Players 1
Length 20 minutes
Equipment Required single standard piecepack
Designer MarkGoadrich
Version 0.6
Version Date2005-03-01
License GNU FDL 1.2, dual-licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


Aliens have abducted two each of six species from earth. All are currently held captive on a spaceship returning to the alien home-planet, with each species in a different cell. Your goal is to have one of each type of species escape to the center of the ship. A group of unique individuals, one for each species, will give you the strength you need to overpower the alien guards and release everyone. Not all escape attempts will be successful, and animals might have to be captured again to allow another to species to escape. Can you organize the escape from the alien ship and return to Earth?

Cell Management appeared on Day 2 of the LudicAdventCalendar in 2018.

Here is an example diagram of the (random) game setup:



This game is based on the mechanisms present in gene regulatory networks, which help a cell respond to changes in its environment dynamically. The board is basically a circular bacterial DNA strand, the guards are RNA polymerase, the captives are transcribed RNA sequences which become promoters and repressors for other transcription sites, and escaped captives actually become proteins in the cell. Of course, it all has to be abstracted somewhat to make an interesting puzzle, but I hope it gets across some of the basic concepts of positive and negative feedback loops. More info about gene regulatory networks can be found at http://doegenomestolife.org/science/generegulatorynetwork.shtml and http://cnx.rice.edu/content/m12383/latest/

Designer Notes

If you find an initial setup you cannot solve, please let me know, either through email, the yahoo group, or editing this page. I'm leaning toward thinking they can all be solved the more I play it. I'm very interested to hear any playtesting results and comments, thanks.

Reviews & Comments

I like the theme, and what I perceive completed gameplay results in. I know that all Solitaires are puzzles, but the option to chose the cell that makes a disturbance really hits home the concept of a puzzle for me. I am glad to see that it is taken from real life. It is "based on a true story" of sorts.

The game deserves probably 2 read-throughs, and 1 read and play along reading to fully understand.

-ElectronicWaffle on the piecepack yahoo group (msg 2373).

I'm enjoying your game very much, and I've played it four or five times so far. The game itself seems very polished, but understanding the rules was a struggle.

For those who haven't tried the game yet, this next paragraph contains mild spoilers. Read at your own risk.

As for the game play itself, my first impression was that it seemed like Towers of Hanoi ( http://www.mazeworks.com/hanoi/ ) with several distractions thrown in. I expected that I would be able to come up with a general solution and stop playing. I am pleased to report that after a couple of hours of playing, I've made progress, but I haven't found a general solution. Even if it is generally solvable, finding the solution is an interesting exercise.

All in all, it's an impressive contribution.

-DonKirkby on the piecepack yahoo group (msg 2385).

CategoryGame SolitairePuzzlesCategory CategoryNeedsTesting