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Julian Ceipek

I ♥ learning, collaborating & teaching.

I craft systems with & for people.

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Evil Lairs for Dummies

creative problem solving Design, Rules, Art & Implementation collaborators: James Earl Cox III & Brian Pickens

Evil Lairs for Dummies is a game that promotes quick thinking and out-of-the-box creative problem solving within a loose storytelling framework.

You play as masterful team of super creative agents on a top secret mission. You retrieved The Great Mcguffin, and now you’re trying to escape from the Evil Supervillain’s Lair. The Lair is filled with deadly traps that you have to overcome as a team.

Variant 1 : Team vs Clock! (2-6 players)


Shuffle the Gadget and Trap decks and set them near the players. Find a timer (you can use your phone!) with 15 seconds per player (for example, 6 players need a 90 second timer). You can adjust the time per player to make the game easier or harder for your group.


Tip: Play a practice round to make sure you know how to play! Each round in Evil Lairs for Dummies consists of a PLANNING and an ESCAPE PHASE:

Planning Phase

Place one face-up trap card per player in the center of the playing area. Each player takes one gadget card and hides it from everyone else. Each player picks up one of the face-up trap cards. If a player ends up with a trap that could not be overcome with their gadget, they may trade trap cards with other players until everyone has a good gadget and trap combination. Don’t reveal which gadget you have yet! Place all the pairs of gadget and trap cards in the middle and distribute the pairs at random to each player. Everyone will get one of the group’s gadget and trap combinations, but not necessarily the one they started with! Start the timer to begin the ESCAPE PHASE.

Escape Phase

Take turns explaining how you would overcome the trap on the card in your hand with the gadget in your hand. Be creative! For example:

Gadget: pipe

Trap: guard dog

“The pipe is a musical pipe, so I play a lullaby that makes the guard dog fall asleep. Then, I can sneak past it!” Act fast! If the timer runs out, the Supervillain wins, and you all lose! When you’ve played through 7 rounds, you all escape the lair and win. Otherwise, reset the timer and put the used gadget and trap cards on a discard pile. Now it’s time for a new PLANNING PHASE.

Variant 2: Internal Rivalry! (3+ players)

This variant adds a competitive twist to the Team vs Clock variant and doesn’t require a timer. Instead of discarding their gadget and trap cards at the end of the escape phase, every player gives them to the player who, in their opinion, had the best or most creative trap solution (you can’t vote for yourself!).* The player with the most awarded gadget and trap card pairs after an agreed-upon number of rounds wins.

* For large groups, you may want to keep track of scores using tokens or tally marks instead of cards. Then you can shuffle the gadget and trap decks to play longer.

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