jesszhanggames.com Toronto Ontario Freelance Game Designer Narrative Designer

©2019 by Jessica S. Zhang

triple sabotage

oVERVIEW

 

Triple Sabotage is a strategy and luck game that I designed using a standard deck of playing cards.

The objective of the game is to deplete your hand and table of cards before the other player(s) do.

The full rules can be

downloaded here.

Each turn, players must play a card from their hand that is numerically greater than topmost card on the active pile.

Since it's unpredictable when your hand will be swapped, players can't get too comfortable with their current hand.

Some cards have special effects.

For example, playing a 3 causes you to switch hands with the next opponent.

In the last stages of the game, players don't know what their last cards are. This means that the first player to get to their last three cards is the first player to lose the ability to strategize.

This is a negative feedback loop implemented to allow for losing players to still have a chance to win.

Since it's unpredictable when your hand will be swapped, players can't get too comfortable with their current hand.

 

triple sabotage

design challenges

(recommended to read full rules first)

"initial sabotage"

 In the initial design of the game, players would switch their own cards, not their opponent’s.

Little did I know that this mechanic already existed in the game "Palace", so I had to add the Initial Sabotage stage of the game.

This ended up contributing greatly to making this game unique, as in the previous iteration of the game, players stored their power-up cards in their own slots. This resulted in a much more predictable and faster-paced ending to the game.

Switching the opponent's cards instead would force the player to maintain a balance between some choices:

  • Making the game harder​ in the later stages by reducing the pool of unplayed power-ups very early in the game, thereby increasing the stakes

  • Keeping the game moving by keeping power-ups available in the late game at the cost of giving their opponent access to these power-ups

card suits

Suits no longer matter in the finalized version of Triple Sabotage.

 

Previous iterations of the game required that if the card was the same value as the previous card played, in order to play it it would also have to be of a higher suit (diamonds < clubs < hearts < spades).

 

This increased the length of the game and detracted from player engagement because players did not have enough opportunities to play any eligible cards. 

Changing the 2

 The 2 was initially designed to clear (or "burn") the active pile. It was essentially a watered down 9, as it could only be played on face cards.

 

However, this caused a lack of consequence for being unable to play a card  because the active pile would never be very large. Part of what makes Triple Sabotage an engaging experience is the risk that forcing your opponent to pick up a large active pile might backfire if they swap hands with you.

 

Thus, Jokers were added as additional optional burns instead. The 2's role was switched such that it was both the lowest value number card but the highest value face card. As there is never a permanently highest value card, the active pile is kept larger for longer, raising the stakes of the game.

playing multiples

Players may play several cards of the same value at once. This rule was created to counteract playing several 3 cards at once.

 

In previous iterations of the game, playing several 3 cards would cause the player to switch cards with the opponent, and then switch with the opponent again, which essentially just resets the active pile without changing the stakes