About this project
I’m really excited to bring you Monarch.
Both Empresses and Queens had more power than the history books have granted them. I have long been fascinated by the stories of Medieval Queens and stories of fantastic Chinese Empresses. These women were highly trained and truly well rounded, clever people (did you know, for example, Empress Xi Ling Shi invented silk?).
There are more stories about Queens you may not know. In the tales passed down to us, these women not only faced a violent world of battles and sieges, but they battled with magical powers, cunning family members, and challenging ethical dilemmas as well. To be venerated future leaders, the Queen’s daughters needed to be strong and influential women: expert strategists, socialites, and finance wizards cultured in languages, literature and music.
Essential to the game are its pan-cultural influences. Players will see elements of both Western and Eastern inspiration in the art and objects featured in the court. I wanted a game world that could span continents and time periods, wrapping the player in a rich, pan-cultural fiction that could appeal to a contemporary global imagination.
The game has brewed in my mind for years during my travels around the world, especially while in Hong Kong and Taiwan. I put down the designs for the game and crafted the first prototype game while visiting Utrecht in 2011 and avidly reading about Flemish Empress Matilda’s adventures governing Normandy. It’s been a labor of love ever since! I’d like to thank all of the play testers who tried different versions of the game, fellow designers who offered ideas and improvements on how the game works, and friends who listened to late night explanations of the world of Monarch. My sincere appreciation goes out to you and I bet that you will love this final version of the game as much as I do (and—hopefully—its upcoming sequels!).
In Monarch® you play the heirs to the throne. Your mother, the Queen, has lived out her years and will soon pass on the crown. The time has come for you and your sisters to demonstrate your intelligence, compassion, bravery, and strength as leaders. Choose strategies that will bring prosperity to the land and glory to your court. Defend the realm from threats and famine. There are many paths to choose from, but only the most worthy among you will become heir to the throne. Who will be Queen?
Here's what you will find in the game:
*The components above are semifinal drafts; they may change a little before printing.
There's more on how to play below, but if you want the specifics now, you can download a rough version of the instructions here. These are just prototype instructions, and the look will change before printing. Ink-light instructions here.
Try the game now! This print and play prototype has no art, but is totally playable. Print and try out the game now. We recommend downloading the pdf before printing.
Monarch features the atmospheric scratchboard art of Kate Adams, giving it a unique look! Each illustration is scratched by hand, and then (delicately) digitally colored to produce a fantastic effect that sets the stage for the enchanting realm in which Monarch is played.
Featured above are the Tiger Pelt, Pure White Stag, Jealous Cousin, and Gazing Glass.
Monarch is an extremely approachable game to learn, but has enough strategy to play again and again. It's been loved at conventions all over the country, including Gen Con, the Boston Festival of Indie Games, and Meaningful Play.
Check out this excellent video overview by Vince Paone of Dad's Gaming Addiction.
The cards and components shown in the video are all placeholder - the final version will look very different!
How To Play Overview
Each sister aims to assemble a court of Court Cards: wise advisors, exotic animals, and symbolic regalia. Each of these Court Cards provides crowns, and the sister whose court contains the most crowns at the end of the game becomes the Queen.
Your turn is very straightforward:
- "Harvest" the farms in the land to get food, OR "Tax" the villages to get gold.
- Purchase any number of Court Cards, Land Improvements, and Unwanted Guests from the available cards in the "Market Row," provided you can afford them.
There are tricks to assembling a majestic court. Some cards don't work together well: the Astronomer is worth nothing if in a court with the Fireworks because he will be unable to see anything! Other cards work very well together: the Beastkeeper is worth more crowns for each animal she shares a court with.
In order to recruit for your court you'll need gold and food, which you get by taxing and harvesting the land that the sisters rule over. Over the course of the game you'll improve the land, building Royal Goateries and Jewel Bazaars, which benefit everyone.
When a sister knows what kind of ruler she will be, she can take up a banner to commit herself to a style of rulership: Wisdom, Bounty, Culture, Might, or Balance. Banners provide extra crowns and a special power to help its bearer succeed.
Monarch has been in the works for a long time, and has also had contributions from: Geoff Kaufman, Jenny Yeoh-Wang, Danielle Taylor, Sukdith Punjasthitkul, and Lucas Sanford-Long.
While this is our first Kickstarter campaign, this isn't our first rodeo; our team has experience designing and producing award-winning tabletop games. Here are a few examples:
Monarch's 5 biggest supporters will become a part of the game. These individuals will submit a photo of themselves, their loved ones, or their mortal enemies to be drawn by Kate and included as one of the Unwanted Guests: the boorish uncles and jealous cousins who, when sent to an opponent deduct crowns from her court.
I spoke with Richard Garriott and Starr Long about Monarch, games, and gender!
I did an interview with JR from The Nerd Nighters on Back It!
A fan from Twitter:
Hear an interview I did about MONARCH on NPR!
I did an AMA over on Reddit.
Risks and challenges
We have several years of practice designing, producing, and fulfilling games. That said, Monarch is one of our bigger games to date and we've set an ambitious timeline. We're going to do everything in our power to get Monarch to you by August, but we are committed to making an awesome game and we're going to prioritize getting the game right over fulfilling it early.
We also have yet to fulfill games beyond the U.S. We know this is a big challenge and we're preparing accordingly. If we have to, we will send someone to Europe to mail games (although we hope it doesn't come to that).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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