Designed by Jason Kotarski and Philip duBarry, Fidelitas is a small card game that takes about twenty to thirty minutes to play. In it, players score points by completing objectives and the winner is the player with the highest score.
“Fidelitas is actually based on a simple kids game I made up to play with my daughter,” Kotarksi said. “I was intrigued by a little card-maneuvering/set-collection mechanic I had been playing with and had a dream about how to take it to the next level to introduce those ideas to an older audience.”
Kotarski and duBarry met over twitter and duBarry liked the initial design of the game, but felt Kotarski could take it to the next level and pitched the idea that they design the game together.
“Neither of us had co-designed anything at that point so we decided to give it a go,” Kotarski said. “It has been a great give and take relationship. Philip is a super smart, kind guy who is really easy to work with so the whole thing has been a pleasure. It was different than working on my own because just when I’d start to lose steam, he’d come through with some new idea the project moved forward. Sometime when you work on your own, it can be easy to stall out when you get stuck on something. You have to step away for awhile until new inspiration strikes. But with Philip it felt like things just kept cruising along. We worked mostly over email so we would send a ideas back and forth, play test independently, and come back together to share our findings. It was great to have someone else just as invested as I was. I loved it and I’d be glad to do it again.”
In Fidelitas, each player starts with two Missio (mission) cards and two character cards. The mission cards are the equivalents to the route cards from ticket to ride. You are trying to complete an objective and once you do you score points for it. For example, in the case of The Minstrel Missio card, the two locations nearest the castle have to have at least three characters but no soldiers.
The play area itself is fairly small, only being formed of four double sided locations, but the simplicity of the mechancs end up bringing a lot of strategy to the game because as one player tries to tweak and maniuplate the characters moving around the locations their oppoent will often come in and and completely undo the move they just made. So although it isn’t a “take that” kind of game it has a gruffness that involves a lot of social gaming without actual being a social game.
“I’d consider Fidelitas a filler with a lot of meat on it,” Kotarski said. “I co-host a podcast with Andy Lenox called 20 Minutes of Filler where we do 20 minute shows about 20-30 minutes games and our criteria is that a good filler is easy to teach, has a short playtime, and has a wide appeal, that it can connect with hardcore gamers and casual gamers alike. And I think Fidelitas fits those characteristics. It’s easy to teach and quick and there is enough strategy to keep people bringing it back to the table again and again.”
The original prototype of the game had only five characters; a magistrate, a shopkeeper, a blacksmith, a cobbler, and a soldier. The final version now has nine different guilds and fourteen different characters.
“The theme gave us a lot of inspiration when coming up with the actions on each character. The whole process felt very organic,” Kotarski said. “There were lots of options but we matched the characters to the actions using a loose narrative we made up as we went along. For example, in the game the goal is to prove your worth so you can earn a leadership role in taking down the corrupt crown. So we made the Soldier move a character at the location he was played at to any other locations. It was like the Soldier made folks nervous to they ran away.”
Fidelitas is set to launch on Kickstarter on August 1st and not only did Kotarski co-design it but for the first time ever he’s stepping into the roll of a publisher with his newly formed company, Green Couch Games.
“After dipping my toes into the gaming industry as a designer, I totally fell in love and want to continue to contribute to this awesome hobby,” Kotarski said. “Publishing is the next step for me. I have been toying with the idea since I designed my first game but my wife wouldn’t let me spend any of our money until I tried to spend somebody else’s! But the more and more I get involved, the more I want to be involved. Working on my own games is really fun but it’s the people that bring it all together for me. So this way, I get to work on my own games and help other designers work on their own games, too.”
So mark your calendars for August 1st and make sure you checkout Fidelitas on Kickstarter (The game will cost a mere $19 with free shipping in the United States)!