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Origins Game Fair 2014 V: Kickstarter Edition – Paradox, Dead Drop, Phoenix Covenant & Golem Arcana

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In what's likely a surprise to no one familiar with the modern games market, Origins Game Fair 2014 featured a number of games that will be coming to Kickstarter for funding or that have already made that trip. I'll look at a few of those games in this post, starting with Brian Suhre's Paradox from Split Second Games.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Here, Suhre presents an overview of this time-travel themed game. Yes, another one! Time travel is hot this year — but of course time travel could never really exist or else it would be hot every single year past, present and future as folks explore everything they missed or will miss. Here's an overview of the setting from the Paradox game page on BGG:

After decades of abusing the gift of time travel, humanity has accidentally created a massive space-time disturbance called the Quake that threatens planets in both space and time. Players take on the roles of scientists tasked with saving as many worlds as possible from the Quake, by manipulating energy to create new time strands. When enough of the proper time strands have been made, the breach is repaired. By creating multiple connections to a given anchor point in space, players further deepen the connection between worlds.

However, every change made to the space/time continuum creates a ripple effect – the Quake jumps to another World, fracturing it and removing it from reality. The things that you must do to save Worlds from the Quake are the very things that fuel the Quake...
From gallery of W Eric Martin

Players draft cards from an open tableau of worlds and timelines to save, then harvest resources from a 5x5 grid of tokens by swapping tokens of similar symbols, in order to create an orthogonal line of 4-5 tokens of similar color. Red, yellow, and green tokens are used to save timelines; white and black resources, to restore fractured worlds and shield saved worlds. At the end of twelve rounds, the Quake loses its energy and dissipates; planets that remain fractured score fewer points for all players. The player/scientist with the most VPs is recognized as the team responsible for saving the universe...and wins the game.
From gallery of W Eric Martin

The art is fantastic, with Split Second Games having reached out to a number of comic artists and invited them to do pretty much whatever they wanted as long as the art could be divided into past, present and future sections. The weird mix of art styles makes perfect sense for a time travel game since you're essentially seeing all sorts of possible worlds mashed together in one multiverse that you are now responsible for saving. After making rows in your array of discs, the remaining discs drop down, you fill your tableau across the top, then a rift marker moves to fracture worlds. Bummer.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Another game coming to Kickstarter at some point will be Jason Kotarski's Dead Drop from Crash Games, a super simple and interactive bluffing game in which you're trying to not only figure out which card is face-down in the center of the table, but have the two cards in your hand sum to that number so that you can peek at the drop and determine whether you've called out the right info or whether you're the one dropping dead.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Each player starts with a few cards in hand, with one face-down and the remainder face up on the table. On a turn, you either exchange cards in secret with another player, swap one card in your hand with a face-up card on the table, show an opponent two of your cards and force him to reveal if he has a card equal to this sum in hand, or go for the drop and try to win. I played four times in a row, and it was great fun. A brilliant little design that will be great with both folks I know and strangers at the table.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Newcomer Hikari Games was showing an in-progress version of Phoenix Covenant, and you can tell that the game is in-progress from the sign hung next to its printed banner. The game design seems pretty much set — as described in some detail on Hikari's website — but the presentation and positioning of the game in the market is a work in progress as PC is not a collectible card game, but rather a game that features elements similar to some TCGs.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• In spirit, Phoenix Covenant seems to resemble Summoner Wars, with players marshaling an army, then competing on a grid to bring units into play and take out opponents on their way toward whatever goal is set for the current game. Units can move in any of eight directions, and the edges of the pieces sometimes feature armor or critical weak points in addition to whatever special power is shown in the text box. Expect this game to show up on Kickstarter at some point.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

• Speaking of Kickstarter, Golem Arcana, which was funded on KS to the tune of $500k, was being demoed by Hairbrained Schemes on a couple of tables at Origins 2014. Lots of pointing by players with fingers and styluses in my few minutes of observation as they figured out what they were doing.
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