Kobold Engineer by Laura Simpson
The central idea for Kobold Engineer rocks. In it, you play a lowly Kobold who wants to climb the dungeon management ladder by serving his master, Coyote. Coyote, of course, wants the Kobolds to prove their worth by setting up a dungeon to kill heroes. The game reminds me a little of Overlord, the classic anti-hero video game for PC/XBOX, but it definitely has its own flavor and focus.
The game is played by creating and setting traps for the heroes through tokens. The players use the tokens to purchase traps and place them in the dungeon, and then run a party of heroes through the killing fields. The multiple rounds (laying traps, then playing heroes) seems like a lot of fun, and I can imagine it would make for an entertaining evening for my players. The limited tokens also introduce a great strategy element, as the players have to focus on using up a limited resource instead of just laying down traps all over the board.
The mechanics, however, are a bit messy. I didn’t understand why there were multiple Kobold characters the players could select, especially when some of them seemed to only have disadvantages. There were also different winning conditions that seemed to make it hard to keep track of who was actually ahead in the game. Given that the game is much more of a strategy game than a roleplaying game, I think the mechanics need to be significantly tighter to provide strategy players with enough control over the outcome.
All in all, I’d love to see the next draft of this game. It’s an innovative idea that I think would really appeal to most tabletop roleplayers in the same way that Munchkin does. It’s a winner of an idea, and it just needs a bit more polish and focus to really fly.