Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Ren Multamäki

Dragon Dawn Production

No. of Players:

EVALUATION - based on a prototype of the game


G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

With Tolerance, the Finnish publisher DRAGON DAWN PRODUCTIONS presented us a hard-hitting trick-taking game for experts at SPIEL23. After each round, the winner of the trick had to apply the effects of each card of the trick to his player tableau. This meant that cards could also be played into a trick that triggered negative effects for the winner, so tactical action was required. A real headache, but one that I had a lot of fun with.

With Justice, another trick-taking game is now being launched by the publisher via Kickstarter. The prototype I tested is already far advanced and almost corresponds to the final production. Similar to Tolerance, the trick is used to change cards on the board and influence them to the advantage of the trick winner.

Justice is once again set in the post-communist dwarf world of the worker placement game Factory 42. The game is about finding out whether or not three randomly accused dwarfs are guilty in a crime. Or rather: it is about convicting them or not, because whether we actually have an interest in acquitting innocent dwarfs depends on our attitude.

Each of us represents one of the jurors in the case, whose votes influence the outcome of the judge's verdict. And this is where our personal attitude comes into play, which is determined by randomly drawn identity cards that have to be kept secret. For example, an anarchist has completely different goals than a truth seeker. One of us, for example, wants to condemn all suspects, regardless of their guilt, while the other always wants to be really just.

The thing in the game is now to cast votes for guilt or innocence for each of the suspects. And it works like this: the winner of a trick chooses a card from the won trick and places it to the right (innocent) or left (guilty) of one of the three suspects. Depending on the card, this results in different numbers of votes. Then the next round of tricks takes place and the next winner places another card.


But how do we even know whether the suspects are guilty or not? Well, for this, cards are randomly assigned to each suspect at the beginning of the game that determine their individual guilt. Of course, we don't know anything about this yet either, since the cards are played face down. But we have the opportunity to check up to two suspects in each accusation by secretly looking at a card instead of participating in the current trick.

In this way, gradually more and more jurors know whether the one or other suspect is actually guilty. And based on the respective behaviour in the next tricks, we can draw conclusions about the attitude and further voting behaviour of our fellow jurors.

At some point, all the tricks are done and votes are places, so that the judge's decision can be made. For this purpose, the respective votes (innocent, guilty) are added up for each of the three accused and the judge's decision is made according to simple majority ratios (whereby a tie vote always leads to the detriment of the suspect, we are after all in a post-communist system). Finally, it is checked whether the suspect is actually guilty, although this no longer has any effect on the judge's decision.


However, it does have an impact on the awarding of victory points, because we can only receive those points from suspects who have been judged "correctly" according to our convictions. If, for example, according to my identity card I only want to convict all innocent people, but the convicted person is actually guilty, I will not receive any points from this suspect. The amount of victory points from the respective suspect still dependent on certain characteristics that are assigned to the suspect and that are matched on my identity card with certain values.

So, if, for example, I would get 3 victory points for each "correctly" convicted commissioner, it makes sense to quickly assign this commissioner characteristic to a suspect for whom I am relatively sure of the conviction, at least, if he does not already have this characteristic. Again, this can be done with cards from the tricks that I can assign to one of the suspects as the winner of the trick.


So, we see: Justice is again a sophisticated trick-taking game of a somewhat different kind. In terms of complexity, it is simpler than Tolerance, but it still requires some experience to get the most out of the tricks. Once this experience has been gained after one or two rounds, Justice plays very smoothly and quick. It doesn't hurt the game at all to add a few comments at the one or other situation, so that the story of the respective case and the role of the respective suspect in it evolves during the game. In any case, the short (flavour) texts and the beautiful pictures contribute a lot to the atmosphere.

If you like unusual trick-taking games, you should definitely take a look at the Kickstarter campaign that will be launched on 14th of January 24. I, for one, am looking forward to diving deeper into the role of the juror in the dwarfen world Odrixia in the near future.

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Copyright © 2023 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany