any holes in the middle of the board, shift a non river column down to fill it.


Each player takes a secret identity either by choice, w/o letting other players know, or at random (depends on your style). Of course look at your own card.
These player identities let you ‘cheat’ in the game. More on this later.

Turn Sequence

During your turn starting with someone determined somehow… russian rollette? you may do one of three things.
1.) Gain a Resource from the colored deck from the color of a space you control:
2.) Gain control of a block adjacent to any block you control (if first turn of game… gain control of a block!)
3.) Play a secret resource from your stache.

1) If you chose to gain a resource, draw a card from a deck of cards corresponding in color to a space you control (pick one)! Some cards indicate that you play them immediately on drawing, others ask you to keep them secret (ones that say ‘secret’ are such) from the other players but all other cards are revealed and kept in front of you, face up. These will be properties, money, or influence. This is your stache. The player that controls the most out of a combination of these wins the game.

If you control multple blocks next to each other (you just have to be able to draw an adjacent path along them. NO Diagonal isn’t adjacent!) from a color you drew from, check the chart below
2 blocks? 2 cards.
4 blocks? 3 cards.
7 blocks? 4 cards.

2.) So now we see why we’d want to control more blocks. There are also points rewarded for this at the games’ end as well. Though we’ve got to pay for the control of some of those blocks! To control a block, if it had no resources on it yet, put a resource in your stache face down on that space.

Place one of your trade marks on that block when you control it. What, you didn’t bring your trade mark tag? Come on, pick something. What about Johnny Penneo, who leaves a penny? Billy Cheerio who leaves a round cereal? Don’t tell me, you don’t even have your own secret hand shake?

If another Mobster already has that block? Place a resource of a DIFFERENT kind (properties, money, influence) and SAME AMOUNT of cards as there was before (so if there was two, say a property and an influence, you’d have to throw down two money) on the block, from your stache, face down. What…? You didn’t remember what was there? No problem! Either discard a resouce (place back into the deck it came from and shuffle the deck) OR (Optional) just place your resources there and see if anyone calls your bluff.

There. NOW you control that block, remove that other guys mark and place yours there. Note: YES this can cause situations where you cannot normally be able to take a Block (all three resource types were already placed there).


Discovering Player Identities (Optional):

All Mobsters have their trade mark signals. The player identities will be dealt out at the beginning of the game. In addition to their twists to the above rules they get to do, that no one else gets to know they do, but they are allowed to say that they are able to do, there is a secret hand shake that other players need to know to be able to ‘deal’ with them. Each player, at the beginning of the game, makes up a secret handshake consisting of 3-5 moves. Players need to come up with a name for each move (for instance, ‘bacon lettuce tomato toast’) and they need to write down the words and a description of the move and then be sure to introduce themselves to each other player this way at the beginning of the game and a made up name for themselves (different than their identity card… or not).

During the game if you can’t remember what resources a player left on a Block you’re trying to take, you can force them to show you the resources by doing their secret handshake with them. If you do it correctly one of two things happens.

A1.) The player admits that that was his secret handshake and you look at the resources, then getting to place the correct one there in contrast (or not).
A2.) The player claims that that is NOT his secret handshake.

If he does the latter, you now get to challenge this claim. Everyone gets to look at his notes. If the player was lying and you did do his secret handshake, mostly correct… then the lying player gets one of your Marks (more on this later).

If you didn’t do the Handshake correctly one of two things can happen.
B1.) Obviously he claims that you didn’t do it correctly. You can challenge this, revealing his notes to all the players involved, but then you get TWO Marks, because you totally are a jerk.
B2.) He can claim you DID do it correctly and then you get to look at the Blocks resources.

(also optional)

ALSO during the game, no one knows what your secret mobster identity is (if you’re playing that way). During the game, if someone does something that is against the rules, and you don’t think the mobster identity they have allows them to do what they are claiming you can force them into a secret handshake. Just like you did with the hidden information on the Blocks.

You get the handshake right and they were cheating
C1) They admit to the handshake and the cheat, and take back the move.

C2) They admit to the handshake, but still attest that they weren’t cheating. They show you their identity and take a Mark.

C3) He denies that your handshake was right. Show all players his notes AND his identity, the cheater takes two Marks from you.

You get the handshake right, but they were NOT cheating
D1) They admit you got the handshake right (you did) and the cheat (which they weren’t) and takes back the move.
D2) They admit to the handshake and attest that they were not cheating (which they weren’t). They show either you their identity (if you agree to it) and then you take one Mark OR you don’t agree, they show everyone and you take Two Marks.

D3) He denies your handshake was correct. Show all players his notes on the shake, he takes a Mark, but then follow B2 (show you for one Mark to you or show to everyone and you take 2 Marks).

You get the handshake wrong

E1) He can show his notes to you (you take one Mark) if you agree or to everyone (if you don’t) and you take two Marks.
E2) He lies and claims you got the handshake right, and takes back the move.

In the case of anytime where a player was caught cheating, or pretends like he was caught cheating, the player has to undo the previous cheat and likely lose his action.

Marks on Players (not optional)

When you get a Mark from a player, that player can take a resource from you for each Mark you have. So, your first, that player gets one resource, their choice. Your second Mark of the game? Whichever player gave it to you gets TWO of your resources.

Game End

The game ends when two decks run out of cards, or if all but one player cannot expand.

Now reveal the face down cards from the game start! Shuffle them (facedown). Show all players one of them. And then a second and then a third. Scores points as based below. Ties split (rounding down) the difference.

1st card:
Most of that kind (by resource keyword: secret, money, properties or influence of card: 11 points
Second most: 8 points
Third most: 4 points
2nd card:
Most of that kind of card: 9 points
Second most: 6 points
Third most: 2 points
3rd card:
Most: 7 points
Second: 4 points

Next, score points based on each colored territory (do this for each color)
Player with most of the color: 7 points
Second most: 4 points
Third most: 1 point

Example Cards

Each colored deck has a different theme. Purple might have more influence cards than the rest. There are of course some oddities in the decks. Examples follow.

Inside Job (purple): Special. Secret. Play on a Blue Block to take control of it.
Concrete Shoes (green): Special. Secret. Play on a dock or river card to take control of it.

Golden Watch (blue): Special. Money. When you play this on a Block, you may take another action.

Police Contacts (purple): Special. Influence. Give the player you use this to take a Block from a Mark.

Each Identity allows you to break the rules. If you allow for cheating (optional rules above), each player can do this as many times as they’d like. Otherwise, flip your identity up (show everyone) when used. Turn upside down (to be reusable) each time you have a Block taken from you, but turn face up when you get a Mark.

Jimmy the Squid: Can take an action to control, as normal, any river or dock blocks, of those adjacent to those, w/o being adjacent to them.

Tommy Two Hats: When drawing from a resource, can discard a resource to draw from that resources colored deck instead. Draw an extra card when doing so.

The Piper: Can discard a resource to be able to break the adjacency rule for Blocks he can take an action to Control.

The Brute: When taking the action to take a Block from another player, you may discard a resource of the color of the block to give the controlling player a Mark after you take control.

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