Nice Games Jam: "Blame the Cat!"

Game designer Monica Fan joins us this week for a Nice Games Jam that is extra-mischievous and extra-cute. There's drama amongst the roommates, and we're pretty sure the cat's to blame. But can we prove it? Can your Nice Hosts (and Nice Guest) make a playable prototype by the end of the episode? How many times will Stephen say "meow" before the outro rolls? So many questions!

Prompt From Dale this time: "Design a game where you discover clues and have to solve a mundane mystery. Bonus points if there is a cat in it. EXTRA bonus point if it's the cat who did it!" Game type Card game Player count 4 Materials

Standard deck of playing cards

Coins or tokens to indicate the accumulation of blame

OPTIONAL: A real cat to sit in the middle of the game table

Setup
  • Sort the deck by suit.
  • Pull out the Aces and Jokers and set them aside. You'll use the Aces in a minute, but not the Jokers.
  • Remove six random cards from three of the suits (Clubs, Spades, and Diamonds) and set those aside for the game.
  • Shuffle the remaining cards into a deck and pull a random card from the deck. Don't look at it! This is the card that determines Who Really Did The Thing. Set it aside and don't peek until the end of the game.
  • Set the rest of the deck aside for a moment.
  • Deal the Aces randomly to determine which players get each suit. Whoever gets the Ace of Hearts is the Cat.
  • Once roles are determined, you can ignore the Ace cards, but it's useful for players to hold onto them as a reminder of what suit they have.
  • Deal each Human player two cards face-down. Deal the Cat player four cards face-down. Players can look at their cards but should not show their hands to the other players.
  • Place the deck of remaining cards face-down in the center of the table. This is the draw pile.
  • Place a pile of Blame tokens somewhere on the table so people can grab them (or throw them) as needed.
  • Rules

    GOAL: Pin the blame on someone else! Once a player has accumulated 3 Blame tokens, they are GUILTY and the game ends.

    Go around the table clockwise, taking turns. Each player can take one action on their turn; it's a fast-moving game of blame!

      Player Actions

      Cat-only actions:

      • Take a card from a human; the Cat chooses which card to take (without looking at the human's hand)
      • Give a card to a human
      • Make an accusation by playing three cards of the same suit (the Cat must play three cards to make an accusation)
      • Cat must meow when making a play…or maybe through the whole game?
      • The Cat cannot draw cards from the deck

      Human-only actions:

      • Draw from the deck
      • Trade with each other; the player who initiated the trade is the one who selects which card to take from the other player’s hand (without looking at their hand)
      • Play a pair (it's easier for humans to make accusations)

      Making an accusation:

      • A Human plays a pair of cards from the same suit, or the Cat plays three cards from the same suit. This is the Accusation.
      • The player whose Ace matches the suit from the Accusation receives a Blame token.
      • The first person to accumulate three Blame tokens is considered GUILTY, and this ends the game.

      Winning the game:

      • Technically, you win if you don't end up as the guilty party, but there's more to it!
      • Reveal the hidden card that you set aside during setup. The whole group wins if the right person got the blame. Yay!
      • The Cat can feel extra good if they were the real culprit, but one of the Humans was found GUILTY.
      • The Humans can feel extra good if one of them was the real culprit, but the Cat was found GUILTY. Congrats; you can all continue to live harmoniously as roommates.

      Strategies

      • Hold onto the cards that are evidence against you.
      • Play cards that are evidence against others.
      • The Cat, who has the most cards, is likely to know who the guilty party is.

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