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Home Game Design Bullies (Working Title) – Prototype

Bullies (Working Title) – Prototype

Published on 2013-12-17, by in Game Design.


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Congratulations to the very first Bullies Winners! Norna (Left) ended up in a kingmaker position, she couldn’t win but she could possibly swing the winner one way or the other. However neither Jun (her boyfriend) or GirlWhoseNameIForgotSorry we’re able to convince her to help them win. So the very first bullies game ended in a 2 way tie.

When working on client projects you sometimes feel like you don’t have any “design juice” left over for your own projects. At least that’s how I felt the last 2 months. As soon as the steam let up though I had my own idea for a game heavily inspired by playing too much Resistance Avalon and a bit of Coup.

I’ve only play tested Bullies twice so far. Already people really enjoy it and it has some interesting meta-game like mechanics that shift around depending on how many players there are. We started with 8, and of course since I taught the game everyone made sure to knock me out first; despite having exactly the same amount experience they had with it….which is to say none. But that never matters in a political player elimination style game. You teach it, you die. However because the first test had similar amounts of gaining and losing life (1 and -1, -2) knocking out remaining players tended to drag out and take longer than anticipated.

Still people heavily enjoyed the concept of the game. As the game whittled down to 5, then 4 players everyone was worried the game would “fall apart” once it reached 3 players. I was fairly certain that this would not be the case and rather than fall apart at 3 players it would in fact become a lot more intense. I was correct. People began talking about how the end game reminds them of Game Theory concepts especially The Prisoners Dilemma. Now I did the entire play test with just 2 decks of playing (poker) cards, and 2 dice per player. The dice were just a way of keeping track of life for each player and we’re a simple way to go up and down instead of writing and rewriting life totals.

Now that I know the concept works I’ve taken the time to create a better prototype; which also makes it easier to begin tacking on more elements. The game is fun, but it feels like it’s missing that 1 or maybe 2 more elements to flesh it out.


The Rules

Setup Players start with 7 HP Maximum HP is X (Still in testing, 7-12 suggested) Each player has 1 character which they keep face up in front of them Adam, Kyle, Quincy, Jones, Tim, Niles, Eli, or Steven. Each player has a hand of cards with the same roles as there are players. So in an 4 player game each player would have in their hand the following cards:

  • Adam
  • Kyle
  • Quincy
  • Jones

1 Minute Chatter

For 1 minute players can talk to each other, bribe, barter, promise, persuade, threaten and lie to each other. At the end of 1 minute each player must play 1 of these cards face down in front of them. Simultaneously every player will flip over the card that they played.

Cards are resolved

Count the number of Character cards played

  • 1 = That character Gains 1 HP
  • 2 = That character Loses 2 HP
  • 3+ = That character Loses 3 HP

Check life totals

If a player has 0 HP they are removed from the game. When a player is removed, active players remove that character card from their hand.

Game End

The game is over when there are exactly 2 players left. The person with the highest HP wins. Tied HP result in a tie game.


  • Playing your own card can net you 1 life, however you also run the risk that any other playing your card the same time as you will change a heal into a hurt and lose 2 hp instead.
  • Politics are important. If you look weak, you are in danger. If you look strong, you are in danger.
  • Making pacts openly tends to result in all uninvited players forming an opposing pact.

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