UPDATE: We reached our goal in ten days! Wow! The support and excitement over this project has been a little overwhelming and we have to thank everyone who has supported us and given us kind words and suggestions. The truth is 3500 was only the bare minimum needed to get this project off the ground, only enough to make copies for all backers and a couple hundred extra. The more we can get now, the higher the quality we can deliver and the more supplementary material we can provide (more expansions, more maps in map packs, and more map packs in the future). Please continue to spread the word and pledge so we can get the Black Flag Games inaugural project off to an empowering start.
A Las Barricadas is a boardgame about conflict between two opposing social forces, namely that of the state and of anti-authoritarian demonstrators. It is a two-player game with each player representing one of these social forces, the theatre of this conflict being that of the street demonstration. It is being developed and designed by the Black Flag Games collective, committed to the idea that games and interactive media can have an impact in the struggle for a free and cooperative world. We are also committed to the ideals of free culture and aim to deliver professional play experiences that enrich a participatory entertainment culture.
A Las Barricadas is designed to simulate the spontaneity and unpredictability of demonstrations and direct actions. It has been carefully crafted not only to be entertaining but also to aid in the honing of our collective tactical mind, much the way a war game might sharpen the strategic capacity of its players. The game is a contest between two participants, one playing the forces of the state and law enforcement, and the other playing radical anti-authoritarian demonstrators. The Police player has consistency and physical might on their side, while the Radical player has the capacity to rapidly become overwhelming if played well, and is better able to dictate the tone of the conflict. Each player has a plethora of strategic options available to them, and variable objectives keeps the game fresh each time its played.
The game has seen light playtesting and has been in development for well over a year. We want to involve the broader community in refining and polishing the game before final publication. So as part of our Kickstarter, you will be able to sign up to receive a Playtester Prototype as a reward, which you will receive well before the final game is shipped. You will also receive surveys and a means with which to communicate issues and bugs in the game before it goes to print. You will also receive a special playtester credit in the rulebook of the game.
In the spirit of Open Source, and as a statement against intellectual property and for cooperation; upon completion and publication of the game, all of the game materials and illustrations will be released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Meaning anyone will be able to make their own expansions of the game, print their own editions and design their own maps based on historical events or meaningful locations; or even make adaptations or whole new games.
We hope this game will be a success, and be useful as a tool for tactical training, education and conversation about the place of actions and demonstrations in modern social movements. If you like what we're doing, join us in our efforts.
'A Las Barricadas' is a two-player, asymmetric boardgame. This means it is a contest between two players whose ability to affect the game is different. Play takes place on a board which represents a real city or historic location, and small chips are placed on building squares (buildings can be occupied, blockaded or vandalized). The Radical player chooses randomly from a small deck of objective cards and both players choose their tactics for the game. Victory is achieved by the Radical player if they complete their objectives in an allotted number of rounds. The Police player only gets a small piece of flavor text as a hint to the objectives of the radical player, and their objective is to keep the radical player from gaining victory points and completing their goals. Many of the objectives relate to acquiring Strike chips (by causing economic loss through blockades, pickets, occupations etc.) or by gaining Media chips (representing media coverage).
There are five threat levels in the game ranging from Zero to Four. Threat level begins at Zero and is raised when the Radical player uses certain tactics or takes certain actions. Each of the Police players tactics and actions have a Threat level associated with it, and if the current Threat level is lower than that associated with an action or tactic the police player uses, then the Radical player gains Media chips and action points.
Because the Threat Level is most often at the discretion of the Radical player, and their tactics can be tailored to their secret objective, the radical player has more control over the tone and pace of the contest. The police player however is far more consistent in play and can also apply much greater levels of physical force.
A unit in 'A Las Barricadas' can either be active or deactivated. If a unit is active, it can use tactics and engage in charges, otherwise it can only move. All police player units start and remain active unless deactivated through a charge. The radical players units begin play deactivated and action points must be used to activate their demonstrator units. However, the Radical player can at any time choose to use a tactic called 'agitate' which activates all their Agitator units and allows them to gain extra action points (useful for activating demonstrators). The Police player is best able to arrest Radical units that are activated without forfeiting Media Chips, so activating Radical units is a risk.
Hopefully you can see from this short but somewhat verbose explanation that the game is about two opponents with different strengths and weaknesses, and that there is a great potential for tactical exploration and conversation. A player of A Las Barricadas can explore in the abstract the implications of different types of tactics and how they suit to aid or hinder different objectives.
One notable example for the Radical player are the Shield bloc which allow the Radical player to bolster their units against arrest and police charges, good for blockades and occupations. Radical players who want to minimize Police confrontation can use the 'Permitted Protest' tactic which allows the player to move their units in street squares without raising the Threat Level.
Police players have several abilities not related to physical force, one is called 'Liberals!' and it allows the police player to deactivate Radical units, simulating liberal elements of the demonstration attempting to keep it from taking direct action. Another is 'Agents Provocateur' which allows the Police player to take control of a Radical unit and spend Action points to use as their own.
Each player has ten total tactics, two are had by default, and four they get to choose at the start of the game. So the above are just the tip of the iceberg of the sorts of tactical considerations and contests one can have playing 'A Las Barricadas'.
Isn't it kinda weird and authoritarian to simulate something as nebulous and autonomous as a demonstration?
The game is by no means meant to simulate one entity choosing the tactics and actions of hundreds or thousands of people. Obviously there is no such directing force for radicals as there is for the Police. This is reflected in the rules partially by Agitator units who must agitate to activate demonstrators. It is also reflected by two mechanics, both related to certain rolls of the action dice. One causes unactivated units to retreat outside of the control of the Radical player, and another which causes activated units to riot.
The goal is to have fun, be engaged and perhaps garner some insight into what tactics might be useful to achieve certain objectives in actions. Many things in a game must be abstract or the game would be miserable to play.
The core game comes with a map representing a real location, several dozen double-sided unit chips, 20 Building chips, several dozen Action, Strike and Media chips, 2 player cards, a deck of Objective cards, a deck of Tactics cards, 3 Action dice and a rules zine.
The Map Pack will include at least 3 additional maps based on real world locations for increased replay value.
If the project reaches well above our minimum goal, we intend to include additional goodies in the core game and map packs. More information will be released once we get closer to our minimum goal.
We want to release several map packs to celebrate popular peoples struggles throughout history. If these are popular and offer significant play value, we hope to take requests and have a large number of maps available. These map designs will also be released under a Creative Commons By-SA license, so players can print and even design their own boards if they choose.
We also want to release at least two rules expansions with additional maps, objectives, tactics, special rules and unit types. The first expansion planned is the A Las Barricadas: Insurrection expansion. It will have additional objectives and tactics based on events from popular Insurrections in history from Bahrain to Egypt to Greece and elsewhere, and will allow the simulation of more chaotic and aggressive demonstrations. But far from wanting to focus solely on more aggressive points in the history of peoples struggles, we intend to release a second expansion later that will highlight Non-Violent Direct Action tactics and will give those players who choose to, more tactical options for completely non-violent actions and demonstrations.
We have lots of ideas and the better we do on our kickstarter the more we can release and the more we can provide to our supporters. So grab the $250 reward, get a Developer credit, and a bundle of gaming awesomeness.
Our highest reward entitles you to a developer credit, every expansion for A Las Barricadas we produce, and every other game we produce. We intend for this to be several hundred dollars in value as we want to produce a large number of freely licensed, high-quality games for a participatory entertainment culture.
In fact, we already have a second game in the works which will be playtested and illustrated after A Las Barricadas ships. It is a tabletop story-game/rpg called Kinfolk. It is a poignant story-game with a simple but powerful narrativist conflict-resolution engine. Players take the roles of the fae and other magical creatures, defending the final verdant wilderness from the steel-clad onslaught of the empire of man. The game mechanics are cinematic and fun. Conflicts are flexible and exciting. The game overall leads to an Eschaton or final confrontation that results in either the death of magic and the natural world or its resurgence. It is a dramatic and powerful allegory for authority, imperialism and environmental destruction.
We are also co-developing a card game with a radical Swedish game designer codenamed Subversiva. The game is about battle between mechs, and has a fun building mechanic that allows for exciting strategic diversity. Three factions do battle in the game, one a hypermodern, neo-feudalist republic from a dead earth, another a missionary religion seeking to spread the love of their faith by the sword, and the third a ragtag confederation of anarchist colonists struggling to secure autonomy and prosperity for their new homeworlds.
All the games we produce will contain some measure of social commentary. All of them will be permissively licensed so that anyone can build off of what we have created. And all of them will be of the highest art and production quality possible.
Kinfolk will likely be released in late 2012, Subversiva in early 2013, and many games and expansions will follow it.
Yea, we were vaguely aware of the game when I launched this project, but we have received a number of messages explaining the fact. The final game will have a different name, think of 'A Las Barricadas' as the project name or the codename, and we'll have a poll later to come up with a good name for the final delivered game.
By all means, we want to respect the privacy, anonymity and autonomy of backers. If you do not want your name in the credits, we will gladly print a pseudonym instead, or else omit it entirely.
Since the game is CC-licensed (and free culture is awesome), will you be including machine-readable sources so that others can modify and adapt the game? (.xcf files or similar)
Technically, the CC license doesn't require that we release any source files. It is a license for the copyrighted work. But due to the fact that we want to maximize participation, We will likely bundle and release all pertinent source files for people to play with. They wont be shipped with the game on a disc or anything, They'll be available online.
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