Kickstarter Tabletop Roundup

There are plenty of board game Kickstarter projects that look intriguing to me but that I’m not able to review in full–usually because I wasn’t able to acquire a demo copy before the campaign, but sometimes simply because there are just so darn many of them. Here are a couple that have caught my eye in the past month.

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Pretense

Pretense

I love thinking about how games work, and most of my half-baked game ideas are, at least on some level, meta-games. (I say “half-baked” because at this point they mostly exist only as concepts; someday I’ll get around to making prototypes to see if they actually work.) Pretense by Jason Tagmire is a meta-game that you play while playing other games: each player has a secret role and a way to score. For instance, if you’re the Glutton, you want to get somebody to pass you some food or drink. Meanwhile, the Maid scores by being the only person to clean up a game after it’s over. So you still have your game night as usual, but everyone has a secret objective they’re trying to accomplish on top of the in-game objectives. There’s a Print-and-Play available if you want to try it out now, or you can go to the Kickstarter page for more information.

Epic PvP: Fantasy

Epic PvP: Fantasy

Here’s one that reminds me a little of Smash Up, though with a different direction. You grab a race deck and a class deck (say, Orc and Ranger) and shuffle them together to create your character. Then you battle the other player. Unlike Smash Up, however, you’re attacking each other directly rather than bases, and the goal is to eliminate the other player. (It’s a 2-player game, or you can do 2-vs.-2 team games.) It’s a joint effort between Fun to 11 and AEG, and has already blasted through a number of stretch goals, adding more decks to the box. There’s a Print-and-Play available here, or check out the Kickstarter page here.

Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge

Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge

I’d actually first heard about this one a while back on the Dice Hate Me podcast, because Chris Kirkman had played it early on and absolutely loved it, and now it’s finally here. Well, sort of here–the Kickstarter is nearly funded (with only a couple days left to go!). The game is about forming cliques of cool cats at a cocktail lounge, while using your voodoo magic to help things along. Fun facts: you get little martini glasses to keep your player chips in, and your score is marked by little plastic monkeys that hang from the glasses. Also: the Clique cards double as drink recipes. I like the art style and I’m curious about the gameplay, but I didn’t find out about the Kickstarter early enough to try it out. You can print-and-play this one, but it’s a pretty big game. Here’s the Kickstarter page. (Note: because of the drink recipes and the theme, this one’s actually rated 21 and up.)

Nova Cry

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Nova Cry

I actually came across this one because of a banner ad on BoardGameGeek–the artwork looked impressive, and I wondered what it was for. Turns out there’s an interesting story behind the game. Nova Cry is a sci-fi card game that was first funded back in 2012, with Game Salute set to publish it. They did manage to get all the artwork made for it, but didn’t deliver the game within the contracted time frame, so the game creators got the rights back, along with the artwork. (But, alas, none of the original funds, which were spent on the art.) This second Kickstarter has already exceeded the goal significantly, so this game will finally see the light of day. I like the idea of tailoring your tactics based on the captain, ship, and crew members you pick at the beginning of the game. Check out the Kickstarter page for more.

Three Sticks

Three Sticks

Here’s a game that lets you play around with geometry: you use sticks of three sizes (lengths 3, 4, and 5) to build geometric shapes, scoring points for various types of shapes and surrounding bonus point areas on the board. The drawback is that if you’re not in India, shipping is pretty expensive, so it’s hard to say if it’s worth backing. [UPDATE: the shipping fee has been waived for the full set.] However, it’s another example of using games to teach STEM concepts, and I applaud the designers for the idea. Three Sticks is on Indiegogo now.

Spell Saga store

Spell Saga

OK, technically this last one isn’t on Kickstarter anymore, but I thought it was worth a mention. Spell Saga is another game that didn’t make its funding goal the first time around (here’s my original review), and then took some time to keep working at it and then funded the second time around. Billed as a “tabletop novel,” Spell Saga is a single-player game that is a bit like reading a choose-your-own-adventure story, only with more game involved. The web store is now open, and if you missed the Kickstarter campaign you can order sets now–there are several current deals if you order before February 14th.

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.