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The Visitor (Preview)

August 1st, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

“E.T.” was one of my favorite movies as a kid.  There’s just something about that little alien that made him so darned likable.  “The Visitor”, a game that’ll be seeking funding through the Kickstarter process soon, reminds me a lot of the aforementioned movie.  In short, an alien craft has arrived on Earth and of course, they don’t go unnoticed.  A female “kid” and “agents” both see the craft go down and race toward it, only to be met by a barrier.  The kid and the agents will have to try to figure out what the pass-code/rule is in order to get through.  In essence, it’s like “Codenames” with an “E.T.” theme.  Special thanks to the folks at Tiltfactor for providing me with a prototype for preview purposes.  It’s important to stress that prototypes are not reflective of the final product, making everything you read about here (including the rules) subject to change.

My prototype came with 100 object cards, one visitor shield, four role cards, four guess tokens, one barrier board, one trust board, one trust token, and twenty-four card stands.  “The Visitor” supports 3-5 players and can be played by an age range of 8 or older.  The average play time, if you know what you’re doing, takes about ten minutes.  One player will be the “visitor”, one player will be the “kid”, and the rest of the players will be agents.  If the kid manages to get through the barrier before the agents do, both the visitor and kid win.  If the visitor runs out of cards or if any one of the agents get through the barrier first, then said agent wins.

As the visitor, the player will be inventing a pass-rule in the style of a “Family Feud” question…that is, “Things that are heavy” or “Things that cost more than $100”.  This is the pass-rule that will get the agents and kid through the barrier and must be figured out by said players.  The visitor is clearly rooting for the kid and depending on the trust level, the visitor will be able to provide additional clues to the kid to give her an advantage.  The trust factor can be raised when the agents guess the pass-rule incorrectly or during the kid’s turn when she’s predicting whether an object card is “in” or “out”.  Without getting too much into the logistics, each player will be dealt objective cards that will help players determine what the pass-rule is.

On the kid’s turn, they can play a card from their hand for all to see and then predict it as “in” or “out”.  A card is “in” when it matches the pass-rule.  For example, if the visitor’s secret pass-rule is “things that are heavy” and the girl plays an airplane object card guessing it as “in”, she would have predicted correctly and gained trust.  She can push her luck and keep predicting up to three cards however one wrong guess ends her turn immediately and no trust is gained.  The kid cannot make a guess as to what the pass-rule is (prove action) until the trust value is three or higher, but does gain benefits from trust increases in general.

On the visitor’s turn, the visitor will play one card from their hand and classify it as “in” or “out”.  If the trust tracker is three or higher, only the kid can see the card.  Otherwise, all players see it and whether or not it’s “in” or “out”.   If the visitor has no cards in their hand at the start of their turn, all the agents win.  Agents choose a card on their turn and show it in secret to the visitor, who must classify it without showing the kid (using card stands).  They can also guess the rule (in secret as well), but a wrong answer increases the trust level by 2 helping the kid accomplish her goal.

There’s more to the game than that, but that’s the jist of it.  While the game works best with 3-4 players, you could, in theory, play with two players by removing the agents and just playing a cooperative game.  I haven’t hashed out specific rules for this idea, however I imagine it could go something along the lines of, “the kid has to figure out the pass-rule before the visitor runs out of cards”.  Of course, you’d have to experiment with rule changes to balance the game to your play-style and needs.  You’d admittedly be cutting out the best part of the game (the kid vs. agents race), however two players COULD be done.  Just don’t expect the same experience.



I found the idea of a pass-rule interesting and very akin to “Mastermind” and “Guess Who”.  I also found it interesting than players no need to know what the pass-rule is in order to pass the barrier.  You see, when guessing, four cards are drawn from the deck and the guesser has to classify them as “in” or “out”.  If they’re correct on all four cards, they win.  It’s possible that the pass-rule that the kid/agent was thinking of wasn’t exactly what the visitor had chosen, but it was close enough to where the classifications matched anyway.

“The Visitor” certainly brought back those nostalgic memories of  watching E.T. on my living room floor.  While this game didn’t feature the kid flying through the air on a bike, the theme was close enough for my liking.  I can’t comment on the components or box as everything was prototype (the box was a set of baggies and clips), but I felt that everything was fairly easy to look at and understand.  Tiltfactor didn’t let me down with “Monarch” (their last game) and I have a feeling that “The Visitor” will be just as pleasing to look at once it’s finalized and retailing.

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/maryflanagan/213698029?ref=preview&token=5369cbeb

Edit: The game was renamed “VISITOR” after the posting of this article.

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