Kickstarter Curmudgeon: August

posted in: Commentary | 2

We’re in the dog days of August, and I guess that seasonal malaise affects board game marketing, because there were a surprising absence of interesting Kickstarter campaigns going on when I checked earlier today. But I dredged the depths and found these eight to comment on. Remember that this feature is about critiquing the marketing campaigns and how well they provide information to readers like me who are interested in how the game play. This shouldn’t be used to help you determine which games you should back. Mostly it’s a desperate, empty gesture of fist-shaking at the passing clouds where I pretend that I have any kind of influence at all in the board game world.

Anyways, apparently Power Rangers are still around? Because pulling in over a quarter million dollars is:

Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid Board Game 

(images taken from the respective kickstarter pages)

I didn’t really watch Power Rangers as a kid. I know they’re conveniently color-coded and “morph”, but that’s about it. But as I look through this page I’m genuinely flabbergasted. Apparently, among their enemies are a transformer that’s not actually a transformer, a generic looking sorceress, and, I kid you not, a pig face with arms and legs sticking out of it, sporting a mohawk and holding cutlery. Was this part of the TV show? What happened? Did someone put their 2 year old in charge of concept art? Look at this thing!

After a ridiculous amount of minis pictures and mind-numbing pledge level details, we learn that the game’s designed by Jonathan Ying, who most notably was one of the designers for Imperial Assault. That gives the entire thing a glimmer of hope, though from what I can tell there’s just some cards and tokens. Is this a deckbuilder? I can’t tell and I don’t care.

Verdict: Apparently my childhood was deprived of some truly weird stuff.

The Partisans: An Extra Politics/Extra Credits Game

Well, I didn’t see this one coming. I’m all for political games, and I have enjoyed Extra Credit’s videos before, but I know one of the main people behind the enterprise was embroiled in some kind of recent controversy regarding harassment or perhaps generally being an awful person, which makes the timing of this release a hair odd. Apparently it’s inspired by one of their videos and is using their art, but I have no clue how it’s played.

At the top of the campaign is a nice (in concept) “Why We Love This Game” box with the top five “Awesome Features”. Among them are that no parties are represented, just ideologies, and that it’s specifically for 4-6 players. It already sounds like they’re reaching for reasons to play this, and this is supposed to be the five best features!

And what are the ideologies players will be given to support in the game? Well, we get some broad ones like libertarian, nationalist, and…traditionalist? Okay, I guess. But then we get the ultra-obscure communitarian, and the not-ideologies of “blue collar” and “bourgeois”. It’s like someone cut out random words from a political theory textbook and pulled them out of a hat.

The only other gameplay information communicated via text is that there are cards and tokens.

Verdict: Weirdly off-putting like a traditional bourgeois nationalist.

War of the Cross: A 7th Sea Strategy Board Game 

The first bits of information you’ll get from this page are that this is the second attempt to get this game funded and that the rules are a work in progress as they get feedback from playtesters. I appreciate the honesty but that doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Why not wait until you’ve gotten more feedback before launching the campaign again?

Then we learn that, “War of the Cross plays in turns consisting of several phases.” Wow, that’s a wealth of compelling information there. Sell me your game! I feel like you’re really skeptical about it, and I’m right there with you. If that’s what you were going for, good job I guess? To be fair there’s a decent description of gameplay. It looks like a spin-off of Diplomacy. That can certainly be compelling in theory, but I don’t have a lot of confidence.

Verdict: Believe in yourself!

WHISKEY BUSINESS! A Fun Strategic Tabletop Party Dice Game! 

On the other side of the confidence spectrum is Whiskey Business, which is presented with a sprinkling of caps lock, two exclamation points, and the promise of both fun and strategy, parties and dice. Not to mention the entire thing is a pun. Clicking to see the creator’s previous works, and I discover that his two previous games were about ice cream and wine. Do what works for you, I guess.

Right off the bat the most pressing question racking everyone’s brain is dispensed with: do I have to drink whiskey? Like, does the game force me to consume a specific beverage? No, obviously.

The graphic design for the game is exceedingly pleasant and it actually comes with a glass whiskey tumbler for dice rolling purposes. There are a couple of pictures of the creators looking happy, and I believe them.

Just look at them!

But if you want to find anything about the game all you get is a link to the rulebook. This makes me sad.

Verdict: Sad

Endogenesis 

This game is certainly purple. I’m digging the look. Not enough purple is used in the board game world. It’s a good color. What’s not good is how badly this game wants to teach you its generic sounding language. The first couple of paragraphs are full of italicized special words like “shards” and “reaction skills” and “realm of knowledge”. Yawn.

The only interesting bit of information given is that you’re apparently allowed to do actions as many times as you want? I assume there’s some kind of economic restriction on that which functions as an action limit. “Devastating combos” are promised. The best part of the page is the “You’ll love Endogenesis if…” segment which actually gives some helpful information rather than trying to convince you that everyone on earth will like the game.

There’s a great amount of information about how the game plays, but my eyes quickly glazed over with all of the game-specific words in use. Frankly it looks like it could be pretty neat, but reading your kickstarter page shouldn’t feel like a chore.

Verdict: Perhaps good; definitely purple.

Cryptocurrency | A Game of Wit & Deceit 

Cryptocurrency is apparently not just about cryptocurrencies, but cryptocurrency scams. Delightful. Although my initial skepticism is quickly silenced by a frankly well done overview of how the game plays. The art and presentation makes it seem like a silly take that game, but the description indicates that there might be some moderately complex economic mechanisms in play here.

There’s a push your luck mechanism they keep talking about and ultimately certain currencies in the game will be revealed as complete scams, so I suspect this isn’t a game that often ends with close final scores. That kind of variance can be tricky to design around, but this could be good.

Verdict: It’s either going to be good, or horrible.

Dungeon Derby: A real-time, push your luck party game. 

I don’t have much to say in the way of criticism. It says it’s a real-time push your luck party game and it certainly looks like one. It’s a betting/racing game with fantasy creatures where someone rolls dice to determine where/when the racers move, and there’s some aspect of constructing the track before the race begins. It looks to be frantic and silly. The art doesn’t look great from afar, but it’s the best kickstarter page I’ve seen today.

Verdict: Looks like it might deliver.

NEXUS: Tabletop Arena Combat 

The sub-description promises that Nexus is a “chaotic dice fueled bloodbath”. Good for them not burying the lede. I’d already grown too accustomed to campaigns logically placing gameplay information before lists of components, because the Nexus campaign was like a slap of drudgery to the face. (don’t think too hard about that metaphor)

The gameplay information is scarce, though it seems like a fairly typical card and dice based arena fighting game. This one has gruesome and gory minis. Thankfully on first glance there aren’t any overly sexualized female models, though I honestly couldn’t find anything that appeared to be female at all. Instead it’s an assortment of vaguely male to completely alien monsters/mutants. Might be interesting if you’re into that kind of thing.

It’s got that going for it, at least

Verdict: Not into that kind of thing.

 

There we go. A bit of a slow month it seems, but that’s fine with me. There are too many games to try to keep up with anyways. We could all use a little break.

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2 Responses

  1. Dodd

    War of the Cross: A 7th Sea Strategy Board Game

    I playtested this game at GenCon. It’s terrible. Genuinely awful. I chose a ‘game of strategy and cutthroat diplomacy,’ not knowing what it would be. I did not get that. The “diplomacy” mattered, a little, precisely once in the game. “Negotiation” is limited to 2 minutes–a truly awful idea in a negotiation game–and represented mechanically with a mind-blowing insipid alliance system that scarcely affects gameplay thanks to all the other bad design decisions.

    I won my playtest game and offered a very mild critique of one aspect of the game to the person running it, thinking that the point of putting it in the GenCon playtester hall was to, you know, get playtester input. Her response was to look at me like I’d grown a set of tentacles out of my eye sockets, so I kept the rest of my feedback to myself. They say they’re looking to improve the rules with playtester feedback, but my experience says otherwise.

    As it’s close to funding with less than a week to go, I assume it will fund and make a lot of people very, very angry.

    • Marc Davis

      Oh, man, that’s not good to hear. People need to be receptive to feedback! I’ll definitely be staying away.

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