Casual Game Crowdfunding: Black Holes, Malfunctioning AI, and a Fox in the Hen House

Black Hole Council

Social deduction abounds this month on Kickstarter, with games about calculating and conniving council members, to AI running rampant. But a cooperative game about delivering rations to West Berlin and a competitive game where you can only win by working together, nicely balances out the backstabbing and double-crossing.

Black Hole Council

Black Hole Council (Orange Machine Games) – Each player has a secret agenda. This agenda lists what you want to happen to every planet, such as settle it, tax it, mine it, conquer it, or even toss it into a black hole. A negotiation and deduction game, players are on a council and have to work together to decide what happens to over 30 planets, sometimes bribing each other to accomplish their agendas. However, you have to work hard to keep your goals secret, because if an opponent can guess one of your secret goals, they can steal your influence, as you all compete to rise through the ranks of the council.

Status Report!

Status Report! (Offcut Games) – A fifteen minute social deduction game, in Status Report one player is the captain of a starship while everyone else takes on the role of one of the ship's AI programs. Unfortunately, only one of the programs is still working properly and they're all trying to convince the captain that it's them. In order to win the game, the Captain must either figure out which is the functional AI or keep (most of) the crew alive long enough. There are eight steps in the game. Every odd step is a Status Report, during which each AI player plays one casualty card from their hand. On even steps, the captain uses one of the abilities at his disposal such as looking at a player’s hand. Each AI also has a one-time ability that she can use during the game. If, at the end of the eight steps, at least one crew member is still alive, the Captain and the working AI win. If the Captain ever thinks he has identified his ally, he can stop the game and win or lose based on his guess.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken (Ta-Te Wu) – In this social deduction card game you are either a fox or a chicken. You don't know which you are but you do know who all the other players are. Players will play fox, chickens, and hound cards, which can be used to maneuver cards around the table and help you deduce what team you're on. At the end of each round, the players who correctly guess their identity win two points, and additional points are earned for capturing or saving chickens for your team. At the end of three rounds the player with the most points wins.

Spirits of the Forest

Spirits of the Forest (ThunderGryph Games) – In this tile drafting game, players are trying to collect sets of spirit icons and elements. Each tile has one or two spirit icons and/or elements on them, and a number to show how many of its spirit type is scattered across all the tiles. On your turn you can either take one tile with two of the same icons on it or take two tiles each with one icon on it (but they must both represent the same spirit). Tiles are spread out in rows on the table, and players can only draft tiles from the left and right edges of the board. However each player also starts the game with three gemstones which can be used to 'reserve' tiles for future rounds or to steal a tile another player has already reserved.

Dwar7s Winter

Dwar7s Winter (Vesuvius Media) – The player with the most victory points at the end will win the game, but only working together will you survive the harsh winter. Each round of the game is divided into four phases. In phase one, monsters move with the goal of taking over your castle, and natural disasters hit your town. During phase two, each player chooses seven cards from their deck to play. Players all start the game with the same cards, but over time you hire mercenaries and customize your deck. During the third phase, each player has five action points to spend on such things as attacking monsters, hiring mercenaries, and moving their dwarfs. During the final phase, you check to see if you've lost (too many active disasters or a monster in your castle) or if it is the end of the seventh week with no losing conditions being met, in which case the winter is over and the player with the most victory points wins the game.

Operation Candy Bomber

Operation Candy Bomber (Cedar Fort Publishing and Media) – All players are working together to feed West Berlin, while winter creeps in, making the game grow steadily more difficult. If players either run out of time or the citizens of Berlin starve, they lose. In order to win the game, players have to complete a certain number of quests. Players use action points to drop off rations and candy, volunteers, and upgrade their planes, while cards are drawn to see which areas of West Berlin will be eating rations each turn.

Dogtag

Dogtag (Sean Han) – This casual party game is about dogs posting pictures to their social media app. The goal of the game is to increase your influence by earning achievements. There are six achievement cards you are vying for each game. You play picture cards to your board and accumulate comment cards. You play comment cards onto other players’ pictures in hopes that they will play some onto yours. You can also use action cards which can allow you an extra edge as you go after opponents or defend yourself against other player's actions cards in turn.

Disclosure: unless otherwise noted, we have not seen or played any of the above games. Our assessment of each is based on the information given on the crowdfunding project page.