True Messiah, a game of cult warfare (Canceled) project video thumbnail
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$11,357 pledged of $30,000 goal
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$11,357 pledged of $30,000 goal
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About

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>> We are now here with an updated funding goal! <<

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Years ago, scientists constructed the Belief Engine, a machine that warps reality to match peoples’ most strongly held beliefs. The machine was turned on for testing, but it proved too sensitive: widespread belief in the depravity of man and imminent social collapse suddenly took on the full force of objective fact. Without resort to a shared external reality, civilization crumbled like a sand castle in the tide.

From the ruins have now arisen cults led by charismatic figures possessed of seemingly divine powers derived from the still-functioning Engine. You are one such a figure—the true one, the Messiah. It is God’s will that you build temples and marshal followers, then mold their beliefs to perform miracles and destroy your rivals. They’ll be doing the same, but don’t worry–God is on your side…

Pictured: you and up to 3 of your friends!
Pictured: you and up to 3 of your friends!

The first player to defeat an enemy player wins.

On your turn, position yourself and your followers to generate resources; if your units remain alive and in the correct spots when your turn comes around again, you'll build temples, recruit new followers, and obtain bonus moves based on your positioning. (This isn't mere worker placement: resources exist in actual two-dimensional space on the board, and must be defended!)

In addition to moving, your followers may pray to power uncanny miracles, or may engage in combat to destroy enemy units and capture temples.

At the end of each round, use your ill-gotten gains to bid in secret to acquire new miracles for your cult. Most of the miracles in the market have only a single copy, which means that you'll be constructing a deck with vastly different powers from everyone else at the table!

The Rulebook [PDF]

Evocative; bizarre; horrifying. Inspired in part by the works of Zdzisław Beksiński, True Messiah's art style represents a grim blend of religious symbolism and post-apocalyptic surrealism. Here is a sampling:

True Messiah is not just a game; it is a unique and beautiful visual experience.

Opening up the box, you’ll find:

  • an 18” x 18” quad-fold board with a lovely painted depiction of the wasteland
  • 4 awesome messiah miniatures, each towering ~58mm tall over the board!
  • 1 large, full-color rulebook
  • 78 gorgeously illustrated miracle cards (more, if we hit our stretch goals!)
  • 4 character cards
  • 4 holy city tiles, 1 for each messiah
  • 16 tiles representing the game’s 4 types of buildable temples
  • 4 rules reference cards
  • 96 follower chits
  • 48 nonbeliever chits
  • 4 avatar tokens
  • 24 health tokens
  • 50 coin tokens
  • 8 providence tokens

In a word: yes! It takes just one play-through to learn to play True Messiah, but there's loads of hidden depth left to plumb once you've mastered the basics.

Here is what others have had to say about it:

  • Gamer’s Voice Award Nominee 2018 – SXSW
  • Indie Game Highlight from PAX West 2016 – Geekwire
  • “It’s got a deep, unique interplay between spatial strategy and deck building that I dig. A beautiful brain burn.” –Don Eskridge, designer of The Resistance and Abandon Planet
  • “[T]he deck building mechanic is done really well and turns the managing your repertoire of miracles into a mini game of its own. But my favourite aspect of True Messiah was the way in which your troops are also your source of power for your miracles. There is a constant pressure to manage your followers and balance your belief against your combat power.” –Steven Tudor, Polyhedron Collider
  • "When I got it, I was very pleasantly surprised. The rulebook reads really well...This one, I can definitely tell you that it is a genuinely good game." –Mitch Lurcook, The Kwarenteen
  • “True Messiah is a fantastic blend of deckbuilding and strategy game, taking the best elements of a game like Ascension and merging it with the unit focused combat and control of Risk. One of the best elements in this game is how easy it is to learn because there are a simple set of actions, but they all have intense and often immediate strategic significance, whether it's deciding how much to bid to win first pick at the card market, or whether to focus on producing more followers or trashing your rival's temples. I played a 2v2 that left me wanting to play more.” –Sriraman Subbaraman, co-designer of Phoenix Covenant
  • “The game is amazing; I had a lot of fun with it!” –Undead Viking

$31,000 raised: Prosperity Monoliths

If we reach this funding level, I will include special "prosperity monolith" terrain tiles with the game! These generate coins for the player that controls them, making territory control even more important and adding texture to your decisions about where to expand your reach.

$32,000 raised: Distinct starting cards

If we reach this funding level, I will design one starting card for each messiah that will not appear in the starting decks for any of the others! Each card will play to its messiah's strengths while helping to communicate the distinctiveness of that messiah's play style.

$35,500 raised: Brimstone

If we reach this funding level, I will add a new card to the game: Brimstone. This will be a low-cost attack card that enables pursuit of a direct-damage miracle strategy earlier in the game.

$38,000 raised: Recruitment Drive

If we reach this funding level, I will add a new card to the game: Recruitment Drive. This will be a more powerful version of Evangelize that enables players to more directly focus on pursuing a growth-centered miracle strategy.

$44,000 raised: Create Seraph

If we reach this funding level, I will add a new card to the game: Create Seraph. The seraph will be a high unit that provides everyone on its space immunity to the attacks of nonbelievers--in concert with cards that create nonbelievers, it can be used to deal out punishing tactical defeats!

In addition to the card, I will also create a new unit token to represent the seraph itself.

$60,000 raised and 400+ backers at or above the $60 tier: Avatar miniature

If we reach this funding level, I will commission a 3D miniature to represent the avatar unit for each player in lieu of a token. Four of these miniatures will be included with the game.

$80,000 raised and 450+ backers at or above the $60 tier: Seraph miniature

If we reach this funding level, I will commission a 3D miniature to represent the seraph unit for each player instead of a token. Four of these miniatures will be included with the game.

True Messiah's base funding goal is, quite simply, the lowest quoted price I've received to manufacture a 1,500-unit run of the game with messiah miniatures included. (Note that most manufacturers won't even agree to print fewer copies than this.)

The funding goal will not cover a) the cost of shipping; b) the cost of all the game's art; c) the taxes I will have to pay on whatever we raise; or d) compensation for the years of work I've put into designing this game. I will, in fact, actually lose thousands of dollars if we merely hit the funding goal!

So why even do it? Simple: it'll be enough to let me bring the game out into the world. I have enough money to cover the remaining costs, and I feel that True Messiah deserves to exist, profitably or not. With your help, it will!

Risks and challenges

As with any physical game, there is always a risk that something could go wrong on the manufacturing or shipping end that delays the date on which the game arrives in your hands.

That said, I already have True Messiah fully designed, with finalized rules and final art formatted to the exact specifications required by the manufacturers, and I've already secured an experienced, professional shipping and fulfillment service to handle worldwide shipping of the game once it's manufactured.

In short: I don't anticipate any problems.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Follower

    Your belief will help this game manifest in reality; you have my thanks.

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    Priest

    A full copy of True Messiah--includes FREE SHIPPING to all US backers!

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    Oracle

    Everything in the "Priest" tier, PLUS you will get special, Kickstarter-exclusive HD digital wallpaper!

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    High Priest

    Two full copies of True Messiah--one for you, and one for a friend or loved one. Includes FREE SHIPPING to all US backers!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Keeper of the Boxes

    [For retailers ONLY--retailer status and country of origin will be verified after the campaign ends before this reward can be sent out!] 5 full copies of True Messiah, priced with the retailer in mind. Free shipping; US retailers only.

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    Prophet

    Everything in the "Priest" tier, PLUS you will get a special Kickstarter-exclusive miracle card!

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    Signs and Portents

    Everything in the "Prophet" tier, PLUS I will mail you a special unreleased prototype miracle card signed by the designer!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Miracle

    Everything in the "Signs and Portents" tier, PLUS I will send you a special, one-of-a-kind miracle card with beautiful artwork that is completely unique to you. We'll work together to decide the specifics of what appears on your special miracle card!

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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    Messiah

    Everything in the "Miracle" tier, PLUS you'll get to work with the designer himself and help design a game mode with alternate rules!

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    The Creator

    Holy cow, you're amazing! You'll get everything in the "Messiah" tier, PLUS you'll get to hang out with the game's designer in Chicago over the course of a weekend. You'll be taken out for food and drinks at his favorite hang-outs, get a behind-the-scenes look at how the game is put together, and be trained in the ways of True Messiah by the world's most experienced player. (Free lodgings for the weekend are included, if you want 'em!)

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Funding period

- (30 days)