Board Games and Creativity

Wednesday, 16 May 2012   |   Creative Thinking

Retaliation layoutRecently I've been watching TableTop.  It's a fun series about different board games.  One of the things that really got me interested is the potential for creativity here.  Modern board games introduce a whole variety of different mechanics in terms of game play and with it comes a lot of creativity in terms of strategy you develop around it.  I figured it would be a fun challenge to come up with a simple strategy game based on a standard deck of cards.  Read on to see what eventuated.


This game is called Retaliation and is played with a standard deck of cards. It is for 2 - 4 players.  (If only 2 players then it is best if each person plays 2 suits)

The aim of this game is for you to protect your king and queen (your royalty) while at the same time attacking other players royalty.

Setting Up

Each player picks a suit and gets all of the cards of that suit.

Each player places the King and Queen face down in front of them (In any order so your opponents don't know which is which).  The remaining cards are your armies and these will be used to either attack other players royalty, or defend your own royalty.

Each player now picks a card to place in front of each of their King and Queen, face up.  These cards represent an army that is currently defending that person. (see top right image)

The rest of your cards you hold in your hand.


The game consists of 9 rounds.  A round begins with each player selecting a card from their hand and placing it face down in front of them.  Once everyone has selected their card then everyone turns their card over.

The player with the lowest card gets to go first, second lowest card goes second and so on. (Smaller armies are more nimble) Ace is counted as 1 and Jack is 11.  If two players present an equal card then the player with the weakest defence goes first.

On your go you may either add your card to an army defending either your King or Queen or you may attack another army.  You must do one of these actions.

Retaliation 2Defending:  If you add to your defending army then you place the card on top of the card already defending. (face up).  You can have a maximum of 2 defending armies in front of either royalty card.  You may discard the lowest defending army from the pile in order to add a new defending army on top.

Attacking:  If you choose to attack then you may attack any player you like and you may attack either of their royalty.  The numbers on the card represent that armies strength.  The attacking army must be stronger than the defending army or you are not allowed to attack.  An attacking army may defeat multiple defending armies up to it's number minus 1  (all armies must be in the same defending pile however).  Your attack always starts against the card at the top of the defending pile and works its way down the pile.  All armies used to attack are discarded after the attack.  Any defending armies that were defeated are also discarded. 

eg.  If you were attacking with an 8 in the example on the right you could not defeat the army on the left as they are equal and so the defending army has the advantage.  You could however attack the army on the right.  You will defeat both armies as both defending armies add up to 7 and you are attacking with 8.

If a royalty card is attacked and has no defending armies in front of them then they are captured and become the property of the attacking player.  (That player may view the card to see what they have captured but don't have to show the others.)

If you are not able to attack any other army (ie the top card on all defending piles is equal to or higher than your card) then you must add your card to one of your defending piles.  If there are already 2 cards in the pile then you must discard the lowest one.

(One strategy would be to go in with a high card one round to clear an army, hoping to be the last player so you don't leave it open for an opponent to take.  Then play a low card the next round, hoping to be the first player to go and take the royalty card you cleared on the previous round.)

If you lose both your royalty cards you are still in the game.  You can still attack and capture other players royalty but you have no defense.  Any cards you must place in your defense are just discarded.

Special Cards:  There are two special armies, the Jack and the Ace.  The Ace is your archers.  In attack it will remove any defending card you choose (it is not limited to the first card in the defending pile).  In defence your archers are weak and only have a strength of 1. 

The Jack is a mixed bag.  If the army he is opposing has a strength that is an even number then his strength is 15.  If the army has a strength that is odd then his strength is 4.  If the jack is attacking then it is the first defending army that defines the Jacks strength.


Once the 9 rounds have been played, scoring happens as follows:

  • If you still have your own king then you get 60 points
  • If you still have your own queen then you get 20 points
  • If you have an army in front of your royalty then you get the numbers on the cards added together and multiplied by 5 (the Ace and Jack do not count towards this score)
  • If you have captured an opponents king you get 150 points
  • If you have captured an opponents queen you get 80 points


I hope you play the game and that you enjoy it.  I think there is plenty of opportunity for strategy here.

Also,  feel free to make modifications to the game and see how it affects gameplay.   In particular I reckon the scoring could be tweaked, or the actions of the Jack and Ace.

And do leave us a comment telling us how you enjoyed the game and any modifications you made.


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