Kickstarter

If you’ve been around the gaming community in almost any capacity recently, you most likely have heard of Kickstarter. But if not, Kickstarter is currently the world’s largest crowd funding platform. Creative people start projects and try to entice the public to donate money to fund them and bring their ideas to fruition. The projects range from the absurd to the zany, economical (pay what you want) to the pricey, simple to the horrifyingly complex. In most cases, those that donate get some sort of payout for their time and trouble but many projects just want money and don’t claim to provide anything in return.

Within the last year or two, Kickstarter has really become a mainstream way for independent game designers (and even some game companies) to fund new designs, expansions, or “big box” sets. If you follow the forums on BGG, many in the community love Kickstarter for its ability to lubricate the flow of designs into the market bypassing the cumbersome and sometimes painful “pitch” phase when approaching a publishing company with a new design. Others in the community despise Kickstarter as an only avenue for simply pushing “ungroomed” designs onto the public, prolonging delivery times, increasing the risk of non-delivery, etc.

I’ve backed seven gaming projects since April 24, 2013:

  1. A Study in Emerald (£50)
  2. VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game ($44)
  3. Fantasy Frontier ($60)
  4. Reaper Miniatures Bones II: The Return of Mr Bones! ($120)
  5. Coin Age: Pay What you Want Area Control Microgame ($3)
  6. Doublesix Dice: Roll Better ($10)
  7. Kingmakers: Board Game Parlor ($20)

As it stands, only A Study in Emerald has been delivered. VivaJava The Dice Game had a few problems with their hard-proofs but it looks like they’re into true production now. They’re shooting for March, 2014. Fantasy Frontier was funded in October, 2013 and they seem to be sailing into production estimating delivery in May, 2014. The Reaper Miniatures are a set of high-detail, molded sculpts that just look cool. Not sure what I’ll do with those yet but the estimate for those is not until November, 2014.

Coin Age, appears to also be on track for an April delivery and Doublesix Dice is a bunch of various colored double-D6s. Basically a D12 with pips for a D6 duplicated. For $10 I chose a pledge level where they roll some of their dice and the result determine how many dice you get. With stretch goals I ended up with a slightly less than average roll but I’ll be getting 19 dice. Not bad for $10.

Kingmakers is a bit different. This Kickstarter project was simply a “plea for money” to create a “board game parlor” in the Short North section of Columbus. Boardgaming is a such a big part of my life, I figured I should back a project that tries to get the word out to others in novel ways. There’s no “product” in return for my pledge other than I supposedly get my name written in “fancy” chalk on one of their pillars for some period of time.

All in all, I I’m satisfied with my experience with Kickstarter but I do feel some fatigue. I’ve not been involved in them but some projects have imploded after they’ve been funded and all the pledged money was lost. It is an unfortunate risk that you take when you back a KS project leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

In most cases, Kickstarter projects offer stretch goals. If, for example, a project is asking for $30,000 to be funded, they may offer that they’ll throw in better bits at $35,000, and an expansion at $40,000. etc. The more money they raise, the better product everybody gets (depending on the tier to which you pledged). When you pledge you’re not really sure what you’ll end up with but you can pledge the minimum and if it takes off, you might end up with all of the stretch goals too for the same pledge amount. Taking it a bit further, some project are only offering these stretch goals *if* you backed the project on Kickstarter. If they move the project to regular mass production (keep in mind that “mass” is still a board game niche market here so still small quantities relatively speaking) buyers that obtain a copy later won’t have these stretch goals.

This discrepancy between Kickstarter versions and retail versions has complicated the process of trading and buying used games in that everyone must be aware of the version they’re trading or purchasing. Not all versions of Euphoria, for example, are the same. The “Deluxe” Kickstarter version is different from the “Supreme” Kickstarter version which is different from the retail version and they all were released in the same year!

I’m a proponent of Kickstarter but I’m tending to agree with the comments I’ve seen about fatigue. It’s hard work keeping up with the latest Kickstarter campaigns, what stretch goals are available, tracking versions, etc. all while still keeping up with the latest buzz for non-Kickstarted games. But, it is a hobby and somewhat a labor of love so to speak.

What are your feelings about Kickstarted games? Have you been happy with the results?

Views: 636

Cabin Con 2014

Cabin Con 2014 has come to a close. I’m still recovering a bit but after having added an extra day, we didn’t stay up as late as we had in the past and that gave us the freedom to relax, settle in, and not force anything. We’re all IT folks and have all, at some point, shared jobs at the same company so it’s common for us to chat about old times and work-related situations we’re going through currently and the games, although still an important part of the weekend, are becoming more of a backdrop to our camaraderie.

We’ve been staying in a cabin in southern Ohio (about an hour and a half from Columbus) enough years now that we’re getting pretty good at knowing how much and what stuff to bring, how to organize meals, etc. We’ve got a great group of guys that look forward to it and really help out pulling their weight. I’m really looking forward to next year. It seems so far away and then, poof, it’s over. Every time I do this I wonder if I should expand it and get more people to come but our group is so tight that maybe I should just organize a second cabin con with a wider audience rather than change a good thing for no good reason.

And on to some pictures…

Views: 694

A Grail Game – Antiquity

Most hobbyist board gamers [collectors] have at least one grail game. A game that is special, would round out a collection, is hard to find in good condition, is rare (maybe only a handful were produced), and is usually…expensive.

For the longest time my grail game was a copy of Tal der Könige, the game with the goofy triangular, disco-styled, box, but with some of the most awesome looking bits at the time. I picked up a copy and bought it for a reasonable amount from an attendee at a past Great Lakes Games convention.

Since then, I haven’t really thought much about what my grail game would be. However, over the past six months, Antiquity started bubbling to the top, brewing, and I started browsing what others had to say about it, the depth, and availability.

After browsing, Antiquity became my new grail and although not terribly difficult to find, it was, for me, relatively expensive. However, an FB (and BGG) friend of mine, was kind enough to sell me his unpunched (!), second edition copy for what he paid for it plus shipping. Encouraged by others, I just had to get it.

Now, shipping this beast isn’t cheap. The box is very long and with all of the packing materials it cost upwards of $20 to ship it but I’ve got no regrets and it’s in my loving hands now.

I’ve punched and sorted the roughly 500 bits of cardboard and wood and read through the 12 pages (very small considering the depth) of rules and I’m ready for an introductory game. However, even though I’ve read the rules, I have no idea how to play. Antiquity feels like it’s going to be epic and I would really love to find some other newbies willing to put the time in on learning this thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if that first game would take half a day.

They say once you know what you’re doing, it plays in about 2 hours but that’s going to be a long way off for me. But that’s a good thing and I’m looking forward to it.

Views: 774

Belated 2013 Wrap-Up

It’s a little late but I thought I’d post an end of year wrap-up for changes to my collection that occurred in 2013. I ended the year with a modest collection of 264 board games (including expansions). I dropped 7 games due to trades but gained 20 overall.

Gains

  1. 7 Wonders Cities – Birthday Gift from Tim Thorpe. Thanks Tim!
  2. Airlines Europe – Received in a trade
  3. Amerigo – Cube Tower!
  4. Bora Bora – Feldian VP Salad
  5. Escape + Illusions/Doomed/The Pit – Dicefest Fun
  6. Francis Drake + Spain’s & Montezuma’s Revenge – Best looking Euro evar!
  7. Ginkopolis – Oddly themed abstract. Difficult to teach but everybody seems to like it
  8. Lords of Waterdeep + Scoundrels of Skullport – One of my favorites. Fantastic expansion.
  9. Machi Koro + Machi Koro Plus – Print-and-Play of my own design (art).
  10. Nauticus – Christmas gift. Can’t wait to play again.
  11. Navegador + Pirates & Diplomats – Received in trade. Gerdts rondel goodness.
  12. Rialto – More Feldness. Didn’t sit well with some but I like this San Marco-esque design better than San Marco.
  13. A Study in Emerald – Kickstarted and got in early on the signed copy. Artwork is a bit busy.
  14. Taj Mahal – Freebie from Buckeye Game Fest
  15. Takenoko – Fun with Pandas and Farmers
  16. Targi – Great 2-player but may be too in-your-face for my wife.
  17. Terra Mystica – Doesn’t hit the table enough. Fun with special powers.
  18. Urban Sprawl – Gift from Tim Thorpe. Dude…you rock!
  19. Il Vecchio – Old-school feeling design but still a solid game. Not sure it’ll stay in my collection.

Losses

  1. Before the Wind – In-shrink freebie from Great Lakes Games. Traded
  2. Colosseum – Just couldn’t get it to the table and jumped on a trade opportunity
  3. Glory to Rome Black Box Edition – Traded in the 2013 Holiday Math Trade. It’s probably what got me the $50 GC.
  4. Quarriors! – Just didn’t find it fun. Traded.
  5. Tobago – Good enough. Cool bits. Hard to teach for what you get out of it. Traded.
  6. Tournay – Just didn’t feel fun. Traded in the 2013 Holiday Math Trade
  7. Walnut Grove – Didn’t like this one at all. Traded in the 2013 Holiday Math Trade.

Good luck in 2014 everyone. I’ve already got my eye on several more games…

Print-and-Play: Machi Koro & Expansion

When I got a chance to play Machi Koro at Great Lakes Games, I really fell in love with it. There’s really not much to the game but I knew it would be a great game to introduce to lots of light gamers and would fill that “filler” slot for the openings and closings of game nights.

Given its small print run in Japanese and its almost non-existent run in English (and after some pointed jokes about me making a print-and-play version), I decided to go ahead and give it a shot.

I spent several days making some light art, choosing colors, open-source icons, fonts, and choosing text that would align and fit on the cards (the Japanese artwork is fantastic but I didn’t want to use any copyrighted material) while still letting the original theme shine through.

I chose PrinterStudio as my printer of choice over ArtsCow and I was a bit worried since I’d not used them before but I’m completely satisfied and I’ll not go back to ArtsCow. PrinterStudio supports print-on-demand cards in several shapes (poker, bridge, tarot), various paper weights, patterns (linen), and custom deck sizes. Printing the base game and the expansion take 176 cards so I threw in 4 rules summary cards to get up to the 180 card custom deck and was able to have them printed very inexpensively (when compared to ArtsCow).

So, here are the results!

The color of the cards is very even across individual cards as well as across the entire deck, bright, and accurate to what I expected.

Unlike ArtsCow’s periodic white edge lines for full-bleed cards, these turned out well on all 180 cards. The design goes clear to the edge with no inaccuracies in alignment during cutting.

The linen finish is very nice. The cards are easy to read (not blurry) but you can definitely feel the texture as well as the heavier weight paper stock I chose over that available at ArtsCow.

The open-source icons look really nice. I’m a Mac user and use Acorn to lay out the layers of the design, creating shadows, etc. I’m really satisfied with the end result.

The oranges of the “buildings” and their “unbuilt” card backs are bright and easy to read.

Now…off to play!