Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Tesla vs. Edison’

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Tesla vs. Edison - War of the Currents
Tesla vs. Edison – War of the Currents

Among the many arguments on the internet, one of the most popular is the matter of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. School taught us of Edison’s rise to fame as the inventor of a practical light bulb and advocate of direct current (DC), but poor Tesla was left in the dark. It wasn’t until recently that Tesla gained a sort of cult popularity, and the internet has begun to learn the tragedy of Tesla’s development of alternating current (AC) and Edison’s propaganda campaign against both it and him. There’s been multiple comics on the matter, t-shirts, and even an Epic Rap Battle of History dedicated to the two luminaries squaring off.

Now you can replay the historic battle of AC vs. DC in a Kickstarter board game: Tesla vs. Edison – The War of the Currents, or How the Battle of the Notorious DC Current and the Mighty AC Current Should Shape the History of Mankind. In this game you can play as Tesla, Edison, or one of three other less-prominent electrical industrialists (Brush, Maxim, and Thompson) as they rise to power in this battle of innovation.

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Battle in the realm of propaganda, the stock market, innovation, or claiming projects across the country.
Battle in the realm of propaganda, the stock market, innovation, or claiming projects across the country.

As a captain of industry, you recruit other historically accurate players such as JP Morgan, George Westinghouse, or Lewis Latimer to develop your company into an electric powerhouse. There are four arenas for combat: propaganda, the stock market, inventing, and projects.

In inventing, you compete in the realm of light bulb development, alternating current, and direct current. When you are the first to develop a technology, you can lock a patent, forcing others to pay you to utilize that innovation. In the project portion of the game, you establish bases across the United States to stake your claim as a mover and shaker in the industry.

In the realm of propaganda, you not only fight to tear down your opponent and gain renown, you also can push AC and DC up and down, depending on your dependence on the technology. Just as Edison defamed AC by electrocuting animals, you can do the same, comforting yourself with the knowledge that you’re making life worse for your opponents.

The stock market portion of the game is what really caught my eye. There’s been a quiet demand for a competitive stock market game, and this seems to fit the bill. In Tesla vs. Edison, your stock advances in response to your other actions, increasing your value. Your opponent can also purchase stock in your company, raising your value. However, at any time, he can sell it all off, dropping your value.

The game funded in its first day and is already achieving fun stretch goals like the inclusion of additional characters from history, increasing the quality of the components, and is also looking into adding characters that, while from history, weren’t actually in the battle for electrical dominance. They’re doing this to hopefully include some female luminaries, such as Ada Lovelace, who might have been a player in the field had she been born fifty years later.

The game looks like a lot of fun. It has strategy that bleeds over into multiple arenas in a game that feels immersive. I also absolutely love how much people can learn about this fascinating era of history through the gameplay. The game is made by Artana, a game company just launched this year, comprised of previously successful game developers.

For more about Tesla vs. Edison -The War of Currents, or to back the project, visit the Kickstarter page.

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