Update: Prison Architect: Cardboard County Penitentiary has launched on Kickstarter and the campaign will run for 20 days. You may back either the base game and the Wardens expansion, or both plus a Steam key for the Prison Architect video game.
Our preview post below was published on May 14.
Prison Architect: Cardboard County Penitentiary is a 1-4 players tableau building and auction game in which you are trying to build the most efficient prison. It is based on the app game by the same name by Paradox Interactive and it will launch on Kickstarter on May 18.
In the solo mode of Prison Architect, you are playing against the Governor AI which comes with its own deck. You start the game with your Warden piece and a cardboard frame inside of which you will be placing the prison room tiles. You also get one starter, one easy, and two hard Objectives cards, $40, and five staff meeples. Each round is split into 6 phases: Cleanup, Bid, Buy, Build, Intake, and Set Objectives.
In the Cleanup phase, you refresh the prison tiles market and bureaucracy cards according to the instructions of the current Governor card. In the Bid phase, you will be bidding against the Governor. Once you've decided how much to bid on the tile(s) and card you want, you will flip the next Governor card and see how much they are bidding. If you outbid them you gain the tiles, and vice versa. In the Buy phase, you have the option of buying basic facility tiles, cells, and staff facilities from the central tile offer.
In the Build phase, you will decide where in your tableau to place the tiles you earned. Each tile shows the number of prisoners it can take, and if there are any adjacency bonuses. Each tile must be placed next to an already existing tile, and rooms with a window can only border outdoor tiles. In the Intake phase, you place prisoners into the cells, depending on the cell capacity. The prisoners stay in their cells until they either escape or are released. You receive income from every prisoner according to their colour ($1 for grey, $2 for orange, and $3 for each red prisoner: the colours signify their level of threat). When placing prisoners, you have to take their needs (comfort, hygiene) into account, and also security so that they don't escape. To meet these needs, you can also use your staff meeples.
In the Set Objectives phase, you check your Objectives cards and can either play one Objective card from your hand in the Objectives area and discard another, or play two Objectives from your hand into the Objectives area. The Objectives you play will score you points in the final scoring phase if you have fulfilled them, or lose you VP if you haven't. At the end of each round, you move the round marker forward, and either proceed to the next Cleanup phase, or do an Evaluation Round and roll 1,2, or 3 dice (for the first, second, or third evaluation): you count the total escapee icons on the dice you rolled, and move that many prisoners from unsecured cells to the "escaped" area of your frame. In this phase, you may also release prisoners depending on the position you occupy on the Rehabilitation track.
Finally, you receive money according to your income track, and if it's the final round, your proceed to scoring and follow the instructions for the scoring of the Governor.