A Kickstarter for Trial by Trolley was recently launched, a game that is being created in a partnership between Cyanide and Happiness and Skybound. Skybound Games has previously created games such as Superfight. This game hit Kickstarter with a goal of $69,420 (Yes, get your chuckles out now) and by the time of writing has already reached over $668k. With almost a full 30 days left in the campaign the only way is up.
The game is based around the concept of the Trolley Problem, an ethical thought experiment. The idea is that a train is hurtling down a track and it will kill five people, but you can swap the track and it will only kill one person. Do you intervene and know that there’s one death on your hands or do nothing and live with it. This game puts you in the conductor’s seat as you have to decide which track you want to go down, and what kinds of obstacles will be in your way. A trailer was released where narrator, Trolley Tom, explains the game.
In your group of players one person gets to be the conductor, they’re the one that decides which path the trolley will ultimately follow. The rest of the team breaks into two teams and an Innocent Card is placed on both the upper and lower track. This raises the stakes, from here the teams decide on a Guilty Card to play on their opponent’s track. While the Innocent Cards will tug at your heartstrings on who deserves to be saved, the Guilty Card will help you figure out who deserves to die. The examples given for Guilty Cards include a pedophile approaching a playground….. and Canadian rock band Nickleback, some decisions may be easier than others. The last step before the debate and the final decision is a modifier is played that you can use on the previous cards to make them seem better or worse. After the Conductor has decided which track they’re traveling down the members of that team each earns a Death Token. After everyone has had a chance to be the conductor the player with the least Death Tokens is declared the winner!
The base game ($25) will come with 150 Innocent Cards, 100 Guilty Cards, and 150 Modifiers as well as the paper game mat and 20 Death Tokens. Those who back for $40 will get the base game, as well as a, Kickstarted Exclusive Expansion Deck with 100 more cards. If you buy the Derailed Edition for $65 ($55 if you back in the first 48 hours of the campaign) you’ll also get a Trolley Miniature and a box that will hold 1,200+ cards. Just like Superfight! you can expect a game this flexible will be able to feature all kinds of twisted expansions.
Trial By Trolley isn’t going the normal route for Stretch Goals based on how much the backers put forward, instead, they will be working off Decision Goals and Social Goals. Over the course of the 30-day Kickstarter, videos will be put up with Trolley Tom asking everyone to help him decide between two options. Depending on the choices different things will be added to the game. With Social Goals two bonuses are presented, in the Kickstarter’s first example we see 10 Fantasy Cards vs 10 Sci-fi Cards. The requirements to unlock these bonus cards are that two of the three objectives need to be completed, whichever side gets those two objectives first is the winner. The first one has already been completed with Sci-fi coming out on top but much like the Decision Goals more will be added over the course of the Kickstarter.
At the moment Trial By Trolley is slated to be delivered to backers by December 2019.
What do you think of Skybound Games and Cyanide and Happiness creating a game based on the Trolley Problem? Does this look like the kind of tabletop game you’d be interested in? Are you holding out to see what the Stretch Goals are?