ZESTREA - a marriage negotiation board game
Experience ridiculous Romanian traditions, arrange weddings & survive Hard Times in a beautiful, witty game ready for commercial print
ZESTREA - a marriage negotiation board game
Experience ridiculous Romanian traditions, arrange weddings & survive Hard Times in a beautiful, witty game ready for commercial print
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thu, November 21 2019 10:00 AM UTC +00:00.
NEWS! Updated shipping info, Zestrea End of Kickstarter Party, special End Campaign deals & Campionatul Internațional de Zestrea pă Sate - read all about it here!
Zestrea is a marriage negotiation board game for 3-6 players about ridiculous Romanian traditions, arranging weddings, and surviving Hard Times.
Zestrea is an original Romanian boardgame developed over many iterations for the past year, playtested hundreds of times and polished relentlessly. Zestrea is READY and now we want to make it available to a worldwide audience.
Remember that Zestrea digital glossary we said we're making? We will turn it into a gorgeous digital book, all ripe with Maria's art, much more funny stories and facts about our crazy Romanian traditions ... and lots of Romanian jokes!
Who still reads nowadays? Toss the manual (well not really!) and let us make a high quality short video guide you can watch with your friends for a quick Zestrea onboarding. Infographic style, funny, short!
We already can promise superior print quality. But with this goal, we will go overboard! Sturdier Zestrea box, thicker cards and high quality, awesome feel print! We'll invest all the extra zestre you give us in the best possible print quality for everyone!
Zestrea means dowry in Romanian and represents the wedding gift/inheritance, usually in the form of household goods such as bedding, plates and cutlery, carpets, etc., given to a young couple by their families, when they get married.
Note: Zestre is the currency in the game, meaning "one dowry". ZESTREA with an "A" means "The Dowry".
In Zestrea, players take the role of Boyars (Boieri), who were nobles from the middle ages. The goal of the game is becoming the richest Boyar, while taking care of the villagers living on your Land. The way to do this is through honest work and deals, and not-so-honest scheming and backstabbing...
The Boyars are responsible for the welfare of their villagers, Lads and Maidens. They are the ones who work the Boyar's Lands, make babies and suffer hardships, all part of traditional village life.
You can play Zestrea right now at a few board game cafes: the Scout House Cluj, the Oldschool Cafe also in Cluj, Romania, and Bastard Cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark. We left prototypes there for people to enjoy ahead of launch. We are also showing Zestrea at Essen SPIEL Messe - Yay!
Are these board game cafes too far away from you? While we manage to print and ship Zestrea games to more board game cafes, you can watch a marathon 3 hours session played by the Twitch streamer MoominFly and her friends right here!
Check out a short clip from the stream. WARNING. LOUD NEGOTIATIONS AHEAD.
Help us spread the Zestrea word! We prepared a handful of pretty social media avatars for you to use if you want to! Become a Boyar, Lad or Maiden! We are adding just 3 here, but HERE is the complete pack!
Are you a streamer, journalist or just have a nice YouTube channel? Contact us and we'll do our best to send you a Zestrea copy!
Zestrea contains the following cards and a die, and is played as a tabletop game with most cards on the table at all times:
- 84 villager cards (42 Lads and 42 Maidens)
- 80 Zestre/Land cards
- 35 Fate cards
- 15 Hard Times cards
- 3 Good Times cards
- 6 Boyar cards for quick info
- a 6-sided die
- a manual and a digital glossary
Zestrea is a game for 3-6 players, for ages 12 and up. A session takes roughly 45-90 minutes, depending on player count and negotiation style.
Download a copy of the instructions manual right here, in English or Romanian.
Note: this is a near-final version of the rule book, so please send us your feedback! We will also add a digital Glossary (Glossariu) that lists all cards and terminology alphabetically
Players compete against each other and the State/status quo, to become the richest Boyar, or rather sometimes, not starve to death... The tables can turn any time, up to the last round, if you have a good strategy and adaptive play style.
Each player begins with 3 Lands on their domain and a Couple made of a Lad and Maiden living on the first Land.
The initial couple will end up making some babies, who grow into villagers that must be fed and can get married, and that's where the troubles start.
Multiple turns are played in a single Zestrea game, and a turn is divided in steps. You can tell how many turns are left by counting how many Hard Times are left in the stack.
The game starts off easy, with 3 Good Times, and everything goes downhill from there with 5 Hard Times. Events such as floods, invasions, communism or bandits can reverse the odds and make the game >>interesting<<. They are all humorously inspired by reality.
During the Production step, each player rolls the die for each Couple that works the Land. Based on the roll, the Couple produces Zestre and babies (extra villagers).
A Fate card is revealed from the State stack, and Boyars can bid on it by offering Zestre. First come, first served, whoever bids the most gets it.
The main part of Zestrea. Here, players have free-form negotiations to marry their unwed villagers, in order to get more productive Couples or... simply to try to get rid of them before they cause too much trouble.
They also buy and play Fate cards on each other, which can create prosperity for one, create poverty for one's rival, and generally make and break friendships as the game shifts in unexpected directions.
Some players steal Land... or steal the bride... While others try to produce moonshine, go trucking in Italy, or work another's Land, as a way to make more money. The villagers might also die in Bar Fights, get eaten by the dog, and for all that, the Village Preacher gets a salary...
In this step, many many promises are made, some of which the players actually keep...
The players feed their Lads and Maidens, by paying Zestre for the ones that don't have Land under their feet. When they run out of Zestre, they are forced to lose Land, and eventually villagers might starve to death...
Note: the players cannot be removed from the game from playing it poorly (or from having bad luck), and there is always a chance they can recover from the lowest point, with one Land and one Couple.
Marrying villagers is the core gameplay of Zestrea. It is highly engaging as only villagers from different estates can marry. Weddings attempts happen on dice roll, and they each cost 2 Zestre per roll - either paid by one of the players, or split between the two. Weddings can succeed or fail on a dice roll and certain Fate cards improve the marriage chances.
The Musician Fate card can be attached to any Villager, and players can use the Musician to make the roll more likely to succeed (1, 2 or 3), and they may ask for Zestre for this service to other players. Always hire a Musician!
The Hard Times happen once per turn and make life difficult for the Boyars and their villagers.
There are 15 Hard Times in total (and 3 extra Good Times that are always played at the start of the game), but only 5 are played per game, making each session different than the next, and creating new stories players can role play for much added fun.
Fate cards are the Boyar's way of rebelling against the odds, and trying to take life into their own hands. Some are also schemes and tricks they can perform on other Boyars, but they are diplomatically dubious to say the least...
There are 35 unique Fate cards in the game, all inspired from funny little happenings and stories from our culture. The way they were designed usually begins with the story ("What if you could work the land of another player while you were drunk?"), and then a mechanic would be discovered that fit with the narrative on the card ("The Boyar feels responsible to pay for the work, even if it's for nothing.") and playtested until it works.
Some Fate cards are roles that can be applied to villagers for life (aka play session). The villagers gain abilities that can be used in the Boyar's favor, or make life more difficult.
The emergent storytelling that happens due to the Fate cards mechanic is a central part of the Zestrea experience, and makes the game surprising and unpredictable for every new play. It is inspired from roleplaying games as well as our personal history and humor - we tried to make a game that we love to play.
The Zestrea game is ready to go in production. It has been prototyped, designed, iterated upon, play tested and improved since September 2018, in Romania and Europe (Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Germany, with people from countries around the world via conferences and festivals). We feel the game is ready and we have the first finished copies in our hands. We want to start mass production and this Kickstarter grants you the chance to be the game's first proud owners.
We are self-publishing! We want to keep Zestrea authentic, to have full control on the message and theme - the Romanian touch, and also learn from the experience of launching it.
Our tone and humor includes sensitive topics (marriages, sexuality, gender roles) - we have worked hard to tweak the game mechanics to support the type of interactions that are respectful and considerate to people from all backgrounds, while poking fun at the absurd and hilarious parts of history and tradition.
We prepared 10 reward tiers to satisfy any kind of Boyar! Most of them are physical rewards - we will ship you the game & goodies! - and besides the love and care invested in every printed Zestrea box, we will work with local Romanian artists to craft traditional Romanian items. All physical rewards are unique and hand crafted.
Why SEK? Even though this game is made by a Romanian team, Kickstarter does not operate in Romania. Luckily, Horațiu is based in Denmark and Laura co-founded her own gamedev studio based in Sweden. So we decided to host Zestrea from Sweden via Valiant Game Studio AB as a publisher.
Funny note: What's with the wheat? In Romania, it symbolizes "belșug" which means wealth - so besides the fact that we like the way it looks, we use it as a good omen for this campaign!
Limited Celebratory Valiant Special reward! We want to celebrate the end of this campaign and also finishing the entire Pendula Swing series. So for 249 SEK (about 25 USD, 25 EUR or 100 RON), you can get a Zestrea game in the language of your choice* and a complimentary full access Steam Key for Pendula Swing - an episodic point & click adventure game set in a fantasy version of the American Roaring 1920s - think Tolkien meets The Great Gatsby. This Steam key includes all 7 Pendula Swing episodes and is worth USD 27/ EUR 27/RON 116/ SEK 261.
You will get your Pendula Swing Steam Key as soon as this campaign ends on November 21. The * stands to say - by default you will select an English Zestrea copy but post campaign we will make sure everyone gets the copy they order in their preferred language.
For 49 SEK (about 5 USD, 5 EUR or 20 RON), we will send you digitally a set of beautiful Zestrea wallpapers for your desktop and phone, lovingly prepared by our brilliant artist Maria Surducan.
For 249 SEK (about 25 USD, 25 EUR or 100 RON), you get the Zestrea game in one language. Choose a tier with the language you prefer. You will also receive the beautiful Zestrea wallpaper collection by Maria!
For 389 SEK (about 39 USD, 39 EUR or 190 RON), besides the lovely wallpapers, you get two copies of the Zestrea game, in English and Romanian. This reward tier is especially designed for those of you who want to share a bit of Romanian culture through Zestrea with your friends from all over the world, and for you who want to gift the Zestrea game for someone special!
For 689 SEK (about 69 USD, 69 EUR or 329 RON), besides the game and wallpapers, the team will be available for you through video chat to guide you through your first Zestrea session, give you valuable tips, tell you interesting stories and share some funny Romanian flavored humor! It's up to you, really - we will be at your disposal via video chat.
For 989 SEK (about 99 USD, 99 EUR or 469 RON), not only do you get the beautiful wallpapers, the Zestrea game and direct video chat access to the team, you also get a 24/7 Zestrea Hotline number that goes directly to our designer Alex! Alex will respond to you whenever you need - especially if you stumble upon tricky situations while you play Zestrea with your Boyar friends.
For a VERY LIMITED TIME at a special price, for 1989 SEK (about 199 USD, 199 EUR or 949 RON), besides the Zestrea game, the wallpapers and the team here for you via videochat and Zestrea Hotline, you also get a unique, hand painted Zestrea wooden box crafted by a local Romanian artist, as well as a traditional Romanian hand crafted woolen bag to carry your special Zestrea edition everywhere!
Missed the Early Collector's Edition? Don't worry! For 2489 SEK (about 249 USD, 249 EUR or 1115 RON), you can still get the same reward, now with an end of campaign discount: the Zestrea game, the wallpapers and the team here for you via videochat and Zestrea Hotline, a unique, hand painted Zestrea wooden box crafted by a local Romanian artist and a traditional Romanian hand crafted woolen bag to carry your special Zestrea edition everywhere!
For 3989 SEK (about 399 USD, 399 EUR or 1899 RON), besides the Zestrea game, the wallpaper collection, the team video chat, the Zestrea Hotline, the unique, hand painted Zestrea wooden box crafted by a local Romanian artist and the traditional Romanian hand crafted woolen bag, you will also get a digital custom Boyar portrait made just for you and in your image by our fantastic artist Maria Surducan!
For 4889 SEK (about 499 USD, 499 EUR or 2369 RON), besides all the fantastic rewards listed above, you literally become a part of the Zestrea game forever, as a real life Zestrea Boyar card! You will get to play with your very own Boyar in game, made by our awesome artist Maria and printed as a special card in the Zestrea game! There can only be 12 printed Boyars so this is a very special, very limited reward!
This is super important: please be aware that all rewards DO NOT INCLUDE SHIPPING COSTS, which will be added when the campaign has ended.
The reason we chose to do this is because shipping is always super complicated and expensive, and we are really really struggling to keep shipping costs as low as possible. We can do that if we print in bulk, so if this campaign is wildly successful, we will be able to secure a much cheaper shipping - since we will have a large bulk to work with, and fulfilment and shipping companies are far less expensive per item, the more items you work with.
Estimated Shipping Costs
Since most the team is in Romania, we estimate that we will have the lowest shipping costs for Romania. Until we find the best fulfilment company and shipping services, here are our estimates on shipping costs. Please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee them, but we promise with all our hearts that we will work diligently to find the best shipping deals possible.
The game box has been designed to be small and portable so it's easy to take your Zestrea game anywhere and play with your friends! The size we are going for is 15x10x5cm, as seen in the hand-made prototypes in the images.
So why do we want your real-life Zestre?
The main reason for which we decided to start a Kickstarter campaign for Zestrea is to be able to print the game. Most printing companies start an order at 1000 copies and we really hope we will find at least 1000 Boyars interested in our game! By pledging 25 dollars or more, you are essentially buying a copy of the game, with added benefits. The more money we can raise, the more copies we will be able to print, and the higher quality!
We also hope to cover some expenses that we currently struggled to pay - particularly for marketing, including the events we attended to create awareness about Zestrea. Lastly, of course, we want to be upfront with you: it would be really nice if we get some Zestre for all the time we spent making this game! But the main priority is to deliver Zestrea into the trustworthy hands of as many Boyars as possible!
Zestrea started as a game jam project at Clujotronic Game Jam 2018. Inspired by the theme "inheritance", the game was about arranging marriages by rolling dice to see if the couples agree to get married, while the families starve due to catastrophes - floods, communism, Genghis Khan, etc.
The audience at Clujotronic played it extensively on the final day of the jam. Zestrea received praise for its humor and interaction mechanics. We won second place in the competition we did not know was happening, and our simultaneous reaction was "We can print more prototypes!"!
Later, as we played it more, we created more depth and strategy by the addition of Fate cards, that the players can invest in during the game, to create more interaction, and use the mechanics in new ways.
The game evolved from the early iterations towards having more streamlined mechanics that are easy to understand, and create fun interactions, not base their humor on jokes.
We have also thought about the type of humor we want to portray, and have adapted the game towards making it more inclusive and appropriate for a diverse audience. For example, in the early game, the sex of the characters was more imbalanced as a game mechanic, i.e. the maidens used to be less valuable than the lads, due to the way weddings were made in the game at that time. We tried to fix this because we did not want to represent this inequality, whether or not it accurately represented history. We succeeded (according to our playtesters and many people of various genders and backgrounds) to make that problem go away, by balancing the mechanics and giving Fate cards when Maidens get married, which improved the gameplay and interactivity at the same time.
We made a few iterations of the game over time, and at Clujotronic 2019 edition, we celebrated Zestrea's 1 year anniversary. We prepared five panels with the old game prototypes, see more on the blog.
The team is made of Horațiu Roman and Alex Pațiu, the two game designers that met at Clujotronic Game Jam 2018 and came up with Zestrea, Maria Surducan who made the beautiful artwork that elevates the game to the next level, and Laura Bularca, who handles planning, PR, marketing and the Kickstarter campaign.
Dear Boyars! We - Horațiu, Maria, Alex and Laura, the Boyars behind Zestrea - would like to say a big and warm Thank You! Thank you for being with us in this adventure, thank you for visiting our campaign, and THANK YOU for making Zestrea come to life!
Risks and challenges
If you're new to Kickstarter: You can support our game by selecting one of the rewards we prepared for you. If we reach our funding goal, you enable us to produce the game in every detail according to our vision, and cover our current expenses. The amount of money you want to spend will only be collected if we reach our goal and you will receive your rewards once the game is released. If we fail to reach our goal though, your account won't be charged at all.
Since Zestrea as a game is ready, our biggest risk lies in choosing a good quality and reliable printing company. We have already selected a handful of production companies and are satisfied with the quality of the prototypes we have in our hands. Final negotiation will happen at the end of the campaign where we will settle for the amount of printed copies and we will try to maximize the quality of materials based on the budget.
Note: the final box might differ slightly from the images seen on this campaign, as those were made by hand. Rest assured we will focus on a high quality box at portable size.
Our other risk and biggest worry is making sure the games get shipped to you safely and affordably. For this, we are currently negotiating with fulfilment companies. Because the more we print, the lowest the cost to ship per reward, we DID NOT INCLUDE SHIPPING COSTS in your pledge. We will keep you up to date at all times here, on our social media and on direct channels about your product and you will be able to track your package. If there are any unexpected delays, we will be sure to communicate with you and be honest and transparent about our process.
For rewards, we depend on local Romanian artists whose artistry might take more time than planned. We will keep you informed of any potential delays, and we will communicate, regarding higher tiers, about shipping the games as they are ready and the other physical rewards later, or waiting and shipping them
all together, based on each of your preferences.
We also run a risk of developing more fun Hard Times and Fate cards along the way, as we cannot stop coming up with ideas for them :) that being said we are veteran game developers with many game jams, game productions and other creative industry experience, and we know Good and Well about feature creeping, and will take every possible precaution about it, such as sending our designers to the countryside to pick fruit and chop wood for a few days, and get some of that physical stress out.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!