Remember those toy crazes of the 1990s? Every year a particular toy would get hyped up in the press so that it became the one 'must have' item in every child's Christmas stocking. There was an immediate run on stock. Parents would get into fist fights with each other in the aisles of any toy shops that still had any stock. A black market would emerge selling supplies imported from abroad - or copied illicitly. There'd be reports of parents with more money than sense paying massively inflated prices to avoid their child's disappointment or maybe just to give themselves bragging rights over other parents picking their kids up in the school playground.
That's pretty much the setting for the Play for Keeps game Overstocked, designed by Mandela Fernandez-Grandon with art by Archie Llewellyn Edwards. The 2-6 players each have a hand of six cards showing various combinations of the four types of toy in the game. An additional card starts off each player's warehouse tableau, and another card in the centre of the table represents 'the Popularity'. On your turn, you play a card from your hand to your tableau so that it covers one or two, but not more, of the toys on cards played previously. You'll be trying to maximise the connected areas of each of the toy types but you can also play cards to the Popularity. You'll want to do this because your score for each toy at the end of the game will be your largest continuously connected area of that toy type multiplied by the largest connected area in the Popularity. Beware tho', the most popular toy in the Popularity is considered to have peaked: it scores negative points!
Overstocked is a puzzle game, as you work out the optimal placements for your cards. You'll want to keep an eye on how the Popularity is developing and who stands most to gain from its multipliers. We found in practice that players tended to focus most of their cards on developing their own warehouses, reserving just their last card or two to influence the Popularity and maybe try to screw over an opponent by making their score negative.
The rules already include a variant allowing players to step up the difficulty, but there's scope for developing other rule variants. We'd especially like to see a solitaire option.
Shown above on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of Overstocked but the artwork has already been updated to the chirpier images in the photo below. The game is due to come to Kickstarter on 8 June. We'll add a link to the campaign when that goes live.