The History Repeats Itself Competition

You can read the relevant information for the fourth of the Piecepack Game Design Competitions below. This information is mostly taken verbatim from email to the piecepack mailing list.


Theme: History Repeats Itself

Closes: 11 July 2003

Judge: Rob LeGood


There are several parts to the prize.




The design theme for the 4th piecepack game design competition is 'History Repeats Itself'. All game submissions are to be based on some sort of historical event. Of course, how accurately historical your game is, is another matter. (Was John Wilkes Booth the only person gunning for Lincoln that night??)

Each game submission will include an appendix giving some background on the historical event they chose. That way, those of us without the edu-ma-cation will have a small understanding what your game's about. Some ideas to get the ball rolling are:

As my friends know, I don't easily offended, so please feel free to design something more on the politically incorrect side. (Di vs. The Paparazzi!)

I think there's a lot of possibilities for the contest and I can't wait to see all the imaginative submissions I'm sure to get.


1. Submitted games must incorporate a theme based on some aspect of history. How accurate (or not) the game is, is completely up to the designer and will not affect the judgment.

2. The game will also include, as an appendix, a brief outline of the historical event the game's based on. This should be no more than half a page to a page long.

3. The game must utilize a piecepack and preferably should make use of some of the unique aspects of the piecepack.

4. Judging will be subjective and based largely on how enjoyable and interesting the game is (assuming it satisfies the rules of this contest), but other factors such as how well the historical theme is used with the game will also be taken into account. Overall, it will be the completely subjective opinion of the judge that ultimately decides the winner.

5. Games may make use of additional bits (such as money for example), or of other game systems in addition to the piecepack, or may require the use of two or more piecepacks.

6. Solitaire games, 2-player games, and multi-player games are equally welcome.

7. Games (rule sets) should be sent to Submissions@p... with the word "Contest" within the subject before 11 July 2003, 12:00 noon PST (20:00 UTC) (3:00pm EST). Karol will send confirmation of receipt back to the author, then cover the author's identity and send the game on. Between 1 July and 11 July confirmation will be within 24 hours. For earlier submissions confirmation may occasionally take longer. Judging will be blind; the play testers and judge will not find out the authors' identities until after the winner has been selected. Please note that to help free up Karol's time, the submissions WILL NOT be proofread so, what you send (minus your name) is what I'll see. (i.e. please get someone you know to proofread it, before you submit it)

8. Ideally, submission should be in a text that is readable by most computers. (Arial is a fantastic choice) All submissions must include the following header information as the first few lines of the rules.


A game for the piecepack by <Your Name>

Version <#>, <Date>

Copyright (c) 2003, <Your Name>

<# of players>, <# of minutes>

<Equipment Needed>

Failure to include this header information will make the judge very upset and irritable.

9. Please note that Karol will not be judging content, only removing identifiable text. Once the contest closes and the winner is announced, authors will have a chance to review any suggestions they have received (by friends, etc.) and should feel free to ask for comments/suggestions from the judge and make any changes they should submit the newest version of the game to be included on the Games Page of www.piecepack.org and for inclusion in the Mesomorph Games Rules CD-ROM and components thereof. Authors are strongly encouraged to get the final version into submission@p... ASAP, if the author wishes not to make any changes then she/he should send a note to the same email stating such and give permission to post "as is". Authors will be notified if there are any spelling/grammar/punctuation issues with the games at this point.

10. The winner of the competition will be announced on 25 August 2003. Depending on the quantity of games received, this date may move.

11. Designers are encouraged to submit their games early. There will be no penalty or stigma for sending in changes or updates to your game rules up to the 11 July deadline, and entrants are encouraged to submit updates based on their own continued play testing. Please be sure to send in a complete version of the game if changes are made, highlighting changes will make it easier for the judge to see the difference.

12. Game entries may be in PDF form, in HTML format, in MS Word files, or in plain text with accompanying JPGs, or GIFs if required for figures. If you submit in PDF form, all identifying items MUST be removed from the rules by you, or the entry will not be judged - please be sure to note in the accompanying email the authors name.

13. The submission must be freely redistributable. Authors are free to retain copyright. Specific licensing information should be indicated at the end of the document. Entries without such notice will NOT be included with the games on www.piecepack.org.

The author of the winning game also wins the opportunity to define and judge the next piecepack game design competition and arrange for the prize if he or she wishes. Agreement to this is not a requirement for entry however, and if the winner does not wish to judge the next competition he or she can suggest another judge, or we can improvise.

Submitted games will be added to the piecepack.org site following the close of the competition on a 'preview page' then moved to the Games Page when authors give permission or send in an updated version - see above.

Questions and comments are always welcome. If you're worried that your question will give your game away, please send it to Karol who will send it to me otherwise feel free to post them to the piecepack discussion group (I encourage entrants to join the group if they have not yet. Go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/piecepack). Good luck and much encouragement to all who would like to participate. Let's the Games (design) BEGIN!!

Rob LeGood

Announcing the winner!!

17 August 2003

Hi everyone,

The moment is at hand, the winner of the "History Repeats Itself" contest is about to be announced. I'm sending this to the main list without knowing the author's names, so I'm hoping that Karol will send a follow up email announcing the actual winning names.

The field was small this contest, with only 5 submissions, which worked out well because my free time has been in the toilet recently! Of the 5, One was racing, one was a german game style, two were abstract and one was a negotiation game. Of the entries, two really stood out, and the group liked both and had a hard time choosing as both were very different games, both enjoyable for their own reasons. In the end though, I felt one delved into the theme better than the other, and deserved the win ahead of the other games.

The winner of the 4th piecepack contest is PharaohsHeir, a German-style board game set in the lands of Ancient Egypt. The game is basically a rehash of Puerto Rico, with elements of Amun Re and the classic scoring mechanism of El Grande thrown in. While feeling strongly borrowed from other games, "Pharaoh's Heir" changes it up enough resulting in a very enjoyable experience. Two piecepacks are required to play the game, but it's definitely worth it to pick yourself up an extra copy. Our group enjoyed it because there were some tough choices to make throughout the game. I love Puerto Rico and this game uses the main mechanism very well. In fact, one gamer in our group that doesn't enjoy Puerto Rico, enjoyed "Pharoh's Heir", so there's a glowing review itself. The rules are a tad repetitive, but this is fine as there is little that's questionable about them. (That seemed to be a theme this year. The rulesets I found very clear with low instances of confusing moments) A summary of the actions would have been nice to add to the playmat, as we were referring to the rule book a lot early, but that's my only beef. All in all a very enjoyable experience, and a worthy winner of the 4th piecepack contest. Congrats!!! (On an aside, if you have a copy of La Cita, use the population tolkens from that game in this; it really adds a whole lot to the experience!)

The runner up is a very enjoyable racing game called Chariots. This is a beer and pretzels games with some interesting mechanisms. Movement resolution is inspired by the Starfleet Battles method of movement of dividing turns into "Impulses". If you've never seen this, read the rules and you'll see what I mean. It's quick to learn and fun to play and had the group asking to play more once it was over. For me, what kept it out of first place was that it quite didn't go far enough. During each lap you get two special actions to use which are Chariot racing themed. I would have loved to seen more of these. Basically, it felt like you could put any theme on this game and it would still be the same game. I would have liked to see more special actions added to the game to make it feel more Chariot like. I strongly recommend the author to take the game away and expand it. You have a potential sleeper hit on your hands! Good job!

For Best Use of Theme I have to give this to DivorcedBeheadedDiedDivorcedBeheadedSurvived, a game in which you attempt to reenact the ways King Henry VIII murdered his own wifes. The theme has a nice dark humor to it, which made people really anticipate playing it. The game itself is an abstract strategy game with the King Henry theme thinly applied. My biggest problem with it, is the same I have with playing something like Quoridor 4 player; in order to block the progress of an opponent, you must yourself give up moving forward to do so, leaving the others players in better positions. Because of this, the game had a 4 player solitaire feel to it, and I think it plays better as a two player game.

There were only two game left, so I'll mention each quickly here. The first was Berlin a game involving the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Once again, this is an abstract game with a very thin theme attached, and it was ok for a couple plays. The biggest complaint was that you needed to play it with some sort of grid beneath as it because harder and harder to tell what was a space as the wall became more and more removed. The game is also heavily dependent on luck, especially in the initial rounds, though there is some interesting things going on in the end game.

Lastly was BlackThursday, (which I believe should have been more properly called "Black Tuesday") a game based on the '29 stock market crash. You are investors trying to dump stock as quickly as possible. At first glance it appears to be a negotiation game, but a few plays made us realize that there no need to ever trade at all. The task of losing stock through "Windows of Opportunity" are so easy, that there's no reason that all the players shouldn't have lost all their stock before exiting the building. On the plus side, "Black Thursday" had one of the better games, but it really needs *a lot* more time in play testing. I'd continue to work on this, because I'm sure there's a very good game waiting to be released here.

So, that's about it, congrats again to PharaohsHeir for a well deserved win. If any of the authors have specific questions, feel free to email me.

Enjoy your victory and let's get that fifth contest rolling!!

Rob LeGood

Congratulations to the participants of Rob LeGood's "History Repeats Itself" Contest, especially the winner, Phillip Lerche! [Go Phillip, Go Phillip, Your Game Won, Go Phillip!]

Ordered as received

  1. EricWitt - DivorcedBeheadedDiedDivorcedBeheadedSurvived 2. EricWitt - Berlin 3. ClarkRodeffer - BlackThursday Redacted 4. Phillip Lerche - PharaohsHeir 5. Mark A. Biggar - Chariots

Interestingly, I was not contacted by Judge prior to the announcement to be able to provide names. I would like to ENCOURAGE the winner of this and future competitions to communicate with whomever they have helping them. I will contact the winner privately to arrange prize delivery.