Monday, 28 September 2015

Some thoughts on backing Kickstarter games

I did a post on my very first foray into crowd funding not long after I started the blog - mainly just to highlight what looked like an interesting game. That was Historia. When the game arrived I was a bit surprised by the small amount of material in the box (given most games these days seem to be overflowing with stuff) but the game itself was certainly interesting and I have enjoyed playing but was it worth getting via Kickstarter rather than waiting for it to be in the shops? Here are my thoughts:

  • I got the game a few weeks after it was available in the shops;
  • It was cheaper in the shops than I paid for it on Kickstarter - and I paid 6 months in advance;
  • I did get a small amount of bonus material only available separately when sold in retail. But it was not much and I haven't actually been sufficiently enthused by it to play the game with it as yet;
  • Communication was not that great following the close of the campaign - although not non existent and after reading some comments on some other Kickstarter campaigns it seems that some of the main manufacturers are pretty bad on the communication side of things so could be worse!
[as an aside, while available on Kickstarter and the German equivalent I actually pledged via Giochi starter although the experience is actually down to the company and not the crowd funding website].

So all in all I was not that inspired by the whole experience and as a result unlikely to try crowd funding again. Other than the fact I already did just a month after pledging to Historia and hence before getting the full experience! That was Forge War. Truly excellent game and a box crammed full of stuff, although be warned it is a heavier game and takes a good 3 hours or so with the full game (but there are also quicker play options included). But as far as the Kickstarter experience went, here are my thoughts on that one:
  • I got the game before it was in the shops;
  • It was actually a bit cheaper than retail;
  • The stretch goals were many and seemed designed on significantly improving the content and quality of the final game (never seen a better quality box which was one of the goals). So all in all it felt like you were doing what Kickstarter is about and allowing a game to be funded and improved by upfront investment;
  • The designer - Isaac Childres - was doing his first game and was clearly very enthusiastic about the whole thing and communicated constantly, both via the Kickstarter pages when live and then through weekly (at least) emails once it was funded. When there were a few problems with fulfilment he was keeping everyone updated on the issue and progress.
So a very different and very positive experience - left me with the view that steer well clear of big companies as they are just after cash-flow and take a close look at games from people new to the market if they are your sort of thing.

I am now actually contemplating a couple of other Kickstarter campaigns.  The first is the second game from Isaac Childres. That is "a board game of cooperative card-driven tactical combat in a persistent, ever-changing campaign world. 1-4 players, 30 min. per player" called Gloomhaven. I am torn on this one, while I have played games involving character development I am not totally sure this is my thing but then Isaac does make excellent games (well one of one so far) and Gloomhaven looks no exception. I really like the card driven combat and the fact that you lose cards during a scenario so the choices are therefore hard and you need to plan properly. It only has a couple of days left so I will need to make my mind up soon. It looks good value so I suspect I will succumb and back it.

The second involves more established designers and involves an established company that seems to have attracted some negative comments in the comment section for past Kickstarter campaigns. This game is The Others: 7 Sins. This has just over a week to run so I have more time to decide (or procrastinate). This is also a cooperative game with various characters but is not built around character development but rather multiple types of bad guys and maps to give huge variety to each scenario. They actually say on the campaign page that it is likely to arrive after it is available in the shops, but some of the stretch goals seem to be Kickstarter (or future promo) exclusives but more importantly include things that are going to be available as extras (supplements) rather than in the core box - e.g.the extra Sins beyond the 2 in the main box. So it seems that given it is heavily backed (5,630 at the time of writing) you will get a lot more for you Kickstarter pledge than the core retail game. Still undecided but sorely tempted.

I have seen table top wargaming equipment on Kickstarter such as terrain (e.g. trenches). So far though these have not been in my scales and to be honest not things I have ever found problems getting in retail so not been temped by anything other than board games as yet.

I am currently a bit unwell and had enough nap time for now so thought I would distract myself with a blog post. Hope some of you find it of use.

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