Tokyo Lockdown: the game

What do you fight quarantine boredom with? A board game about quarantine boredom, of course

The 2020 Olympics have been cancelled, the sakura is already fading and governor Yuriko Koike has now declared a three week city lockdown on Tokyo. It’s your job to stay sane and safe during this period…

Over the past week or so, a few friends and I have started to put together a board game based on our lock down experience in Tokyo. A mix of making your own fun and therapy. It’s very much in a beta state, but we would love a few more people to mess around with it, find problems and even solve them. If you have some time to kill, dice, playing cards and some paper you’re pretty much good to go. Enjoy.

If you do play, we would love your feedback. Please leave a comment below or use this Google Form:

Experiments via Hangouts, Zoom & IRL
  1. What you need to play
  2. Winning the game
  3. Starting the game and set up
  4. Taking turns
  5. Threat level
  6. Rules and gameplay features
  7. Card Grid
  8. Appendix

1.What you need to play (beta 1.0)

  • 1 x dice
  • Notepad & pen to record mood points
  • Playing piece for each player
  • Pack of cards
  • These instructions (below)
  • Playing board marked out (see appendix)
  • Remote gaming note: when playing over Zoom/Skype/Hangouts (etc.) it’s worth one player controlling the board, but all other players downloading a dice app so they can “roll” their own dice and hold it up to their webcam

2. Winning the game:

  • The overall aim of the game is to keep your mood up while you are locked in your tiny Tokyo apartment. To do this you must navigate the highs and lows, the stresses and strains of online relationships, working from home and low levels of vitamin D
  • Your goal is to navigate the board and keep your mood points as high has possible (above -1…0 is the lowest you can go)
  • The winner of the game is the player with the most mood points once the threat level has been reduced to zero or the scenario cards have all been used

3. Starting the game and set up:

  • All players line up on the GO square
  • Each player starts with 5 mood points of a maximum of overall 6 (Beta edition note: use a post it or notepad to track and record mood points)
  • Shuffle the scenario cards (Beta edition note: cards are a traditional pack of cards. All 52 should be present)divide them into their relevant WORK and HOME piles (red and black suits). Make sure you take out one threat card from one of the piles (it does not matter which) and place it on the threat level marker in the middle of the game
  • Whoever was the last person to wash their hands goes first

4. Taking turns:

  • At the start of a each player’s go they will roll the dice to see how far they advance on the board
  • If you pass go collect one mood point and remove one card from the threat level
  • Each square corresponds to the following action:

Main squares:

  • Landing on HOME square — take HOME scenario card*
  • Landing on WORK square — take WORK scenario card*
  • *Beta edition note: see the card grid below to assign action
  • Landing on 神社 [Shrine] square — rest easy and chill with the kami. Roll the dice. If you get a 5 or 6 you will receive an amulet, which means you can deflect any potential loss of a mood point (either from another player or a scenario card).

Special squares:

  • Landing on Hospital square — you are just visiting, don’t worry
  • Landing on “Go to hospital” square — lose one mood point and move the playing piece to the Hospital square (see leaving hospital below)
  • Landing on the GO square — collect two (not one) mood points
  • Landing on FORTUNE TELLER square: Japan can be a superstitious place, sometimes good, sometimes bad. You have engaged the services of one of these chaps, crouched on a small stall outside the the station in Shimokitazawa…good luck. Roll the dice: If an odd number you must distribute the number as minus mood points to 2 or more players. If an even number you must distribute the number as positive mood points to 2 or more players. In both cases you can assign or remove mood points from your own player

5. Threat Level:

  • The threat level is dictated by the number of threat cards on the panel in the center of the game board. This represents the general feeling of panic in Tokyo and dictates how long the lockdown will last. Beta edition note: cards are a traditional pack of cards. threat cards are represented by all face cards (such as king, queen etc.)
  • As noted above, the game starts on threat level 1 (with one card on the centre of the board) but this goes up and down as threat cards are drawn or players pass go to remove one from the centre
  • The threat level dictates how many times the players (overall) need to pass go. Once the threat level is down to zero (no Threat Cards are in the centre of the board) the next player to pass go will end the game. This means the lockdown has proved to be effective — time to hit Dogen-zaka!
  • If the threat level reaches more than five, the game is over TOKYO IS CONSUMED BY PANIC AND IT IS THE ENDDDDDDDD — GAME OVER (Sorry!)

6. Gameplay and other rules

  • Scenario Cards — There are two types of Scenario Cards — Home and Work. These shape your mood, bringing it up or down
  • Mood points — This is your mental health bar. You start with 5 points, but you can hold a maximum of 6. If you drop below 0 then you die (see below)
  • Dying — Once your mood points dip below 0 you have become so distraught that you burst into smoke and join the kami. When a player dies all players lose one mood point (to signify general panic). If this triggers another death then this in turn means the removal of another mood point for all remaining players
  • Landing on the same spot as another player — GUYS! Have you never heard of social distancing!? Sure it’s nice to see each other, but now one of you might get sick… Both players add one mood point, then roll the dice each. The player with the lowest score goes to hospital as loses their newly gained mood point
  • Leaving hospital — To leave hospital you must roll an even number on the dice on your go. If you do not do this within two goes you are moved to “Just visiting” and 1 mood point is removed, ready for you to play on the next go
  • Amulets — An amulet can be used at any time a player is about to lose a mood point (from a scenario card from another player’s actions). When it is used it deflects the loss of the mood point to another player of your choice. Players can only carry one amulet at a time. Note: An amulet can be used against a deflected mood point so a loss of mood point can be deflected back to the original player
  • Combining Amulets to reduce the Threat Level — If two or more players posses amulets they can use them to reduce the overall threat level. To do this they must agree to submit their amulets together on either of their goes. This must be done before the threat level becomes critical (ie reaches 6 and the game ends)

7. Card Grid

  • Use this grid (below) to work out the scenario for each playing card you pick up
  • Purple row means all players are affected by these cards
  • Orange row means the player who picked up this card must nominate another player to receive the outcome
  • Green highlights means there is a risk you get ill, and are sent to hospital
  • Pink highlights are “mask cards” — make a note on the mood points note pad that this person as a “get out of jail” (hospital) free card. When use this they avoid going to hospital and remain where they are

8. Appendix

Note on constructing the board (image below): You can easily use a Monopoly board by playing different coloured post it notes over the squares or drawing on the back of the board with a pencil