“Can You Hear Me Now?”
Hey, even Paul Marcarelli will switch cell phone carriers if the price is right. Running a telecommunications company can’t be easy. Everyone wants low prices, tons of data, and the newest tech — and the audience is fickle, willing to abandon ship and move on to a competitor at the drop of a hat.
My F.O.M.O. pick of the week — looking at Kickstarter campaigns ending within the next 7 days — is going to triangulate in on Cosmodrome Games’ new title Smartphone Inc. which will give you the chance to be CEO of an international smartphone design corporation. To win, all you’ll need to do is simply CRUSH THE COMPETITION!!! (or in a less aggressive tone –> make good business decisions and out-perform your industry peers)
Smartphone inc. is good for 1-5 players with an estimated 90 minutes of play time. Designed by Ivan Lashin and art by Viktor Miller-Gausa. So, what is it that I’m afraid I’ll “miss out on” with this campaign?
Let’s start with the theme. On paper, Smartphone Inc. is an economic simulation Eurogame. Generally, I feel like that has meant some economic games based on history (ancient history, medieval, renaissance), trains, or generic corporate stocks. I love that this game has a very specific theme (smartphones) which comes across as very relatable for the current ‘generations.’
A key aspect of the game is advancing technology and terms like GPS, 4G, wifi, battery power, and gaming are buzz words I most definitely recognize.
One of Smartphone Inc.’s most intriguing gameplay elements is the action selection phase (the Planning phase). All players will have 2 pads with six action slots on each side. Some of these slots will be blank, but more than half will show actions.
During each of the game’s 5 rounds, you will start by planning your strategy, utilizing these pads. One pad must cover the other pad by a minimum of one slot (overlap is forced). The visible actions [setting prices, producing, researching, etc.] on the two pads will be available during the round. Each covered slot will be worth one production during Phase 3- Production. Thus, what slots you cover and how many becomes a major part of the round’s strategy. I love the variety of planning choices this creates for each person every round — I also appreciate that this system allows for a player to take several actions every round (not your normal 1, 2, or 3 actions per turn that many games institute)
These pads won’t remain static during the game, either. Phase 4 – Improve Production allows players to choose double-slot tiles that will allow for pad customization — ideally tailored to your overall strategy for the game.
Next up, I’m impressed (from what I’ve seen) of the production on this game. While the art-style is subdued / modern, it fits the theme well (although that box cover art is outstanding!!) Playing pieces look great (markers in four different shapes), a double-layer game board with recessed slots for the markers, and Steve (the automa guy) for any game of 1-4 players where an “extra competitor” is desired –> Steve looks like he automates easily based on a provided rulebook.
Since this is a Kickstarter campaign, I also want to highlight some of the stretch goals that have been unlocked that make Smartphone Inc. even more appealing:
- Investor directives –> Once per round (as far as I understand) a directive can be achieved for bonus victory points. I enjoy it when games provide special objectives (outside of the normal game focus) that players can consider as part of what strategy they want to enact.
- Scenarios –> Cosmodrome will be including five scenarios which can be used (and somewhat customized) to further extend the the game’s replayability.
- New technologies –> So far, 8 new technologies have been unlocked (with more coming, most likely) which will help increase the variability of the game with each play.
- CEO figures –> If you love miniatures, one of the technology SG’s included five CEO figures that will now come with the game.
- Hardcore mode –> While Smartphone Inc. looks plenty-challenging for myself and my friends/family, for gamers who have several plays under their belt and want to amp-up the realism and difficulty, a hardcore mode of the game has been unlocked. This means the game will include ten alternate player pads. In this mode, you won’t just be trying to generate revenues, but you will have to manage the profits of your company….BECAUSE HEY!!…costs matter, too. [As an accountant, I am intrigued by the inclusion of this profit-based version of the game.]
- 1-3 Player board –> The main board can be used at any player count (tiles are provided that help cover slots as necessary). The 1-3 player board that Cosmodrome announced and unlocked will provide a new, tighter map that will change the feel of a game being played with 3 or less players.
Since the end of last year, I have been hearing good things about this game (starting with Tom Vasel’s glowing review). If you like economic games, action selection options, or just a modern & relevant theme — Smartphone Inc. might be a solid ‘back’ for you.
Are you interested in Smartphone Inc.? Any other KS campaigns catching your eye right now?
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