It’s a gaming console…for playing board games? The SquareOne is on Kickstarter, and read on to see if it might be just the device you’re looking for.

What are Kickstarter Quick Picks?

Kickstarter Quick Picks are short looks at projects currently on Kickstarter that are of interest to me, and by extension, many of our GeekDad readers. A Quick Pick is not an endorsement of the Kickstarter campaign, nor have I (as yet) received any product copies to review. If you like what you see here, go check out the campaign and decide for yourself if you’d like to back it, or wait until GeekDad has had a chance to go hands-on. As always, caveat emptor- let the buyer beware.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

What Is SquareOne?

SquareOne is a gaming console that allows you to play interactive board games with other people on the touchscreen device, or remotely with other friends who also own the system. It’s from Wizama, which is a team of board game builders, developers, and designers. It is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with pledges starting at €499 for the base console (approximately $593 USD) which includes a 10-game starter pack. There are other editions available, including ones bundled with either the Urban Rivals online trading card game, or with Cthulhu Wars, an adaptation of Sandy Petersen’s popular board game of the same name.

A family playing SquareOne. Image by Wizama.

Wizama is setting out to make a truly interactive board game experience. Cards and pawns are all readable by the SquareOne, allowing players to interact directly with the touchscreen of the console. There’s even a connected dice track, which allows you to roll physical dice, and the SquareOne can read the results of the roll and automatically input them into whatever game you’re playing.

Further blending the worlds of video games and board games, onscreen animations and sounds will enhance the gameplay experience. And taking advantage of the medium, games will have interactive tips and tutorial to guide players, with the goal of making games easier to learn than by reading through a rulebook.

The SquareOne reading a card. Image by Wizama.

Why Check Out SquareOne?

With the SquareOne Board Game Console, Wizama is setting out to make a complete gaming ecosystem, that blends the analog and the digital seamlessly. You’ll be able to download games directly from their online store onto the console. You can play with up to 8 players, either in person or connecting with friends anywhere in the world.

Now, much like mixing peanut butter and chocolate, not everyone is fond of technology mixing with their board games. I’m personally a fan when it enhances the board gaming experience. Case in point: I loved the first edition of Fantasy Flight Games’ Mansions of Madness, but there was so much work involved running it, that it rarely saw time on the table. When they made a second edition, all of the unpleasant work of running the game was now relegated to a very nicely-designed app, allowing all the players to just enjoy the board game. In a similar way, hopefully SquareOne will enhance an already enjoyable board gaming experience.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the large elephant in the room: the price. If you back SquareOne, you’re looking at paying almost $600. That’s a sizeable chunk of change. However, it’s good to remember that not only are you paying for the development of a brand new gaming console, but it ships with a minimum of 10 games at launch. So you should factor in the cost of getting those games included with the SquareOne. And you won’t be getting just a digital game, as you’ll be receiving custom pawns and cards for the games, as well as individual borders for each game that will be used to interact with their respective games. And to sweeten the deal, Kickstarter backers will get a guaranteed 25% discount on all current and future games offered on the SquareOne.

Hopefully I will get my hands on a prototype of the SquareOne very soon, so that I can share my thoughts with our GeekDad readers. In the meantime, if you are interested in checking it out, you can head to the SquareOne Kickstarter page. The campaign runs through Tuesday, December 15, with a targeted delivery date of December 2021.

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