Emperor’s New Clothes Revealed, No Joke!

Entertainment Kickstarter Tabletop Games
The first Kickstarter game from Jonathan Liu.
The first Kickstarter game from Jonathan Liu.

If you’ve been reading GeekDad for a while, you know that our senior editor Jonathan Liu has a real passion for games and puzzles and narratives of all kinds. That all came to a head on March 4 when Jonathan launched a Kickstarter drive for his first board game, Emperor’s New Clothes.

Sharp-eyed folks who check out the Kickstarter drive should pick up on the fact that all’s not as simple as you might expect from most such games. There’s the fact that there’s no artwork at all in the game, despite it being described in glowing terms, something that shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve ever read the original Hans Christian Andersen tale. Despite the fact that the drive ends tomorrow, on April Fool’s Day, though, it is far from a joke.

All right, it’s not just a joke.

In Jonathan’s latest update for the drive, he draws back the curtain and explains what the drive is really all about and what backers can expect for their pledges. To prevent spoilers, I’ll discuss that right after the break.


As Jonathan says in his update, the actual drive for Emperor’s New Clothes board game has been its own kind of play experience — a meta-game, if you will — one that’s been brilliant fun to watch develop. If you haven’t had the chance, you can still get in on the fun. Just check out the drive’s Kickstarter page and see how far into the rabbit hole you can fall.

Now that the drive’s coming to an end tomorrow, though, it’s time to push past that and move on to what the backers are really going to get for their pledges, to make sure that we’re all still smiling when it’s over. This is the kind of joke you tell among friends, after all, not a cruel prank to be played on clueless marks.

If you back the project, you get a box full of blank components for a board game: the box, the board, the discs, the pawns, the cards, a bunch of dice, and even tiles and more at higher levels. If you’re a game designer (aspiring or published), this is a treasure trove, an inspirational do-it-yourself gaming kit you can use to repurpose however you like.

Some of the blank components you get when you back the game.
Some of the blank components you get when you back the game.

Mark the pieces up and design your own game. Keep what you like, and set the rest of the bits aside. Have a ball with it and make it your own. If you need more of some bits, Jonathan’s partners at Game Salute have you covered. They’re launching a line of blank game components for ambitious souls like you, and Emperor’s New Clothes is just the tip of that iceberg.

If you want a bit more game in your game, though, Jonathan has you covered there too. He actually designed a game you can play with the blank components you get with the drive, and he even released another set of rules — which he co-designed with Darrel Louder for International Tabletop Day — for a second game you can play, called The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

If you like games and fun — especially if you have a bit of maker in you — be sure to check out Emperor’s New Clothes. The drive ends at midnight EDT on April 1, and that’s no joke.

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