Unplugged Preview: Kobolds in Bikinis. (My own card game)

A Brief History.

It’s been a long time since I started writing about games. My very first review was for a game called Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, written for my high school newspaper. Since then, I’ve always wanted to be a game critic. I’ve bounced between multiple personal blogs since then. Started out on MySpace, then moved to IGN, Giant Bomb, and eventually my own blogspot. I even had a couple of (barely) paying freelance positions across the net. Then one day, a few years ago, I created The Midnight Roost. Since then, I’ve made this site my home for all my game critics and ramblings. You’ll notice I’ve been inactive lately. There are a lot of reasons for that. Primarily, though, I just gave up. I’m 31 years old, I’ve never finished my creative writing degree (for all the good that would have done), and I’ve never landed a real job. The passion of discussion and critiquing games had finally worn too thin for me to really care. It felt like nobody was listening.

About two-and-a-half years ago, I started developing a card game. I had just list my job at Blizzard, and wanted to do something for myself. I still have that game, laying around here and collecting dust until I find a way to really make it something special. But in the meantime, more ideas have come and gone. Right now I’m sitting on about 5 really solid game ideas that I’ve built and prototyped to various degrees. But over the past couple months, amidst what has been one of my most savage of depressions in a long, long time, I’ve been crafting something new. I’ve decided to give up on critiquing, and start making my own games. And today, I’d like to share one with you. I present: Kobolds in Bikinis.

Yay!

Now here’s where I should have some cool art. But this isn’t a Kickstarter campaign (yet?!) so I don’t have any of those assets ready. What I do have is a demo. I’m not going to host it here, not yet anyway. But I wanted to give you an update, and a look into some of my design choices. I’m always happy to take your feedback, so please feel free to leave some in the comments section.

Why are the Kobolds in Bikinis?

This is a Kobold. It’s a reptilian critter in fantasy fiction.

My original design was fairly simple: I wanted to simplify Dungeons and Dragons, and other tabletop RPGs, into a party game. I looked to other tabletop games to see what would mix well. I was inspired by the success and simplicity of games like SuperfightCards Against Humanity, and Sheriff of Nottingham. From there I drew easy analogs to tabletop RPG’s, and thus the basis of my game was born.

But to be a party game meant that I couldn’t take this seriously. Simplifying the gameplay down to basically no gameplay at all meant that there was little room for big, dramatic storytelling. I struggled to find a theme and a name for this game, I just knew how the basic mechanics would work. I remember, quite distinctly, driving home from work when it struck me: “Kobolds in Bikinis.” It immediately brought to life what I wanted: a quirky fantasy setting. Immediately, fans of games like PathfinderDungeons and Dragons, and Warhammer would recognize their foes. And seeing them in such unusual garb would quickly set the tone I wanted.

So what’s the game?

A group of players, ideally 5-6, take turns being the Master of Dungeons (or MoD for short). To decide who goes first, everybody rolls for initiative using a 20-sided die to see who gets the highest. That person starts off as the MoD. Everybody draws cards from an Equipment deck to form their hand, while the MoD draws from a separate Encounter deck. The MoD describes the encounter written on the card, and the players must then choose two pieces of equipment to take with them to conquer the encounter.

A 20-sided die, or d20 for short.

And this is sort of the core of my game here. In a game like Cards Against Humanity, it tends to be that the person with the funniest card wins by default. (We get it, Barak Obama uses Michelle Obama’s arms to unwind!) Even in Superfight you’re usually stuck arguing how anyone could beat Superman (spoilers, they really can’t) with little wiggle room. To solve that problem, everybody is going on the same adventure, with only their own equipment. This is similar to how a player must attack an encounter in Dungeons and Dragons. They may only have what’s on them, but it’s usually enough to overcome the encounter. Also, like any good RPG, it’s about how you overcome the obstacle. Players take turns describing their actions to the MoD, and explaining why they’re clearly the ones who are best suited for the situation.

The MoD then decides who they think has the best reasoning. Ideally, this will be because it’s the funniest, but maybe one of your MoD’s likes a little more heroism or debauchery in their descriptions, so you really have to play to them as well. The chosen winner gets a token proving their victory, and a card from the Treasure Pile to be used in future rounds. The Treasure Pile is similar to how RPG’s grant the all-coveted loot. In this game, that takes the form of rare and “more powerful” items. That is to say, I generally based them on generally powerful artifacts/legendary items. In reality, they are not so much more powerful as to automatically override anybody’s decision as to why you should win, so the fight is still more or less fair.

In my original design, there was also a lot of dice rolling. I’ve since pulled back on that because a lot of it either just wasn’t funny, or seemed like I was going to start making poorly balanced cards. You’re welcome to incorporate dice rolling into this, like using the 20-sided die to help give an idea of who has the most “on point” attack, but ultimately I think leaving it up to the imagination makes for a stronger game.

I’m curious to know what you think of this idea? As of now I have 400 total cards (300 in the base set, and a 100 card “Adult” oriented set) ready to print. I should hopefully have them ready to demo by the time GenCon rolls around in a week. If you’re interested in trying it out, let me know! We can either get together and check it out or I can probably link you my PDF’s and you can print it out yourself to try.

Either way, I look forward to sharing more about my game with you in the coming weeks and months. Thank you for reading!