ROOTS - A game where the rules change during the game

A game that can be played competitively OR cooperatively. The main mechanism is that players determine the rules as the game develops

Eric Teo


Kai Liang Teo (Eric), Shen Fang Cheng, Nicholas Blackwood

COMPETITIVE MODE (2-4 players, 40 cards, 10-15 minutes)

COOPERATIVE MODE (1-4 players,  40 cards, 10-15 minutes)


The game investigates the question of “What do we do now?” right from the beginning. Players can decide which mode they want to play, either competitively or cooperatively. The basic premise of the game though still remains the same in either modes and that is how to meet the objectives while being restricted by rules. As the players play, the types of cards and the decisions they make will be challenged constantly by conditions that will change as the game progresses. Competitively, players want to make it restrictive enough for their opponents while at the same time allowing them to still play cards. Cooperatively, players want to ensure its not restrictive yet the rules will most likely change as they shed cards. Through the use of rules that can change throughout the game, we hope to constantly have the players ask themselves what they can do now and adapt to meet these ever changing restrictions. This is something we do everyday in reality too!

Playing while waiting for the judges!

Playing while waiting for the judges!

How do you play the game?

Cooperative Mode

Players are trying to play all the cards from the Draw deck as well as from their hands. Anytime a player cannot play any cards, everyone loses. Players will be playing cards from their hands into one of three slots on the board. The key mechanism is the card they play has a number and color and both must match the rules that are exposed in these three slots. This also means that after they played their cards, if there are any rules depicted on that card, that rule becomes active for subsequent rounds.

Competitive Mode

The winner is the first player to discard their entire hand or has the least cards when the Draw deck runs out. During the active player’s turn, he or she can choose to: a) play a card facedown/faceup into the center of the table; b) play a card into one of the three slots as a Rule; c) draw a card. By playing a card facedown however, this means opponents can challenge and players will check if the number and symbol of that played card matches the rules described in all three Rules slots. Whomever loses the challenge will draw 2 cards from the deck. Any card can be played into the three slots and the rule depicted on that card becomes active.

What else ?

Our team was formed by strangers whom met during the first day of the game jam. Initially we had 4 but one member dropped out on the 2nd day so the 3 of us continued on. We initially started with a digital game idea that I pitched but as we did a milestone check nearer the end of the first day, I made a decision to scrap that idea and work on something non-digital, a previous idea which I had at the start of the game jam. By the end of the first night we had a working prototype of the game.

The second day we worked and playtested the game as well as developed the art. The initial concept was competitive and then we added in the bluffing + penalty element. There were still some kinks but we were pretty satisfied with what we have.

The last day morning I had the idea of a cooperative way to play the game using the same components. This became a hit with many of our playtesters so when we presented, we showed both modes of play. The comments have been mostly positive and there were many good suggestions from the judges and players that played our game.


Overall, it has been a positive experience. Learning to work with strangers and learning what I can do has been immensely important and helpful. We are honored and humbled to have won the Best Non-digital game (tied with another game) award at the Global Game Jam 2015.