Spring is here! You can tell by the smell of the air, the lost hour of sleep, and the sudden appearance of Kickstarter tabletop campaigns. At least, it seems that way to me. I’ve got a long list of games that I’ve been asked to check out, all with campaigns that launched recently or will launch in April, and I’ve had to start turning down requests for reviews because at this rate I’ll barely have time to play that many games, let alone write them up.
So before I get into the more detailed reviews of games I’ve played, here’s a quick blast through several projects that I found interesting, some of which I’m backing. Note that in most cases I haven’t played the game itself, but I’ll mention those which I have.
I’ll start with Lineage, which I reviewed already, because the campaign is almost over and it’s looking like it will fall short of its funding goal. Still, you never know. Maybe this reminder will get you to finally go pledge for a copy. It’s one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen, and it’s fascinating to play. Justin Waggle of Gray Wolf Games is planning to relaunch later if the project doesn’t succeed, but go ahead and pledge now—then you’ll be first to know when the next campaign starts.
There are a few companies whose projects I’ll pretty much back no matter what they’re selling, and Dice Hate Me Games is one of them. I’ve loved the way they handle their Kickstarter projects from start to finish, and I generally like their taste in games. (Heck, I even backed their previous projects VivaJava and Brew Crafters despite the fact that I drink neither coffee nor beer.) Their latest campaign is for six games which won their 54-card challenge. You can pledge for the food-based trio—Diner, Brew Crafters Travel Card Game, and Pie Factory—or the “globetrotters” trio—The Fittest, Easy Breezy Travel Agency, and Isle of Trains. Or do what I did and get the whole set.
Greater Than Games is another game company that has built up a tremendously loyal fan base with their line of Sentinels of the Multiverse games. I’ve admitted before that the game isn’t my favorite, but I keep backing them because I love the world they’ve built and the game is where the story plays out. Well, here’s the game I’ve been waiting for: it’s set in the world of the Sentinels, but it’s a tactical battle game, moving around on a hex-based map and using your powers to take down the supervillain. (Or, for you bad guys out there, being the villain and taking out superheroes.) I played an earlier prototype of Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom at Gen Con just briefly, but it was intriguing and I’m excited about this one. One note: the Kickstarter campaign lets you pledge for just the game, just the set of miniatures, or both together, so pay attention to the reward levels.
One of the sad things about board game design is that they often don’t take into consideration those who are visually impaired—whether that’s low vision, color blindness, or blindness. For many games, color blindness could be overcome with better design and planning, but it can be hard for those who are sighted to imagine how a game could be played by someone who is blind.
64 Ounce Games aims to change that. Their first Kickstarter project is called Board Games: Now Blind Accessible, and they’re creating kits to add Braille text to games. They’ll start with card games, by creating transparent card sleeves with Braille on them, and in some cases QR codes that can present more text with the aid of a smartphone. Some of the games on the list include The Resistance, Coloretto, and Love Letter. They’ve also got their own tactile game, Yoink, that’s meant to be played with your eyes closed so that blind and sighted players are on a level playing field. They’ve also got a few larger games that they plan to make kits for, with others that they hope to unlock as stretch goals.
I think it’s an admirable goal, and I’m backing the project even though I don’t have any blind gamers in my group, simply because I see this as an opportunity to open up more game choices for a population that has been largely left out. I’m interested to see where 64 Ounce Games goes from here.
Here’s a project for those of you who really love fancy bits: Fantasy Coins. It’s not a totally new idea—I’ve seen a couple of other metal coin Kickstarters in the past couple years—but these are pretty nice, and come in a variety of themes. Pictured above are the Feudal Japan coins, but they’ve also got Greek and Roman sets, Dwarven and Elven coins, the four Elementals (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), Pirates, Steampunk, and Sci-fi. I got a small sample of a few of the coins, and they look and feel great—they’ve got a nice heft to them and would make a nice prop for a game, though you’ll need to get quite a few if you want to use them as replacements for currency in a board game.
Pirate Den is a pirate-themed bluffing game from Gamesmith, the company behind Camden and 12 Days. It’s a short game that involves simultaneous action selection—everyone chooses an action and then reveals them at the same time. You’re trying to get the most loot and get it buried, but of course you can attack each other’s ships for loot. The artwork looks gorgeous and there are extra pirate captains that may be available as stretch goals, but first the project needs to hit its main funding goal.
G*M*S Magazine, a website with board game reviews, articles, and podcasts, is Kickstarting a web series called Dice & Slice: a 15-episode show about tabletop games and food. Backers get to give input about what games to play and what food to cook, and they’ll teach you the recipes. Sounds like a fun way to do a board game show, though I wouldn’t have the funds (or time) to fly to the UK for a board game session myself. They’re raising funds for better equipment, with a big stretch goal set that lets them get a small recording studio cabin. Check it out!
There have been a number of storytelling games on Kickstarter, several of which have been of the “this fights that” variety: Story War and Superfight come to mind. So when I first saw the pitch for Triptych, I figured it was going to be something fairly similar. But although this game lets you pit Theodore Roosevelt and the Big Bad Wolf against bacteria and Cthulhu, victory isn’t determined by a subjective judgment call by a third player. Instead, it’s all done with card effects, dice, and a Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic.
The video is a little bizarre, but if you go to the Anything vs. Everything website you can currently download a print and play to read the rules and try out the game yourself. I’ve just read over the rules but haven’t actually played this one, so the jury’s still out, but it looks amusing, and I prefer games with objective results than those that rely on arbitrary decisions, so it might fit the bill.
Well, that’s it for now! Coming up I expect to have full reviews of several games in April: Bullfrogs, Eggs & Empires, Uptown Espresso, Stormy Weather, March of the Ants, and potentially a few others. Just don’t let me forget to file my taxes. (Hopefully I’ll get a refund to pay for all of these Kickstarter projects I’ve been backing…)