Grid Game - Conspiracy


Been working on an idea for a bit now - running things back and forward and I’ll add to this as I work out all the details.

Title / Overview: Conspiracy - What’s really going on?

Victory Conditions: Either - Solve the Conspiracy before the Black Helicopters get you, or Don’t Solve It and run.

While looking at the 5x5 board, I started to wonder what else could be on the board - so I assigned crazy names to the tiles - and found the board was starting to come alive more than the pieces - so I went with that. The pieces are just place-holders for what’s really going on.

Theme: Conspiracy Theorists - What is the Government hiding?

Experience: While I enjoy board games, I find the competitive nature often leads to upsets; and co-operative games often are too tough to finish. So I wanted a game that can be played multiple times, but didn’t rely on backstabbing or cheating.

This is obtained by having multiple goals, and a time limit to finish. Not just a cognitive frantic experience, but a player choice in how to win.

The board looks like this now:

By the finished product it should look like Post-its stuck haphazardly to a wall, with the strings between them showing lines of movement. This can be a number of different boards to tie up a number of topics - giving re-playability.

N.B. All of the categories / cards are simply based on things the general public might not know about. They’re placemarkers and can be anything - although I’ve tried to avoid actual conspiracy theories.

Mechanics and Rules:

Each Player - Red or Blue - chooses one of 4 cards - These detail the starting positions and the four possible finishing positions.

One of the finishing positions is highlighted as The Truth.

The Aim of the game is to either:
Using your pieces, connect up the Truth before the Helicopters Arrive
OR Only have one piece of the Truth when the Helicopters Arrive, so you don’t get taken away.

Fail Conditions are Having Two Pieces of the Truth when the Helicopters Arrive: Shot
OR Having No Pieces of the Truth : You become part of the Conspiracy.

Each Card the player receives will look like this:

You are aware that THE SCOUTS have seen THE GHOSTS in NUCLEAR POWER terminals. Your rival knows THE NUMBER 13 allows you to TIME TRAVEL to THE HOLLOW EARTH - what is the connection?

Then there will be 4 conditions - let’s say
Silicon Valley is using Bacon to control World Leaders by The Tooth Fairy. (Middle Line)
Big Tobacco is making Silicon Valley into Vegans (Top to Bottom)
Big Tobacco has found Ghosts in South African Diamonds. (‘A’ shape)
The Tooth Fairy uses Satellites to smuggle Bacon (‘V’ shape)

One of these conditions will be marked on the cards as “The Truth”

Therefore each player will know their Victory Condition and one of three possible Victory Conditions of the Rival.

(This is one of the challenges: Keeping the rules simple while making them seem complex)

[ You could equally have squares 5, 15 and 25; 7, 14 and 21 but this makes it more fun to write]

The Player sets their Pins on their three starting points.

In our game; Red sets up on Scouts, Ghosts and Nuclear Power. Blue sets up on Time Travel, Number 13 and Hollow Earth.

The Helicopter Track is set to 16 clicks away. This means each player has 8 moves to decide whether they need victory or not.

Each turn, a player may move one pin along any of the string lines (In version 1, this will just be left, right, up, down or diagonal) They then move the Helicopters one click closer.

If they land on another players pin, they’ve given a clue away - and the Helicopters move another click closer.

In 15 turns (Click 13 is missing because of the board), they must decide whether to pursue their own Truth, Block their opponents Truth, or simply to flee with the one Truth they have.

If, at any time, any player has three pins on the Truth on his card, he may claim victory.

This may sound very confusing - so I will brush up on the rules later - but I will try a prototype first.

[F.C.O.J. is Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice]


Let’s say The Truth for Blue is Silicon Valley - Bacon - Tooth Fairy

Starting Position

Win Condition

Lose Condtions (When Helicopters Arrive)

Escape Condition

It’s easier to escape, but it gives you away that you’re trying for it.
Winning requires The Truth.


What an awesome theme - I love the experience you’re going for here. Very tense without being actively confrontational. And the conspiracy elements being spelled out on the boards is a really nice touch. I’d love to hear how this playtests!


I tinkered around with the design a little - and released it to two of my friends to playtest.

I left them the rules - but gave them no other clues, so I could get feedback without imposing any of my own thoughts.

The New Board - via Tabletop Simulator

The new Conspiracy Cards stating which side you start from.

Feedback came that the rules need to be in immediate sight - but once they read the rules, they were able to have a fun game. Though it took a few reads. Perhaps differentiating rules and mechanics?

  • Knowing conspiracies don’t seem to be worth much on their own. Simply knowing where your opponent might be going doesn’t really help you except to avoid accelerating the helicopter. So your only defensive play, if you’ve figured out what your opponent is doing, is to tank both of your chances and rush the chopper. There doesn’t seem to be a way to interact with other players except they’re also a timer.

  • The mechanics move, but they don’t have much player interaction. Mechanically I know my conspiracy is evolving in this direction, but beyond the moving of tokens, I don’t know why I’m moving, just where I’m going. I feel like there should be more reason for a player to want to move, aside from reaching the end state.

  • I feel like a good way to implement optional rules for a third player might be to make that player a Them, who can occasionally move the position of conspiracy cards that have no player tokens. Give a sense of antagonism from the Them, rather than just a sterile moving helicopter.

  • Mostly, I’d like to interact with the game as a player more. As it currently is, there’s just an end state, but no incentive to want to get there."

There also seemed to be talk of adding a narrative element - as in trying to decide why to move between two strings was a good idea. Did J.F.K. fake the Moon Landings?

My concern is that it’s getting far away from the original 5x5 frantic already.


Adding a narrative element could be a fun way forward. If players either have to describe the conspiracy or justify it before moving/completing/what have you.

You could also have team play, with one person on each team knowing the full conspiracy and having to explain it to the others without the opposing team figuring it out (though this might get a little close to Codenames)


I’m still working on this ; but I’m on a bit of a design decision on how to allow the narrative part to unfold.

Part of me wants to make the cards movable; but that leads to a lot of possible board disruption and takes away from the counters.
Part of me wants to allow the “truthers” to force movement, but then how do you stop people just forcing continually and calling draws.
Part of me wants to make the “truth” random, but then how can other players block it?

I may just have to look heavily at the frantic part again - each of these “truths” is leading me away from my original conspiracy, ironically.


I love where you’re going with this, but it sounds like what you’ve got here is a case of feature creep. In order to make the narrative unfold, you’re looking to add in a mechanic to restructure the board state. This is leading you to construct possible scenarios and limitations.

Ont he other and could go simpler and have the narrative without changing the cards at all. Why not make the players construct the narrative and decide on what’s compelling. You could do this by using a challenge rule (“the lizard people were charlemagne and lived on the moon!” “How did they get to the moon when they obviously live underground in the hollow earth?” “Well, like this!”) or some similar mechanic. For an example of this kind of play, I’d recommend the game The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen.

It’s just one way to go, but I suspect it might allow you to have the narrative you’re looking for without having to think of rules for when to change the state of the cards


This game sounds so much in my wheelhouse I actually want a copy of it!


I’m just working on a final version which I will upload to Tabletop Simulator when finished.
Life often gets in the way of entertainment. :slight_smile: