“Safari Zone RNW” is a roll-and-write game where players compete to score the most points by capturing Pokémon during a trip to the Safari Zone. Players track progress on their game sheets by filling in boxes that represent areas explored, items obtained, Pokémon collected, and resources used.


The object of the game is to have the most impressive trip to the Safari Zone, a game preserve where visitors can capture the monsters they encounter inside the park. Players gain Victory Points as they complete their Field Guides which provide references, maps, and checklists to be updated during a visit. Early on, players have limited options each turn, but as they explore the areas of the map, gather items, and collect more monsters, they are able to take more actions per turn and chain their effects together so that choices they made earlier in the game pay off for them later on.

Players roll dice to determine which actions to take each turn. They can roll up to three times per turn, keeping dice they like between rolls. Actions from rolls include exploring the map, encountering Pokémon, gathering loot, using items from their backpacks, or getting caught up by hazards. After rolling, players mark off any new map areas or items they’ve discovered, and then look for Pokémon to catch in an encounter.

Pokémon can be captured during encounters by tossing Safari Balls at them. At the start of an encounter a player might come across more than one monster, but they can only choose one to try to catch.

The game is over when each player is out of either turns or Safari Balls.


A playable prototype built with Excalidraw and Iterary is available online.

Field Guide on Excalidraw
Expedition Dice, Encounter Deck, and Capture Dice on Iterary
Field Guide v20240524

Expedition Dice, Encounter Deck, Capture Dice v20240517


Game Sheet

A double-sided sheet of paper with the Field Guide on one side and the Park Rules on the other. Players track their progress by marking off boxes on the Field Guide. 

Mockup of the Field Guide.

Expedition Dice

A set of five 6-sided dice players roll at the start of their turn. They can roll up to three times, keeping and re-rolling any dice they’d like between rolls, except for Hazards. The die faces are labeled Area, Trainer, Item, Grass Habitat, Water Habitat, and Hazard.

Encounter Deck

A 52-card deck that players draw from after they roll Grass or Water Habitats. Each card shows a Pokémon, its encounter criteria, and its capture rate. Encounter criteria can include having rolled a certain number of Habitats that turn, access to certain areas, or possession of specific items. A player can only choose to encounter a Pokémon if they meet the criteria on the card.

Capture Dice

A set of three 6-sided dice with faces numbered 1–6. Capture Dice are rolled when trying to catch a Pokémon during an encounter. If the total rolled is greater than or equal to the monster’s Capture Rate, it is caught. N.B. The Capture Dice were called Safari Dice in earlier versions of the game.


Setting Up

Each player starts with a fresh game sheet. They’ll need something like a pen, pencil, marker, paint brush, stamp, dauber, or some other implement for filling boxes on the Field Guide.

Shuffle the Encounter deck and place it somewhere within reach of all players, because everybody will be drawing from this deck.

Pick someone to go first. Players take turns going clockwise around the table.

Player’s Turn

Turns are divided into phases. Below is a summary of the phases, read on for more detailed explanations of each one.

Expedition phase: roll the Expedition Dice and fill out your Field Guide accordingly based on exploring the map areas, gathering items, or collecting Pokémon.

Encounter phase: draw a number of cards from the Encounter deck equal to the number of habitats rolled. Choose a card with encounter criteria that you meet, discard the rest, and then try to capture the chosen Pokémon by rolling the Capture Dice. If you’re successful, update your Field Guide and add the card to your Capture pile.

Expedition Phase

Fill a box in the Turn Tracker section of the field guide, and then roll the Expedition Dice up to three times. You can keep any dice you’d like to between rolls. After rolling, fill boxes on your Field Guide according to what you rolled.

Hazard rolls: If you roll three or more Hazards your turn is over. Hazards can’t be re-rolled unless you have a Bicycle. Players who have the Bicycle can re-roll one Hazard per roll for free.

Area rolls: For each Area rolled, fill a box in the Areas section of the Field Guide. Area tracks are filled top to bottom. If a box has a requirement labeled to its left, you can’t fill in that box unless you satisfy the requirement. If a filled box has an item labeled to its right, you now have that item.

The player was allowed to fill in the first box of the Area 1 track after they had the Area 1 Key. The key was obtained by filling in the last box of the Center Entrance track.
The player can’t fill the first box in the Area 3 track until they reach 100 or more VP.
Item rolls: For each Item Ball rolled, fill in a box in the Bag section of the Field Guide. Item tracks are filled left to right, top to bottom. If a filled in box has an item labeled to its right, you now have that item.

The player got the Old Rod when they filled the first box in the track, and needs one more before they get the Good Rod.
The player got Repel once they completed the track in the Bag section.
Trainer rolls: For each Trainer rolled, you can use an item once. Items can be used anytime during your turn after the Expedition phase. The same item can be used more than once per turn.

Habitat rolls: If any Grass or Water Habitats were rolled, you may proceed to the Encounter phase.

Encounter Phase

Draw one card from the Encounter deck for each Grass or Water habitat rolled. If the deck runs out, shuffle the discard pile and use it as the new Encounter deck.

Choose a card with criteria that you satisfy and discard the rest. Each Pokémon has its own unique criteria that specify what a player needs in order to attempt catching that Pokémon. If you cannot choose a card the encounter phase ends. 

Habitat criteria: The player must have rolled at least one Water Habitat for each [W] and at least one Grass Habitat for each [G] on the card. Each Habitat Bonus earned from the Areas section can unlock a bonus Grass or Water Habitat to be counted toward satisfying the criteria.

Area criteria: The player must have at least one box filled in the specified Area track.

Item criteria: The player must have that item either in their Bag or have found it in the Areas section.

Capture rate: The player must roll Capture Dice totaling greater than or equal to the capture rate of the Pokémon to capture it.

Dragonair requires 3 Water habitats to be rolled this turn.
Dragonair requires the player have access to Area 2.
Slowpoke requires the player have the Super Rod in their bag.
Nidoran M has a capture rate of 11.

Try catching the Pokémon by throwing a Safari Ball at it. Reduce your Safari Ball count by one and roll the Capture Dice. Compare the total of the roll to the Pokémon’s capture rate. If the dice total is greater than or equal to the capture rate, the Pokémon is caught. Move the card to your Capture Pile and begin the Collection Process for that Pokémon. If the Pokémon is not caught, you may try throwing another Safari Ball if you have one, or you may end the phase. If you have no Safari Balls remaining, the Encounter phase ends and the game is over for you after this turn. If the phase ends without catching the Pokémon, move its card to the discard pile.

The player rolled an 11 on their first Safari Ball throw. If the target Pokémon’s capture rate was 11 or below, it was caught.
The player has a Nidoran F, Paras, and Exeggcute in their Capture Pile from previous encounters.

Collecting Pokémon

Collecting a Pokémon by catching it with a Safari Ball, evolving it, or any other means, triggers the Collection process for that Pokémon. Fill boxes matching the species you just collected in your Pokédex section, Evolutions section, and guests in the Areas section according to these rules.

Pokédex section:
fill the box with the species name labeled to its left.

The player has collected Nidoran F, Nidorina, Paras, and Exeggcute so far.

Evolutions section: fill a box in the Evolution track with the species name labeled to its left. If you fill a box with an evolved species labeled to its right, you may complete the collection process for that Pokémon before ending your turn.

The player has already evolved Nidorina. Using a Moon Stone will evolve Nidoqueen, and collecting a Psyduck will evolve Golduck.

Areas section: fill a box with the species name labeled to its left. Some boxes are labeled with multiple species, only one is required to fill the box.

The player could have collected either Psyduck or Slowpoke to fill the “Psyduck / Slowpoke” box.

Using Items

For each Trainer rolled, you can use an item once. Items can be used anytime during your turn after the Expedition phase. The same item can be used more than once per turn.

Moon Stone: evolves certain Pokémon. Fill a box in the Evolutions section with Moon Stone labeled to its left.

Poké Doll: when used during an encounter, lock a Capture Die that has been rolled already this encounter. You don’t have to re-roll the locked die for the remainder of the encounter.

Poké Flute: shuffle the discard pile into the Encounter deck.

Repel: discard all Pokémon of the same species you have drawn from the Encounter deck this turn. Draw a number of cards from the Encounter deck equal to the number of cards discarded.

Water Stone: evolve certain Pokémon. Fill a box in the Evolutions section with Water Stone labeled to its left.

The Bicycle, Old Rod, Good Rod, and Super Rod aren’t usable items.

Ending a Turn

After a player has no more phases to complete and no actions left to perform, their turn is over and the next player can begin their turn. Players may also choose to end their turn at any time.

Ending the Game

A player is out of the game when they run out of turns or Safari Balls. The game is over when all players are out of the game. When the game is over, proceed to Scoring to determine the winner.


All players tally up the Victory Points earned in their Field Guide. The player with the most VP is the winner of the game. In the case of a tie, the player with the highest number of unique Pokémon species collected during the game is the winner. If there is still a tie, the players share in their victory.

The player has scored 150 Victory Points.

Boxes Explained

Boxes in the Field Guide are usually filled in as a result of a dice roll or collecting a Pokémon, but boxes can be filled in other ways too. Boxes also aren’t necessarily square, they can have other shapes. Box shapes, colors, and border styles are significant, and understanding their mechanics can help you build long chains and combos filling in many boxes from one action.

Boxes with gold-colored borders are Bonus Boxes, and allow you to fill any square-shaped box as long as you can meet any requirements labeled to its left. You can fill other Bonus Boxes this way, but not in the same section twice in a row. For example, chaining three bonus boxes in a row from starting from the Evolutions section, going to the Areas section, and back to the Evolutions section would be allowed. Chaining two bonus boxes in a row in the Evolutions section would not be allowed.

Boxes with blue-colored borders are Trigger Boxes, they can be filled as a side-effect of collecting a Pokémon or obtaining an item. Only one trigger box can be filled in each section per instance of an eligible event, so catching a Pokémon could allow you to fill more than one trigger box, but each one would have to be in a different section. For example, catching a Nidran M during an encounter might allow you to fill one trigger box in the Pokédex section as well as one in the Evolutions section.

Boxes with dotted borders are Free Boxes, and you can fill them any time during your turn as long as all the boxes ahead of them in their track are already filled.


Box: a shape on the Field Guide that players fill in to represent game progress. Box shapes and colors are significant.

Section: a portion of the Field Guide dedicated to a certain aspect of the game. Sections contain tracks, boxes, flavor text, and illustrations.

Track: a cluster of boxes that must be filled in a certain order. Boxes in tracks are filled left to right and top to bottom.


Visual Aesthetic

Pokémon Times Issue 1, c. 1996
Ghibli Park map, c. 2022
Map of Akihabara, Japan from Micom Basic magazine, c. 1983
Safari Zone artwork from Red and Green
Reverse side of Special Jumbo Carddass Pikachu card given out during Tokyo Toy Show, c. 1997
Alton Towers Towers Times, c. 1988

Inspiration and Influences

— Jumbo Carddass Pokémon card series
— Vintage amusement park maps and ephemera
— Ken Sugimori’s artwork from the Red and Green era 
— Press your luck, re-rolling and locking, and bonus areas from Yahtzee
— Engine building and combo chaining from Fleet and Three Sisters

Example Playthrough