Under Grad


Being a university student can be difficult especially when things in life can get in the way of study. Things that as a student you can control (such as watching TV instead of study) and things you can’t (such as a beloved pet passes away). I wanted to keep this idea and put it into the game in a way that would represent student life. I did this by creating an attack strategy card game where the negative effect cards (skip, lose a turn, reverse etc) would have a description of what happened and then the action, for example ‘You slept in and missed your tutorial. Lose a turn’. To balance this out, positive effect cards (add an extra turn, cancel, add one/two) are also included to show the things that help students study and get their assignments done on time, such as ‘Found a computer at the Uni library. Add one assignment’. Continuing from this, the lasting aspect of the game involves these ‘assignment’ cards. Assignments have different percentages that each player needs to collect in order to reach 100%. The first player to 100 finishes their assignment on time and wins the game.

I was recently asked how I came up with this idea for a game and I said, “Well, I played three different games”. It started with Camel Up, I liked the racing suspense and the unpredictability of the game. I originally had the idea to have a board game mixed in with cards like Camel Up but over a ’14 week’ term and each card helped you get closer to the end of the term. But this made things complicated so I continued the idea with just cards but hoping to keep the unpredictability aspect. I was then introduced to Exploding Kittens, a fun, fast game that was simple to remember. I liked this about the game, the suspense of picking up a bomb was brilliant and the mechanics were simplistic it made an easy game for any level of gamer. I wanted to keep this somehow. I then remembered I had an old game called Grass, and from this you act as a drug dealer trying to sell your marijuana and build your money. From here I really only took the table card mechanic where the cards have points (act as dollars in game) and also a stop/start card where you can only build money if your ‘market’ is open. This is what gave me the idea of the percentages for assignments and also the procrastination and motivation cards.

Procrastination cards are mixed in the deck and pulled at random. These cards are a hybrid of the stop cards in Grass and the bomb cards in Exploding Kittens. When you pull a procrastination card you have to immediately put it down on the table in front of you. As you should only have five cards in your hand at all times, you are now only able to have four cards as the procrastination card takes a space in your hand. If you pick up a second procrastination card, the same rule applies but now you can only have three cards in your hand. If you pick up a third procrastination card, you discard all three into the discard/play pile, skip your turn and lose an assignment if you have collected any. This concept comes from the idea that while you’re procrastinating, you’re not doing any work and therefore a lesser hand and/or a skipped turn. The only way to eliminate procrastination cards is to get a motivation card. Motivation cards are also picked at random in the deck and are played immediately if you have a procrastination card in play. You are able to keep them in your hand if you don’t currently have a procrastination card but must play from your hand immediately if a procrastination card is pulled from the deck.

As I was trying to put these mechanics together, I revisited Grass to play with some friends and realised I really didn’t like having the dollar amounts as points as I had to count them constantly. So I changed the assignment idea and took out the percentage idea. I wanted to simplify the game to make it faster and easier to play. I then made the assignments one unit each and made the first to ten assignments wins the game. This made it easier to count and easier to enjoy the cards in your hand.

So far the game is called Under Grad and is for 2 – 4 players. I recently had a play test and will be adding some other variables for a harder or easier game, a 2 and 3 player variable game and extra rule variables. I will be making a ‘how to play’ video of this game in the near future also.

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