Atlanta, GA – In an early morning press conference, a new company called MessyAntic Games announced that they are creating the world’s first Messianic Jewish board game, which they hope to release early next summer. Company founder, Jeremiah Cohen, called it, “A new, distinctly Messianic twist on a modern classic.”
The game, called Settlers of Grantham, is heavily based on the German mega-hit Settlers of Catan. The name comes from the Pennsylvania town, in which the annual Messiah Conference, the setting of the game, takes place. The game board is made up of tiles representing the various buildings and landmarks of Messiah College. These tiles can be laid out in an accurate representation of the campus (a layout guide is included, in case, by freak happenstance, none of the players can recreate it from memory), or they can be placed in any other randomized configuration the players wish.
Gameplay itself will be more or less the same as Catan. Players take on the role of first-time Messiah Conference attendees, working to collect valuable resources, such as Lamb T-shirts, Paul Wilbur albums, and Tree of Life Version Bibles. Players can then trade and use these resources to expand their networks – building connections, conversations, and friendships, which function much the same as the equivalent roads, settlements, and cities of the original game. They can also use their resources to pick up event cards, which range from relatively common events like “YMJA Dress Code Violation,” “Attend Dance Class,” and “Meet A Rabbi,” to rare and powerful ones like “Healthy Meal” and “Sleep.” As players build and expand, they accumulate points. Once a player reaches 10 points, everyone reveals any hidden points they may have (from certain event cards such as “Consider Making Aliyah”), and whoever has the highest total score is determined to have found their future spouse and, therefore, won the game.
To anyone who’s played Catan, all of this probably sounds more than a bit familiar. But despite the apparent similarities, Cohen was adamant that this is no mere knock-off. “Well, obviously it’s based on Catan, so there are bound to be some comparisons there,” he said. “But we’ve also gone to great lengths to give our game a unique Messianic feel. For one thing, we’ve replaced the two dice for generating resources with a pair of beautiful, hand-crafted dreidels, providing an elegant system, which is firmly rooted in Jewish tradition. Also, unlike the robber, the Anti-Missionary’s negative effects can be reduced if you can provide a scriptural refutation of his arguments. Plus we’ve got a number of event cards that are completely unlike anything from Catan’s development deck. The ‘Break Curfew’ card, for example, simulates the risk factor of such an action by using a dreidel to determine what benefit or penalty the player receives.”
Pre-orders for the game are slated to begin in early spring, and Cohen says they hope to have the game ready and available for purchase at Messiah Conference 2017. He also assured us that the company has been brainstorming ideas for more games in the future. Those ideas range from Messianic versions of other essential Eurogames like Ticket To Ride and Carcassonne to entirely original projects with promising titles like Aliyah! and Davidic Dance Melee. Will these games become staples of the Messianic movement, or will they wallow in obscurity? Only time will tell, but for now, the odds for success seem far better than a roll of the dice – or, more fittingly, a spin of the dreidel.
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