Monster In The Cabbages

Release Date: 
Friday, September 15, 2006
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (experienced): 

by Jonathan Leistiko

Object

Harvest as many cabbages as you can without letting the Monster in the cabbage field get so hungry that it eats everyone.

You Need

Paper and pencil to keep score.
A container to put things in. This is the Monster Cup.
8 or more six-sided dice. (You can manage with two dice and a bunch of tokens or spare change (Put the tokens in the Monster Cup instead of dice.), but these rules assume you have lots of dice.)

Setting Up

Put the dice where everyone can reach them.
Claim paper and a pencil to keep track of your score. Label two columns: Cabbages and Feedings.
Roll to see who goes first (high roll goes first). Play passes clockwise. Place the Monster Cup to the left of the last player.

Play

On your turn you can Harvest Cabbages or Feed the Monster.

If you choose to Harvest Cabbages, roll two dice and add them to your score (under Cabbages).

If you choose to Feed the Monster remove a die from the Monster Cup, mark a Feeding on your paper, then roll the dice in the Monster Cup (see below for the possible ramifications of this).

If the Monster Cup is between you and the next player at the end of your turn, it gets to take a turn. On the Monster Cup’s turn, add a die to it, then roll the dice in the Monster Cup. When the Monster Cup’s turn is over, move it to your right.

When you roll the Monster Dice: If the Monster Dice total 25 or greater, or if the Monster Dice show three or more identical results (triples or better), the game ends.

Winning

If the game ended because the Monster Dice roll was 25 or greater, the Monster in the Cabbages got too hungry and ate all of you (the game wins and all of the players lose).

If the game ended because the Monster Dice rolled triples, cross reference the triples rolled with the following table to determine the winner:

1 or 2: The player with the most cabbages wins. Ties go to the player with the least number of feedings.
3 or 4: The player who did the most feedings wins. Ties go to the player with the least cabbages.
5 or 6: Multiply your cabbages by your number of feedings. If your result is the biggest, you win. Ties are shared victories.

Variants

Food Supply – On your turn you may roll one, two, or three dice to score. If you roll one die, remove a die from the Monster Cup. If you roll three dice, add a die to the Monster Cup.

Always A Winner – If a Monster Dice roll is 25 or greater, the player to the right of the Monster Cup wins the game.

Power Ups – At the start of the game, shuffle a Pinochle or Poker deck and deal three cards to each player. Also claim two dice. This is your die pool; it’s what you roll when you choose to score. If you choose to sacrifice your turn, draw a card in addition to removing a Monster Die. At the start of your turn, you can play a card. If you do, add a die to the Monster Cup, roll the Monster Dice, then take the effect of the card (as indicated by the following table):

Suit Effect
Diamonds Add a die to your die pool.
Hearts Add a feeding or 9 cabbages to your score.
Clubs Remove a die from someone else’s die pool.
Spades Remove a feeding or 9 cabbages from someone else’s score.

Origin And Credits

I’m worried about the environment. Specifically, I’m worried that things won’t get better because companies only seem to see the short-term profits they can get from exploiting the environment – not the less direct long-term profits from implementing environmentally sustainable processes. To simulate a similar environment, I’ve been mulling over the idea of a game where you can take act to advance yourself (while pushing the game closer to an all-players-lose ending) or pass your opportunity to score and reduce the likelihood of all players losing.

This basic game design came to me while waiting for some Chinese take-out from Wanfu Too to bring back to Monday Night Games Night. Corina, Marissa, The Masked Avenger, and I played it for the first time that evening.

The “hidden message” in the win condition I”ve created for this game betrays my bias. Companies that incur what seems like a short-term hit (sacrificing a turn to reduce the Monster Pile) are more likely to come out ahead in the end (success depends on sacrifice in two-thirds of the win conditions) than companies that exclusively pursue easy profit (profit without sacrifice only wins one-third of the time). The game encourages all players to sacrifice a little, (thereby voluntarily spreading the burden) by rewarding sacrifice two-thirds of the time. The game also encourages players to not spend all of their time sacrificing (The game won’t end and you don’t maximize your likelihood of winning.).

I like how the mechanic that triggers a player victory and the one that triggers an all-player loss are linked, with a window (3 and 4 dice) where the players can win without fear of an “all players lose” ending. What I’m saying there is that it’s possible for humanity to reconcile our modern life of technology and industry with environmental imperatives.

Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Minimum Age: 
9
Game Type/Context: 
Price: 
$0(USD)