Oligarchy is set in the dark, dystopian and (not to) distant future. Players take on the role of corporations, governments and other organisations in the struggle for power. This project is currently live on KICKSTARTER so all photos are of prototypes rather than the finished product.
Each Starter Box comes with:
4 decks, each of 50 cards and comprising of two factions each
8 faction spinners to track your power levels
4 status spinners to track your Affluence and Influence levels
An assortment of tokens and dice
A game manual and quickstart guide to get you playing
Each deck is comprised of two factions that are designed to compliment each other. The factions are: Corporate, Crime, Eco, Government, Illuminati, Media, Military and Religious. Obviously each has it's own strengths and weaknesses but each of them just ooze theme, even down to the flavour text. The aim of Oligarchy is to be last man standing, to do this you must reduce each players Power Base from twelve to zero. Each player starts the game with twelve points split across the factions you are playing. These starter decks are designed with an even split across both factions, so in an Illuminati/Religious deck you would start the game with six points in each faction.
The game begins with every player drawing seven cards. You then have a chance to discard and redraw once if you are unhappy with your initial hand.
The turn begins with a player drawing a card.
Like any card game there are many different types of cards available, these are:
Resources, Incidents, Scenarios, Items, Professions, Characters and Status cards. Characters and status cards may only be played into your realm, other cards, the text will tell you where they should be played or will be most useful. Most cards may only be deployed during your turn, there are, of course, exceptions to every rule. At the bottom of each card, alongside the cost it will state 'your sphere' (these cards can only be played in your turn) or 'all spheres' (these cards can be played at any point)
The most important cards in Oligarchy are your status cards - Influence and Affluence, these are what power your deck and every other card will have a cost to pay made up of one or both as shown in the bottom corners. Each round you may play one of these status cards. Then you gain status equal to the number of appropriate cards in play eg. If you have three affluence and two influence you add both to the total already on your status spinner. You may then use them to buy and place further cards from your hand. This is called the deployment phase, the only limit to the number of cards you can play is your resources.
Characters can be used in a few different ways, starting from the turn they come into play. Many have abilities that will have a number next to them. To use these abilities you must have that number of Power Base in the faction that character belongs to, in the case of the following card with a starting Power Base of 6 you could perform both abilities, but if you your Power Base fell to below 5 you could only perform the 2+ ability.
If you use a characters ability you cannot then use it to attack on the same turn. Characters do not directly attack opponents cards (unless stated otherwise), they attack an opponent who may then either choose to block with one or more character cards or else concede damage directly from their power base. If a character is blocked, both take damage equal to the enemies power base (shown on the top right of the card) Damage taken is permanent and represented by markers.
One unique feature of Oligarchy is 'Power Plays'. These occur when you attack with three characters from the same faction and are a super charged ability specific to that faction. For example attack with three Military characters and your opponent looses two power base points.
Whilst attacking opponents is the main way to deplete your opponents power base, there are many items and events that also deal damage. You also lose the game if you are unable to draw cards when required and again there are items, characters and events that can mill through your deck quickly (watching a great card go directly into your discard pile is horrible!)
The decks in the starter box are everything you need to play this game for between two and four players, but it doesn't stop there, Oligarchy is a trading card game so additional boosters are also available to expand your game. The decks all consist of two factions, however you could always add another if you wanted (remembering you still only get twelve points to split across them though) There are also cards that are non faction specific and can be used in any deck.
Generally theme in games doesn't worry me, I'd rather have a great game with a pasted on theme than a theme heavy mediocre game, however Oligarchy has both. The cards are wonderfully thematic in their names, artwork,functions and flavour text and this leads to a true sense of immersion in the game.
The Kickstarter went live on June 1st and reached 15% of it's target within a few hours, if you are attending the UK Games Expo over the first weekend of June be sure to drop by and try it for yourself.