In times long past, the gods were fickle beings that demanded tribute from their servants among man. Among the earliest known gods were those of the Sumerians, an ancient culture that sits much closer to the beginning of known human history compared to the cultures of today.
Sumer is a digital board game for 1-4 players created by Studio Wumpus. (I interviewed Studio Wumpus developer Geoff Suthers late last year.) In it, you and your opponents vie for the favor of the Sumerian pantheon. The best way to get an idea of the gameplay is to have a gander at this video tutorial that explains the basics of the game:
Although Sumer is styled as a board game, the gameplay takes place in timed rounds with real-time action. Reflexes and platforming skills are definitely a factor in playing it as well.
During the game players have the option to pursue several strategies. They can attempt to complete one of two “rituals” in each round, which require specific items to be deposited into altars at the top of the temple. These resources are gathered by workers that are assigned to production facilities each round, and mid-to-late game resources require several steps of production. For instance, making pottery requires that you first gather clay and then place the gathered clay into a separate building to make the finished product.
Aside from the rituals, players in Sumer can elect to use their resources in other ways, such as baking Bread. Alternatively, players can assign their workers to goat farms to acquire additional goats.
Goats are the currency of Sumer. Undertaking certain actions during the standard gameplay require that you pay a certain amount of goats for them to be completed. After both rituals have been completed, the day ends and the game moves into the auction phase. Players move their bid along a sort of track that determines how much they pay for a given item. Following the conclusion of the auction, the player’s items are dispersed to them. Many of these purchases are new rooms for the temple, which you or anyone else can use. Some items, like the statue, are necessary for gaining points by controlling territory, which is yet another way in which you can score points.
A game of Sumer takes between 20-30 minutes on average whether you’re playing by yourself with AI or playing with real people. The game currently only supports local multiplayer; one of the primary uses of the Kickstarter funding is to develop and test online multiplayer for the title.
A $15 pledge to the Sumer Kickstarter will net you a copy of the game on Steam’s Early Access as well as a digital rulebook. (Sumer is currently playable on both PC and Mac.) A $25 pledge will get you an exclusive in-game taunt, as well as your name listed among the backers on the game’s website. $30 will add a copy of the game’s soundtrack into the mix, and a $50 pledge will also get you a neat Sumer t-shirt. Alternatively, $55 will also get you three additional copies of the game to hand out to friends via Steam along with everything else in the $30 tier.
The higher-tier rewards all include the rewards from the $50 Lugal tier along with the stated rewards. A generous pledge of $100 will net you the “Divine Counsel” tier, which is a 2-hour in-person strategy session with the developers in either Reykjavik, Iceland or New York City. A $300 pledge will get your voice in the game as an easter egg voice clip. $1,000 will have one of the hired hands made in your likeness, and $6,500 will get you an exclusive arcade cabinet built by New York’s Death by Audio Arcade.
The Sumer Kickstarter is currently rather light on stretch goals, as they’ve yet to hit their $25,000 funding goal at the time of this writing. If they reach $27,500 in funding, Studio Wumpus will develop a two player head-to-head gameplay mode. More stretch goals will be announced as they get more funding.
Sumer has most of the heavy work done and needs some more funding to get online multiplayer properly implemented as well as to add some finishing touches to the title. I’ve played it myself and I can say that it’s a good bit of fun either by yourself or in a group, and it’s pretty easy for someone to pick up. If Sumer sounds like an interesting game you can check out their Kickstarter here. Sumer’s Kickstarter ends on May 25, 2016 at 11:00 AM Eastern Time.
Does Sumer look like the kind of game you would enjoy? Do you think video game/tabletop hybrids can improve on purely tabletop games? Let us know in the comments below!