Today I picked up a box of the old Dino Hunt game by Steve Jackson Games. Designed as a sort of "edutainment" game for kids, it gets you traveling through time to capture dinosaurs. The cards bring some scientific information about each dinosaur besides its name and picture.
Dino Hunt also includes a solo variant where you try to reach the highest score in ten game turns. Different dinosaurs have varying point values and to capture you roll one die. Roll low and you can have various negative effects. I particularly liked the fact that each dinosaur card has its own table of outcomes for the roll of the dice. So for instance, rolling a 1 for a small creature might just cost a bit of energy, while a large one might end your turn prematurely. You also draw a special card at the beginning of each turn, acting like a random event system.
As I played a solo game, I realized that the mechanics could be adapted to the theme of academic publishing, although I agree with anyone that dinosaurs are a much cooler subject. It is just that the trend to "publish or perish" has been catching up really quickly here in Brazil so I guess I cannot help thinking about it. Instead of a team of time-traveling archaeologists, the player would be the head of a research lab at a university somewhere. Instead of dinosaurs, the cards would represent academic journals, having an energy cost and impact factor. The hunt roll would become the peer review roll... maybe in my next vacation I can sketch something along these lines.