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I’m half Russian, and one of the cuter bits of my cultural heritage is the matryoshka doll (also known as a Russian nesting doll). You might not know them by their proper name, but you’ve probably seen one at some point in your life—a cute, pear-shaped doll that opens up to reveal a smaller doll inside. On and on they go for however many dolls they can stuff in one package. So when I saw a card game called Matryoshka was having a Kickstarter campaign run by Justin Schaffer, suffice to say I was intrigued.

Matryoshka is a card game for 3-5 players designed by Sérgio Halaban, designer of Sheriff of NottinghamKronia, and Quartz. Players take on the role of antique dealers—perhaps one of the rare times where a game features antique dealers not hunting down Lovecraftian artifacts—in an effort to complete their set of rare matryoshka dolls. As such, they’re getting together with other dealers to trade with one another in the hopes of coming out with the better set.

The game begins with putting together the deck depending on the number of players. Once this is done, each player is dealt six cards. Two of their cards must be displayed face up for all to see as part of their collection. The game then goes through four rounds of three phases each. Players will draw two new cards and then (optionally) trade with other players. Finally, they’ll pick up their collection back into their hand and put down whichever cards they wish to display for the next round.

Matryoshka-Scoring Crowdfunding Spotlight: Matryoshka

Perhaps the most interesting part of Matryoshka is how they include the mechanics of Russian nesting dolls in the scoring system.

At the end of the game, scoring is done based on the collections the players have in front of them. Scoring in Matryoshka is centered on occupying spaces on a grid as well as having cards next to one another. For example, having the 2, 3, and 4 cards of a particular doll is preferable to having the 2, 3, and 5. The score is calculated based on occupying columns & rows as well as unbroken sequences of cards.

The game already exists; this particular crowdfunding campaign is being undertaken to bring Matryoshka to the English language market. Aside from the translation, the colors of the cards have been enhanced to make gameplay easier and to improve visibility for colorblind players. The game will consist of 70 cards featuring the adorable Russian nesting dolls, 5 reference cards, and 5 pairs of score cards.

The campaign is very straightforward; there’s no different pledge tiers or stretch goals. A pledge of $13 will get you a copy of the game plus shipping ($3 for the United States, $8 for Canada, and $12 for everywhere else).

The crowdfunding campaign for Matryoshka is 81% funded at around $5,500 of its $6,500 goal in the standard “all-or-nothing” funding model. Justin Schaffer has five previous Kickstarter campaigns under his belt, all of which were successful. Notably for this campaign as well, they state that they have the final production quote in hand and have paid all the costs for art, licensing, and the like. That means the number of things that can go wrong is minimized and is part of what allows the project to have such a relatively low target, as its about paying for production. If this sounds like the sort of game you’d be interested in playing, you can check out the Kickstarter campaign for Matryoshka here. The campaign ends on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

What do you think of Matryoshka? Does it seem like the sort of game that you would enjoy playing? What other games of this style do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!


Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!


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