Animal spirits get pitted against each other in battle in current Kickstarter game Totemic.
A card game for one to two players, each beast has different powers unique to its type.
There are ten animals to play in the base game including the the wolf, crow and turtle. Additional Kickstarter expansion Feather and Fang adds a snake, fox, cougar, owl and fox. Recently, publisher Kolossal Games also added a catfish card to the deck.
“The catfish is powerful and patient, and drags its foes out into deep water and wears them down in a war of attrition,” commented designer Chris Hamm, designer of Totem and lead developer at Kolossal Games in a recent Kickstarter update. “If not defeated quickly, the catfish will eventually defeat even the most powerful animals!”
Each player starts with an animal spirit card and its corresponding Specific Aspect cards - which lay out its special powers. For example, wolves have the power of Kinship.
There is also a deck of Basic Aspect cards - these cards depict traits, like vigor and courage, and can be applied to any animal.
Following setup, players can take one of three actions: draw, invoke or challenge. Draw lets you draw one card and discard one, invoke lets you use a card’s effect, while challenge forces the other player to submit, threaten or accept.
Power, which gets reduced when your opponent attacks, is tracked via a card depicting a Totem. Whoever is reduced to 0 power first, loses the game.
According to Hamm’s blog (which is currently inaccessible) Totemic is aimed at being a head to head card game that is both strategic and accessible, and started out as the spiritual successor to his previous title Strife: Legacy of the Eternals.
Both spirit animals and totems as concepts draw from multiple indigenous cultures across the world. The publisher insisted that while the art and theme of Totemic are inspired by totemism, they don't draw from any specific culture or tradition, and as such the intention has been approach the concepts in a "respectful, yet non-specific manner".
It also highlighted that a deep appreciation for Native American art on the side of its French artist is what brought their work to its attention.
"Our hope for this game is to have future content that takes inspiration from other totemic and animistic perspectives from all around the world," Colossal concluded.
Regardless, none of the development team behind Totemic are of indigenous origin, which may raise some concerns regarding whether the game is misappropriating indigenous culture.
Totemic is currently available on Kickstarter, where it has so far raised £6,865. Its original pledge goal was £2,269. There are eight days left to back this project.
Update: This article has been updated to acknowledge Totemic’s potentially problematic theme and publisher Kolossal Games’ statement on the game’s use of totemism.