There are, as always, a lot of tabletop projects on Kickstarter, even as many publishers are trying to make the difficult decision about whether to switch to a different platform in the future. Back in early December, Kickstarter made a buzzword-heavy, detail-light announcement about developing a blockchain-based protocol for their crowdfunding platform, and many in the tabletop world (myself included) asked a lot of questions about what exactly that would entail, expressing dismay that this may be somehow tied to cryptocurrency and NFTs. Kickstarter promised to release a white paper in January (which I haven’t seen), but did not provide much additional information, leaving most project creators and backers in limbo. I’m personally in a wait-and-see mode, hoping to find out more about Kickstarter’s plans but considering the possibility that I may at some point discontinue covering a platform about which I’ve written hundreds of posts in the past decade.
Since planning for a Kickstarter campaign can take a long time, a lot of these current projects had been set up in advance, so in the meantime I will continue to support publishers, who were caught by surprise by this announcement. It’s still the case that Kickstarter has the best brand recognition for tabletop projects, though Gamefound hopes to be a contender that focuses specifically on games. (As of now, I believe the crowdfunding on Gamefound is still in beta, so it’s not a solution for all publishers.) Games are the biggest category on Kickstarter (though that does include videogames), so I would hope that the higher-ups at Kickstarter would heed the voices in the tabletop industry asking for clarity and expressing concerns about blockchain, but … I guess we’ll find out.
Without further ado, here’s a bunch of tabletop projects that currently have my attention!
New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.
This one just has a couple days left to go! Pandasaurus Games has had a really fun line-up of games in the past few years, with a wide-ranging array of settings and mechanics. Skate Summer is about skateboarding, pulling off tricks, and looking rad while doing it. Skate around town, upgrade your board, and don’t lose your balance!
Button Shy Games, known for its excellent wallet games series, is now branching out into role-playing games (also in a nifty little wallet)! The first of these is a 2-player game about saying good-bye. The artwork is lovely and haunting, and as the game plays out, your two characters will have to figure out what they really want to say to each other, and how to do it without hurting feelings. I don’t play a lot of role-playing games, but I’m really intrigued by this one.
This is a cute little card game with a bit of bluffing and a bit of luck. The cards all represent various monsters and their banes: werewolves and silver bullets, vampires and sunlight. Your goal is to wind up with a pair with the highest value—but if another player holds a bane (worth fewer points in itself), it can cancel out your monster altogether! There are two sets, one with classic movie monsters and one with an ocean theme; the monsters all have unique abilities that will let you manipulate circumstances (hopefully) to your own benefit.
Mind MGMT is a fantastic hidden-movement game, set in the world of the comic books by Matt Kindt. It has a clever SHIFT system that gradually adds new mechanics and components to the game as you play, helping to balance out the two teams by giving the losing side more powerful abilities. This campaign does a few things: for those who missed out on the original Kickstarter (see my write-up here), this is an opportunity to get the deluxe edition or upgrade your retail edition with the wooden components. The other thing is the secret missions: throughout the game—in the rulebook, on the insert, tucked away in various places—there are little codes that you can enter into the FluxSafeHouse website, which will give you a “card” that you can use while playing. This campaign lets you get printed versions of those cards, tucked into sealed envelopes so that you can physically include them into your game.
Here’s the latest title in Renegade’s Solo Hero series of solitaire games: Wreckland Run, a campaign about souping up your battle vehicle and surviving the Mad Max-esque wastelands. It’s designed by the prolific Scott Almes (also the designer of the Tiny Epic series), and looks to be a fun, smash-up adventure. The campaign also has a new expansion to Warp’s Edge, a sci-fi solo game by Almes that was published in 2020.
Unfair is a cutthroat card game about running an amusement park and using some unsavory business practices to get ahead of your competition. It uses sets of cards in different themes: pirates, dinosaurs, aliens, and so on; each theme includes park attractions, employees, and devious actions you can use, giving the game a different feel depending on what mix you use. (The publisher has stated in the past that they hope to publish one theme per letter of the alphabet, in case you’re planning ahead for how much space you’ll need on your shelves.) This latest expansion includes comic book tropes and evil lairs, wi-fi and e-commerce, giant monsters threatening to stomp the parks, and underwater adventures, plus the addition of the solo mode.
This is an updated version of Evolution: The Origin of Species, originally published in 2010, and the basis for the North Star Games versions that we’ve reviewed here on GeekDad. It’s interesting to see how the games share some similarities and diverge in others—you might say they share a common ancestor but are now distinct species, but they all use concepts from actual evolutionary biology to build the strongest, fittest creatures for survival.
The folks who brought you IceCool, the penguin-flicking dexterity game, have a new trick up their sleeves: Iron Forest, a double-decker game that uses a similar system with an elevated platform. I first saw a demo of this at Gen Con 2019 (here’s my little video clip), when it was expected to launch on Kickstarter in 2020 … but then of course the pandemic happened. I’m glad to see it’s finally happening! If you like flicking games, it’s definitely worth a look!