BrainPlay Wiki
Treasure Hunters
Treasure Hunters - Image4
Posting Details
Country of origin United States
Created by Brandon Sheffield
Posted by Brandon Sheffield
Date first posted February 10, 2014
Game details
Game genre Critical thinking
Game summary A game which teaches players basic principles of game and level design, without their even realizing it!
# of players From 2+
For ages 8+

Other details

Game Designer / Creator[]

  • Created by Brandon Sheffield

Game Summary[]

A game which teaches players basic principles of game and level design, without their even realizing it! In the game, players are treasure hunters. They can choose three "tools," out of a set of three types, to help them along a path to reach a long-lost treasure. Which boosts they take will determine who wins, and how the game is played. The aim is to create an experience similar to games like Minecraft, on a smaller scale, where players can do what they want within a set of resources, but without the need for anything but a pen and paper, or even just a stick to draw in the sand with! As a bonus this game is almost infinitely scalable!

Players / Moderators[]

  • Target age range for this game. Ages 8 and up - higher level cognition and reasoning required.
  • Number of players. from 2 to many!
  • Player dynamics and roles, use of moderators or instructors, etc. Player 1 has an advantage in 2 player mode, if they choose the right tools, but they can be defeated by the wrong choices. In three player mode, generally player 2 has an advantage, because players 2 and 3 will tend to team up against player 1, leaving player 2 with a turn advantage over player 3. But it's possible for any player to win, given the right tools and strategy. This is an important part of learning the dynamics of play and game/level design. Instructors may need to help set up the game the first few times.

Game Set-up and Construction[]

Draw a circle. This is the goal. Radiating from the sides of the circle, draw four parallel lines on each side. Then draw four lines perpendicular to those lines to form a grid of five tiles. (It's easy to remember because it's four and four!) Players place their avatars in any of the three lanes (the middle lane is disastrous if their opponent has two blockades, but they'll learn that). The end result will look like this:

Treasure Hunters - Image1

Players then choose THREE tools, of any kind, from these three categories. X represents a blockade. A player may place a blockade in another player's playing field (directly in front is best, but they'll learn that quickly too), and afterward may also move their own avatar one adjacent tile (not diagonally). Triangle represents diagonal movement, allowing a player to move both one tile forward and one tile to the left or right, ideal for avoiding blockades. Circle represents boost, which lets the player move two tiles in one turn, in any *straight* direction (they can't move forward and left - that's what diagonals are for). IMPORTANT: Players may also choose to simply move one tile in any direction on their turn, without using any of their tools. The tools are visually represented thusly:

Treasure Hunters - Image2

These tools should be drawn above or next to the player's playfield, as below. The goal is to get to the circle in the center, where a glorious treasure awaits. Players start in the first tile, and the circle represents the 6th. If any of the children would like, they can draw a treasure in the middle! In the next section, I'll explain how this plays out.

Treasure Hunters - Image3

How to Play / Game Rules[]

Let's look at that game board again, and see what happened.

Treasure Hunters - Image4

In this game, Player 1 (left) has chosen Blockade, Boost, and Diagonal as her tools. Player 2 has chosen Blockade, Blockade, Boost as his. Note that these tools can be used in any order, but can only be used once each. Players may want to cross out a tool after use, because it's easier to remember that way. Here is the flow of action.

  • p1 boosts
  • p2 blocks, moves one tile forward
  • p1 uses diagonal to avoid block and move forward
  • p2 blocks again, moves forward again
  • p1 moves down to avoid the block
  • p2 boosts
  • p1 moves forward
  • p2 moves forward and wins

Now let's look at another very similar scenario, but with different results.

Treasure Hunters - Image5

Here, Player 1 (left) has chosen Diagonal, Boost, Boost, as her loadout. This is only one different tool compared to her first strategy. Player 2 has chosen Blockade, Blockade, Boost once again, since his strategy worked so well last time. Here's what happens.

  • p1 boosts forward
  • p2 blocks again, moves forward
  • p1 Moves diagonally down
  • p2 blocks once more, moves forward
  • p1 moves down
  • p2 boosts to catch up
  • p1 but it is too late - player two boosts and wins, using only a slightly different strategy. Again, very important learnings in game design!

As mentioned, the game scales to multiple players, as well. Simply add more lanes, and a third player can join the game from the start. Players should play clockwise for ease.

Here is what the playfield looks like with three players (below). You can easily imagine what 4 or 5 players would look like - bigger circle, more playfields, but always using the same number of lanes, tiles, and tools.

Treasure Hunters - Image6

Now let's look at a completed three-player game:

Treasure Hunters - Image7

Here, Player 3 has used her blockades to stymie her opponents, moving forward slowly, and a strategic boost to take her to the lead in her third turn.

Templates / Diagrams[]

  • NA

Related Web Links[]

  • NA

Other Details[]

This game will teach players the basics of level design and game design, using a limited toolset to allow players to create different fields of play. Essentially, through their tools and movesets, they design their own levels every single time. If an instructor wishes, players could be encouraged to change the rules a bit if they like, so long as those rules are kept consistent for all players (instructors should definitely help a bit here, for younger children). For instance, they could increase the number of tools available, but maintain that one tool must be carried into the treasure chamber in order to succeed (to escape from a deadly trap, or somesuch). Or they could create basic movement as a tool that players need to equip, represented by a square. Or they could remove the benefit of placing a blockade allowing the player to move, and see how that changes the shape of the game. But they should only be allowed to change *one rule at a time,* so the results of their decisions are clear. The hope is that players will learn what makes good and bad game design, but more importantly what makes for *fun* game design. For example, if everyone chooses blockades and blocks each other from the goal, nobody has any fun. Likewise if everyone just chooses three boosts, whoever starts first will win. For the best, most spirited play, players will gravitate toward strategies that allow them to feel smart for winning, and feel that if they lost, a change of strategy is all they need to succeed.