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Subject: Is Project Mars a retheme of "Cavemen: The Quest for Fire"? rss

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I've watched Rahdo's video and noticed that this game is almost identical in rules and gameplay to Cavemen: The Quest for Fire, but with a different theme. I thought this is a retheme but there is no mention of Cavemen anywhere.

I actually prefer the theme and the artwork of Cavemen. It's much more vivid and enticing.
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Daniel Cassar
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I have to say it does look pretty similar.
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maltezefalkon wrote:
I have to say it does look pretty similar.
Dan, except for the theme, some minor rule changes and the addition of the Modules this game is identical to yours.

A comparison between Project Mars and Cavemen: The Quest for Fire:

• Physical resources (tokens) are the same:
o Money works exactly the same as Food.
o Material works exactly the same as Tooth.

• Conceptual resources (icons on cards) are the same:
o Approval is Hunting power.
o Engineering is Invention power.
o Acquire Office Space Icon is Foot icon.
o Office Space is Population limit.

• Card type:
o Technology cards are Invention cards.
o Vendors are Beasts.
o Office Spaces are Caves.
o Employees are Cavemen:
Project Leeds are Hunters.
Engineers are Thinkers.
Facilities Managers are Explorers.
Sr. Engineers are Elders.

• The Contract is exactly like the Conch.
The bidding process to acquire it is exactly the same and the effects of holding it are exactly the same:
o The holder of the Contract/Conch gets 2 turns while other players get 1.
o The holder of the Contract pays $1 to each of his employees while other players pay only $1
regardless of employee amount. This is the exactly the same with the Conch and with feeding.

• The turn structure and phases are exactly the same (except for 1 new phase):
o Draw Phase is the same as Draw Phase (minus 1 card).
o Contract Phase is the same as Conch Phase.
o Pay Day Phase is the same as Feeding Phase.
o Place Module Phase is new.
o Action Phase is the same as the Action Phase.
o Reorganization Phase is the same as Discard Phase (plus 1 card).

• Most of the possible actions are identical (except for 2 new actions):
o Hire Employee is the same as Recruit a Caveman.
o Expand Workspace is the same as Explore for a New Cave
o Utilize Vendor is almost the same as Hunt a Beast except for the risk (see below).
o Invest in Technology is the same as Invent an Invention.
o Take $2 is similar but not identical to Forage for Food.
o Perform a Test Flight or Acquire Launch Date is a new action.
o Buy 2 materials for $10 is a new action.

• The Launch Date endgame goal is the same as the Fire endgame goal.

• Even the splicing of cards on the table to save space and reveal only the necessary icons is the same.

• Other differences:
o In Cavemen when you hunt (take a Beast card) there is a chance that one of your Cavemen will die.
There is no similar risk when taking a Vendor in Project Mars.
o The Modules and the need to build them are new.
o Test Flight cards are new.
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Chris Williams
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While I can not speak definitively for the designer---as I don't know what games he may/may not have in his collection---I would chalk it up to serendipitous design.

I met the designer at MeepleCon in Las Vegas in March, 2016 and spoke with him. He is an engineer at JPL in CA and put much of his knowledge of the space industry into the game.

Again, don't know if he drew inspiration from Cavemen, but I would err on the side of not (just my opinion).
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RoManXJ9 wrote:
While I can not speak definitively for the designer---as I don't know what games he may/may not have in his collection
There is no need for guessing. Game collections are public information on BGG .
The designer owns Cavemen since Sep-2013 and reported his plays 4 times.

RoManXJ9 wrote:
I met the designer at MeepleCon in Las Vegas in March, 2016 and spoke with him. He is an engineer at JPL in CA and put much of his knowledge of the space industry into the game.
I'm sure he did! The Mars theme is great, and this is a very well made re-implementation of Cavemen!

RoManXJ9 wrote:
Again, don't know if he drew inspiration from Cavemen, but I would err on the side of not (just my opinion).
If you read the rulebook of both games and then look again at the comparison above, you would most probably change your mind.

- Cavemen rulebook (on Rio Grande website)
- Project Mars rulebook (on BGG)
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Update

BGG Admins have weighed in and officially tagged Project Mars as a Reimplementation of Cavemen: The Quest for Fire.

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Daniel Cassar
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Just to dispel any lingering doubt, I'd like to share my the results of my investigation of the game.

Project Mars has 16 Technology cards. Every one of them is either an exact translation of one of the Invention cards from Cavemen or has a minor tweak to the effect. All but 1 of them even have exactly the same cost. I've presented the comparison below:

Strength in Numbers (1)
+1 Approval per Project Lead card in your tableau
Stone Axe (1)
+1 Hunting per Hunter

Breakthrough (2)
+1 Engineering
Stargazing (1)
+1 Inventing

Fair Trade (2)
Use action phase to sacrifice 1 employee for 2 Material
Human Sacrifice (2)
During the Action Phase, I may use an Action to Sacrifice. When doing so, I choose and discard one of my Cavemen other than my Leader to gain 4 Teeth.

Approved! (2)
+2 Approval
Baskets (2)
+2 Foraging

Experience (3)
+1 Engineering per Senior Engineer card in your tableau
Shamanism (3)
+1 Inventing per Elder in my Tribe

Space Increase (3)
+3 Office Space
Huts (3)
+3 Population

Sale on Materials (3)
At the end of a successful pay day phase, spend $6 for 1 Material
Feast (3)
Once at the end of each Feed Phase during which I did not suffer Starvation, I may spend 6 Food to gain 3 Teeth

Trouble For Your Loss (3)
Gain 1 Material each time you lose an employee
Burial Rites (3)
I gain 1 Tooth each time I lose a Caveman due to starvation, sacrifice or casualties.

Intelligence in Numbers (4)
+1 Engineering per 3 employee cards in your tableau
Storytelling (4)
+1 Inventing per 3 Cavemen in my Tribe

Decision Maker (4)
Always choose which cards to discard during the reorganization phase.
Spirit World (4)
I always choose which cards to discard during the Discard Phase.

Extra Cash (4)
Gain $1 at the beginning of the pay day phase.
Fishing (4)
I gain 1 Food at the beginning of each Feed Phase.

Technology in Trade (4)
Gain a Material each time a Technology card is discarded from the card pool.
Taboo (4)
I gain 1 Tooth each time an Invention is placed in the Discard Pile during the Discard Phase.

Space for Thinking (5)
+1 Engineering per Office Space card in your tableau
Cave Painting (5)
+1 Inventing per Cave owned by my Tribe.

Hiring Spree (5)
Hire all employees for free.
Fertility Cult (5)
When Recruiting a Caveman, I pay no cost.

Grade A Materials (6)
+1 Material during the buy action
Earth Worship (6)
I gain 1 Tooth each time I Forage

Expert Bidder (6)
Increase current bid by 1 Material during the contract phase
Divine Lineage (6)
My teeth count double during the Conch Phase

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Daniel Cassar
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Project Mars includes 25 Vendor cards. I went through each one and was able to identify the corresponding card in Cavemen that shows the exact same cost-benefit ratios:

Vendor (1): $4, 0 Material
Diatryma (1): 4 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (1): $4, 0 Material
Protoceratops (1): 4 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (1): $4, 0 Material
Megapnosaurus (1): 4 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (1): $4, 0 Material
Wild Boar (1): 4 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (2): $6, 0 Material
Ceratosaurus (2): 6 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (2): $6, 0 Material
Chindesaurus (2): 6 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (2): $6, 0 Material
Hypacrosaurus (2): 6 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (2): $6, 0 Material
Iguanadon (2): 6 Food, 0 Teeth

Vendor (2): $3, 1 Material (2 copies)
Smilodon (2): 3 Food, 1 Teeth

Vendor (3): $2, 2 Material (2 copies)
Velociraptor (3): 2 Food, 2 Teeth

Vendor (4): $3, 2 Material (2 copies)
Pterosaur (4): 3 Food, 2 Teeth

Vendor (4): $6, 1 Material
Styracosaurus (4): 6 Food, 1 Teeth

Vendor (4): $6, 1 Material (2 copies)
Suchomimus (4): 6 Food, 1 Teeth

Vendor (5): $4, 2 Material
Ankylosaurus (5): 4 Food, 2 Teeth

Vendor (5): $4, 2 Material
Cryolophosaurus (5): 4 Food, 2 Teeth

Vendor (6): $4, 3 Material (2 copies)
Allosaurus (6): 4 Food, 3 Teeth

Vendor (6): $5, 2 Material
Stegosaurus (6): 5 Food, 2 Teeth

Vendor (6): $5, 2 Material
Triceratops (6): 5 Food, 2 Teeth

Vendor (7): $6, 4 Material (2 copies)
Tyrannosaurus (7): 6 Food, 4 Teeth
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Frank Zazanis
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Having known the designer for 4 years now I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not simply a reskin. He worked and reworked and reworked his game over many implementations over 2 years. It is serendipity if it appears to be a retheme. I tested it with him once a year at strategicon.

 
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FrankZ2 wrote:
Having known the designer for 4 years now I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not simply a reskin. He worked and reworked and reworked his game over many implementations over 2 years. It is serendipity if it appears to be a retheme. I tested it with him once a year at strategicon.


Yeah... can't help but feel this is a ripoff someone else's idea.
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Was this ever settled? I came to check out this game because of the "reimplimented by" note on the Cavemen page and was confused by the designer that was listed. The card comparison seems pretty damning; there's coincidental similarity and then there's direct one-to-one duplication. Dan's analysis really seems to indicate the latter. I was curious to know if the designer ever spoke up directly on the topic.
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Brian Rush
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FrankZ2 wrote:
Having known the designer for 4 years now I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not simply a reskin. He worked and reworked and reworked his game over many implementations over 2 years. It is serendipity if it appears to be a retheme. I tested it with him once a year at strategicon.


It is absolutely impossible for this to be serendipity. The chance of 25 cards just happening to be almost identical is one in zillions.

It's very difficult to see this as anything other than Brian taking Dan's game and retheming it without permission.
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Brian Rush
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bprush wrote:
FrankZ2 wrote:
Having known the designer for 4 years now I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not simply a reskin. He worked and reworked and reworked his game over many implementations over 2 years. It is serendipity if it appears to be a retheme. I tested it with him once a year at strategicon.


It is absolutely impossible for this to be serendipity. The chance of 25 cards just happening to be almost identical is one in zillions.

It's very difficult to see this as anything other than Brian taking Dan's game and retheming it without permission.
Now my longer reply that I didn't have time for before ... I posted this same reply under Robert Geistlinger's YouTube review:

I just talked to the designer at a convention. He was very happy and excited about the game and the upcoming small expansion. I work at the same place and I go to the same local convention that happens 3x per year (Strategicon by LAX, by the way. It's great!) and I was all ready to jump on board. Then I saw the BGG forum post about the design ripoff (as I call it). I feel pretty duped. In my very personal and not legally educated opinion I think that is horrible. I can understand taking inspiration from a previous game and copying the basic idea while changing it up a lot, but to copy 25 cards and all the gameplay almost exactly is simply a ripoff. The designer was so nice that I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he simply doesn't get it, i.e., that he just thought he had some great idea that would sell and went forward without thinking much. But as a matter of principle and out of respect for the designer and publisher of Cavemen I'm not going to buy this.

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Robert Geistlinger
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Yep - and it's pretty sad. I covered this in my review and tried to be fairly diplomatic, but i can't in good faith recommend the game because it's is so obviously at best derivative and at worst a complete rip-off. Even something as simple as a credit in the book would have swayed me at least a little. When I came here and saw the card analysis that was the final nail for me.

Sadly I enjoyed the game and as I said in the review I even like the additions and think it's a nice re-theme of Cavemen, but given no credit was given to Cassar...
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Steve Crane
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I'm going to be rather blunt and honest here. I backed the current Kickstarter campaign for the small expansion and original game but questioned about shipping as there's no mention of any Customs Friendly shipping. As there was no quick reply I started investigating and found myself here. Having read the evidence here in this thread I canceled my pledge. Apparently Brian can't comment in the KS comment section for a technical reason... hmmm... that's a first and I've backed almost 300 Kickstarters now (Never did actually find out if it was VAT friendly, just that it costs $14 to the UK)

Oh yes... If you take a little look, you'll notice that Brian has rated this game as a 10 on BGG, as have 3 other Californians, and 2 more gave it a 9. Hmmm. He's also given the unreleased expansion a 10 too! Nice!

I see someone has called Brian out on the current KS and asked for him to comment directly to explain how Project mars appears to be a re-skinned Caveman and why Caveman hasn't been mentioned in any regards in documentation etc to any inspiration... hopefully a technical issue wont prevent that on BGG but we shall see.

Edit: Spelling
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Brian Rush
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I agree completely. I thought about posting almost that exact question on KS, so I'm glad someone else did.

Even if attribution were given, this would be seriously questionable ethically, if not legally.

But that's not even the core of the discussion, since attribution wasn't given. That makes this completely unsupportable.

Dan Cassar has been remarkably, and admirably, factual and not emotional about this, at least publicly as seen above. If I were stolen from like that I'd be yelling from the housetops and seeking legal action, and then becoming very sad and mad to find out there probably isn't much basis since the games have at least a very tiny difference. For some reason, plagiarism standards are much looser with board games than almost every other product a person can buy (as discussed in many other BGG threads, but I can't remember any in particular at the moment).

I like the Cavemen theme better anyway, but that's just me. Working at the same NASA center as Brian K., I'm around space all day and want to see something different in board games.

(Edited for spelling)
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Level 3 Tunt
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Just post a new thread in the forum for the Project Mars expansion asking if it's compatible with the original Cavemen: Quest For Fire.
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Steve Crane
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Rococo_Zephyr wrote:
Just post a new thread in the forum for the Project Mars expansion asking if it's compatible with the original Cavemen: Quest For Fire.

*chuckle*
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Brad Crosslin
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Looks like Brian isn't going to respond either on Kickstarter or here.

What is BGGs responsibility listing a game that has obviously been plagiarized? Should it even be listed? Personally, I think all positive references to it should be removed, all video links also, and it be listed as something like a plagiarized copy.

Listing it in any valid way does a disservice to Dan and the original design.

BGG should actively stand against plagiarism.

I may post this as a bigger question in the forum.
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Brad Crosslin
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Oh, one other note. Brian has the tag "game designer". I personally think that is an insult to all of the actual game designers on BGG.
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Steve Crane
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To say it's an absolutely terribly run KS campaign is an understatement. It's quite clear Brian has set the bar low financially expecting few backers

I had no idea of any of this until I stumbled onto this thread, and frankly it really bugs me too that someone can perform plagiarism with a board game and get away with it. If anything it's probably too expensive to take to court for the original designer

I saw 2 copies of PM in my FLGS and scoffed over the weekend
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Brian Rush
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Idanonstop wrote:

Update

BGG Admins have weighed in and officially tagged Project Mars as a Reimplementation of Cavemen: The Quest for Fire.


The reimplementation tags have been removed from both games. I asked the BGG admins about this and was told that BGG's definition of reimplementaion requires the designer or publisher to be the same. See:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/BGG_Guide_to_Game_Su...

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Brad Crosslin
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Why is this game even listed? It almost validates the game. It is clear the designers knew what he/they were doing. Shouldn't BGG remove all references to the game, or have some new category for plagiarized or games known to violate copyright?

The only way people even know this is an issue is because of this thread. Dan should have a way to remedy someone stealing his design.
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I can't find the actual ruling right now (edit: duh, it's linked in the article), but here are the basics:

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/273935/Texas_court_affir...

Basically, as long as you only copy the mechanics and not artwork/visual design/logo you're legally fine, at least in most places from what I've heard. Ethically? Not so much but that's where consumers have to issue a ruling with their dollars instead of relying on a court judgement.
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Chris Tumbarello
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Interesting. So basically, I could take the Monopoly board game and re-skin as something else, but use the same mechanics, and be in the clear?
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