Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charmander – Battle of the Starter Types Game

The two games that kept me sane as a child were Rock, Paper, Scissors and Pokemon. Countless children are saved from boredom at airports, the doctor’s offices, or even in class because of these classic pastimes. Inspired by my childhood, I decided to combine aspects of these two games into something new. Introducing “Squirtle, Bulbasaur, Charmander”, a battle of the starter Pokemon! The game is extremely similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors, but more advanced. In case you haven’t watched or played Pokemon before, here is a quick introduction to the characters.

First off we have Squirtle, an adorable turtle Pokemon. Squirtle is a water-type Pokemon. This makes them weak to grass-type attacks, but very effective against fire-type Pokemon.

Next, we have Bulbasaur, the seed Pokemon. As its name indicates, there is a seed growing on Bulbasaur’s back. Bulbasaur is a grass-type Pokemon, making them weak to fire-type attacks, but a dangerous threat to water-type Pokemon.

Finally, we have Charmander, the lizard Pokemon. The flame on his tail resembles his strength (I’m pretty sure if it goes out, Charmander dies, which is really sad…anyways…). Charmander is a fire-type Pokemon, making them weak to water-type attacks, but a formidable foe to grass-type Pokemon.

The only other thing that you have to know about Pokemon to play this game is that Pokemon “evolve” as they battle and gain experience with their trainers. The evolutions of these three Pokemon are displayed below.

Now that you know about the starter Pokemon and their evolutions, you are ready to learn the rules of the game.

How to Play:

  1. The game is played with 2 players (and a moderator if desired)
  2. Each player starts with the three basic starter Pokemon (Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Charmander).
  3. Each round, the players will count down to three and then call out the name of the Pokemon that they choose (just like Rock, Paper, Scissors)
  4. A water-type Pokemon always defeats a fire-type Pokemon
  5. A grass-type Pokemon always defeats a water-type Pokemon
  6. A fire-type Pokemon always defeats a grass-type Pokemon
  7. The number of points that a player wins in a given round depends on the evolution of the Pokemon they called. This means that a player that wins a round with Squirtle, Bulbasaur, or Charmander wins 1 point. If they win with Charmeleon, Wartortle, or Ivysaur, the round winner gains 2 points. Finally, if they win with Blastoise, Charizard, or Venasaur, the round winner gains 3 points.
  8. If a player wins 3 rounds with the same Pokemon, it evolves! For example, if a player wins three rounds by calling Squirtle, then their Squirtle evolves into a Wartortle. Then if a player wins three rounds by calling Wartortle, it evolves into a Blastoise. As described in rule 7, the number of points one can gain in a given round increases with the evolution of the Pokemon.
  9. Players go through as many rounds as needed until one player reaches at least 15 points. This player is declared the winner.

The way that ties are handled depends on the players’ familiarity with Pokemon.

10. Simple (no familiarity with Pokemon): If both players call a Pokemon of the same type, the round ends in a tie and neither player gains points.

Advanced: In the case that both players choose a Pokemon of the same type, we do something a little fancy. The moderator will describe any Pokemon from Generation I. The players race to find a picture of that pokemon and make it their zoom background. If there is no moderator available, players can generate a Pokemon to find using this link (it will generate a silhouette and the goal is to figure out what Pokemon it is). Whoever wins the tie-round can add a point to their own total score, or they can subtract 2 points from their opponent’s score. Ties do not contribute to evolutions.

Playtesting Results:

When playtesting with my roommates and classmate, I found that this game requires a lot of front loading if the player is not familiar with Pokemon. The names of the different Pokemon are hard to keep track of, and the idea of evolutions is complicated at first. Furthermore, the game does require diligent score keeping, either using a phone or piece of paper. This makes it inconvenient for people who want to casually play during a car ride. The complexity may also deter some players. The number of rules can be overwhelming.

On another note, the game was positively received by playtesters overall. It was thought to be more challenging and strategic compared to Rock, Paper, Scissors. The search for Pokemon using the advanced rules was appreciated by playtesters familiar with Pokemon as it added an extra edge to the competition. Two of the playtesters also really liked how evolutions were incorporated into the game, making it similar to the franchise itself.

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