A Castle in the Clouds: Tom Plant and the American Dream
Written by Barry H. Rodrigue
The story of Tom Plant (1859-1941) gives us a gritty, real-life view of the American dream. Born into a poor French-Canadian family in Bath, Maine on the eve of the Civil War, he began his career as a boy laborer, cutting ice on the Kennebec River. Tom then became a union shoe-maker in the “shoe capital of the world”, in Massachusetts, financing his first workshop with a baseball wager. He went on to pioneer new trends in American business and to build the world’s largest shoe factory. An inventor, his name became front-page news in the *New York Times* during a fight with the most notorious monopoly in the United States. A celebrated outdoorsman, he laid out a vast estate on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, as well as a retirement home for workers in his hometown. An advocate of the progressive movement, Tom Plant spoke for a new, pragmatic America, one based on fairness in the workplace, conservation of nature, plural heritage, and global harmony. His d’enouement was as surprising as his triumph.
Paperback, 6″ x 9″, 288 pages
It’s time to shake up your game night. Stage a COUP!
Coup is one of the hottest games on Boardgamegeek and just the right gift for your brainy, astute, devious friends to play with you. It was created by Rikki Tahta, a friend of the Game Loft. Proceeds from the sale of these games will support the Loft.
You are head of a family in an Italian city-state, a city run by a weak and corrupt court. You need to manipulate, bluff and bribe your way to power. Your object is to destroy the influence of all the other families, forcing them into exile. Only one family will survive...
In Coup, you want to be the last player with influence in the game. Each player represents a character who is a secret from the other players with powers that can be used to the player’s advantage. In each turn you can play a generic action or one that is specific to the character you control. When you take one of the character actions – whether actively on your turn, or defensively in response to someone else's action – that character's action automatically succeeds unless an opponent challenges you. In this case, if you can't (or don't) reveal the appropriate character you lose influence. The last player with influence wins the game. Simple rules but complex thinking make this game a winner.
Copyright La Mame Games 2012. This game is not authorized for posting on Steam.
For 2-6 players age 10+. Plays in 15 minutes.
In Coup, you want to be the last player with influence in the game, with influence being represented by face-down character cards in your playing area.
Each player starts the game with two coins and two influence – i.e., two face-down character cards; the fifteen card deck consists of three copies of five different characters, each with a unique set of powers:
- Duke: Take three coins from the treasury. Block someone from taking foreign aid.
- Assassin: Pay three coins and try to assassinate another player's character.
- Contessa: Block an assassination attempt against yourself.
- Captain: Take two coins from another player, or block someone from stealing coins from you.
- Ambassador: Draw two character cards from the Court (the deck), choose which (if any) to exchange with your face-down characters, then return two. Block someone from stealing coins from you.
On your turn, you can take any of the actions listed above, regardless of which characters you actually have in front of you, or you can take one of three other actions:
- Income: Take one coin from the treasury.
- Foreign aid: Take two coins from the treasury.
- Coup: Pay seven coins and launch a coup against an opponent, forcing that player to lose an influence. (If you have ten coins or more, you must take this action.)
When you take one of the character actions – whether actively on your turn, or defensively in response to someone else's action – that character's action automatically succeeds unless an opponent challenges you. In this case, if you can't (or don't) reveal the appropriate character, you lose an influence, turning one of your characters face-up. Face-up characters cannot be used, and if both of your characters are face-up, you're out of the game.
If you do have the character in question and choose to reveal it, the opponent loses an influence, then you shuffle that character into the deck and draw a new one, perhaps getting the same character again and perhaps not.
The last player to still have influence – that is, a face-down character – wins the game!
A new & optional character called the Inquisitor has been added (currently, the only English edition with the Inquisitor included is the Kickstarter Version from Indie Boards & Cards. Copies in stores may not be the Kickstarter versions and may only be the base game). The Inquisitor character cards may be used to replace the Ambassador cards.
- Inquisitor: Draw one character card from the Court deck and choose whether or not to exchange it with one of your face-down characters. OR Force an opponent to show you one of their character cards (their choice which). If you wish it, you may then force them to draw a new card from the Court deck. They then shuffle the old card into the Court deck. Block someone from stealing coins from you.
Coup: Reformation, an expansion for the original version of Coup: City State from La Mame Games, adds new cards to the game and rules for factions and team play that increases tension in the early stages for four or more players and (thanks to 15 additional character cards) allows Coup to be better played with up to ten players.
With Coup: Reformation, each player must declare himself either Catholic (Loyalist in the second edition) or Protestant (Resistant) and can target only members of the other faction. Conversion is possible, however, for yourself or for another player by paying a charitable donation to the Almshouse (Treasury). Like all factions, once you have eliminated or converted the other group, you just descend into in-fighting, so there's still only one winner and no second place.
Coup: Reformation adds a new fluid team dynamic to Coup as players jostle with their allegiance to take advantage or seek protection in the early stages of the game.
For 2-6 players ages 10+. Plays in 15 minutes.
It is the dawn of a new year. The old king has just died childless, and the new succession must be decided before the end of this year. You are a local baron or countess with as good a claim as anyone else, so now is the time to grab the throne. Your peers understand only force, and your subjects understand only gold. Gather your men, pay your knights, and assert your claim. Everyone will recognize the strongest and richest as the rightful monarch.
In Melee you want to be the first person to capture an opposing castle (at which point the game ends immediately) or to have the most land and gold at the end of the year. Money is tight, and gold is used in the game both to build new units and to attack. The more gold you have and spend on your troops, the more motivated they will be and the higher your probability of success.
The different abilities available in each game make for varied strategies and strong replayability as no two games are alike. After the initial strategic planning stage, Melee is fast and highly interactive. Beware as the game can end suddenly with a bold attack on an inadequately defended castle, making for a game that can be very nasty, brutish and short.
Another game from Rikki Tahta, friend of the Game Loft and highly acclaimed board game designer.
For 2-4 players ages 10+. Plays in 20 minutes.
Each player starts the game with a Castle, one unit of foot soldiers, and 15 gold coins. The game begins with a drafting session in which you purchase units (soldiers, knights, camps and catapults) and bid on special abilities that will enhance your income, attack, or other options in the game.
The game is then played over four turns (seasons), and in each turn players simultaneously choose one of three potential actions: (a) tax, (b) build new units, or (c) move and attack. Each turn ends with players collecting income.
To attack, you move your unit into an occupied area, then secretly decide how much gold you will spend to motivate your troops. The defender then has to guess how much you have spent. If the defender guesses wrong, the attack succeeds; if the defender is correct, the attack fails and you lose your unit. Regardless of success you have spent your gold, so the tight trade-off that players have to assess is whether to be cheap with your men so that you can conserve gold for future builds and attacks, or be generous to increase your chances now but limit future options.