Our final entry in the 2016 edition of the Canadian Game Design Award comes from the west coast, from two individuals with a rather unique story and a very unique game. With great pleasure, our final entrant is Sloops! by Sébastien Bernier-Wong & Peter Gorniak.
Sloops! is a game for 2-4 players that plays in about an hour. The game actually started out as a school project at Simon Fraser University. Peter Gorniak was the professor for the class back in 2013, and Sébastien Bernier-Wong was a student. The course was geared more for video game design but Peter had a module where the students played and then came up with a board game design based off of Lords of Waterdeep and Dominion. The focus was on creating a hybrid game that involved worker placement and deck building. “There were 20 games created,” recounts Peter Gorniak, “Most groups did not spend a lot of time on it… Almost every other project was copying the two example games. Sloops was different.”
Sloops! is a naval strategy game that is divided up into two phases, the Island Phase and the Sea Phase. During the Island Phase, players take turns playing worker tokens on various island spaces to collect resources and new cards for their hand and deck. Once everyone has played out their worker tokens they move to the sea phase.
The resources are used to purchase special cards and to attack opponents with cannons. The cards use a very interesting system where most are maneuver cards, but there are a few special action cards which allow players to subvert the basic rules of engagement.
The cards, as a whole, have an additional special feature built-in. Each card has one of four colors printed on them; red, yellow, green, and blue. Each card allows players to do bonus actions either immediately or when other cards of that color are played later on.
In the Sea Phase, players take turns playing cards from their hand and either use their tactics and/or abilities, or choose not to use them and pass. Players navigate on the sea board, trying to avoid obstacles, and each other, while trying to damage everyone else. The best comparison of this aspect of the game is more of a frantic, short-term focus, version of “RoboRally”.
Every time a player is hit they take a damage card, which is then added to their deck. Players can score points from certain cards or by damaging their opponents, but may also score negative points for damage cards. The game ends when either the damage card deck runs out or some of the draft card decks run out.
“[After the project] I borrowed the prototype to try with my gaming friends and turned out pretty good… Sébastien was the one who stuck with it from the group.” The two have worked on the game off and on since. “It manages to be a very confrontational game, with being very short term focused. We had to tone down some of the crazy combinations that could be created, but were able to keep some of the havok.”
They had entered into another competition based out on the west coast and were eager to enter the CGDA after Peter had heard about it through friends in the Game Artisans of Canada.
“I want to recognize the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University and to the other students that helped create the basic design for Sloops.” Peter mentions.
Sadly, neither Peter nor Sébastien will be able to attend FallCon this year and showcase their game. Sébastien was unavailable to be interviewed due to work and communication restraints where he is.
The winner of the CGDA will be announced on Saturday evening.