WTF?!?!? (What’s that Feature?): Game for the 2017 Heritage Jam

WTF-Deck

In 2017 the Heritage Jam falls during the same time as Open Access Week, so I am making the three new games I designed available as CC0 (public domain), releasing one a day over the next three days as part of the Online Jam. The in-person Jam takes place at the University of Leeds on the weekend of October 27–28. Each of the three games has a download link, paradata, and rules, along with designs, all free for the taking. Have fun, and if you happen to be an artist, leave a comment and we can work together to make a professional version that we could bring to market.

Paradata

 

Creative Commons License

The rules and gameplay mechanics of WTF?!?!?! (What’s that Feature?) are hereby licensed as CC0 (public domain).

Paradata

Being a digital person I wanted to create something that was the opposite, a game that had no digital footprint outside of the tools I used to design it. When I was in the field in Greece and Italy, I wanted to do something fun during cookie breaks, or to have a diversion with friends after supper. Ancient Corinth had its dice game. So why not cards? Why not . . . archaeology cards?

The theme of the 2017 Heritage Jam is “the bones of our past,” so I approached it through thinking of artifacts as the bones or human occupation, but also with cards as bones assembled into a deck for play. Some of the cards contain images of worked bone. When we play, we disarticulate the skeleton of the deck until it is no more, yet we have transformed it into something rich, meaningful and fun. Just like archaeology!

To produce the game, I first developed and wrote the rules, basing WTF?!?!?! On the mechanics and gameplay of Dixit, and on the fun real-world game we used to play in Greece: WTF?!?!?! In this game, our excavation director would lead us around to various weird archaeological artifacts, point, and shout, “WTF?!?!?!” It was up to us to figure out the context and function of the thing. We had a blast doing it. I wanted to translate that kind of archaeological fun into a portable game, which could be instructive for creative archaeological thinking.

Once the mechanics and rules were done, I found a bunch of oddball artifact images online (which for this prototype should be classed as “fair use”), and dropped them into InDesign CS5 to create the initial deck of 84 cards. For the prototype, the actual identification of the artifacts has been removed, although I might add them back as a kind of answer key. But that’s beside the point. I made the game to encourage players to think both creatively and critically about what something might be (and why). This is as true for the player making up the story of their active card as it is for the other players who are deciding which description best fits the other cards on the table. Archaeology can be fun, and I hope players enjoy this game.

Download the PDF file of the cards along with the rules. Because the game is CCO, I would encourage everyone to play the game and improve upon it, adding cards, making expansion decks, and remixing the rules.

WTF-Rules

Rules

The Story

You’re archaeologists excavating a site containing some very odd artifacts. Some are so strange they make you shout “WTF?!?!?!” Share what you think you’ve uncovered, and see if your colleagues agree. Identifications can range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Just don’t attribute anything to aliens!

Contents

Scoring track (gameboard)
84 cards
36 voting tokens in 6 different colors, nos. 1–6
6 trowel player markers

Setup

Each player chooses one trowel and places it on space “1” of the scoring track. Shuffle the 84 cards and deal 6 to each player. Players should not show their cards to anyone. Make a draw-pile with the remaining cards.

• With 4 players, each person takes 4 voting tokens (numbered 1–4).

• With 5 players, each person takes 5 voting tokens (numbered 1–5).

• With 6 players, each person takes 6 voting tokens (numbered 1–6).

Gameplay

The Trench Supervisor

One player is the Trench Supervisor for the turn. The player picks 1 of the 6 image cards in their hand and describes what the artifact was originally used for, saying it out loud without showing the card to the other players.

Choosing a Card for the Trench Supervisor

Once the Trench Supervisor has spoken the artifact’s function, the other players select from their own 6 image cards the one they think best matches the Trench Supervisor’s description. Each player gives their selected card to the Trench Supervisor without showing it to the other players. The Trench Supervisor shuffles these cards along with their identified card and places them all face-up on the table. The card on the left will be number 1; the one next to it will be number 2, etc.

Finding the Trench Supervisor’s Card: Voting

The goal of the other players is to find which of the displayed cards is from the Trench Supervisor. Each player places a numbered voting token face-down in front of them. For example, if a player thinks card #2 is the Trench Supervisor’s, the player puts their “2” voting token face-down in front of them. Once everyone has voted, the tokens are flipped over for counting. Players cannot vote for their own card.

Scoring

• If all players correctly identify the Trench Supervisor’s card, or if none find it, then the Trench Supervisor scores 0 points, and all other players score 2 points.

• In any other case, the Trench Supervisor scores 3 points, as do the players who chose the Trench Supervisor’s card.

• Each player (except the Trench Supervisor) also scores 1 point for each vote that was cast for THEIR card by another player. The players move their trowels along the scoring track the same number of spaces as points scored on this turn.

End of Turn

Each player draws a new card to return their total number of cards to 6. The person to the left of the first Trench Supervisor becomes the new Trench Supervisor (it’s a big site) for the next turn.

Game End

The game ends when the last card of the deck has been drawn, or when the first player lands on space “30”. The player with the highest score wins.

—Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming

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