There are a couple of board game projects on Kickstarter now that I wanted to let you know about. Because of the holidays, getting back to school, and an inconveniently-timed cold, I haven’t gotten a chance to dig into these in-depth yet, so I’ll give you a quick overview. Read on for more about Pivit, BattleCON: Devastation of Indines, Dicecards, and Hegemonic.
The first is Pivit, pictured above in its prototype form. Even though what you see above doesn’t look like a polished game, I wanted to include the photo because, hey, I gotta give some geek bonus points for a game designer who sends me Lego bricks as a prototype. The actual game pieces (and the primary expense for the Kickstarter campaign) are highly-engineered discs, pictured below:
But what’s the game about? Well, it’s an abstract strategy game inspired by games like Chess or Go — simple rules that allow for deep strategy — but with a couple of significant differences. First, it works with more than just two players: Pivit handles up to four players at once. Another difference is the game length: instead of hours of play, a game of Pivit goes much more quickly (perhaps half an hour) which puts it more in the realm of casual games than hardcore abstract strategy.
The basic idea is this: you start with a bunch of minions (the white side of the token), which can be promoted to masters (the colored side) if you can reach a corner of the board. All pieces, minions and masters, can only move orthogonally along the directions the arrows are pointing — but every time they move, they pivot 90 degrees, changing the direction. Minions can only move onto different colored squares (an odd number of spaces) but masters can move any number of spaces. You can capture a piece by landing on it, and no pieces can jump over or move past another piece. The game ends when there are no more minions on the board. Whoever has the most masters wins.
That’s basically the entire rule set in one paragraph. (The only other information is starting positions for different numbers of players.) But this simple set of rules allows for some really fascinating stuff. For instance, since minions can only move an odd number of spaces, if you’re an even number of spaces away you can’t be touched — and neither can anything past you. Also, since you have to pivot every time you move, you have to zigzag across the board to get places, and that’s easier said than done for a lowly minion. Even becoming a master doesn’t solve everything — for one, when you become a master you’re stuck in a corner, most likely with other players lined up to get into that corner. If you don’t get out into the center of the board quickly enough, you can be captured or even stuck behind your own minions.
If you’re curious about the game, you can download the print-and-play version for free and try it out. But don’t dawdle! Pivit has less than a week left in its campaign. You can pledge $25 for a PC/Mac version; $50 for the full board game (which also includes the digital version); or $40 for “Pivit Lite,” which gets you the pieces and software but omits the board and box. My verdict: The fancy pieces are pretty expensive, but if you like abstract strategy games and beautiful components, this could be a winner. Visit the Kickstarter page for more.