Design Challenge 1: Counting Kangaroos #1

Kangaroo boxing by Scott Calleja

Kangaroo Boxing by Scott Calleja

Counting Kangaroos is a bluffing/deduction card game for 3-6 players. This is a first draft rules outline, and the game is a work in progress.


Deck of 50 playing cards consisting of:

  • 10 each of 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-Kangaroo cards.
  • 10 blank (Zero-Kangaroo) cards.


A group of young siblings take a walk each night at dusk. When they return home, their parent asks how many kangaroos they saw that evening. The children take pride if their parents believe them above their other siblings, and a rivalry has formed among the children. Who can be the most convincing, getting their parents to believe them above the others?


The eldest player at the table takes the first turn as the ‘Parent’. They shuffle the deck of cards. Based on the total number of players, remove the following cards at random from the top of the shuffled deck:

3 & 4 & 6 players: Remove 2 cards

5 players: Remove no cards


The Parent draws two cards from the top of the deck, face down, passing them to the left (to the first ‘Child’). Child 1 examines the icons on the cards and tells the Parent how many kangaroos they saw. They may tell the truth, or lie. Children may say anything they like during this stage but they cannot cannot pass the cards until they have stated a number. Then, the two cards are passed left and Child 2 examines them and states the number of Kangaroos they saw. This continues until the cards reach the Parent again.

Without looking at the two cards, the Parent must choose one of the children to believe. They may base this choice on any criteria they like. The Parent may only ever choose one child, even if several have reported the same number.

Once the ‘winning’ Child is chosen, the two cards are revealed and the parent and child take one of the cards to add to their score pile according to the following rules:

  • If the chosen Child lied (ie the number of Kangaroo icons shown is different from the number the child reported) the Child picks first from the two cards.
  • If the Child was truthful (ie their number matched the cards) the Parent will pick first.

Score cards are placed face down in front of players until scoring at the end of the game.

The role of Parent then rotates left. The previous parent is now a child and the turn begins again with the new parent drawing two cards and passing them left. The game continues until the deck of cards is exhausted.


When the deck is exhausted, players count the number of kangaroo icons in their score piles. Blank, Zero-Kangaroo cards are worth negative one (-1) point. The player with the highest total points has successfully tricked their parents the most, and wins the game.

If this game design has piqued your interest, stay tuned for a post on my thoughts and reflections on the design itself, and the process behind the creation of Counting Kangaroos.

Featured Image Credit: Kangaroo Boxing by Scott Calleja


One response to “Design Challenge 1: Counting Kangaroos #1

  1. Pingback: Design Challenge 1: Counting Kangaroos #2 | Dan Scale·

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