Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: 'Ultimate Scheme'

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UltimateScheme-Cover
Mr. Roboto graces the cover of the box.

Ultimate Scheme is a fun resource management and worker placement game where you take on the role of an evil genius bent on world domination.  Secretly plot your ultimate scheme while trying to stop your enemies from hatching theirs!

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer. Please note that I played a prototype copy of the game so final components and quality will be different from what you see here.

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Rich Baker, Steve Schubert, and David Noonan a couple of weeks ago to get a hands-on experience with Ultimate Scheme. There is no better way to learn and play a game, than to sit down with the designers!

Game components

UltimateScheme-Board
Prototype game board.

The base game comes with:

  • Game Board (21″ x 21″ mounted board)
  • Player pieces (25 minion tokens and 25 control markers in five colors for up to five players
  • Resource Markers (120 wooden cubes, 40 each for finance, occult, and science resources)
  • Unobtanium (12 acrylic crystal resource markers)
  • Game Cards (136 poker-sized cards)
    • 10 Factions
    • 10 Ultimate Schemes
    • 63 Scheme cards
    • 48 Action cards
    • 5 X-Factor cards
  • Rulebook
  • Ninja token
  • Anarchy marker
  • First Player token

There is also a Plan B expansion available with the deluxe edition which includes:

  • Interpol Agent
  • Event Deck
  • 23 More Schemes
  • Single Player Mode
  • More Factions, Locations, and Ultimate Schemes

The quality of all the game components as well as the contents of the Plan B expansion will grow as stretch goals are unlocked.

The Basics

UltimateScheme-Factions
Faction cards and their special powers.

The basics of Ultimate Scheme are that the players are each the leader of a faction determined to take over the world. Each faction has a special ability, and each player has a hidden scheme they are trying to accomplish. Each player deploys minions around the world, attempting to gather resources and complete lower level schemes to accomplish their ultimate scheme while also blocking their opponents.

Setup

UltimateScheme-Setup
Initial setup for our four-player game.

Setup is really simple. The specific card decks are shuffled and placed in their spots on the game board, and the anarchy marker is started at zero. Each player chooses a color and faction and then places their score counter at zero and two of their five minions on their starting location (the HQ listed on the faction card). Each player then draws two scheme cards and an action card as their starting hand. For a harder, more advanced game, an X Factor card is also drawn which adds another victory requirement for all players.

Gameplay

Although there is a lot of strategy and planning involved in the game, the gameplay mechanics are fairly straightforward and each turn is broken down into five steps. All players complete each step before moving on to the next and the first player moves around the board each turn.

UltimateScheme-Schemes
The Scheme decks.

Draw. Each player draws one criminal, genius, or subversion scheme from one of the three Scheme decks.

Move. Each player chooses one minion to move to one location. After each player has moved in turn, each player gets a second move. A player can choose to not move a minion or a single minion can be moved twice, as well.

Resource. Each player chooses a location with his minion on it and gathers those resources. A location’s resources can only be collected once per turn so if you and an opponent are on the same location, getting to select the resources first can block his move. After all players have collected once, players select resources a second time.

UltimateScheme-MySchemes
My initial two schemes. I never did manage to subvert the UN.

Execute. Each player can execute a Scheme as long as they have the correct resources and have a minion on the location noted on the Scheme card. Any resources, victory points, or anarchy points are tallied immediately. Any number of Schemes can be executed on a given turn by a given player, but they must be played one at a time.

UltimateScheme-UltimateSche
Prototype Ultimate Scheme cards–Ruin Christmas sounds like a good one.

End. If nobody has won the game at the end of a turn, all minions and depleted resources are reset, any minions on a hidden location return to their base, and the first player token passes to the next player for the next round.

UltimateScheme-EndGame
I won!

Because each players victory condition is a secret, it is hard to know who is actually close to winning. I actually felt like I was in last place for a large part of the game, and was sure that several other players were about to win. Imagine my surprise when I actually ended up being the winner. It may feel like you are falling behind, but hang in there–you may just come out on top!

UltimateScheme-RaiseTitanic
Scheme–Raise the Titanic.

Ultimate Scheme is loads of fun and in our four-player game, the size and scope felt perfect. The way the turns are constructed, everybody is doing something frequently so, unlike some games, it never feels like you’re waiting forever for your turn. The multitude of schemes, plus the variety of action cards makes the game very dynamic and ever-changing. You will frequently find yourself changing your immediate goals as you work towards your ultimate scheme.

UltimateScheme-FactionLeade
Two of the faction leaders–W.R.A.I.T.H. and the Six Fingers.

Between the three of them, Baker, Schubert, and Noonan have more games under their belt than anyone I can think of. The game, even at this prototype stage is pretty fleshed out and locked in. The only real thing outstanding is the final artwork for the cards so I can’t imagine this game not being successfully delivered rather quickly. The game’s final artwork is being done by Lee Moyer and Claudio Pozas. If you’ve always wanted to be the leader of a criminal organization trying to take over the world, back Ultimate Scheme now!

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