about a game..., Board Gaming, Family Gaming, Game Design

Eons in the Making – A New Boardgame Campaign on Kickstarter

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

– Carl Sagan, Astronomer, Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Kind of a Little Weird

sagan weird
“Eh, could just be billions.”

I knew I loved space the day I heard it was in the newspapers there were such  things as “black holes!” These mysterious celestial cannibals could, just maybe, consume all of the Earth, our Sun and well, anything else that got in their way. That had to have been some time in 1976. Then the Walt Disney Company released this dud, and well, Black Holes didn’t seem all that cool anymore. But space still did. The stars and planets always held sway with me, as I would turn my gaze upward on clear nights before all the four wheeled internal combustion machines that ran up and down my rural street clouded the heavens with fluorocarbons and what not.

And so, sitting on my couch a half a year ago, watching “Through the Wormhole,” or some othersuch on the Science Channel, my only clear view of the night sky, I said to myself, “you know what, it would be a cool idea to make a game not about space exploration or conquering planets or whatever, but of actually making a universe!” I put some time into the design of mechanics, but then got so hung up on what kind of a game to create. Deck building? Boardgame? Mix of both? Like all planetary bodies I was soon circling in a pattern of inertia. After six months, I was losing steam. Well, thank the “Universal Architect!” The folks at The Gamer Nation Studios had my back, and an idea all their own: EONS – A Strategic Universe Development game! Problem solved. Game idea I had? Already in a box. Just plop down your Essence and its yours!

Background/Story of the Game

Early alpha version of game board.
Early alpha version of game board.

Eons is a board/resource management/commodity speculation and hand/card management strategy game for 2-5 players. Each player assumes the mantle of “Universal Architect” competing to create and form the universe on a cosmic scale. (Apparently all the lawyer jobs were already taken). Players create stars, planets, and other cosmic bodies using the basic elemental building blocks of all of creation (Diet Coke, Pretzels and Raisins? No, but like Carbon and Boron and stuff). They also compete to enhance their own “Essence” (described as “the finite will and power of each architect”).

Do not engage them in the cosmological discussion of how there could be 2-5 Universal Architects, just go with it folks.

The idea is to build, out of a deck of at least 150 cards, more and more cosmic bodies to generate more Essence for their architect and more complex elements. Why you ask? Well, stars, like blogauthors, need to eat! More and more complex cosmic bodies award their owners more and more victory points. But not so fast Buck Rogers! Each player is also working towards a unique secret agenda, which can add or subtract additional victory points. Alternately, they may throw cosmic sized monkey wrenches into your well laid plans, with the end of the game hastened by the destruction of stars and planets.

Object of the Game

The Beta Rules set for the game can be found here. In its essence, the game is about smart decisions, market forces and just a little bit of chance and timing. Ultimately, as the game’s clock is ticking down to the end of days, the players are scrabbling to enhance their essence and victory position to ultimately be the Head Honcho of Everything! Oh, and then their creation is destroyed in the white hot intensity of a million suns. Oh well, play again tomorrow.

Game Components

The game is to come with at least 150 cards, player tokens and counters, resource cubes and a nice looking game board. The card art they have previewed on their Kickstarter site looks elegant and simple to follow, very well space themed and looking pretty professional.

Interview with the Designers

While distance and available demo sets of the game prevent me from offering a real “review,” I did have a Skype chat with the game’s creators, Krista and Chris Witt (a husband and wife team, I love to see that), and Dave Villegas, better known as the “third wheel.” (Just kidding Dave!) They offered some interesting insight into the game’s mechanics, concepts and shared with me their thoughts about Kickstarter in general as a vehicle for small game companies like theirs.

Edition Wars was a huge hit for them. Now, No. 2??
Edition Wars was a huge hit for them. Now, # 2??

The guys and gal have been working on the game for quite some time, and with the huge success of their fist venture, Edition Wars, at this year’s GenCon, the plans for Eons kicked into high gear. They acknowledged that Edition Wars, a fixed set card game based on the “nerdy squabbles between Gamemasters on what is the ‘best edition’ of certain RPG products,” was a niche product, but it went over so well, it has propelled this project and at least three others they told me about, and featured on their website as coming attractions.

The game has been in various early stages for almost a year, and they have been play testing it extensively in closed playtest until about a few months ago, when they began a number of public playtests at local FLGS in the Dallas area. They have gotten some great feedback there, as well as in the comments section of their page, check that out as well.

I asked them if the idea of playing a faceless and formless “Universal Architect” was a little disconcerting for people, and they said to a man, woman and child, everyone has embraced the idea. People like taking on a “higher power” role, (at the risk of purposefully leaving religion out of the equation), according to their feedback, and they did not want to muddy the dark matter with heavy religious overtones that could turn people off. Just pure energy and physics here.

I always prefer to do my Universal Architecting on rattan.
I always prefer to do my Universal Architecting on rattan.

In fact, they reported that people were eagerly and avidly creating stories behind their creations and stars and planets, along with their populous, which you can create as well. Also, the promised a ton of player interaction in the game, with different strategies to victory, all dependent on the comfort levels and play styles of the various people demoing the game. Oh, and they promised cards that will blow up other people’s stuff. Big time.

Also, the feedback has been solid on the gameplay itself. While there is an element of resource management, the game is not too cube heavy, just using them as markers and resources which form the basis of all the hard decisions the players will have to make. It is not just a cube grab and the most cubes wins. The players need to strategically know when to get into markets and out, and when to burn stars and not, and so, this game should not be looked at as too “euro” at all.

You will be pleased with the level of scientific accuracy in the game play elements and themes. While the process of star creation and destruction obviously had to be overly simplified to get it to fit in the box, the general concepts are there. In fact the designers reported a public playtester commented after a game that they were a science teacher, and that the concepts in the game would translate well into his classroom setting for teaching kids star formation basics.

The game should be on the street in time for GenCon, and they are looking to host play test sessions of a number of their other new games coming up as well. Look for them in the GenCon event schedule, and get your tickets early, they are sure to sell out. They will very soon be appearing at Reaper Con, April 18-21, and will also be hosting demos of the game at the Dallas area “Games Marathon” events.

They love the Kickstarter community and have had some success so far. This game looks like it will easily fund, and hopefully some of those stretch goals will be hit. Possibly look for expansions of the game.

The did recently announce a special team-up with fellow Kickstarter success, Artisan Dice, creation of Charlie Brumfield, who will be producing a number of special game pieces for them. Check him out as well, they have done pretty cool all-wood dice in colors that you cannot believe they make wood in. Really cool.

Kablammo! You just funded someone's dream.
Kablammo! You just funded someone’s dream.

I love Kickstarter projects, and this is one I am already backing. Jump in, the water’s fine.

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3 thoughts on “Eons in the Making – A New Boardgame Campaign on Kickstarter

  1. Prudy:

    There are actually a number of great resources on the internet for just that thing. I would suggest, however, that you not overwhelm yourself with all the material out there for game design and creation, and start a little slower. One of the first things you can do is to attend the on-line game design course. I did much of it, (I admit I was not able to complete the course, but I was tracking a solid B-), but it does get you to focus and wrap your head around the core concepts of game design. You can find that here:

    http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com

    Then, I would suggest you head over to the Board Game Designers Forum. There is always a bunch of folks over there willing to chip in ideas and be supportive of your awesome ideas. You can find them here:

    http://www.bgdf.com

    Another thing you are going to need is real people to do real playtesting. Nearly every treatise, article, book, pamphlet, I have read on game design emphasizes that you should be playtesting in the first few weeks of your idea. And you are going to need real, objective, people to do that. I would suggest heading over to your local game shoppe and enlisting the aid of your local board game playtest group or just some willing volunteers.

    That is probably enough of an assignment for now, and when you have something solid to share, all of us staffers here at PSS would be willing to give you our honest assessment as well. Toss us a line!

    BT

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