Warning: Monster Kickstarters incoming!
As I write this, one monster kickstarter has ended (CTHULHU WARS) while another (18OE) is just 64 hours to go before closing. None of them are going to topped this April’s massive 2.2 million secured by ZOMBICIDE 2 yet both of these are much larger either in game components / expansions and gameplay. Read on to find out BGC’s journey with Kickstarter games since 2010.
KICKSTARTERS back in 2010/11
Boardgamecafe.net’s involvement with KICKSTARTER (www.kickstarter.com) started way back in Oct 2011 with the STARTUP FEVER boardgame. Kickstarter is not all about boardgames; it’s basically a type of crowdfunding approach to getting your “ideas” to market through financial backings from customers. Wargame publishing companies like GMT and MMP have for a long time making use of preorder (known as P500) system to determine if they have enough volume before they published a particular title.
Recently MMP has also gone into the Kickstarter wagon through their latest title “Lincoln’s War”, which they managed to secure USD47.5k from 590 gamers. Interestingly this would equate to a P500 system which requires 500 customers to commit to the title before it gets to print.
Note to Allen: Did you pick up Lincoln’s War?
ALIEN FRONTIERS (2010)
In fact, one of OTK regulars blownfreaks (aka Allen) was involved even earlier when he backed the first edition of ALIEN FRONTIERS thru Kickstarter in 2010. It even rhymes – Allen’s Alien Frontiers!
ALIEN FRONTIERS (from Clever Mojo Games) back in 2010 only achieved a modest USD15K pledge from 228 backers. But it was enough to make it an unqualified success. And the game itself did live up to its expectation.
Above: Allen proudly teaching us the game back in 2011. We were then still gaming at Old Town White Coffee Midah outlet.
Even as early as 2010, Kickstarter were already giving out Kickstarter Exclusives to entice gamers to support them. However Allen’s copy of ALIEN FRONTIERS got a very unique and special set of exclusives (see below), never to be repeated in any Kickstarter campaign.
Hiew, stop sniggering there. J
Note: Click here to understand why Hiew’s sniggering.
EMINENT DOMAIN is the other notable Kickstarter game in 2010 securing a healthy USD48K.
STARTUP FEVER (2011)
Almost a year to
Allen Alien Frontiers’ successful kickstart, Boardgamecafe.net got involved by pledging for six copies of STARTUP FEVER as a group pledge. The names of these pioneering six: Allen, Aanemesis, Teddy Rocky, Junyet, Lester and jack208.
Above: First play of STARTUP FEVER at Magacon 2011. What we found was while there is “a good game” in it, it appeared to be more of an “incomplete game” that should have gone thru a few more rounds of playtests before being released to the market. A “rushed” job?
We did consider adding a few house rules – especially towards the end game stage – to see if that helps improve the game. The starting and mid-game look strong just that the ending appears to be half-finished in terms of design.
The funded amount for Kickstarter increased… STARTUP FEVER got almost double the backings of ALIEN FRONTIERS and this kicked off a deluge of Kickstarter games! Not of all them good. L
EATEN BY ZOMBIES (2011)
This theme is always a ready-sell with the boardgame crowd so not suprising a zombie card game got into the Kickstarter frenzy early on.
MANHATTAN PROJECT (2011)
A game about building the next nuclear bomb? The geek factor alone helps to push this game. We did wonder whether gameplay is going to be good as this is set as another worker placement game. While it managed to get across the pledge line, it didn’t drew much financial backing (not reaching even USD9k).
The OTK crowd did have the chance to playtest this even before the official game arrived, courtesy of Kaz who did up a very nicely produced PnP version….
Above: That’s the PnP version we played early in Oct 2011 way before the original Kickstarter edition was shipped. If I didn’t tell you it was a PnP version, you may not even noticed yeah?
The expansion to this SECOND STAGE was also successfully funded in Sep 2012 and this time, it reached a much higher backing (close to USD39K secured) which I suspect is largely due to the base game proving itself as a solid worker placement genre. We just received this expansion a couple weeks ago so stay tune for a quick review when we unwrapped the shrinks.
GLORY TO ROME (2011)
Arguably the MOST successful or if you think otherwise, the highest profile of Kickstarter games in 2011! Or maybe the MOST HYPED if you never liked this game.
Some of us got to play the early second edition of this game way back in Aug 2010 @ one of our meetups in Cassian Kitchen while Kaz also brought this to our BGC Retreat @ PD July 2011; which we nicknamed it “Glory to Colorful Rome” back in our BGC Retreat @ Port Dickson in 2011. You would not be wrong to wonder what’s a bunch of hardcore looking adults playing with kiddie card games. Haha.
Above: Tell me again if Rome is not colorful?
Almost everyone who played the Colorful version agreed the game mechanics are very good but some can’t get over the “colorful cards”. Strangely I do not sit with this camp as I find the colorful cards rather cute! And when has bland gameboard (cue: Age of Steam) detract one from a really good game!
Still when Ed Carter announced plan to kickstart a Deluxe version of the game, with new design that exudes class, you bet it’s going to be HOT! So hot that Ed created a new Kickstarter pledge level just to accommodate Kaz (who fronted this for us) who delivered 22 pledges for this game alone from Malaysia (and deserving got his name into the rulebook).
We now have a few editions of GLORY TO ROME at our OTK Games Library; the original colorful edition, the Black Box Kickstarter set, a French edition (as part of Kickstarter promo) and a German edition. Perhaps one day we’ll have an OTK Glory to Rome theme nite that sees all these editions in play at the same time!
GLORY TO ROME was certainly the 2011 Kickstarter Game of the Year! Other 2011 Kickstarters we were involved in were GET BIT (the hilarious shark game!), LYSSAN (board), CARNIVAL (deck & dice), D-DAY DICE (coop), ZONG SHI (card). Even Alien Frontiers (a kickstarter pioneer) came back with an expansion FACTIONS also successfully funded in Oct 2011.
There are also other Kickstarter projects successful backed by our gamer frens where Boardgamecafe.net didn’t participate such as SUNRISE CITY (card), EMPIRES OF THE VOID (board). Both of these are now available as retail games.
That sure was a busy 2011 Kickstarting Year!
What’s next in 2012 then?
I suppose some of the euphoria of the early Kickstarting fever dropped off and you can noticeably see a slowdown. Or just a perception?
There were a series of other Kickstarters being posted as group pledge in the BGC Marketplace forum; some of them whom we thought has good gameplay and some still yet to arrive (eg Wallace’s much awaited MOONGHA INVADERS)
Some of the 2012 Kickstarters: SHADOW DAYS (card), FOR THE WIN (card), FLEET (card), GUILDS OF CADWALLON (board), MOONGHA INVADERS (board), GROUND FLOOR (card), EATEN BY ZOMBIES XP: IN CAHOOTS (card), HEARTLAND (board/card), MANHATTAN PROJECT XP: SECOND STAGE (board), FLASH POINT XP: SECOND STORY (board) etc
This year also saw the reprint of TAMMANY HALL by an established publisher thru Kickstarter.
A MILLION DOLLAR KICKSTARTER?
To me, the Kickstarter Game of 2012 has to be ZOMBICIDE! Not another zombies game you may say but when this game can closed it’s Kickstarter campaign with a funding of USD781K (or almost 4,000% overfunded) you do need to sit up and take another look. Zombies theme, lots of minis – you sure have a winner here!
Personally my fave for 2012 would be VIVAJAVA: THE COFFEE GAME.
The Kickstarter game however arrived only around Oct/Nov last year and we played that in one of our Essen Play Week meetups. That was a full 8-player session and I firmly believe this game is best for 7-8 players.
The artwork for the game is simply gorgeous! And I luv how the designer mix in a semi cooperative element into the gameplay forcing players to cooperate and negotiate with each other (plenty of player interaction) in a game that will have only one winner.
YOUR MONEY BACK?
I suspect they are the first (correct me if I’m wrong) but Jamey Stegmaier brought something new to Kickstarter when he used it to launch his winery game VITICULTURE last October. He put a Money Back Guarantee on this game. The risk is now all his! Back him and pledge for this game. If you do not like the game, return it to him within a month for your money back.
The last time we communicated, he told me no one has taken him up on his Money Back offer!
With all the buzz around the movie PACIFIC RIM, we simply can’t wait to get Martin Wallace’s MOONGHA INVADERS to the game table! Check out the minis…
The sad news is that this game does not look like it can make it on time for Essen 2013.
KICKSTARTERS NOW (2013)
Kickstarters are here to stay and offers a different channel to the usual boardgame publishing & distribution medium. Hard to say if it’ll change the distribution model but you can already see established boardgame publishers such as Queen, GMT and even MMP jumping into the Kickstarter wagon.
The year started with one of a much demanded card-based wargame UP FRONT not just successfully getting kickstarted but closing at USD333K pledge… that’s 1,132% overfunded! Wow!
We’ve seen ZOMBICIDE powering in with a USD780K contribution last year and this year UP FRONT is continuing the 6-digit number with it’s USD333k number. But are these massive Kickstarter games a blip or is this the future trend?
DRUM ROLL (board) was republished by MAGE through Kickstarter this March while Travis released his 2nd expansion to Flash Point (which was a 2011 Kickstarter project) thru Kickstarter as well – FLASH POINT XP: EXTREME DANGER (board). There was no BGC group pledge for these but I’m aware some of our regulars have pledged for them.
DRUM ROLL did USD65K while EXTREME DANGER closed at USD177K. Looks like the trend of 6-digit Kickstarter is not abating. 2-3 years back, we were talking about 50-75k as a great outcome for a successful funding! D-DAY DICE BOARD GAME was one of the early ones to buck the trend with USD171K pledged towards the end of 2011. ZOMBICIDE rocked this assumption with a USD780K funding last year and UP FRONT continued with a strong USD33K funding at the start of this year and it now looks like if you do not get at least USD100K pledged, you would be disappointed.
Kickstarter has certainly moved on from those early days where an indie publisher/designer would be happy with a USD20-30Kg funding (Aliien Frontiers got USD15K in 2010 and STARTUP FEVER USD30K in 2011) to kickstart their game… we have now entered “serious business” realm with 6-digit numbers as the target. Phew.
Other notable Kickstarters this year are AMONG THE STARS XP: AMBASSADORS, ALIEN FRONTIERS back again with a 4th edition and SNOWDONIA‘s 2nd edition plus expansion. How did these three (all successfully funded) fare money-wise?
ALIEN FRONTIERS closed strongly with USD151K while the other two could not pass the USD100K mark. So does this mean the big-money Kickstarter trend is link with selected games? Maybe. But the number of Kickstarter games hitting past USD100K recently (and that included GUILDS OF CADWALLON last Dec and EMINENT DOMAIN XP this April) are telling us Zombicide and Up Front numbers are not a blip.
Last year’s darling ZOMBICIDE came back with a Season 2 expansion run in Kickstarter. How much do you think it closed this time (Apr 2013)? Past the USD1 million mark? Close to USD1.5 million?
Nope.. It went past a staggering USD2.2 million, attracting close to 9000 backers! The majority of the backers (close to 6,000 of them) went in for the full XP deal (ie both expansions plus all promos & stretch goals) that’s USD150/ea! A significant number of backers also went for the All-In deal which included the original Zombicide base game and both XPs. These peeps are paying over USD200 per pledge! :O
The 7-figure number is already breached. Notably both high numbers (781K & 2.2m) belonged to ZOMBICIDE (yes I suspect there’s a cult following there! Haha) and while some of you may argue this is inconclusive, you would still wonder how high can this go? AFAIK, Zombicide is currently tops with their 2.2 million pledge. Does anyone know if another game has surpassed them?
Check out all the ZOMBICIDE freebies and promos in their Kickstarter page here.
BGC GROUP PLEDGE RETURNS!
Back to more mundane matters of talking about Kickstarter games (rather than be awed by all the millions), the BGC group pledge returned this year with ayheng triggering a CANTERBURY (board) group pledge which drew six backers. I suppose the free worldwide delivery helped. This game achieved only USD58K funding, a disappointment if you measured against the obscene numbers quoted above but I’ve a good feeling on this one in terms of gameplay.
THE ARTIPIA FACTOR
I’m usually cool on card games but ARCHON – and Kaz – managed to pull me into backing ARCHON, the latest Kickstarter game from MAGE, who’s no stranger to kickstarting their games (Archon being their fourth).
Beside the slew of stretch goals unlocked (yes, I’m a sucker for stretch freebies!), two other factors pushed me over. Firstly, I can get a copy of DRUM ROLL Kickstarter together with this Archon pledge. Secondly, I can choose the Essen pickup option which saves me shipping cost!
If you talk to Kaz however he would tell you the ARTIPIA Pack (above) has the best deal… haha. Which reminds me, we really should set aside one of these Fridays as ARTIPIA Theme Nite at OTK.
EUPHORIA OR YOUR MONEY BACK?
The next group pledge we kicked off at BGC this year was EUPHORIA, the 2nd game from Jamey Stegmaier under his StoneMaier company. Jamey is known for starting the MBG (Money Back Guarantee) trend in Kickstarter boardgames with his VITICULTURE last year.
While VITICULTURE only did a so-so USD65K funding, EUPHORIA hit USD309K with close to 4,800 backers! Is this due to 1) Viticulture being a solid game, or 2) the perceived gameplay in Euphoria plus the freebies and MBG, or 3) both factors, I’m not sure but it’s good to see EUPHORIA continuing the trend of 6-figure Kickstarters.
We’ve a few more copies of EUPHORIA SUPREME & DELUXE Kickstarter edition available. Pls let us know if you are keen to reserve a copy – drop by this forum topic for more details.
YET MORE ZOMBIES
DARK DARKER DARKEST (DDD) is Queen’s next foray into Kickstarter - after an earlier Kickstarter game AMERIGO by the hot designer Stefan Feld was successfully funded in April this year. DDD closed at a respectable USD198K just 2k share of breaching the 200k mark.
Zombies genre sells right?
NOT ALL KICKSTARTERS WENT WELL….
Princes of the Dragon Throne is one such example. They kickstarted it earlier with tons of custom meeples and miniatures… for a hefty price. Didn’t meet the funding goal. Mind you, the game is by Clever Mojo Games (who did the earlier Alien Frontiers). In spite of the D&D theme and abundance of miniatures, it’s not an Ameri-trash but more of an Euro area control and resource management game.
They then rebooted the Kickstart with a better-priced version yet still maintaining a Limited Ed USD120 copy with all the custom meeples. The game seems to be have been reviewed & playtested by a number of gamers – as can be seen by their testimonials – yet it continued to receive lukewarm response to it’s Kickstarter campaign.
It closed successfully but at a disappointing USD25,816 which is just slightly pass it’s funding goal of USD25,000. Even discounting Zombicide’s massive 2.2m pledge, given the healthy 6-figure funding received by a number of games in 2013; this doesn’t bode well and indicated maybe Clever Mojo missed something!
Note: This game is another Kickstarter that provides a 30-day MBG, possibly influenced by Jamey Stegmaier’s VITICULTURE and EUPHORIA. I can only see this as a positive development for Kickstarter, yay!
CTHULHU: YOUR SOUL BE MINE
Of all game themes, one that has a massive following among gamers is Lovecraft’s CTHULHU mythos. Never heard of Cthulhu? Well, you would surely have heard of ARKHAM HORROR the boardgame series from FFG?
Sandy Petersen, the chap behind the CALL OF CTHULHU role playing game (rpg) decided he would like to bring to life all the monsters and minions of the various factions in the Cthulhu world including the Great Old Ones. Ooh….
The result is a Kickstarter project for CTHULHU WARS, a FFG style game modeled along CHAOS OF THE WORLD WORLD but not too alike CHAOS. Four factions in the base game – Great Cthulhu, Crawling Chaos, Yellow Sign and Black Goat; with four more factions available to add-on… with hundreds of miniatures in total, surely Sandy was sitting on a game that every Cthulhu geeks are waiting to get their hands on!
The miniatures are large; ranging from 4 cm (minions) to 10+ cm for the Great Old Ones. The Great Cthulhu stands at 18 cm tall! And I’ve first hand comment from a gaming fren who has sighted the miniatures and said they are very well made and detailed.
You also get the feeling this won’t be inexpensive. L
Sandy separated the pledge into 4 main tiers – the Cultists (just the game), the Cultes des Goules (the game plus some KS exclusives and promos), the Book of Eibon (the game plus some expansions) and the De Vermiis Mysteriis (you get everything except the kitchen sink, t-shirt and art print!)
While the Cultist pledge starts at USD100, the De Vermiis Mysteriis comes in at USD525 - and we’ve not talked shipping and custom taxes yet. With a delivery date way past November, this won’t make Essen 2013 so it’ll have to be ship in. Thankfully Sandy has capped delivery charges at USD45 coz looking at the number of miniatures and collector figures in the package, this would cost a bomb to ship by weight!
This project ended with a USD1.4 million backed by close to 4,400 backers. While it did not scale the heights of ZOMBICIDE 2, it is by itself another unqualified success story for Kickstarter. In terms of game components & expansions, CTHULHU WARS is massive! Now all we need to do is wait till Dec 2013 before Cthulhu claim you for his.
For more details on CTHULHU WARS, follow the updates in their Kickstarter page
18OE – ON THE RAILS OF THE ORIENT EXPRESS
The next monster Kickstarter, not so much in terms of selling power but in terms of gameplay is Mark Frazier’s 18OE that spans the entire mainland Europe including the British Isles and parts of Scandinavia, Russia and the near East. This game is as huge as his previous 18C2C which covers the entire USA map from coast-to-coast.
18C2C was inspired heavily by Bill Dixon’s 1870. Many of the mechanics are quite similar, including laying multiple tracks per turn, the eased restrictions on holding more than 60% of your own stock, and the “destination run” where you are rewarded for connecting your home station to your historical destination. Interestingly, if you lay the 1830 board on top of the northeast portion of the 18C2C map, you’ll find that the hex grid aligns perfectly: the rest of the map is to the same scale as 1830. While 18C2C rewards the skilled operations player, managing your portfolio is the dominating feature of the game.
18OE leans more towards the operations side, even as it brings a fresh approach to the 18XX genre. There are many mechanics in this game that have no precedent: ports allow you to “run your trains across the water” (odd sounding as it is, the abstraction deals with the shipping infrastructure involved with building stations in port cities), patronage tiles encourage track building to different areas of the map every game, and the fact that all of the railroads open early is a departure from most, if not all other 18XX games.
18OE’s emphasis is on the player’s ability to manage a fragmented set of railroads that are spread across the map, and synergize them into a finely-tuned network that stretches from Constantinople to one or more of the metropolises of Europe.
When you consider that a game of 1856 covering only a small part of USA can take up to 6 hrs to play, you may yet begin to understand the scale – and playing time – for this 18OE monster game. I’m not even sure the tables at OTK are able to fit the game board plus all playing components laid out….
If you are new to 18xx, Mark has done a beginner’s guide on 18xx which is a good read.
- A Beginner’s Guide to 18xx Part 1
- A Beginner’s Guide to 18xx Part 2 (Opening Packets)
- A Beginner’s Guide to 18xx Part 3 (Stock Market)
- A Beginner’s Guide to 18xx Part 4 (Operations)
Above: Picture of the playtest copy at one of the USA game conventions
We’ve a group pledge (Surveyor) ongoing at BGC now with three gamers committed to bring this into Malaysia. This Kickstarter has less than 64 hours to go before closing. It’s already reached its funding goal and currently stands at USD62K. I’m actually surprised it can go past the USD50K mark given the niche market this genre occupies. Perhaps there are many closet 18xx fans?
Delivery is only expected Feb 2014 so there’ll be some time before we can testdrive this monster 18xx game at OTK.
As I know, there are currently two active Kickstarter Group Pledges running in our BGC Marketplace forum. First is the above 18OE. We already have 3 gamers and not sure if anyone else has the appetite to plunge for this. If you have, feel free to give us a shout at this 18OE Kickstarter topic.
The other active Kickstarter Group Pledge is the Agents, a strategic card game for 2-5 players with a unique “double-edged cards” mechanic. Find out more at our The Agents Kickstarter topic. We are looking for 6 people and I think we already have 3-4 backers.
There’s also the Dice version of VIVAJAVA THE COFFEE GAME (the board game’s well recommended by us). This is worth a look if you like the coffee theme and also games from Dice Hate Me. Closing in 7 days.
Hope you enjoyed this massively long Kickstarter post. Till next time, continue to kickstart! J
P/s The above is not meant to be a conclusive list of all Kickstarter board/card games from 2010 till today. It’s a view of Kickstarter from Boardgamecafe.net’s perspective. If I’ve missed out any notable Kickstarter games, do appreciate if you can drop me an email or comment below.