Tucked away on the third floor of the Manhattan Center was Haiduc, a card game created by Haiduc LLC where players are trying to build a backstory for their character. The word "haiduc" is Romanian for "outlaw," a choice made by the game's developer Mary Georgescu whose family left the country in the late 1980s as things began to go south.
Gameplay in Haiduc progresses through a series of several rounds. Players are first given a number of cards with text on both the top and the bottom along with a few gold coins to start. Each of these cards has two distinct choices for players to make that will form part of their character's backstory. Many of the two choices are polar opposites: is your character shameless or reserved? Is he indifferent or compassionate? These choices may or may not have a special effect that applies when you play them, and each card gives you a number of gold coins and fame tokens.
As the game progresses, the choice cards are dealt out from increasingly-powerful decks. This ramps up the fame and gold scores, and gives players who are a bit behind a chance to potentially catch up if they get lucky. Still, this is a card game and it's entirely possible to have terrible luck.
The fame and gold systems are interesting. Fame is permanent and pretty much can't be stolen in any fashion, but it's more difficult to earn. Gold can be earned much more readily, and it's possible to spend it on event cards that come up every round. However, gold can also be stolen or lost depending on the cards that are drawn from the event deck or played by another player.
The tokens used to represent these were really excellent and I just enjoyed the tactile difference of real metal coins as compared to some plastic, cast-molded game pieces. Ms. Georgescu said that she would like to try to get them into the final version of the game, but that would depend on what it costs and how feasible of an idea that is.
Haiduc is a fine game in its own right, but it's meant to be a way to create the backstory for your character in an upcoming role-playing game being developed by the company. I think it's intriguing to have one game played out as part of the setup for another. A Haiduc session takes only 10-15 minutes, and goodness knows that pales in comparison to the hours one can spend immersing themselves in the fantasy world of tabletop role-playing games.
If you'd like to keep up with the game's development, you should probably go and check out the developer's official website.
What do you think of Haiduc? Do you think the concept of playing a game to set up your RPG character is interesting? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2018 Coverage Hub.