Gunslingin’ Ramblers

A card game for 2-4 players

It’s the Wild West and you’re a whiskey drinkin’, poker playin’, gun fightin’ cowboy.  You’re trying to outwit all your opponents at cards and in gun duels all well knocking back more shots that you can count.  Do you have what it takes to become the king of the cowboys?

Game Play

At the beginning of the game players draw 2 Rambler cards and 5 poker cards.  They must then decide which Rambler to put into play and which poker hand they want to play first.  A poker card (Which contains a full poker hand) is choosen and placed face down in front of them.  Betting then commences poker style around the table until everyone has settled up.  Now it’s time to reveal the hands.  Each player reveals their poker card and the winner is determined.

Here’s where the real strategy comes in… Each Rambler has a score in “Cheatin'” and at this point they can choose to cheat and make their hand better.  After players decide whether or not they will cheat, the actual winner of the hand is determined.

Any Ramblers who didn’t cheat now have the chance to call out those who did.  This results in quick gunfights in the street where one Rambler dies and the other collects their bounty.

At the end of the round all players have a chance to bank their poker winnings so that they don’t lose their money when they die.

Finally, all Ramblers left alive take a celebratory shot of Whiskey.  If any players lost their Rambler, they draw a new one and place it on the table at the beginning of the next turn.

During the game there are three ways that Ramblers can be removed from play, they can be killed in a gunfight, pass out from drinking too many shots of whiskey or they can run out of money.


Card Types

Poker Cards:

These cards each contain a full poker hand and also a special one time use ability that you may use when you reveal this card.


There are 36 rambler cards in the game.  Each one has the following:

Drinkin’: This is how many whiskey shots they can take before they die.

Cheatin’: This is how good they are at cheating at poker.

Shootin’: This is how adept at duels they are.

Bounty: How much another player earns for killing them.

Money: How much money the rambler starts with.

Special Ability: A power the can use that no one else can.



The game ends when either the Whiskey runs out or the Ramblers deck is empty.  The winner of the game is the person who has the highest total score based on:

Amount of money you have in your bank

The sum of all bounties you collected

$50 for ever Whiskey shot you took



36 Rambler Cards

50 Poker Hand Cards

50 Poker Chips

100 Whiskey Shot Counters

4 Wooden Dice

8 Bank Cards

4 Order of play cards

4 Hand Rank Cards


– Jason

All ideas presented on this site are the property of the Building the Game Podcast.


Bonus Episode 1: Playtest: Damsels in Distress

Damsels Playtest

First of all, this has been written with the assumption that you already listened to the actual play recording of our playtest of Damsels in Distress.  If you haven’t listened, I think you’ll appreciate it more if you do.

Second, I apologize for the technical problem that cut the recording off early.  I’m glad we managed to get the whole game in there, and that’s valuable.  But I’m worried that the most helpful piece of the experience for our audience was lost when my laptop died.  That’s what I get for trying to repurpose my Dad’s discarded, beat-up 2002 Toshiba Satellite(tm).  What we lost was the critical analysis of the game, where the three of us talked about what was good, what was bad, and different ways the game could improve.  So let’s break a few of those down.

The Good:

I still think the core concept and mechanics of the game are good.  The concept – strong men saving helpless girls from certain doom – is familiar.  I’d estimate it’s pretty much the core feature of 90% of the fiction that exists in our world.  It’s easy for people to understand, which is a helpful thing since this is my first game.  But that could also be sexist.  And I’m aware of that.  Which is why the game is also trying to make fun of that classic format.  The artwork will go a long way toward making that work.

The main mechanics of the game are, I think, pretty solid.  While the Dangers are randomly put out, the player has complete control over what he does.  At the same time the choices become increasingly limited as the game moves forward.  But there are no surprises.  The player chooses his own fate as he goes.  The real challenge becomes managing the other players as much as the Dangers.  I find that exciting.

The Bad:

Above all else, the game was too short.  In the three player game, it ended before things got really tricky.  A week later I played a four player game, and that was even worse.  The game ended after only 3 rounds.  It hadn’t even begun to get tricky.  The game will only be good when the Heroes have to make difficult choices about who to save and who to let die, and that can’t happen if the game ends too soon.

Whoever goes first seems to have an advantage in points.  So far that has always been the case in every game I’ve played.  Now, I think technically that’s just dumb luck, with high point Damsels being put out in the beginning every time.  But luck or not, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s happened every time.  So I need to stay aware of it.  I have a couple ideas of how to even that out.


More cards.  I’ve already re-vamped the entire deck from the ground up, expanding it from 72 cards to 100.  My worry is whether that’s enough.  If that’s only going to take a 4-player game from 3 rounds to 5, that’s still not good enough.  But I’m going from 25 Damsel cards up to 40, so hopefully that’s a big enough jump to make a difference.

Death Trigger order.  My original thought was that all Damsels who die, do so at the same time.  But that confused everyone else.  The last thing I want is for the game to be confusing.  I think I’ve come up with an answer that not only solves that problem, but also can add some strategy to the game, and partially addresses the issue with Player 1 winning more often.  I won’t know for sure until we do more testing.

These, of course, are just a few highlights of what we learned after the playtest.  But the one thing that I haven’t addressed yet is the most important question of all:  Is it fun?

My answer is this:  Almost, but not yet.  I think it can be and will be.  But I’m not sure yet.  I’ve got a lot more balancing to do.  I’ve got a lot more playtesting to do.  I’ve got a lot more talking to players to do.  I NEED MORE FEEDBACK!!!

So here’s where I’m asking for help.  I’m going to be bringing the newest revision of Damsels in Distress with me to Gencon.  I’ve ordered a complete deck from Superior POD.  I’ll have it on me at all times.  If you’re at Gencon, contact me on Twitter ( @poorly_designed ) and let me know you want to play.  We’ll meet up and give it a shot.  That’s what Building the Game is all about.  Building a game in public, shared with the community.  We don’t want to do this FOR you.  We want to do this WITH you.

Episode 9: Perfect Information and Distressed Damsels

Intro and Welcome:

4th of July and Rob’s Pale Skin

Jason’s improvised fireworks and mean neighbors

Gulden Draak

Robin Scott Fleming – Film Composer

Whatcha been playing?:

Jason has been playing: Mexican Train, Rhumb Line

Rob has been playing: Cards Against HumanityFormula D, Quarriors, Lost Cities, Dominion

Mechanic of the Week:

Perfect Information games.

Other games we mentioned:


Magic: The Gathering


Easter Island

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Practicing the Pitch:

Rob pitches Damsels in Distress


Dragon Chow Dice bags

Giant Bomb

Damsels in Distress

Competitive, Cooperative or Solitaire card game for 1 to 4 players

The sinister Baron Totter Von Fink is up to his old tricks again!  He’s kidnapped dozens of innocent maidens and put them into increasingly bizarre and deadly predicaments simply for his own amusement!  It’s up to you, the Hero to save these poor Damsels from certain death.  And like any good champion of justice, you’ve got to save them just in the nick of time!

In Damsels in Distress the players each take on the role of a Hero trying to save the Damsels from certain death just as their Dangers count down to zero.  Each Damsel card is randomly paired with a Danger card.  On every turn those Dangers count down toward zero, and death for the poor Damsel.  As the Heroes the players must play their cards strategically to push those counts up or down, hopefully bringing the coutn to zero before the end of their turn so they can save the Damsel.

The game is usually played competitively with each Hero focused on his own score, and any dead Damsels counting against him.  The game can also be played cooperatively, with all Heroes working together to save all of the Damsels.  You can even play it on your own as a solitaire game, running one Hero back and forth to rescue all of the poor maidens and foiling the Baron’s plans.

Game Features:

40 unique Damsels to save
25 unique Dangers to face
4 different decks of 7 Hero cards
1 bonus Villain deck – play as the Baron!

– Rob

All ideas presented on this site are the property of the Building the Game Podcast.

Episode 8: Interview with Chris Kirkman from Dice Hate Me

Intro and Welcome:

Chris Kirkman from Dice Hate Me joins us this week!

Whatcha been playing?:

Chris has been playing at Origins: Carnival, Compounded, Take the Bait, Over the Road, Awesome Possum, Princes of the Dragon Throne, VivaJava

Jason has been playing: Settlers of CatanCatan Dice

Rob has been playing: Cards Against Humanity

Mechanic of the Week:

Worker Placement

Other games we mentioned:

Stone Age

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Formula D



Lucky Dice

Garden Dice

Practicing the Pitch:

Chris Kirkman talks about designing games with Cherilyn Joy Lee Kirkman and others.


Soap Box Derby

The Great Heart Land Hauling Company 



Episode 7: A Season of Love and Zesty Breakfast Burritos

Intro and Welcome:

Still enamored by making a podcast

Whatcha been playing?:

Jason has been playing: Book of Heroes

Rob has been playing: Shut the BoxCards Against Humanity, Quadefy and Dragon’s Dogma

Mechanic of the Week:

Wagering and Betting

Jason keeps trying to talk about Bidding.

Other games we mentioned:


Blind Man’s Bluff

Texas Hold ’em

Liar’s Dice

Gambling? I’m in!

Practicing the Pitch:

Jason pitches Kingdom Seasons


Dresden Files


Kingdom Seasons

A board game for 2-4 players.

Throughout the game players earn prestige.  At the end of the game the Kingdom with the highest prestige wins.  The game ends when the final season card is flipped.

Each player controls a kingdom which is represented by a castle.

Your game board would have your castle and surrounding lands on it.  The boards would be double sided so that you could choose which one you wanted, it would mean up to 8 choices for your castle.  The boards would be designed to match up with each other in the middle.

The goal is for your Kingdom to take over the world and become the Grand Emperor by any means necessary.  War, spies, alliances, intrigue all of these could be mechanics.

Each Kingdom is better at different things and has different assets and different favored seasons and different speciality commodities.

Key Mechanics:

Season Cards:  Every so many turns you reveal a new season card and it tells what the next season will be like. For instance seasons of war, famine, plague, love, insurrection, magic, valor and the like.  These cards change everything in the game when they are shown, market prices, travel times and more.  When the last season passes the game ends.

Commodities: There will be several types of commodities in the game, including Horses, Weapon, Food, Magic, people, etc.

Marketplace: The marketplace is a central location that you can trade commodities.  The commodities are limited to what has been traded in and what has been stocked based on season.

Land Claiming: Commodities can also be taken tribes and villages within the kingdoms.  To do this you would either have to forcibly takeover the area or by bribing the people there.

– Jason

All ideas presented on this site are the property of the Building the Game Podcast.


Episode 6: Beautiful Monsters and the Barter System

Intro and Welcome:

Dragon’s Milk

Bill Cosby and other stuff not worth mentioning

David from The Podge Cast is awesome

Whatcha been playing?:

Jason has been playing: Wasabi

Rob has been playing: Dragon’s Dogma

Mechanic of the Week:

Using Barter Systems in games

Fast Paced Games

Other games we mentioned:

Settlers of Catan






Jason’s Zombie Card Game Idea


Sentinels of the Multiverse

Stone Age




Cheap Ass Games

Unexploded Cattle

Kill Doctor Lucky (Not a Cheap Ass game, Rob was right)

Kill Doctor Lucky (The Cheap Ass game… Jason was right too)

Battle Cattle


Practicing the Pitch:

Rob pitches Monster Pageant



Five Finger Tees

Monster Pageant

Competitive card game for 2 to 4 players
In this Rummy-style game each player takes on the roll of a horrifying monster, competing in a beauty pageant to see who can be crowned foulest of them all!  Tear, claw, maul and chomp as hard as you can to collect as many accessories as possible to make your creature the prettiest.  In the end, whoever wins the most events (swimsuit, talent, eveningwear, etc.) will be crowed Miss Monster!

Game features:

Eight different monsters to choose from:  Vampire, Mummy, Ghost, Ogre, MerMaid, Succubus, and more!
Eight Pageant Events:  Swimsuit, Talent, Eveningwear, Interview, Cage Fight, Peasant Hunt, and more!
Dozens of accessories to wear:  French Manicured Claws, Necklace of Severed Fingers,
Razor-Sharp Stiletto Heels, Thorned Tiara, and many many more!
Just because you’re a monster doesn’t mean you can’t be beautiful too!
– Rob
All ideas presented on this site are the property of the Building the Game Podcast.

Episode 5: Sandboxes and Mini Golf

Intro and Welcome:

Henry Winkler

Whatcha been playing?:

Jason has been playing: Castle

Rob has been playing: Minecraft

Mechanic of the Week:

Sandbox games and their implications with board games.

Other games we mentioned:


Practicing the Pitch:

Jason pitches Par for the Course