Designer: Nomas Kurnia, Arif Prima
Artist: Nomas Kurnia
Publisher: Tematis Co.
Times Played: 2 on my demo copy
This will be a different sort of post, as this game isn’t available…yet. Along with two other games I’ll tell you about once I have a chance to play them a bit, this is one of the titles that was being demoed at the Indonesian booth at Spiel 2019. I was told that for Cine Write and Trade, it is in negotiation with a German publisher, but that for licensing purposes, it is pretty open. There are a few copies of this one around, if you find yourself at a PAX convention, for instance, there is a copy in their “First Look” area for now, and I imagine it will move to their library after that.
Cine Write and Trade is nominally a game about screen writing, and I’ll likely drift in and out of using the theme to explain the game. Mechanically, you’d classify it as a word game. Not the kind where you have to provide specific words, such as Scrabble or Boggle, but more the kind where you are providing clues, such as Codenames or Decrypto. The twist here, is that rather than providing clues to help others guess your words, you are writing clues that you hope will be helpful for other players, such that they purchase your clues and assign them to certain words of theirs that you need to guess!
More specifically, players are dealt 4 cards, and each of these lists 4 words. Each player chooses one word from each of their 4 cards to write on a sheet they’ll keep secret. These represent the words the other players will need to guess during the game.
While I suppose it goes without saying, given the qualifier at the top, all of this is subject to change, based upon the desires of an eventual publisher.
Anyway, for me, this word choosing section of the game is where you, the screenwriter, consider the ideas in your mind (the card of 4 words), and choose what you are going to write about (the 4 words you write on the card.)
The 4 cards you choose words from are then shuffled with those cards from the other players and laid out face up on the table. In effect, you, as the eventual guesser of other player’s words, know that the word is on one of those cards -and you can rule out 4 cards because they were yours. (This also means that when you go to write clues that you want other players to buy from you, you’ll have some knowledge of the pool of words that they could have chosen.) Oh, and thematically, the cards are sort of the rumor mill -the movie producers who will later buy your screenplay have heard rumors that there is a screenplay out there about this or that.
The game plays out over 4 rounds, and the first round is an odd sort of draft. This draft is how players will determine the 4 types of clues that they can offer to sell this round. Rather than simply choosing 4 words, you are limited by part of speech. How fun! No, seriously, it is an interesting limitation; sometimes you can tweak the word you want to use to another form and sometimes you cannot or it takes on an unintended second meaning.
The cards are of three types, noun, adjective, and verb, and there is a deck of 63 of them. (If you’ve done the math, that means in a 4 player game, over 4 rounds, with 4 cards each round, you’ll need 64 such cards in a game, but it only comes with 63! The 63 is from dividing the types of cards evenly (21 each of 3 parts of speech), but it is an unfortunate reshuffle for 1 additional card.
It is also an odd draft, as there are so few differences in the cards you are drafting. Would the game be materially worse, better, or the same if you simply drew 4 cards off the top? I’m not sure. Sometimes you need a specific part of speech, but maybe it’s that sometimes you “want” a specific part of speech.
The players write a word on each of their clue cards and when ready, simultaneously put them out for each other to see. The players then have a standard auction, with an opening bidder, and continuing around the table until all but one player has passed. (The game seems especially player count sensitive here, as, in my limited plays, this piece, with both more words on offer, and more bidders, is more interesting at 4 players than 3.)
Oh, right, the theme. This is where you’re now the movie producer and are putting out clues as to the types of scripts you’re looking to buy the rights to. The auction is then, sort of, you the screenwriter saying “yeah, I’ve got something I’m working on along those lines.”
When you buy a clue from another player, you assign it to one of the 4 slots on your player board, corresponding to which of the 4 words you choose at the beginning you think it is a good clue for. The points to be had from guessing words decreases as further clues are added, and there will be royalties to be earned the sooner your word is guessed/screenplay is purchased.
Next is an income phase. There is a deck of cards, with different fronts and backs, that sort of represent what the industry and the producers are looking for this round. They involve having certain combinations of verb/noun/adjective cards in certain locations on your player board (e.g. assigned to clues, available on offer, both, etc.) Players then earn a certain amount of money based upon these criteria.
Going back to my question “is the game materially better, worse, or the same” without this piece? I think it would be better. In my limited plays, it’s an inflationary source that floods the game with money and makes the auction less interesting.
After that, we guess words. This phase will only happen in rounds 2, 3, and 4, and will happen twice in round 4. Each player, in order from least money on hand to most, will have a chance to, in secret, guess another player’s word. The guesser pays money to guess, and if correct, earns VPs for both the guesser and the guessee; additionally, after the guessing phase is a royalty phase, and players will earn additional cash for each of their words that another player has correctly guessed. Once a word is guessed, the card for it is removed from the central tableau, and the pool of possibilities has shrunk.
After 4 rounds, money is converted to points, and points are awarded to both correct guessers (more) and guessees (less). The player with the most points wins.
Thanks to the folks at boardgame.id for reaching out and to the designers for providing this copy, as the game is a treat. I was advised to consider it as a near-finished prototype, but that future publishers may develop further.
As I said above, there are a few pieces (drafting, income) which could use a developer’s attention, but the central mechanic is brilliant. It’s a sort of reverse Codenames where you try to devise a word that could be a clue for as many words as possible, to increase the chances of a bidding war, but you don’t know if you’re giving a clue for the right words. You also need to be sensitive to the idea that a more general clue will be less helpful for guessing purposes.
The economy is a bit messy and the values of money, guessing, and having your word guessed should probably be tweaked to balance things the way the designers and eventual publisher intend. (There is a caveat in the rules that you must be able to justify any clue you purchase and assign to a word. I suppose one reason for this rule might be that players could, strategically, simply refuse to participate constructively in the word guessing portion of the game and draft and purchase cards to maximize the money they would make from the income cards, rather than purchasing clues that would help the other players identify their words.)
Our 4 player game had tension around what to guess first, as player order mattered, but also, the players have asymmetric knowledge about the possibilities, as each of us know a _different_ 4 cards from the middle, so our pool of what we think the eligible guesses are is different and leverage-able.
The game also gives all players the chance to give clues like me! That is, bad clues. Ones that make sense to you, and you hope other folks might be able to make the leap to, but probably won’t. Since you can’t write your own clues, you’re often left grasping for any word that might be close. If Matt purchases “recreational” and “fabric” as two clues for the same word, we aren’t likely to know what he’s getting it, but at least we know there are only 48 possibilities.
There’s also a deduction aspect to the game that I think is exclusive to this game, in that you know what other player’s passed on! Let me explain. In our “recreational” and “fabric” example above, if myself or another player puts out “clothing” and Matt doesn’t bid, that’s a clue! If we put out “wear”, and he doesn’t bid, that’s a clue! “Sports”, “large”, “camping”. A hattrick of passing, but they’re all clues. It’s at times unfortunate that you almost want to take notes on what folks passed on, as it could be critical information. For me, I can’t count cards that well, and am OK rolling with my memory as it is for a tool to help my deduction.
If you’re headed to a PAX or will see me sometime this year, hit us up to try this; it’s a treat. If you’re a publisher and need contact information, I have that.