by Jonathan Leistiko
Discover your opponents’ hideouts before they find yours.
Put the map in the center of the table where everyone can reach it.
Choose a pawn.
During the game, pawns move in “hops.” Before the game starts, all players must agree on how long a hop is. A hop should be large enough that about 20 hops can move a pawn across the longest edge of the board. If your map is divided into squares or other regular sections, defining a hop as moving a pawn from one square to the next works well. If the map isn’t divided, use a ruler to measure hops. One inch works well on most maps.
Secretly choose a named location on the map. (The map Key is off-limits.) Write it down. Do not show it to anyone else. This is your Hideout. If your map is very information-dense, you should restrict what players can choose. We suggest prohibiting street names.
Once each player has chosen a Hideout, place the pawn of the player on your right anywhere on the map.
Once all pawns are placed, shuffle the deck and deal 5 cards to each player. Set the undealt cards aside as the draw pile.
The dealer starts play.
You will be moving about the board and asking questions of the other players to try to discover their Hideouts.
You may take notes to help you remember hints and clues at any time.
On your turn, you may rest or act. If you rest, you may discard as many cards as you wish, draw cards to replace them, and end your turn. If you act, you must play a card, then do the following in any order: Move, ask a question, and guess. All of these steps are optional, and they are explained below.
When you run out of cards in your hand, draw 5 more cards. If the draw pile runs out of cards, shuffle the discarded cards to form a new draw pile and finish drawing from it.
Play a card: Cards determine how you can move and what happens when you ask questions. Aces let you take a second turn, too. To play a card, take it from your hand and place it in the discard pile. Declare which player you’re using the card on. This player is your target. The type of card dictates how the movement or questioning will go; this is described below.
Move: Move your pawn one, two, or three hops, if the card you played was odd, even, or royal (J, Q, K, A), respectively. That is, odd = 1, even = 2, royal = 3.
Ask a Question:
NOTE: If the card you play is royal (J, Q, K, A), your target must answer you privately. Otherwise, your answer is public.
If you played a club, move before asking your question. Your target must tell you if you moved your pawn closer to or further from his or her Hideout.
If you played a diamond, your target must tell you if his or her Hideout is to the North, South, East, or West of your pawn. If the Hideout is (for example) to the Northwest, but it is more to the North than the West, then the correct answer is “North.” If it’s dead even at 45 degrees, your target gets to pick one.
If you played a heart, your target must answer a yes or no question about the name of his or her Hideout. You may ask any question, as long as it pertains directly to the name of the Hideout. Some valid questions are:
If you played a spade, your target must answer a yes or no question about his or her Hideout that could not be asked by one of the other cards. You may not ask questions about how far the Hideout is from your pawn, what compass direction the Hideout is from your pawn, or the name of the Hideout, because those are all covered by other cards. Instead, some valid questions are:
Guess a Hideout: Select a player and name a location within one hop of your pawn’s location. If the location you name is that player’s Hideout, you gain a point. No other player may attempt to guess that Hideout. Guesses and their answers are public.
If only one Hideout is left unguessed, the game ends.
At the end of your turn, play passes to your left unless you played an Ace. If you played an Ace, you may take another turn.
In a two-player game, the first player to successfully guess a Hideout wins.
With more than two players, the player with the most points wins.
I think that this would be a great game for parents to play with children to help familiarize them with the geography of their city, state, country, or world. You could even play Navigator on a map of Mars, the Periodic Table, or the constellations.
I found out about the About.com game contest for 2005 near the beginning of December. Late at night on December 16th, as I analyzed some of the fundamental, underlying principles and restrictions of the contest (specifically as it pertained to the “common household items” requirement), I came up with the basic idea for Navigator. The following day, I shared it with Sharon, my wife. She liked it quite a bit—more than I did. Her input changed it from a shared pawn game to one where each player has his or her own pawn. She also assisted with movement, endgame, and victory conditions.
Thanks to Sharon for editing and design assistance. Thanks to the Monday Night Games Group (especially Brandon, Sharon, & Valerie) for playtesting.