Updated: Apr 14
We can exclusively reveal here on Board's Eye View that publishers Urban Games Ltd. are hatching a secret plot to unleash this new game on Kickstarter backers later this year! Designers Mayer Máté and Benke Boglárka are key members of the cabal behind Conspiracy, along with artists Mayer Ágnes and Turcsányi Attila.
Conspiracy is a light and light-hearted tongue-in-cheek card game backed up with a party-game storytelling element. The 2-4 players are all conspiracy theorists. You start off with your own pet obsession; for example, that the Covid pandemic is a cover story for a plot to inject people with mind-controlling microchips, or the Rosicrucian descendants of the Templar Knights are seeking world domination. The game comes with 10 core conspiracy theories from which players draw two and pick one with which to play. They aren't just flavour: each of the conspiracy theories gives the player a unique ability and you'll need during the course of the game to be able argue the link between a news story and your specific theory...
The game is all about adding followers to your cause. Players have a small hand of action cards and you'll be adding more throughout the game. The cards vary in type and in their effect but all have flavour text and illustrations that feed into the game's comedic vibe. You can play action cards to your tableau - some, for example, immediately add followers to your theory. Alternatively, you'll play the cards face-down to bid for a news card. The action cards all have an influence value (tho' that can be zero). After two rounds, influence bids are revealed and the news card is won by the player who put in the highest bid. However, before the news card can be added to your tableau, you have to explain how it fits in with your theory. That's going to be easy for some news cards that cover obviously similar ground to your theory card but it may require some creative storytelling if there is no very obvious connection. Once you've added news cards to your collection, you have the option to spend one of your two card plays next turn to flip the card. That will add followers to your cause along with a bonus effect.
Gameplay then is simple enough for even non-gamers to be quickly playing the game straight out of the box. It's a competitive 'take that' game because players will be playing cards for their abilities that can, for example, drive away a rival's followers. You'll get laughs from the action cards and from players' sometimes convoluted justifications for linking news stories to their pet conspiracy theory. There's strategy too tho' over your choice of how best to spend the two card play actions you have each turn. In particular, there's a judgement call to be made on which news cards to really focus on going all out to win. Some of the news cards are worth more followers than others, and some are especially valuable to the player who has a theory that matches the card because such cards could win them as many as 50 followers when flipped. When a news card comes up that's especially appealing to one player, others will want to do their utmost either to outbid them for the card or to use a 'take that' ability to force them to discard it before they have a chance to flip it - especially if flipping the card will be enough to secure them enough followers to win the game.
We've been playing a preview prototype of Conspiracy ahead of its upcoming Kickstarter release. We've especially enjoyed it as a competitive four-player game, and we'd like to see the competitive game expanded to take a higher player count. The rules come with a cooperative (and even solo) option, competing against the plans of a 'shadow government', as well as what the designers describe as a Flat Earthers' option to play without the storytelling element. But why would you? Unless of course you're part of a dastardly scheme to undermine party games. I think we should be told!