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Subject: The Great Cat Chase: A Skydiving Adventure Game rss

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Pete Belli
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The Great Cat Chase: A Skydiving Adventure Game is designed to be enjoyed by 2, 3, or 4 players.

Each player represents a skydiver involved in a legendary event called The Great Cat Chase. In this skydiving challenge a kitten is tossed out of the aircraft at 16,000 feet and the parachutist who can grab the feline before the cat reaches zero altitude is the winner.

The original concept for The Great Cat Chase was created by syndicated radio talk show host Neal Boortz. The entire story was just a gag that Boortz developed for a news broadcast but some listeners thought the event actually happened. Numerous protests were received and sponsors threatened to withdraw their advertising.

Creating an interesting board game about The Great Cat Chase sounded like a real challenge. It turned out to be a lot of fun.

I like dogs. I can tolerate some cats if they have an exceptionally effervescent personality. However, no cats were harmed during the creation of this prototype.

The rules are presented here. This is a Do It Yourself project but requires just a little effort to create.



The board represents a skydiving drop zone. The parachutists (and the kitten) are ready to exit an aircraft flying at 16,000 feet. There is a fire department rescue vehicle equipped with a giant air bag waiting to catch the tumbling kitty.

Plastic tokens represent the skydivers and the cat.

Each skydiver has a matching orientation block that shows his or her position in relation to the ground; a player can adjust his or her position to increase or decrease the rate of descent. Each skydiver also has a matching wind drift indicator block that represents this skydiver's possible choices in response to the effects of wind.

There is a score chip used to show which skydiver has possession of the cat. One standard six-sided die will also be needed.

Creating Your Own Game

The game board can be copied from the image posted here on BGG. Since the board is basically an 8x8 grid a board from your chess set or checkers game could be used.



You’ll need a total of five tokens; four skydiver tokens and one cat token. You will also need one score chip. The score chip should match the color of the token being used for the cat. In this example the cat is black.

Each of the four skydiver tokens requires a block (or card) to indicate the position of the skydiver relative to the ground. Each block (or card) should be marked like the label shown in this image:



The wind drift indicator blocks (or cards) are marked with an arrow that matches the color of the skydiver tokens.

Summary Of Play

The skydivers (along with the kitten) enter the board at the upper right hand square as they exit the aircraft. Each turn the skydivers (and the kitty) will descend one or more altitude levels until the skydivers must open their parachutes. The rate of descent for the cat depends on the result of a die roll. The skydivers can decrease or increase their rate of fall by changing the positions of their bodies as they descend. The skydivers and the cat will be affected by wind during the jump. Variable winds (as determined by a die roll) will push the kitten across the game board from right to left. The skydivers will attempt to grab the cat as they descend to ground level. The game ends when the skydiver who is in possession of the cat reaches ground level. This skydiver will be declared the winner. If no player has grabbed the cat before it reaches ground level the BGG Fire Department will deploy a giant air bag to save the falling feline.

Set Up

Place all tokens near the aircraft just outside the upper right hand square. Place the score chip to one side for later use. Give each skydiver the matching blocks (or cards) which will be used to determine the rate of descent and wind drift. Place the rules with the charts and tables within easy reach.

Game Turn

Step 1: Each skydiver will use his or her orientation block to choose the desired rate of descent. This information should be kept hidden from the other players by screening the block with one hand.



Placing the block with the body of the skydiver in a horizontal position will result in a free fall of one altitude level. Placing the block with the body of the skydiver in a vertical position will result in a free fall of two altitude levels. Placing the block with the body of the skydiver in a head down position will result in a free fall of three altitude levels. This chart illustrates these positions.



This image shows the Turn 1 skydiver positions for our example of play.

Each skydiver will use his or her wind drift block to represent this skydiver's possible choices in response to the effects of wind. This information should also be kept hidden from the other players by screening this block with one hand. Placing the block with the arrow pointed down will allow the skydiver to avoid wind drift or drift one space. Placing the block with the arrow pointed to the left will allow the skydiver to drift one or two spaces.



This image shows the Turn 1 wind indicator choices for our example of play.

Each player makes these decisions simultaneously and these selections may not be changed during this turn. When all of the players have made a decision everybody should move his or her hand away and begin Step 2.

Step 2: Determine the Cattitude by rolling one six-sided die. The players should rotate this task among themselves as the game progresses. Check the Cattitude table on this chart and compare the die roll result to the proper section.



An "Updraft" result means that the cat will fall one altitude level. An "OK" result means that the cat will fall two levels. A "Panic" result means that the cat will fall three levels. The player that rolled the die now lowers the cat token to the appropriate altitude level.



In this example a roll of six creates a "Panic" result and a free fall of three spaces.

Step 3: Each player now reveals his or her skydiver’s descent position and lowers his or her token to the appropriate level. All movement is considered to be simultaneous so the players may do this in any order.



In this example the blue skydiver has fallen two spaces.



This example shows the free fall results at the end of the first turn. Remember, the number of spaces a skydiver falls is determined by the position of that skydiver's orientation block.

Step 4: Determine the effect that wind will have on the cat. The same player that rolled the dice for the Cattitude table now rolls one six-sided die and consults the Wind table.



If the result is "Crosswind" the cat token is moved two columns to the left. If the result is "Normal" move the cat token one column to the left. If the result is "Calm" the cat token remains in the same column.



In this example a roll of one has resulted in a "Crosswind" that forces the cat to drift two spaces.

Step 5: Determine the effect that wind will have on the skydivers. Each player moves his or her skydiver token to any column that is allowed to be selected after checking that player’s wind drift marker. Unless one player controls the cat the effects of wind are considered to be simultaneous so the players may resolve these results in any order. If a skydiver has possession of the kitten this player must move his or her token first in response to wind drift!



In this example the blue skydiver decides to drift two spaces in order to get closer to the cat. The blue skydiver is able to drift one or two spaces because the arrow on the wind indicator is pointed to the left.



This example shows potential wind drift results at the end of the first turn. Remember, skydivers have limited control over their response to wind drift based on the direction their wind indicator block is pointing.

Step 6: If a skydiver token ends the turn in the same square as the cat token this player will grab the cat immediately. Remove the cat token from the game board and place the score chip under that player’s token to indicate that he or she has possession of the kitty. If more than one skydiver ends the turn in the same square as the cat neither player may take possession of the cat and play continues as if the cat were alone in the square.

IMPORTANT: When a skydiver controls the kitty no Cattitude or Wind die rolls are required. Once a skydiver gains control of the cat the feline will remain in control of a skydiver (but maybe not this skydiver) for the remainder of the game.

IMPORTANT: A skydiver controlling the kitten must always use the wind drift indicator to move one or two spaces.

IMPORTANT: During the first turn no player may grab the kitten. After exiting the aircraft the cat will be a howling, scratching, squirming tornado of fur that is beyond any human control.

IMPORTANT: As play continues another skydiver might end a turn in the square occupied by the player in possession of the cat. This player will immediately snatch the kitten. Remove the score chip from underneath that player's token and give it to the snatching player to indicate that he or she has taken possession of the cat.

IMPORTANT: If more than one skydiver ends the turn in the same square as the player with the score chip neither of the players may attempt to snatch the kitty. In this case play would simply continue with the cat remaining in the possession of the player who controlled the feline at the start of the turn.

Step 7: After all of the players have made their final adjustments for the effects of wind (and determined who has possession of the cat, if applicable) a new turn will begin. Each player will pick up his or her orientation and wind drift blocks and return to Step 1 with the tokens at their current altitude levels.

Special Rules

Any skydiver token that drifts off the left side of the game board due to the effects of wind is removed from the game. If the cat token drifts off the left side of the game board due to the effects of wind the game ends immediately.

No player should intentionally "crash" his or her skydiver token into the ground. As the players approach ground level a proper orientation decision should place the player’s token at the lowest altitude level between the surface of the earth and the 2000 foot level.

The cat token may appear to "crash" into the ground after checking the Cattitude table and being required to descend more levels than are actually available. The game ends immediately and the BGG Fire Department will quickly deploy to avert that catastrophe.

Reaching Ground Level

If no player controls the kitten the feline automatically reaches ground level (and is rescued by the BGG Fire Department) at the end of the turn in which the cat token enters the altitude level between the surface of the earth and 2000 feet.

A player reaches ground level at the end of the turn in which his or her token enters the altitude level between the surface of the earth and 2000 feet. It is quite possible that the players will reach ground level during different game turns. Unless a player has reached ground level in possession of the kitty the other players continue the game until all the skydivers have landed or the cat has reached ground level.

The player in possession of the cat when his or her skydiver token reaches ground level is declared the winner. If no player is in possession of the kitten the game is a draw.

IMPORTANT: The turn does not end until all skydivers have finished determining the effects of wind. It is possible for a skydiver to snatch the kitten at the lowest altitude level, in which case this player would be declared the winner.

Strategy Tips

Obviously the skydivers are trying guess where the cat will be at the end of each turn. A skydiver who is out of position may have to take quick action to get within range of the kitten. However, no skydiver can ever move upward so a player who ends a turn below the kitty will have to slow his or her descent.



In this example the red skydiver has used wind drift in an attempt to get in position for the next turn.



The red skydiver could use these position selections to descend rapidly and drift toward the cat during the following turn. If the cat hits an updraft the red skydiver could be in perfect position.
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Dr Caligari
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Ahhh... the memories!

I, for one, can't wait to play this game. Further, I know exactly who I am going to be playing it with!

The whole cat chasing craze began when fellow skydiver Larry Schatz wrote the short story "The Man Who Loved Cat Chasing". It appeared in the now defunct Skydiving Magazine, but Larry reprinted it himself in a small collection of short stories called "Bedtime Stories for Skydivers" sometime in the 90's. (BTW, yours truly makes a cameo appearance in the cat chasing story. Larry and I were both members of the United Parachute Club at the time).

I think this weekend I'll call up some old friends and see if I can meet them at the airport and introduce this game to them. I'm sure they'll want to play it...unless the weather is real nice and there is a stray cat nearby...

(just kidding! no cats were ever harmed during a skydiving event, except for the ones that got a hangover from sipping too much beer after sunset)

Thanks for the game! You've reminded me of many good times. I'll use your game to remind some other people I know.

- as/jz ... aka Capt Zer0
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Jorge Arroyo
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Interesting little game It seems to me this could be adapted for the Piecepack system with no problem.Just use 16 facedown tiles for the board, and give each player a pawn, a coin and a tile of the same color (pawn to mark the position on the board, tile to mark their orientation and coin to mark their wind drift). The cat can be represented with a couple of number side coins (one for the board, one for scorekeeping) or if you've got a extra pawn (or fewer than four people are playing) just use it for the cat's position. Of course, the die tables have to be modified for 0-5 results, but that's no big deal...

I'll see if I can give it a try...
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Pete Belli
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Good suggestion!

I had not considered using Piecepack.

Thanks.
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Dr Caligari
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I've been thinking about this game some, and have brainstormed the following ideas. I'm not sure how well they would work, if at all. I think some play testing is in order. I'll try to do some of that myself over the next few weeks. If someone else is able to test these, or would like to comment, please post.

Submitted for your consideration as game designer:


Aircraft Exit: In relative work skydiving, it is important for jumpers to leave, as much as possible, at the same time, or very quickly if it is a large group. As a matter of fact, the exit is rehearsed as much as the rest of the dive. The rules for cat chasing are not clear on exit order, but I think it would be fair to have them exit individually. In this case, if the plane is flying left to right, the cat is thrown out first and would be in the first column. Each jumper would leave sequentially, but the first jumper would already have had a move before jumper #2 exits. Like wise between jumpers #2 and #3, and so on. This means that the last jumper would have to be in a head down position just to catch up, which is how it works in real life.
So exit order could be used to handicap experienced players (they exit last) or players could roll for a random order. In a cat chasing tournament (more on this later) the exit order would be rotated between rounds.

Parachute Opening: The fact that jumpers need to open their chutes can be used to add some tension to the game. While not strictly necessary (we had an old saying: you don't need a parachute to make a skydive, you just need it to make another skydive) a jumper who hits the last row (ground level) without a deployed chute is automatically disqualified(Note: This would disqualify Rocco Van Zant from the tournament in which he became a legend in the short story. Oh well, you can't have everything in games). So, I propose the jumper is should worry about deploying their chute at some "safe" altitude. If the jumper holding the cat deploys their chute without hitting the ground first, s/he is declared the winner of that round. Jumpers become automatically disqualified if they deploy above a certain altitude to discourage the one who caught the cat to immediately deploy and end the game. On the other hand, there is no minimum altitude, and the chute will deploy in, say 1, 2, or 3 altitude levels, as determined at random. This could lead to interesting situations in which jumpers would have to weigh their chances catching the cat or safely deploying their chutes. Low pull contest anyone?

Tournaments: Strictly optional, but could be used to even the imbalance caused by exit order. A tournament consists of 8 rounds. Why eight? Cats have nine lives, so if the cat is dropped 8 times he still leaves the tournament alive.

Vertical-ness: Skydiving and cat chasing are vertical sports, so this should be a vertical boardgame! Wouldn't it be cool to have the board hang vertically? This would add a visual reminder of the need to deploy one's chute. The pieces and board would have to be magnetic, or maybe velcro could be used. This would also make it easy to get a board of some length, allowing enough rows for the parachute deployment phase.

I'm going to be on the lookout for skydiver and cat figures. The latter in a halloween hairs-on-end sort of pose.

-as/jz

PS: Does anyone know where I could obtain a recording of Neal Boortz's radio show on cat chasing?
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Pete Belli
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Wow! Thanks for the comments.

Quote:
Tournaments: Strictly optional, but could be used to even the imbalance caused by exit order. A tournament consists of 8 rounds. Why eight? Cats have nine lives, so if the cat is dropped 8 times he still leaves the tournament alive.


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Beautiful! I love this idea!

Quote:
Vertical-ness: Skydiving and cat chasing are vertical sports, so this should be a vertical boardgame! Wouldn't it be cool to have the board hang vertically? This would add a visual reminder of the need to deploy one's chute. The pieces and board would have to be magnetic, or maybe velcro could be used. This would also make it easy to get a board of some length, allowing enough rows for the parachute deployment phase.


Sure... a "Deluxe Edition" that is not only a terrific game but makes a great conversation piece to hang on your office wall. I see the Franklin Mint producing a version that costs about $500.

Quote:
I'm going to be on the lookout for skydiver and cat figures. The latter in a halloween hairs-on-end sort of pose.


Totally cool.

Quote:
Does anyone know where I could obtain a recording of Neal Boortz's radio show on cat chasing?


Does the boortz.com website have archives?

Regarding the technical aspects of skydiving... most my information for this game came from a Band of Brothers DVD set and Wikipedia.

Any professional input would be welcome.
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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pete belli wrote:
Any professional input would be welcome.


Real cats? devil
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Dr Caligari
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pete belli wrote:

Regarding the technical aspects of skydiving... most my information for this game came from a Band of Brothers DVD set and Wikipedia.

Any professional input would be welcome.


Professionals get paid. We used to pay through the nose for the privilege!


OK, some more thoughts...( I can't stop thinking about this one, and I've never designed a game in my life! Now look what you've started)

Submitted for your consideration as game designer:

1. I wanted to give the skydivers a little more control rather than let them be blown about by the wind. I've devised several moves that the jumpers can choose from to determine how much altitude they lose, how much horizontal distance they cover, and which direction they face. They can be called by terms used by skydivers for simiar aerial maneuvers: the head down dive, the track, or the 180. Some moves can be conditional depending on the preceding move, e.g.: a jumper can swoop into a hard track after a head down dive to pick up speed. I even started to plot out these moves on a hex grid. Should we switch to a hex grid?

2. I wanted to reduce the randomness of it all, or at least give clever players a little advantage, but the game is inherently random since the goal (the cat!) moves randomly. One possible variant: Somebody has to fly the cat! This has the ironic twist that the cat player wins if the cat craters into the ground and dies. It also means the cat has to have a set of moves to choose from.


Given these two mods, the game is starting to look a lot like Blue Max except it's vertical. That's not a bad thing since Blue Max is one of my all time favorites. Still, I think there is something fun here. Will continue brainstorming!!

- as/jz

PS: This is fun. IANAGD: I am not a game designer, but I suppose I can at like one for a few days. FWIW: My real hobby is recreating old games. Currently making a game of Lightning and trying to read the rules of a very old game, which are in Latin. If I ever figure it out, I'll add it to the BGG database,
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Pete Belli
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You have presented some interesting ideas!

May I make a suggestion?

With your skydiving experience you could take the basic framework I have created and make a "real" skydiving game!

With or without cats, of course.
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Pete Belli
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The Great Cat Chase board game was mentioned on the Boortz show today.

A caller found it on Google.

The time was around 11;45AM (Eastern USA)
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Dr Caligari
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pete belli wrote:
The Great Cat Chase board game was mentioned on the Boortz show today.

A caller found it on Google.

The time was around 11;45AM (Eastern USA)


Hehe, kewl! What did they say about it?
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Pete Belli
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Although I had sent Mr. Boortz a link to this article back in 2009, he was unfamiliar with the game when the caller brought the concept to his attention.

I guess my e-mail was deleted by accident.

I did speak to the producer today. We'll see what happens.
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Dr Caligari
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