Between a family trip for my high school reunion and planning for Gen Con (NEXT WEEK!), I haven’t had time to write about all of the various Kickstarter board games that have crossed my radar lately—and I totally missed a few, like the expansion for The Resistance. So here’s a list of a few projects that I’ve got on my watch list. I’m hoping to play a few at Gen Con if possible.
First up: Dead Man’s Draw. I wrote about this one last fall, when Stardock Entertainment tried to make a physical version of their digital press-your-luck card game. The app is fantastic, and I really wanted the project to succeed, but Stardock had more experience in the videogame world rather than the tabletop world, and the project didn’t get the publicity it needed.
This time around, Stardock teamed up with Mayday Games, and I’m glad there will finally be an analog version of Dead Man’s Draw. For more about how the game works, check out my previous write-up, try the iOS app, or visit the Kickstarter page.
Next up: for fans of tiny, portable games, I present: Pack O Game. Designed by Chris Handy, Pack O Game is a set of four miniature card games, each about the size of a pack of gum. I’ve gotten a set to try out but since they’re all for ages 8 and up and I spent the last two weeks with a bunch of kids mostly under 8, I wasn’t able to give them a good play through yet.
Briefly: HUE is a tile-laying game in which you’re trying to build connected areas of specific colors. TKO is a boxing game that’s about choosing when and where to punch, and when it’s time to block. GEM is an auction-based game with an interesting leveraging mechanic that lets you use gems you’ve purchased to amass even more wealth. Finally, FLY is a card-dropping game (think Flowerfall) except you’re dropping swatters onto flies. Each game is only $6—and if you back for the set of four, you’ll also get any of the unlocked stretch goal games included, bringing the price per game down even more.
The Kickstarter page has more details about each of the games.
Despite its three-letter title, JUX isn’t one of the mini games from Pack O Games. It’s a story-building game from Elbowfish Games, the father-daughter team that designed Antimatter Matters. I’ve seen a sample of some of the cards, which call to mind games like Dixit, but with a more graphic novel style to them. Each card has a scene illustrated by a local Portland artist, Noah Patrick Pfarr, and many of the illustrations have details that link the cards.
You’ll start with a story prompt: either the best or worst way to accomplish an objective, from inventing a new sport to hiding a body to going on vacation. The cards are then played to form a story—but other players can challenge you and create side branches to the story. Try out the mini demo version (PDF here), and check out the Kickstarter page for more.
Okay, so the 2015 Gaming Calendar isn’t a game in itself, but if you still use paper calendars (like I do) then you might like this one. It’ll feature gorgeous photos of games shot by photographer Scott King—either take the base calendar or pay a little extra to choose which photos to use or to add custom holidays. The campaign has already unlocked the stretch goal to list major gaming conventions on the calendar.
Compounded is a fantastic board game about chemistry by Darrell Louder and Dice Hate Me Games (read Michael Harrison’s review here), and now there’s a Kickstarter campaign for the Geiger Expansion, which adds radioactivity. Don’t have Compounded yet? You can pledge for a copy through this campaign, too. I haven’t actually played the Geiger Expansion myself yet, but in my opinion you really can’t go wrong with Dice Hate Me Games.
Finally, one last one that’s not actually a Kickstarter project. Wrath of the Cosmos is the latest expansion for Sentinels of the Multiverse, the popular cooperative superhero card game. Greater Than Games has built up a very loyal fan base over the years with their Sentinels games, but this time instead of running a Kickstarter campaign they have a pre-order campaign on their own website. Even without the exposure that comes from being on Kickstarter, they’ve already sold over 1,600 copies in the first few days, which isn’t too far off from the number of backers they normally get through Kickstarter.As more publishers (even more established ones) move to a serial Kickstarter model for funding their games, it surprised me to see somebody taking a different approach, and I’m curious to see if any other publishers have enough clout to pull something like this off.