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  • Results From Game Design Challenge: In The Cards

    - Danny Cowan

  • Cole Hopkins, Unaffiliated, Grim Fandango: Department of Death

    Department of Death is a two player competitive card game set in the Grim Fandango universe. Grim Fandango takes place in the Aztec Land of the Dead, where recently deceased souls are sold travel plans to their final resting place by travel agents working for the Department of Death. These plans range from a luxurious high speed train to a swanky sports car to a walking stick with a compass in it, and what plans someone is eligible for depends on how virtuous they were in their past life. In Department of Death, players take the role of travel agents as they jockey for the most saintly clients to sell the most expensive travel plans to.

    Department of Death uses a single deck of 60 soul cards and a 6 sided die. Each turn begins with a Reaping, where 4 soul cards are drawn from the pile and placed face up. Each soul card depicts a recently deceased person. When all cards are revealed both players pick a soul to reap, one after the other (the player who picks first alternates every turn). All soul cards not picked are placed in a separate deck where they remain until the end of the game.

    A soul card has the portrait and name of the character it represents, along with their 2 attributes: saintliness and a favor. A soul's saintliness is a number that goes from 1 to 6 and determines the best travel package said soul is eligible for. A soul's favor is a one time action that can be used to aid the player who reaped them. The better the travel package sold, the more points its salesman scores. Favors can take many forms, but most effect the reaping in some way. For example, one favor might add an additional two cards to the reaping, while the other might allow its user to pick their soul first. The reaping of souls and the usage of favors are the main strategic elements of the game.

    Each player also has a reputation score, which starts at 1 and goes to 3. During a turn, players may elect to skip reaping and upgrade their reputation, which will raise it by one. A higher reputation makes it easier to reap souls. When trying to reap a soul, the player rolls a dice and adds the result to their reputation. If said number is higher than the soul's saintliness, the player has made a successful sale and may keep the soul card in their pile, face up. After a soul card's favor has been used, it's flipped over.

    The game continues in this way until there are no more soul cards to reap. When this happens, each player tallies the total saintliness score of all their reaped cards, and whoever sent the most combined virtue to the 9th Underworld wins the game. If both players have the same score, then whoever requested the least favors wins. 


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