Kickstarter Preview: Cogs and Commissars

Published by: Atlas Games

Designer: Matt Haga

Artist: Zoran Cardula

Plays: 2-6 players in about 30 to 40 min

A prototype of Cogs and Commissars was provided by Atlas Games for this preview. The project is seeking funding on Kickstarter, launching on January 30, 2018.

*I apologize for the pictures in this preview. I had some difficulty with lighting, so the script may be difficult to read in some photos. All artwork and components are in prototype form.

In Cogs and Commissars you play as factions who are competing to recruit and influence robot citizens for the revolution. Players will draft cards and use”take that” mechanics to crush their opponents. The first player to accumulate 15 citizen token(points), wins the game.

The Recipe

  • Card drafting
  • take that mechanics
  • Drafted, pre-constructed, and random deck selection
  • Interesting win condition

Components

Cogs and Commissars has a Russian theme mixed in with robots who represent the citizens. The citizens types, Proletariat, Bourgeoisie, and Commissar are represented by tokens. As you play cards, citizen tokens will be pushed and pulled away from each player during every round. There’s more than meets the eye to this.

Prototype artwork and components

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                   Left: Proletariat (1pt), Middle: Bourgeoisie (2pts), Right: Commissar (3pt)                                     Note: You cannot “trade up” tokens for others

Cards

Two sets of cards make a 30 card deck for each player. The 12 Core play cards (blue) which are a combination of Revolution, Propaganda, and Counter Propaganda cards. Propaganda and Counter Propaganda cards take Proletariat citizens (tokens) away other players or counter any card that is played by another. The Revolution card triggers the end game and has to be played when a player reaches 15 points (citizen tokens). The Regular cards (red) are where your action cards come from. Take a look at descriptions in the pictures below.

Prototype Artwork and sleeved cards below

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Setup

Building a deck is definitely one of the highlights of Cogs and Commissars. There are multiple ways to keep this game interesting at all player counts due to the deck building options. The prototype I received has six preconstructed 30 card decks (12 core + 18 regular). Each deck has its own flavor of play cards and each faction power help players with reacting to all the blitz actions that can take place multiple times during a round. You have the option of drafting card decks or creating random deck of cards as long as the 12 core blue cards are in the mix. The majority of my gameplay was played using the six preconstructed faction decks. At the beginning of the game, players will shuffle the decks, draw seven cards, and receive two Proletariats worth one point each.

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The Turn

Turns in Cogs and Commissars are quick, cutthroat, and action packed. The gameplay is based on hand management and timing. Every card played has the chance of being countered, so you have to play into your faction’s power and keep the Counter Propaganda cards ready. You have the ability to look through any player’s discard pile to plan your strategy at any time. On a player’s turn there are four steps:

  • Produce a Citizen: Flip two cards from your deck and into your discard pile. You receive citizen tokens as show by the icons on the cards draw. Take citizen tokens that match the symbols on the cards you discarded from the token stack (Gulag).
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I flipped the first to cards over. I receive one gold Proletariat (1pts) and one blue Bourgeoisie (2pts)
  • Discard or draw your hand back up to seven cards. The strategy with this action is to generate as many cards as possible AFTER this phase going into other players turns. Keeping Counter Propaganda cards available for other players turns is “the move.”
  • Propaganda Card Phase: You can play as many Propaganda cards as you want during this phase. The general actions are stealing one Proletariat (1 point token) from another player or discarding a pair to draw another card. Propaganda cards can only be played on this phase. You can play Propaganda cards to entice other players to counter you. Counter Propaganda cards have a blitz icon (blue) in the top left corner. They can be played at anytime on a players turn out of turn. Propaganda cards also have the Bourgeoisie and Commissar icons for the Produce Citizen action.The Revolution card draws multiple citizen tokens and ramps up the game when it’s flipped. Keeping Propaganda cards too long can work against you or turtle your effort to victory.  Propaganda cards give you so many opportunities and will test your ability to pick away at your opponents citizens or crush all of their plans for their turn.
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I play two Propaganda cards and the opposing player plays a counter Propaganda card. I have one extra so I steal on Proletariat from my opponent.
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Ending the Game: The most risky Propaganda card is also the end game card. If you have 15 points, play the Revolution card and prepare for counter cards to fly. If you have 20 points, no one can touch you game over!
  • Action Phase: Play one Regular play card with action icon in the top left corner (yellow icon). Actions in Cogs and Commissars force other players to discard cards and citizens, create a second actions, draw extra cards, and stop all negative effect against you.

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Final Impressions

I started out thinking Cogs and Commissars was this generic card game…….wrong mindset and I slapped myself on the hand for it. BAD REVIEWER! I came up with a couple things that have me interested in the Cogs and Commissars campaign. The replayability of this game starts with the multiple ways you can create a deck. The process of drafting a deck is pretty easy since the first 12 cards are the same. I based my opinions off the preconstructed decks, but I believe the best way to play is with a create a deck or draft options. All of the faction powers are useful because of the heavy “take that” elements to the game, but some push you into a different approach. You have factions like the Power Jack Boots, who reward you for playing counter cards or the People’s Power Grid that increase your hand size for each Counter Propaganda card in your discard pile. I keep repeating myself, but replayability replayability replayability!

One element of the game that needs to be talked about is how much “take that” affects the gameplay. To be honest, I didn’t know for sure if this was the game for me until I played a couple times to find out. In a 2 player game, I felt like I was playing Rock’em Sock’em Robots with my cards (two player is good, I played terribly). Then I played three and four player games and it totally clicked. If you pick the right faction and figure out how to time your movements, then  Counter Propaganda cards aren’t flying to the table so quickly. It’s part of the game, but you have so many ways to punch back. The only real negative I have is with the artwork. Although it’s in prototype form, the art style doesn’t grab me. I know some people judge a game by its cover, so I had to say my peace. Prototype artwork doesn’t make or break my faith in an entire project.

The overall theme here is Cogs and Commissars is rich gameplay, replayability and scalability out of the box. If the project is funded, I hope to see more factions unlocked. I hope this preview was informative and will help you make a decision. If you have any questions please leave your comments below. I will leave a link directly to the campaign on the launch day. Thank you for your time.

Additional Pics of the Regular play cards just cause….

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