This week’s COG Gaming Kickstarter highlight looks at a game that is a bit different than I normally go for. PlayMe: Alice in Wonderdice is a real-time, competitive dice-chucking game for 2-6 players from newcomer French designer Aldebaran Geneste. As with many Kickstarter projects, the art and theme is what initially drew me to look at the project page; I like odd, even twisted themes, and there are few worlds as odd or as twisted as Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. The project page itself is done well for the most part. The graphics are nice and fit with the theme, and everything is very clearly laid out with what is going to come in the box(not the figures above, FYI), and what each of the reward levels includes. The campaign includes a link to the full rules PDF which is always a huge plus, and has some videos that describe and show gameplay. The page also has an introductory video that is well edited and composed, though it doesn’t really tell you anything about the game which is generally something the Board Game Kickstarter Advice community would recommend doing, and it has one review. A single review is a little on the sparse side for a board game Kickstarter, especially for a new designer, but with the Carroll theme and low funding goal of $5,000 it may not have been worthwhile to lobby other previewers for videos or articles since it easily funded without them. This campaign is also a re-launch, having failed last fall to reach its then-goal of $25,000. Since then they’ve apparently released French language versions which has given the creators more wiggle-room for their new campaign goal.
The game itself looks intriguing: players take on the roles of characters from Wonderland, each with a unique ability, and then in real-time roll their 6 dice to try and get a straight 1-6 before anyone else. If they do they get to flip their card over to the “mad” side, and then a new round begins and everyone does it again. If any player wins a second time after flipping their player card to the mad side then they win the game. To stop the game from being a complete luck-based system players have the option of placing one of their dice on someone else’s card to block their progress, rather than using it to help themselves. To remove that dice the other player must role the same number, and then both dice are taken back and rolled by their respective players. I’d imagine you’ll see people teaming up on each other quite often to stop someone who has already won a previous round from winning the game.
If the players all block each other enough, or the ones who won once are unlucky enough to not win again, and everyone flips to their mad side, then the last person to flip becomes the Jabberwocky and PlayMe turns into a semi-cooperative traitor game. Everyone except the Jabberwocky flips their cards back to the initial side, and the other players have to win a number of rounds equal to the total player-count in order to win the game cooperatively(they don’t turn mad when winning a round). Conversely, if the Jabberwocky wins a round he/she gets to flip a character over to its mad side, and if all the characters go mad the Jabberwocky wins. There’s also an optional variant that allows a player to betray their teammates and actually flip to their mad side if they win a Jabberwocky round, and then can attempt to win the game as normal.
All-in-all the game looks rather fun, though in reading the rules it looks like it has the potential given the right circumstances to last longer than its weight and mechanics really should allow. My group has enjoyed real-time dice games in the past including Escape! and Space Cadets, so it’s a campaign I’m still keeping in mind. My only real hesitation comes from the price point. The game comes with 6 player cards, a White rabbit/Jabberwocky tile, and 36 translucent dice. For that you’ll have to fork over $30 big ones for the base game, or if you want any of the cool sculptures or mounted white rabbit shown in the top image you’ll have to pledge significantly more. That’s a lot of dice, but $30 is still pretty steep for what’s included here compared to other titles, and although I can’t speak for what efforts were made to find alternative manufacturing I can’t help but think a $20 price-point should have been the basic pledge level.
So, if you like Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland and think a competitive, real-time game with lots of dice sounds like fun, head on over to PlayMe’s Kickstarter page by clicking the image below and take a look!
Verdict: A little on the pricey side in my opinion for what’s included, but looks like a frantically good time with little risk involved.