The Big Switch gameplay

So, how exactly do you play The Big Switch? In today’s blog, I will explain the basic rules of the game 🙂 Since this will be a brief description of the game, I’m not going to go into the special rules and details yet. By the end of this blog, you’ll have a good idea of how the game plays 🙂

What is The Big Switch?

The Big Switch is a real-time bidding and tile-flipping dexterity game about energy conservation. In each round, players try to outbid each other in 20-second auctions to buy efficient appliances for their homes, while simultaneously doing energy saving habits.

Players compete to have the most Energy Stars which they get from buying appliances and doing habits. The player with the most Energy Stars after 7 rounds is the winner!

Energy Stars on Appliances and Star Tokens

The Big Switch is a game for 2-5 players, ages 10+, and takes around 15-30 minutes to play.

The basic components

Before I describe what happens in a round, here are the basic components of the game.

House Sheet

Each player gets a House Sheet which represents your house at the start of the game. Notice that all your starting appliances are old and inefficient.

incandescent bulbs? eww

Appliance Tiles

The primary way to get Energy Stars is by buying efficient Appliances. Appliances come in different types and with different Star-ratings, minimum bids, and Savings.

Starry starry tiles

Aside from giving you Energy Stars, buying efficient appliances also increases the overall savings of your household which gives you more money in the next rounds.


Use your money tokens to bid for appliances during the auction. You get money every round depending on the savings of your household. Buy more efficient Appliances to increase your savings.

Ze Moola

The Timer

You will need a timer to play the game. You can use any device, like a cellphone, as long as it can start a 20-second timer. You can also download the free complimentary App. The App also has other game modes for players who want a more challenging game so check it out! 🙂

The App is already up in the Google Play Store and can be downloaded in this link:

We’ll announce when it is available in the iOS App Store. You can also access a web version through this temporary link: (we will eventually migrate the App to our website)

EDIT: The App is now also available in iOS 🙂 Just search for The Big Switch in the App Store 🙂 More info on the app can be found in this blog post about the App.

What happens in a round?

Collect your savings

At the start of each round, each player collects money depending on the savings of their household. At the start of the game each player only receives 25 Money since their appliances are not very efficient. As players get better appliances, their savings increase.

At the start you get four 5s and five 1s

Get ready for the auction

Place 5 random appliances on the Auction sheet for each player to see then give the players some time to look at the available appliances so that they can strategize which appliances they want to buy.

An LED, a fan, a TV, a Stove, and an Aircon are up for sale in Round 1

Time to bid! How the Auction works:

Once everyone is ready, start the auction timer! Each player will have 20 seconds to do two actions: Bid for Appliances and Perform Habits.

Note that in the first round, players can’t Perform Habits yet because no one has any appliance tiles.

Bidding for Appliances

Notice the white squares on the House Sheets? Those are your bidding slots which correspond to an appliance for sale.

Our artist Aa hates how I did these arrows

While the auction timer is running, players place their money on the slots of the appliance/s they want to buy. You can bid for as many appliances as you like (as long as you have enough money).

When the timer buzzes, hands off! The highest bidder wins the appliance (if they bid equal to or greater than the Minimum Bid which is indicated by the price tag) 😀

IMG_2176 copy.jpg
There are different variants of an appliance type

During the auction, players can see what everyone else is bidding on. While the timer hasn’t buzzed yet, you can react to other players by manipulating your own bids: you can move your bids around, retract your bids, or even hide them (if you think it’s worth the effort). Check out what your opponents are doing and try to outbid them 🙂

Performing Habits

Once you have an appliance, you can do energy-saving habits to get extra Energy Stars. To do a Habit, flip over an appliance and orient it towards you.

There isn’t really a reason not to do your habits. However, since you have to do them during the 20-seconds, they will take time away from you bidding and checking out what everyone else is doing.

Reward the Habit-doers

After the timer is done and before awarding appliances, the players are rewarded Energy Stars if they are able to do ALL their appliances. If you miss out even just one Appliance, you don’t get the reward.

The number of Energy Stars you get depends on the round and is shown on the Auction Sheet. Later rounds have higher rewards.

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Later rounds give more star rewards for habits

After awarding Energy Stars, reset all of your appliances by turning them to their Appliance side and orienting them towards you. Each auction round has to start from this state so no cheating!

Award the Bids!

Starting with the first Appliance on the Auction Sheet, check who won the Appliance. The highest bidder takes it (if they bid higher than the minimum). If you win an appliance, congratulations! Place it in your house on its corresponding Appliance Slot then adjust your Savings Tracker. You’ll be getting more money next round because of your energy-efficient appliance 🙂

If you lose the bid, don’t worry. You get to keep your money which you can use in the next rounds.


Finally, clear the Auction sheet then move on to the next round (starting with each player getting money).

End of the game

After 7 rounds, each player tallies the number of Energy Stars they have from Appliances they own and rewards they got from doing habits. The player with the most stars is the winner! 😀

Are you ready to make the switch?

And that’s The Big Switch in a gist 🙂 For me, it’s most fun with 5 players because that’s when things get really crazy XD Balancing between monitoring 4 opponents and doing habits isn’t easy at all XD

Our online shop will be up this Friday so get your copy! 😀 If you are a school, NGO, or any educational institution who wants to use these for educational purposes, contact us for an educational discount 🙂




Follow Nico Valdez:

Game Designer

Nico is a game designer, programmer, songwriter, ex-audio engineer, amateur fiction writer, and president of Balangay Entertainment®. One of the less competitive members of Balangay, Nico only wins against 2k, Marx, and Aya when he's played the game before and they haven't. Nico always wins against Aa. He'll play almost anything as long as it's not loud. He likes euro games for their strategy and thematic games for their roleplaying. He doesn't like party games that much because they get too noisy for his ear disability.

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