Firstly, we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the first Vernal Star Game Design Challenge!
This year we asked game designers to create tabletop games that required research, explored obscure topics and themes, could be played in under 3 hours and made players happy. Each entry was play tested and scored by objective groups of players over the course of a month and was then scored internally by our judges.
When we started this challenge, we had hoped to do a second round of playlists by the judges themselves along with a second group of play testers. We were unfortunately unable to complete a second round of playtests, but we are very pleased with the amount of play all these entries have received and feel confident that the scores reflect the experience of the players.
Each game was scored in 5 categories – Research, Representation, Obscurity, Brevity and Joy. You can take a look at the full scoring rubric here. The highest possible score for a single entry is 20.
The results from highest to lowest score:
Kolob: For Eternity – A game about the Mormon afterlife.
By Madi Mordaunt and Michael Rude
In the book of Abraham, the residence of God is nearest the planet Kolob. It is often believed that Kolob is the physical home of God. It is said in the Book of Mormon that men reaching exaltation, through belief in Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and getting married and sealed for time and all eternity in an LDS temple, will, upon their death and judgment day, receive a planet to rule over as God.
This is the setting of our game; a brand new planet created for Joseph Smith and the 40odd women he was sealed to for eternity in their earthly lives. The GM will play Joseph Smith in his new role as God-Husband, and the players will be his wives. A small part of this game is creating the physical scope and configuration of the planet.
By Tayler Stokes
Emory has recently survived their life partner, Cameron, and now faces a risky surgery to remove tumors from their heart. Their life has been rocked by their loss and is in disarray. How will they face this ordeal?
Players take the role of Emory and other important people in their life. Together, players will visit moments that lead up to and away from the surgery as they discover together how Emory meets the ordeal and how this changes their life.
To Be Frankie
By Jeremy Alva
High school is a time of great emotional discovery, creating and developing the building blocks of who you will be for the rest of your life. To Be Frankie is a unique collaborative storytelling game where players work together to play as the titular Frankie, an modern-day high schooler trying to navigate their social, school, and personal lives. Each player has a hand of four emotions that they can choose from to help narrate potential ways for Frankie to respond to different life scenarios, allowing the players to discover Frankie’s personality and opinions of the world.
Business As Usual
By Andrew Moore
A printable board game about lobbying, filibustering bills and bribing senators.
By Willow Palecek
The year is 1271, and Pope Clement IV has been dead for almost three years. The Cardinals are deadlocked, unable to decide on who shall next serve as Pope of the Holy Roman Church.
Germania is in Interregnum and the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor lies vacant. The Papal States are in civil war, and Rome is ruled by the mob. The Church has granted Sicily to Charles of Anjou, uncle to the King of France, but he and his nephew eye the fractious Italian city states greedily.
As one of the Cardinals, you must make a decision, with two-thirds of your number agreeing to a single candidate, unless you want to see what depths Charles will go to in order to force a decision. Who you choose will not only effect the Holy Roman Church, or Italy, but the entire political framework of Christendom, and indeed, the world.
This Last Supper
By Tim Hutchings
A famous mural of the last supper of Christ will be partially destroyed due to architectural modifications to the wall it was painted on. How to best effect this modification with the least impact on the painting? Which parts of the painting are worth saving? Players take on the roles of figures in the painting and of architects deciding how the painting will be changed. Through the course of the game the painted figures will enact their historical roles through both mime and speaking, and will react to the prompts and queries of the people viewing the painting. Figures will endeavor to make themselves as interesting as possible in order to be chosen for preservation, but at the same time they must not vary too much from their fellows or they may be removed for breaking the motif.
Well done, everyone!
Designers will have a chance to further develop and polish their games over the next few weeks. Then all entries will be compiled into a PDF available for download on our website, and into a printed book available on demand.
We look forward to seeing you at next year’s Vernal Star Challenge!