Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: 8 Games for Your Heart and Your Brain

I know, I know, I’ve already told you about a whole slew of Kickstarter games this month already (and there are more coming in October!), but that’s convention season for you. Here are a couple more projects that I won’t have full reviews for, but just might interest you! Some dig into matters of the heart, and some will tickle your brain—maybe a little bit of both.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer, and visit our Kickstarter curated page for more projects we love.

You Think You Know Me

You Think You Know Me

I’m starting off with this one because the campaign ends soon. Ami Baio is a friend of mine and she’s designed a party-style game that’s really about getting to know people better. The gameplay itself is fairly simple: you discard a card from your hand, choose another player that you think you know, and then read the card, filling in the answer you think the other player would choose. If you’re wrong, you have to draw another card, but if you’re right, then you’ve gotten rid of a card. First person to get rid of all their cards wins.

But, of course, this is the sort of game where everyone who plays can benefit, even those who didn’t “win.” There are 500 colorful cards with all sorts of different questions and fill-in-the-blank statements on them. You can even just use the cards as an ice-breaker or conversation starter, separate from the game. I love the idea of using games to build deeper connections and spark conversations. Think you know your friends? Try this game and find out.

T2029

T2029: Terminator 2 Board Game

Okay, who am I kidding? I probably don’t need to tell you anything at all about this one and you know whether you want to back it. It’s a board game based on one of my favorite movies. But here’s a little more background on it anyway!

I saw a prototype of T2029 at Gen Con this year (see more photos here), and talked to Allen Chang of Rule & Make about it. The game is set in 2029, the future war between the machines and the human resistance that you see glimpses of in T2. Although the game doesn’t focus on the plot of the film, it does center on the backstory: the machines are sending the T-1000 back to kill John Connor, and you have to stop it. Your task is to hack into Skynet’s defense grid, and reprogram the T-800 to go back in time and protect John Connor.

T2029 is designed by Ian O’Toole, who has done quite a bit of graphic design and illustration for games in the past, but this is his first game design. What’s interesting is that although the game has tons of awesome miniatures and a lot of dice, it’s not a typical miniatures wargame. You can roll dice if you want to try for different numbers, but that may increase the risk of infiltration by the T-1000. Instead, you want to choose which dice to use in different places, and decide where to send troops, juggling offense and defense.

The game looks really amazing, and I can’t wait to give it a try. Unfortunately Rule & Make (which is based in Australia) didn’t have enough prototypes available to send one for review, so I’ll have to make do with reading over the rulebook for now, and await the war against the machines next May, when the game is expected to be delivered!

Potato Pirates

Potato Pirates

I always love checking out games that teach valuable skills, especially if they do so in a way that isn’t “educational”—you know, games that are basically glorified flash cards. Kids can sniff that out from a mile away, and usually they don’t end up being very fun. Potato Pirates is a fun-looking game about trying to get the Potato King cards, while mashing and frying the other potato pirates. You can use programming sequences to create more effective attacks. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a prototype of this one in time to try it out, but it looks like one that could hold the interest of older kids as well, unlike some of the simpler coding-based games.

The 7th Continent

The 7th Continent: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

The 7th Continent is an exploration game that can be played solo or cooperatively with other players. Will James reviewed the first Kickstarter, and I ended up backing it myself after trying out his demo prototype. Serious Poulp is back this week with another chance to get the base game, plus a new expansion that has two new adventures: one that takes you up into the clouds, and one that takes you down into some underground tunnels. I have to admit that my own finished copy just arrived recently and I haven’t even had a chance to dip into it yet, so I’m a little hesitant to spend another $50 on the expansion just yet … but I’ve got about 3 weeks to decide.

Space Editor

Space Editor

While the title might make it sound like this is a game about proofreading … in space! (which would be awesome—I would play that), it’s actually a game about building a universe, and is inspired by the Brahman story of creation. You and other players build out the universe by laying cards onto the table, vying for control by using one of the four elements.

Heart and Brain: The Party Game

Heart and Brain: The Party Game

If you’re a fan of The Awkward Yeti (home of Heart and Brain comics), here’s a party game for you. The goal is to earn 3 Heart tokens and 3 Brain tokens—there are various challenges, some subjective and some objective. You might need to pass a dare or be convincing, act goofy or know the answer to a question. It’s a clever way to mash up different types of party games into one package, but you’ll have to do a little bit of both to win the game.

Spy Club

Spy Club

This is a cooperative game about young detectives solving neighborhood mysteries, figuring out the clues to crack the case. What’s especially interesting to me is the way that you can play in a campaign mode, so that a larger story emerges over the course of several plays. Spy Club also has “unlockable” elements, but unlike legacy-style games, it is also intended to be reset and replayed, with different outcomes each time you play. And it doesn’t hurt that the artwork looks fantastic.

RWBY: Combat Ready

RWBY: Combat Ready

RWBY is an online fantasy series from Rooster Teeth, featuring monsters and villains and an academy where young Hunters and Huntresses are being trained for battle. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually watched much of the show myself, but I’ve heard a lot about it from my teenage daughter, who is rather obsessed with it. One of the things I’ve learned is that pretty much everything turns into a gun.

RWBY: Combat Ready is a cooperative board game with the title characters:  Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long (whose initials conveniently also match their colors: red, white, black, and yellow). The game is a card-driven battle between the players and a villain, along with minions that can disrupt and distract. Players can build up Battle Fury if they continue to land hits, powering up their ultimate attacks, but if they take damage, their Battle Fury is lost. One player is on “center stage” fighting the villain, but the other players can also assist in various ways, fighting off minions and boosting the central player’s attack power. Build up experience to add more powerful attacks to your own deck.

RWBY sample cards
A few sample cards from RWBY: Combat Ready. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I got a little demo pack just to see a couple of the cards and how a sample turn would work, though it’s not enough to play a full game. Attack cards have different speeds, damage, and special effects. When you battle the villain (Roman, in this example), you will get an idea of his “stance” ahead of time but you won’t know his specific attack. You choose your own attack, reveal the villain’s attack, and compare speeds—the faster attack gets through and does damage. But there are lots of card combos, too—one of your attacks may boost the speed of your next attack, and your allies may be able to increase the amount of damage you do as well.

Based on how much my daughter likes the show, I think I’ll probably need to watch it myself and familiarize myself with the characters so that I can play this with her when it’s released!

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.