We developed Cascade Barricade for the Flux Capacity Publishing Challenge hosted by The Game Crafter company.  While we ultimately did not enter our game into the contest, the 2014 Boston Festival of Indie Games has accepted it as an entrant to its Tabletop Games Showcase in September.

Get latest rules here: (Cascade-Barricade-Rules_v2)

Cascade Barricade is a Euro-style, hexagonal board game.  As one of up to six players, you are tasked with purchasing and maintaining an inventory of walls or digging massive holes to block and divert the flow of an “everspring” erupting from the center of your island.  As you manage the costs of both resources and walls, you strategically place your walls – or perform other actions – in order to generate enough money for future turns and keep yourself from being trapped by the cascading flood.

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“The Cascade has come, and soon the Island of Aokurma will be submerged for eternity. All we have to buy time now are the walls.”

A round of Cascade Barricade begins with an auction phase, offering you the opportunity to purchase a new wall (walls come in many types).  You may also pay skilled laborers to manage your walls, which improves morale of the villagers you protect, thus earning you money as a tribute.  If desired, you may move around the island to avoid the flood, and you can also dig holes (or fill them in).  Your aim is to not only escape the flood but to attempt to trap another player within it, for if any one player becomes submerged and drowns, the game immediately ends.  Of the players who survive this catastrophe, whomever holds the most money will earn passage aboard an ark built by Aokurma’s people – thus beginning a great exodus from the doomed island and winning the game.

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Identifying and executing your winning strategy is a complex endeavor, as your survival goal is twofold, as described above: you must avoid becoming trapped, and you must hold the most money by the game’s end.  You must wisely determine which walls to purchase and when to purchase them.  Perhaps you build powerful walls at the start but cannot afford to maintain them, thus missing out on valuable tributes.  Perhaps you build weaker walls at the start and earn tributes by successfully maintaining them, but these walls, naturally weak, soon fall.  Achieving victory in Cascade Barricade requires balance, foresight, and a well-thought-out strategy.

What I appreciate in Cascade Barricade (aside from the insights I’ve learned during its development) is the dual nature it presents with respect to both gameplay and endgame.  If you play with a normal strategy, a single mishap – such as an unnoticed advancement of cascade waters, or ignorance of an imminent wall collapse – can ruin your play, instantly diverting you from management to damage control.  On the other hand, if you decide to “play it safe”, you may end up doing too little and falling behind other players, which is a difficult predicament to surmount.  I like how this game requires a careful touch – in the right place, at the right time – as you have no limitations on where you can place and manage your walls and holes.

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I am submitting Cascade Barricade to various tabletop game contests despite that it is not fully complete.  I feel that I can trim and “streamline” certain elements of the game, and my current goal is to fine-tune its balance without harming any of its more appealing qualities.  Additionally, the game’s illustrator aspires to polish the game board, for he, too, gained many insights during the development process and recognizes where and how he can make the most effective improvements.  Overall, I am proud of the 95% we have accomplished, but I will only be satisfied once the remaining 5% is complete.

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Overall I’m pleased with Cascade, and I hope to continue to refine it. While I’ve done a print of Death by Cards at this point and the mechanics of that are ‘done’ the game is not yet at a state of completion, whereas Cascade really does have a sense of me having driven a project to completion, even despite my hopes to tweak it to make it even better.

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