(Almost) every Saturday we review all Kickstarter campaigns in the "Games" category ending in the next week. We do a quick write up on anything we find notable here. This is written from the perspective of people looking to buy games and game accessories that offer interesting mechanics or ideas. We prefer heavy strategy games, RPG Games, miniature-heavy games, and games with real-time mechanics as opposed to party games, children's games, or very light strategy games.
Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is. These are the campaigns we backed in this batch.
A new release by Martin Wallace (Brass, Auztralia), Lincoln is a two player war game driven by cards that has no dice. This game is exciting because it looks to be the Twilight Struggle of the Civil War.. Unfortunately, there's no way to test out the game now, but the preview video looks like it's a fantastically laid out game.
The game is a "deck destructor" where your deck starts out strong, but as the war goes on it gets weaker and weaker. The Union player must win by acquiring enough VP by the third time they go through their deck. Asymmetrically, the Confederate player must permanently sacrifice their own cards to recruit troops (simulating the dwindling resources the South had in the war.) If the South can resist the North long enough, they win. Pretty cool concept.
I'm a huge fan of Hellboy, so I wouldn't have been able to pass on this Kickstarter even if it wasn't by a proven miniatures board game publisher (Mantic). Previously we have backed the Mars Attacks and Walking Dead miniatures games from Mantic. Their ability to produce high-quality miniatures has gone up tremendously from the Mars Attacks campaign, and these look to be as good as the Walking Dead minis which were phenomenal.
But let's step over the huge amount of FOMO-inducing add-ons you get with the base pledge. What is the game? Hellboy actually moves away from Mantic's previous RPGs, Star Saga and Dwarf Saga. The game is fully cooperative, and focuses more on resolving "mysteries" and building a narrative that goes towards a final climatic scene. The game does look to not appear to have a campaign, but is designed to deliver a fully-realized adventure in one standalone experience. This is smart, because it's how much of the comics are structured.
In Black Rose Wars you control a spell-slinger, battling against your opponent to score victory points on a tactical grid. Strategically, you can focus on attacking your opponents, or focus on completing quests.
The components look very nice, and this game is well-regarded in the tabletop community as they've been testing and developing it for quite some time. The studio, Ludus Magnus', previous tactical game, Nova Aetas has a high 7.73 user rating on BGG. We have previously backed their Sine Tempore game which has not delivered yet. While we like the look of Black Rose, we'd like to check out Sine Tempore in-action before backing another game.
The Omen Saga
Omen Saga is a remake/update of the 2011 two-player game (7.4 BGG, 954 All-Time). The game is about collecting VP by winning battles and impressing gods. The game has nice art and a huge variety of cards in the base game (66 units, no duplicates.) There are also two expansions you can get that add even more units, rewards, and gameplay.
This isn't a very flashy Kickstarter campaign. The stretch goals are adding one or two cards to the base game. The All-In is $90 and includes metal coins and sleeves (as well as several expansions.) This seems like a good one to pick up for people who play a lot of two player games. I'd like to give a try someday.
Exo is a flashier than Omen. It's created by "First Created" Plast Craft Games. There's a really neat mechanic here where the animals miniatures' large bases and have slots for the smaller player characters. You build your character at the start of the game, and although it is cooperative, it does look like you and your animal are on their own as you explore a post-apocalyptic wasteland. When night falls, you team up with the other players to fight against monsters.
There is a cybernetic Koala bear named Mel, and a exo-suit equipped 'roo named Oz, but we think we'll hold off for reviews on this one.
Unfortunately, at about halfway to its goal, Exploriana was cancelled this week. This is a promising light strategy game with really nice painted artwork and some original phase design. Players compete for items in an auction, then go exploring in Africa, Asia, and South America. I'm not 100% sure what caused this to stall on Kickstarter. I'd say one reason might be that their "how to play" video is not very good. Second, the box art is probably the least appealing art in the game.
Hopefully they'll make some tweaks and relaunch soon! In the meantime, you can play it on Tabletopia.
A simple worker placement game from the designers of the microgame Mint Works (7.3 BGG Player Rating). You need to build your lane by taking worker actions in a shared play area. You want to build your "tableau" (street) by synergizing buildings to get bonus victory points, while simultaneously ensuring you're getting the workers you need to run your businesses. This looks like a game with "all good actions" for workers, which can be very satisfying for quick play.
Alhambra is one of the classics, we just haven't managed to get the table. (In fact we don't own a copy.) But it has been our list of games to play for a very long time. It's only #395 all-time ranked on BGG, but sometimes important, popular games can have trouble in the BGG ratings, particularly if it's perceived as "overplayed" or doesn't appeal to heavy strategy gamers.
This new designer edition is base 39 Euro (140 Euro with all expansions) and includes some neat add-ons and refreshed components. The game definitely has its following, with over 300K pledged on this Kickstarter.
Enchanters is a Polish game that was originally released in 2016 (7.1 BGG score). It's light strategy where you take turns building more and more powerful artifacts. Overlords adds a lot more content to the game, and gives the opportunity to buy the base game for those who missed out on the original Kickstarter. The game was favorably reviewed by Rahdo and Tom Vasel, which I'm sure has helped it's momentum.
Overall the art is great, and the gameplay is intriguing, but I would like to play this one before buying it.
A heavy strategy game where you use a unique gift trading mechanism to fuel your strategy to gain influence with a Chinese emperor. This game looks like a treat for heavy strategy gamers who love Lisboa, Kanban, Trickerion, and the like. We decided to pass on backing only because Lincoln is running at the same time, and we can invest in only so many heavy strategy games. Definitely looking forward to reading the reviews on this one.
A solitaire card game... This genre is becoming a serious trend! With recent successes of Unbroken, Four Against the Darkness, D100 Dungeon, and now a pretty successful Kickstarter for Dungeonrunner. Honestly the art and design is a bit poor, so we decided to pass on backing, but the game does look pretty fun.
The all-in on this is $150 which seems a bit insane. Is there really that much content already produced?
Barrowmaze was an amazing mega-dungeon produced by Greg Gillepse. What made it stand out is that it felt like it fell right out of the late 1970s but was released only four years ago. Since then, there has been an entire second megadungeon and even a 5th edition conversion of both.
These dungeons are fantastic and deadly settings, but honestly, this content is coming out too fast! What group is able to do 2 mega-dungeons in as many years? While I love having these on my bookshelf, I fear I will never get a chance to play them, and had to pass on this new campaign.
This is a very nicely-designed character journal. It has a special spine to ensure it stays together, and some wet/dry erase pages to allow for reuse across multiple campaigns & characters.
I think dedicating a significantly portion of the book to rules is a bit of a problem. Since so much of the best content in 5th edition is not available via the Open Gaming License, I think the usefulness of this data is questionable. Additionally, things like race and class are only really useful if you pick that race or class, and will just be taking up room in the notebook later. Including the gameplay basics, as well as default items rules is a good idea, and an idea other journals should borrow in the future.
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*None of the campaigns mentioned here are sponsored or influenced via payment, prize or other means. If we know or have a connection to someone running the campaign, we will mention it in the campaign notes. If there is a campaign you think should be mentioned here, please e-mail us and tell us what makes it special and we'll review!