Motor City – Overview


Game Overview

The game is designed to reflect a simplified operating of a delivery pipeline for a car manufacturing plant.

The player accepts orders from customers, chooses which products to make and allocates resources and manages the plant to deliver cars to customers in the most effective way possible.



Each player manages a separate board representing a factory, the board is laid out as a Kanban board and the production is tracked as it moves across the board.


Wip Limits

In the core game WiP limits are optional. Players may choose to apply WiP limits to manage flow, or just use their instincts.

If played for fun the WiP limits are not explicit, but if using this in a training environment I’d encourage explicit limits and for them to be strictly enforced to enable the class to evaluate the impact of WiP limits on the game.
I’d also suggest that each player experiment with different WiP limits to compare the impact with each other and discuss the results.


Accepting Orders

At the start of a shift a player may choose to review and accept an order, once accepted an order must be delivered and if the player fails to complete an order they will be penalized.

Sourcing Materials

Each shift all players may choose to source materials for their production, this is done by selecting vehicle cards from the available selection, only 4 cards are visible and players may only choose from those available – this adds some competitiveness over resources, and an element of understanding your constraints and dependencies.



At the start of each hour within a shift one player rolls dice to determine the available production points for all players (all players get the same to make this game about the allocation of resources rather than the luck of the dice.

Each player is allocated a quantity of Manufacturing, Assembly and Quality production points which they can allocate over the course of the hour. Unused production points are discarded. The player also has the option to trade production points of one type for another but at a 4:1 ratio to indicate the impact of repurposing machines.

The vehicle cards are pulled through the system and production points are allocated as they progress through the system.



There are a number of potential bottlenecks in the system and how you manage these will heavily impact the result of the game.

Game Success

Ultimately the winner will be the one that manages the production most effectively to meet their customers’ needs. It is hoped that applying Kanban and Theory of Constraints Practices will be rewarded, although there is an element of game mechanics and chance.

Purchasing the Game

The game is for sale at $120 + postage and is available now.  Game contains 4 game boards so is suitable for 4 players (or 4 pairs).

Please email me at to arrange to buy the game.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.


First Draft of the cover artwork

We have been really lucky to find an amazing graphic designer – Toby Gerber and an amazing artist for the game images – Graeme Jenner.


Here is the first draft of the box artwork, the game itself is in prototype stage and we are hoping to go to print in the next few weeks.

The Motor City board game

Motor City began life as a simple training workshop to show the impact statistical variance had on dependent events.  I called it Herbie in honour of the inspiration for the game which was described in the book by Eli Goldratt – “The Goal”

The initial game had a series of dice rolls each with a modifier (e.g. D6+1, D6-2 etc) and the teams would attempt to predict throughput of a sequence of events. They would be asked to re-order the events to maximise effectiveness of the plant.

This exercise would trigger discussions around the amount of inventory and what the most effective sequence of work stations was. It was great fun and was a popular exercise.

The exercise covered aspects of the Theory of Constraints; of flow; WiP limits and even little’s law. But it didn’t convey the pull aspect of Kanban clearly and as it was tokens rather than cards it was not sufficiently representative of Kanban to be considered a Kanban game.

And so Motor city evolved from there, the statistical variance and dependent events has been kept but it has been adapted to include cards, customer orders, and a more defined Kanban feel but still retains the essence of the initial workshop.

As it turns out the game is fun in it’s own right even without the learning and is very re-playable which is a big distinction to some of the other Kanban games which are very contrived and linear.  Motor City enables you to explore a variety of WiP limit techniques and or simply just have fun playing the game.