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Take a Trip to Wonderland for Hats, War, Gears, and the Ever-Present Alice

W. Eric Martin
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• Rather than talk of a game's theme, I prefer to talk about its setting — that is, the environment in which the action of the game takes place. When you have an understanding of that environment, you can then imagine your role in it and make sense of game actions in those terms. I realize that one meaning of "theme" is "setting", but if I can use the word "setting" instead, then why not remove that additional mental step and be more direct in what I'm saying.

One of the most common go-to settings for game design is Wonderland, as in "Alice's Adventures in". Lewis Carroll's novel is a fixture in cultures the world over, and the book provides a multitude of fanciful environments, conflicts, and characters that designers and artists can draw on when deciding on a setting for their own creative works.

One such upcoming release that draws on that setting for source material is Gabriele Bubola's Hats, which ThunderGryph Games will debut at Gen Con 2019. In this 2-4 player game, each player starts with a hand of nine hat cards. On a turn, either you place a card face down in front of you as a "black hat" for 1 point, or you swap a card from your hand for a card of the same type (color) from the tea table board or a card of any type but of a lower value, adding this newly acquired card to your collection. At the end of eight rounds, the final card in your hand earns you points for all collected hat cards of the same type, while losing you points for the value of that particular card, and the placement of cards on the tea table board determine the value of matching cards.

Hats doesn't need to feature the Mad Hatter, of course, but the character and world of Wonderland provide material upon which to draw for imagery. I've played the game twice so far on a review copy and will post an overview video ahead of Gen Con 2019. ThunderGryph plans to release the second title in its "Made in Wonderland" game series — Tuned — at SPIEL '19 in October.


Victory for meeeeee!


Druid City Games and Skybound Games have announced a 2019 Kickstarter campaign for Wonderland's War, a design by Tim Eisner, Ben Eisner, Jonathan Gilmour, and Ian Moss for 2-4 players that features art by Manny Trembley. Here's a short take on the game:

Quote:
War is on the horizon for the future of Wonderland. Gather the resources you need to build legendary items, gain strange tactical advantages, and recruit the infamous denizens of Wonderland to fight for your side. Each Wonderlandian you encounter offers a unique ability to help you further your goals, but will you be tempted to turn on them to push yourself ahead of your enemies? Gather your army and take them through the looking glass and onto the field of battle. Unleash your soldiers with all the fiendish tricks, powerful items, and recruited Wonderlandians to gain control of the realm and seize your destiny in Wonderland's War!

Alice Assemble, a.k.a. アリスアセンブル, is a puzzle-y card game from designer Hakushi and publisher Kuuri Keikaku that was released in 2018. Players build automatons by drafting cards that depict gears, trying to connect their gears to make patterns and score points.

• Alice is also a playable character in Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One, a design from Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, and Justin D. Jacobson that Restoration Games will debut at Gen Con 2019, and some characters from Wonderland show up on the cards in her deck, in addition to other story actions being referenced:




Rodney Smith just posted a "how to play" video on this game if you're curious to see the game in action:


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