The Monday Game: Cardboard Kingmaker

Another Monday Game! We had an awesome playtest of Holy Press this weekend, and I can’t wait to dive into the ideas and content that will be changed and added, but for now I’ll save that for the Wednesday update for current game designs.

I’ll also be doing a playtest of Restoration Games‘ Stop Thief remake, so I can’t wait to see how that will go as well. But first, onto the game design!

The Unused Parameters

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This one seems like a really complicated big-box game, something like Troyes meets Samurai and has an insane 4X baby. This could be a fun design, but I think I’m going to pass just because the sheer scope of it is quite a bit larger than the game size I like to usually shoot for in Monday Games. The Acting mechanic could have some really fun Charade-style results though…

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The Mechanics here are interesting, but not sensational, but the contrast of the weirdly dark Theme along with the Constraint is making this seem like an odd airborne Snowpiercer-for-kids game, something ominous but maybe in chibi graphics?

The Winning Parameters

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The Theme and Constraint for this one just feel insane, so yeah I’m definitely going to use this weird game. Already the ideas of trying to infiltrate tiles into enemy tile pools seems like a great start, and I have an idea for how to make the mechanics feel dangerous (the original idea that cropped to mind with packing tape and rubber gloves seems a bit excessive now that I reflect on it).

Plus, I’ve got a title to boot: Cardboard Kingmaker

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Basically this, with crazy frenetic action revolving around cardboard

Brainstorm: The Mechanics

I’m thinking the best way for this to be dead-simple and also insane will be to make it real-time. We’ll need a set of, let’s say round, tiles, maybe a dozen for each player, and enough for 6 or 8 players. Plus, we’ll need 3 larger “Castle” tile markers for each player. Everything is going to be something like drink coaster material, as this will be a very wear-heavy game due to the real-time aspect.

Gameplay will be timed with a sand timer. Basically, each player is picking tiles and adding them to either:

  • Your “Main Castle” in front of you
  • One of your two “Side Castles” to your left or right
  • To the closest Side Castle of the player on your right or left
  • To any other player’s “Main Castle”

I’ll explain scoring in a sec, but tile sources are:

  • The main pool of tiles, made from all of the jumbled-up tiles (Let’s call them “Warrior” tiles) at the start of the game
  • Any of the sets of tiles on your Castles

Gameplay starts with a flipped sand timer, say 60 seconds, and ends when the sand runs dry. Players can only ever be touching/placing a single tile at a time, with the exception of picking up a stack on a Castle to look at them, drawing a single tile from the stack, and putting the stack back before placing the tile.This is so you can get an idea of how you’re doing, but you can’t pick up a ‘hand’ of tiles and start laying them out willy-nilly.

Finally, the scoring:

  • You get 1 point per tile of your color on each of the closest player’s Side Castle to your right and left, minus 1 point for each of their tiles they managed to put on your Side Castle on the same side.
  • You get 1 point per tile of your own color on your Main Castle, minus 1 point for each enemy tile on your Main Castle.
  • You get 1 point per tile of your own color on an enemy’s Main Castle, minus 1 point for each of the enemy’s tiles on their Main Castle.
  • No Castle can score you less than 0 points.

So yeah. Frantic insanity, and a fun game in around five minutes once you account for setup and scoring.

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Image of a Cardboard Kingmaker game 0.1 seconds before everything goes crazy

Brainstorm: The Story

Just keeping it short and sweet, since the game seems to be perfectly suited for a kid focus and they probably won’t need a heavy backstory to be interested.

The Cardboard King has died, and now the remaining Knights of the Corrugated Table are warring over who will be the new King! Leading their warriors into battle, they rule from atop their ivory cardboard tubes, commanding them to conquer the enemy castles and secure their own in a back-and-forth fight over the coveted Cardboard Crown!

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Exhibit A: The Cardboard Crown

Brainstorm: The Elevator Pitch

Lead your troops into battle as you fight for the Cardboard Crown! Fool your enemies and control your castles, but act swiftly; time is running short, and at every turn the other Knights of the Corrugated Table will seek to defeat your rule and control the Castles for themselves.

Closing Thoughts

This one seems like it has a ton of fun potential. There’s the quick and crazy fun aspect, but I think there’s a lot of room for mind-games by placing not-your-tiles on enemy castles to fool them into wasting their tiles in a non-ideal spot. The ability to actively look at tile stacks on your castles is outweighed by the time cost involved, meaning checks and such will be relegated to hurried memorization rather than careful planning.

There could also be a non-realtime version where players take turns placing a single tile or looking at a tile stack and with the game ending when the central pool runs dry, but that just doesn’t seem as much fun. Maybe I’ll include it as a variant in the rulebook.

So, what did you think of this week’s game and parameters? How would you have tackled these possible game ideas? Let me know in the comments and reblogs below!

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