Board Games

Most of you should have realized by now, that I am not a video game purist, in the sense that I enjoy games that aren't video in nature.  In fact, I feel that video games have inherent limitations in gaming possibilities.  But they can do things that no other game medium can do.

I know some people for whom video games are the only games they play.  This makes me a little bit sad, because there are so many wonderful games of all kinds out there.  And would it kill you to get up from in front of the screen and go outside?  Play some ball, kick the can, or just go for a good long run.  It feels good.

Now come back inside, and play cards, or chess, or Diplomacy.  I remember my old Star Wars and Space 1999 themed board games.  Those were some really cool games.  Nowadays these movie licenses get made into video games.  Not always so cool.

Board Games have been a staple in my life since I was a child.  Or they have been stapled to me throughout my life.  But I have never been bored by games played by childish staplers...  The abstract strategy, and pick up and play appeal of board games has never left, and I am always looking at new board games, thinking of new things to try.

A Few of my favorite board games:
American Rails (Empire Builder)
- Also Russian Rails, British Rails, Japan Rails, European Rails, etc.
Cities and knights of Cataan - Beefy knights make this expansion meatier than the original, and provides more viable paths to victory.
Cosmic Encounter - Faboo game, and very inspirational to me as a designer.
Talengarde - I know, I know.  This is my game.  I'm biased.  Go to the Talengarde page to see why.
Stratego - a simple board game that allows for so much bluffing.
Wiz War - simple crazy fun.  Oh and the full size live Wiz War at Slug-A-Thon:  priceless.  (
Go - Honestly, I will probably never master this game.  But its depth in simplicity is part of its allure.

Inferno 500

A free game for you!  I developed this game with the help of my brother, Keith.  The original version was just stock car racing, but it needed something to spice it up...  How about stock car racing in Hell?

by Neil Melville

Once upon a time, mankind was content to saunter and stroll from place to place, or to lazily mill about in one garden or another.  However, when news got around that this particular species was easily caught and made a fine supper for any precambrian predator with a hankering for mammal, it became important to mankind to be fast.  Humans soon learned that speed could be used for offense as well as defense, and that it could be used for good or for evil.  Now that this obsession with extreme velocity has been perpetuated for countless centuries, it begs the question: "Just who in Hell is the fastest person?"

The answer will be found on this sultry spring day in Hades.  All of the fastest and ruthlessly malevolent people ever assembled are gathered here thanks to the wonders of modern undeath technologies.  Equipped with second hand stock cars, they will race to see which is the fastest, most daring being to ever sit behind the wheel of a rickety infernal combustion deathtrap...

To play INFERNO 500 you will need:

  • A racetrack (with multiple lanes, and the length divided into small spaces) - you can assemble a track from these pieces (print 4 curves or more to make a complete circuit) - curve - straight
  • Several small pawns or toy cars (I recommend Micro-Machines(tm))
  • These rules
  • A player information sheet for each player - click here
  • game cards (print out and cut up these images) - PD01 - PD02 - PD03
  • At least a dozen dice of the standard 6-sided variety.

Getting started

Each player determines their pole position by rolling 2 dice, with the highest total getting the most favorable placement behind the starting line you determine for this race.  The players then seat themselves so that play may progress clockwise according to pole position.  All of the players' cars start with a Gear Value of 1.

Each player, starting with the first, takes a TURN:

  1. MANEUVER CHECK:  roll 1 die and compare the result with the numbers on the Maneuver Table and apply the indicated effect to a player of your choice.
  2. MOVE: roll as many dice as your current Gear Value and move your car forward the resulting number in spaces.
  3. HADLING CHECK:  roll 1 die and add your current Gear Value, and compare the result with the numbers on the Handling Table.  Apply the indicated effect to your car.


  • PLOT DEVICE:  draw a random event or upgrade installation from the Plot Device Card pile.
  • UPSHIFT: add 1 to current Gear Value
  • DOWNSHIFT: subtract 1 from current Gear Value
  • LANE CHANGE: the player that made the check moves the car to an adjacent space in another lane.
  • NITRO:  roll 1 die and immediately move the resulting number in spaces forward.
  • REVERSE NITRO:  roll 1 die and immediately move the resulting number in spaces backwards.
  • COLLISION CHECK:  roll 1 die and add your current Damage Value and compare the result with the numbers on the Collision Table.  Apply the indicated effect to your car.
  • EVASIVE CHECK:  roll as if making a HANDLING CHECK, but add 2 to the result.

Plot Devices

Plot Devices are the cards that add random effects and abilities to the game.  When a player makes a check that indicates a Plot Device result, a random card is drawn, and goes into effect immediately.  If there are no more cards in the pile, shuffle the discarded Plot Devices together to create a pile of cards to draw from. There are 3 types of Plot devices:

  • EVENT:  This effect is applied at the instant the card is revealed.  The Plot Device card is then discarded.
  • AUTOMATIC:  The effect is applied when the conditions specified on the card are met.  For some cards this means they are always in effect.  The effect is not optional.  The player keeps the card, unless some effect specifies otherwise.
  • MANUAL:  The effect is applied when the conditions specified on the card are met.  The player is given the option to satisfy the conditions.  (For example, Choosing to take 1 damage in order to change lanes.)  The player keeps the card, unless some effect specifies otherwise.

Other rules

If any car moves into a space occupied by another car, each car in that space must immediately make an Evasive Check.

If more than one car is making a check precipitated by a single event, the resulting effects must be applied simultaneously, including multiple collisions (damage will not actually increase until after all collision checks are completed).

A car's Gear Value may not exceed 6, and may be reduced as far as -1 (in which case the car is in Reverse Gear).  A car in Reverse Gear will roll 1 die for movement, and move backwards the resulting number in spaces.  Reverse Gear also reverses the direction of any Nitro effect.

If a car's Damage Value exceeds 6, that car is destroyed in a spectacular explosion.  That player is out of the game.  any cars in the same space make a Collision Check, and any cars adjacent to the explosion must make an Evasive Check.  The destroyed car is left on the board as a hazard to the other cars until the end of the race.

Any car may make a PIT STOP:  Announce the Pit Stop At the beginning of your turn, skip the Maneuver Check, and finish your turn as normal.  Skip your next turn.  You will begin the following turn with your Gear and Damage Values reset to their starting numbers of 1 and 0, respectively.


The winner of INFERNO 500 is the first player to survive 5 laps, or the longest time.

The game of Inferno 500 is (c) Neil Melville.
Permission is given to make copies of these materials for unlimited free play.  Any use or distribution of these materials for profit is strictly forbidden.