In a distant system in Wild Space, outlaw crews are flying around in a star system beset by an ongoing battle. The planet is a critical location in the civil war that began with the assassination of the galactic God-King. All sides want to control it. Well ... all sides except the outlaws. They just want to escape before things heat up too much.
Freelancers, pirates, wreckers, salvagers ... there are lots of words to describe what you do. Really, you are entrepreneurs, and here is an opportunity to make some money. And eventually bribe the jumpgate operator to let you past the blockade.
Devils & Black Sheep is a tabletop nanogame: small, light, quick, and easy. Turns last about 1 minute, and a game lasts 30-45 minutes. It is designed as a two-player experience, but it scales well and could be played with 3-4 players if you combine two games.
Players control outlaw crews zooming from battle site to battle site in deep space. The goal is to be the first to arrive, pick through the flotsam and derelicts to find the salvageable wreckage, and escape back to the nearest planet. There are shady deals and scams to be run on the side, too.
Navy patrols wander the area, intent on keeping pirates, bandits, and smugglers in line. The patrols monitor each player's "wanted level." When a player has a high enough bounty or is caught with contraband too many times, the patrols will chase them down and exact revenge. Sometimes a ship's own activities will make them more wanted; sometimes a reliable tipoff from a rival crew will do the trick.
This game consists of three components:
- Cover & Rules - 80# text paper
- Board - 16 pt cover stock
- Counter Sheets - 38 pt die cut chipboard
I would say there's a fourth component, a ziplock bag! But that sounds ridiculous. Because, really, who counts the packaging when they total up the number of components in a product?
UPDATE: Here is the new prototype from the new printer. The components are higher quality, the game will be die-cut from the start.
Devils & Black Sheep has a simple 3-part turn sequence.
1. Place New Wrecks: This is accomplished by rolling the die and following a placement matrix to determine where rumors of wreckage will lead you.
2. Navy Patrols Act: This will be a tame part of the game early on, but as your Wanted Levels increase from all your shady activities, it could get nasty.
3. Players Act: Choose one of the following actions:
Bribe: donate to an election campaign in exchange for a reduction in wanted level
- Bounty: place a bounty on a ship to increase its wanted level
- Fence: sell some of your loot to the local chop shop
- Raid: attack an opponent and steal some of their stuff
- Salvage: explore nearby flotsam for something of value
- Move: pretty self explanatory
- Smuggle: sell dark energy on the black market ... VERY illegal stuff
Degrees of Success - After choosing an action, players roll to see how well their action succeeded. The roll determines how successful your action was. This game specifically avoids the polarized success/failure result that commonly turns choices into all-or-nothing deals, and instead replaces it with a gambling mechanic.
Players roll the dice at the beginning of each turn to determine whether new reports of a recent battle reach the rumor mill of the local cantina. The rolls determine how much wreckage is rumored (some battles are larger than others, of course ... just as some rumors are more outlandish than others), and the sector and distance from the planet. These wrecks are derelict ships abandoned or destroyed in a recent battle. Every wreck has the potential to be salvaged for valuable (ish) flotsam, but the actual amount of salvageable junk won't be known until you arrive and check it out.
The local Navy Patrols then roll to see whether they are ordered to bring any of the outlaw crews to justice. Sometimes the patrols will simply move around and harass players. Sometimes they will bring the full might of their patrol to bear.
The higher the player's "wanted level," the more likely a patrol will take notice and give chase. Wanted levels can increase by getting caught in your illegal activity, and can also be increased by other players placing bounties on your ship. Your wanted level decreases by either being attacked by the local patrol, or by bribing officials to reduce it.
I'm not really a big "stretch goal" type of guy, everything that can be built into the game is pretty much built in. But I've been getting a lot of requests for fun stretch goals, so here we go.
$20,000 - Drinking Game
I am a teetotaler. I have been for years. But if we pass the $20,000 mark, I will film and upload a gameplay demo wherein each time I get a WANTED mark, I also take a shot of rum. NOTE: I make no guarantees as to the quality of my gameplay decisions. They could become incomprehensible after five or six shots.
This stretch goal will also unlock the $1 "aspirin" add-on, for the epic hangover that I'm destined to have the next morning.
- Initial Design - completed Monday, August 17
- Alpha Playtesting - completed Monday, August 24
- Graphic Design - completed Saturday, September 12
- Prototyping - completed Sunday, November 29
- Beta Playtesting - completed Saturday, February 6
- Editing - completed Sunday, February 7
- Artwork - completed Monday, February 8
- Production Proofing - completed Monday, February 15
- Domestic Test Mailing - completed Saturday, February 20
- International Test Mailing - completed Wednesday, February 24
Rules Translations - in progress
NEW Printer Selected - completed Friday, February 26
- NEW Prototype - completed Monday, March 21
- Kickstarter Crowdfunding - Friday, April 1 - Monday, May 2
- Backer Survey - Monday, May 2 - Tuesday, May 17
- Funds Deposited - Tuesday, May 17
- Envelopes Printed - Tuesday, May 17
- Game Print Run Commissioned - Tuesday, May 17 (required lead time is 30-35 days, depending on final backer count)
- Game Print Run Shipped - est. Thursday June 16-Tuesday, June 21
- Game Print Run Arrives - est. Thursday, June 30-Tuesday, July 5
- Incentives Mailed - est. Monday, July 1 - Wednesday, July 6
- Domestic Incentives Delivered - est. Tuesday, July 2 - Wednesday, July 13
- Foreign Incentives Delivered - est. Monday, July 8 - Wednesday, August 3
Pocket Option Games was started by me (C. S. Ferguson) to revitalize microgames. Board games have had a colossal increase in size, weight, and price, so much that many people can't afford them. In 1977, Metagaming Concepts introduced microgames: a hex map, a counter sheet, and a rule booklet, all in a ziplock bag for $2.95. They were accessible, playable, and portable. Unfortunately, Metagaming went bankrupt after 9 years. Pocket Option Games picks up where they left off. $2.95 in 1977 adjusts for inflation to $11.62 in 2015. So I'm creating small, lightweight, fun games that can be produced and delivered worldwide for $11.62. Slip a game under the cover of a book, in the corner of a handbag, or into a jacket pocket. That's what makes these pocket options. Take a look!
Risks and challenges
1) Project must fund. (Duh.)
2) I must remain of sound mind and body. (Likely, though we might have to look up the clinical definition of "sound mind" and get a second opinion.)
3) Postal service must stay in business. (It's been around since Benji was postmaster general in 1775, so I think we're safe.)
4) Printer must stay in business. (They've been doing this since 1995, and specialize in tabletop games. I'm fairly confident of this.)
I've run five microgame projects on Kickstarter, so far, with varied success. The best one was Shadow Agents, which shipped 19 days after the campaign ended, two weeks earlier than I had planned for. Devils & Black Sheep will not ship so fast, it will take longer to produce and ship, given the heavier components and the die-cutting. But I have the utmost confidence that we've already addressed or will be able to quickly address any complications.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)