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Build the first-ever computer in crunchy board game Ada's Dream from Arborea studio

Alt-history Eurogame imagines a world where Ada Lovelace survived to complete the Analytical Engine.

Image credit: Alley Cat Games

An upcoming board game imagines a different origin story for modern computing, where programming pioneer Ada Lovelace survived to finish her work on the Analytical Engine - the first computer - with Charles Babbage.

Ada’s Dream takes place in an alternate-history 1850s. Rather than passing away in late 1852 from cancer, aged just 36 - as in reality - Lovelace works on building the prototype for the Analytical Engine, enlisting the help of famous faces from 19th-century London - including Babbage, Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria.

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The board game puts players in the role of assistants to Lovelace, who will need to draft dice using its central rondel mechanic and add dice to their developing prototype machine to perform various actions. Those actions include lecturing in major institutions, recruiting partners - including famous scientists, politicians and other figures of Victorian England - and helping Lovelace with her ongoing work by completing assignments.

While the players are all aiding Lovelace, they’re also out to be her star intern, aiming to contribute the most to the Analytical Engine’s construction. To do so, they’ll each need to build a prototype piece - whether steam power, programs or gears for handling addition, subtraction and multiplication.

Visiting universities and gaining the majority in London institutions will also add to their score, while helping Lovelace work towards completing her dream machine and being recognised as the first-ever computer programmer.

Image credit: Alley Cat Games

Publisher Alley Cat Games describes Ada’s Dream as being an “Advanced” Eurogame in the style of last year’s pastoral Arborea, taking up to two hours to play with up to four players. A solo mode will be included. Though technically set in alt-history, the studio said Ada’s Dream had been designed with the input of historian and consultant Beverley Adams to ensure its accurate depiction of Lovelace and details of the era.

Ada’s Dream will crowdfund on Kickstarter in the second quarter of 2024, with a release date and price to be confirmed. The tribute to Lovelace will be the first in a new trilogy of board games inspired by ‘Great Thinkers’, with the next two instalments yet to be revealed.

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