29 Nov 2015
Kickstarter: What Games I'm Backing and Why
I thought this would be a suitable follow-up to my last blog, where I confessed to having become a Kickstarter addict. I wrote a bit about things that turned me off a project, but I didn't really go into what actually turns me onto one. What makes a project actually stand out to me. More accurately, what games specifically stood out to me in such a way that I decided to back them, and for what reason. And then there's the whole aspect of why I'm backing games on Kickstarter that I haven't even played yet when there are currently published games that I would really, really like to own right now, but haven't purchased yet.
Might as well start there, as that is something that I've been thinking a bit about lately. I think the best place to start is probably to talk about the way I'm usually introduced to new games. My gaming group meets up on a specific weekday every week (apart from certain holidays), I join in two out of three weeks because that's what my work hours allow. This group is my primary source for gaming, and is also my primary introductory point for new games. The club itself has its own library of games, and apart from that everyone's welcome to bring whatever they feel like.
This tends to mean that whatever games I end up wanting for myself are also games others in my group own (or, like I said, the game might be in the club's own game library), so essentially my own gaming collection is for the most part a duplicate. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, but it also means I pretty much never have something uniquely mine to offer. With Kickstarter, regardless of whether I'm the only one from my group who backs it or not, it will be something that's new to the group, and I like that idea. I like having something to offer.
Another reason I like doing this, is that the incessant backing I've done this past month will result in me having the joy of receiving these games at different points throughout the next year, like little (or big) presents that I'm gifting myself. I have more to look forward to and at the same time enough time to enjoy the games as they arrive.
I think the main thing, though, the main reason I more easily invest in Kickstarter projects than go out and spend the same money buying a game in the store (at least recently), is the way the projects are structured. You start out with the core version (some offer a deluxe version, and you weigh content against the price and decide which is the more worthwhile purchase), but as funding keeps pouring in, that version gets upgraded, either new things are added to the game or the components already in it are upgraded. It makes the investment feel more worthwhile as you're getting more bang for your buck. And just seeing the project reaching these stretch goals is a rush in and of itself.
Of course, before I can even think about stretch goals, the game needs to actually gain my attention. I talked a bit in my previous blog about what can turn me off a project, and though it makes little sense to completely repeat myself, I'll do a quick recap. I avoid certain genres of games, like RPGs and Horror Games, because that's just not my thing. And because it usually drives the price through the roof, I tend to opt out of miniature-heavy games as well. There are of course other things that put me off. I have a very strained relationship with games with a sci-fi theme, especially a space setting. Not because I don't like sci-fi, I actually love it in movies and television shows, but for every good gaming experience I've had with a space setting, I've also had a bad one, so this makes me wary about random games with a space setting, especially on Kickstarter since I won't get to play the game before I decide whether I want to buy it. I've also never come across a deck-building game that I've enjoyed, so I tend to strongly avoid anything that boasts to include deck-building in it.
But the point isn't to expand on the list of things that put me off a Kickstarter project (although I've kind of done that now), but rather what attracts me to one. And the first huge thing I've noticed with all the pledges I've done so far; they all have really good-looking artwork. All five games I've currently backed have some really gorgeous art in them. Some are vibrantly colourful, others use a more toned down palette, but regardless, the games are really nice to look at. It's a shallow, first-step kind of thing, and I do generally open up and at least skim through a project before deciding against it. There are also plenty of games where I've decided against backing despite it looking spectacular, but you could say that really good art makes me more easily persuaded.
Even more important are the mechanics, as in; is this a type of game that I know I'll enjoy? Will I enjoy learning and teaching it? My taste is strongly leaning on Euro-style games, a.k.a. the "cube pushers". I enjoy a good point salad, and the main importance theme have (in my opinion) is that the art should be related to it. Whether the actions you do in the game makes thematic sense is not as important to me. I like resource management, worker placement, area control, I'm good with all of that in any combination given. But I'm also open to other types of mechanics, so in the end I trust my gut feeling on whether I think the game will mechanically work for me.
The main thing that determines whether I in the end back a project or not, is the price point, and I tend to weigh shipping even more than the game price itself. I like knowing what the final cost will be (including potential import fees). If a project has a clear list of shipping cost for all the places it will ship to, then I'm more positive towards it. It's not the deciding factor, the actual shipping cost is, but knowing before I click on anything is always better. The worst are the projects where shipping will be calculated and added after the project has funded. That is pretty much always a huge "nope" from me. Like I said in my previous blog, shipping to my corner of the world can be really expensive, and I'm not about to risk the pledge doubling in price or worse because they decided to add miniatures or something else to the box. If they can't give me a shipping quote that they can stick to, I'm not backing their project. It's as simple as that.
Complete | 198% funded | Estimated Delivery: March 2016
This was the game that kicked off the whole Kickstarter craze for me. It's a game where you control your own Viking Clan and try your luck gathering resources and gaining control over areas in this newly discovered group of islands, proving your worth to the High Jarl.
What initially attracted me to it was that absolutely gorgeous board, it's probably one of the most beautiful boards that are that vibrant in its colour scheme. The Viking theme sounds fun, and naturally appeals to me seeing as I have Viking blood in my veins, and I know that I enjoy both resource management and area control. What made it appeal even more to me was the combination of a low price and shipping and at the same time the stretch goals reached included one that upgraded the components in the game. It made it feel like a proper bargain and I simply couldn't resist. I'm really looking forward to playing this game.
Complete | 920% funded | Estimated Delivery: May 2016
This project really caught my eye, especially the gif on the campaign page which showed the unique way you play your cards in it. The game is about pleasing these woodland spirits called Kodamas by growing a tree to their liking.
What really stood out to me was the way you build the trees with the cards, by placing them at specific angles, not just one card next to the other. I really loved the visual appeal of this game, both in the individual artwork, but also on how the finished tree would look at the end of a game. I have no doubt that I'll love this game, because the gameplay is very straightforward, and it's just cute. I think it can appeal as a nice filler type game for my gaming friends, while also be a game that my nieces and later on my nephews can enjoy with me. Even better is that the game reached all of its planned stretch goals, so my copy will be as decked out as it can be (I even went for the deluxe version on this one).
Complete | 165% funded | Estimated Delivery: May 2016
This game is all about wielding magic spells at one another in order to gain points. To be really honest, I primarily backed this project for the art and the low price point and shipping. What was going on in my mind when I decided to pledge was that I didn't really have that many small and short games to bring out. If I had come across this project a couple of games down the line, then I would probably have decided to not back it, but as it is it not only funded, but also reached all stretch goals. If this game turns out not to be my thing, then I'll recuperate some of my losses by selling it on. What's done is done, and it does look really good.
Active | Currently 315% funded | Estimated Delivery: August 2016
This vibrant game about running an ant colony is on its second campaign. The first one was appealing to me, but since it didn't have any limited early bird offers, I decided to star it and follow the progress before backing it for the simple reason that even though the game was a decent price, the shipping was somewhat high and I would have to include customs fees into the total, so it was uncertain to me whether I would be better off backing the campaign or waiting for the game to make it to retail. There were some stretch goals that would make it more tempting if reached, so I decided to wait for the final two days before deciding whether to back it or not.
That first campaign was cancelled and then the game launched a new campaign with a lower funding goal, lower prices - including an early bird offer. When that happened, and I saw that the most tempting stretch goal had already been reached, I saw no reason to wait and I grabbed one of the early birds left. It's currently steadily climbing and I have complete faith that it will reach all intended stretch goals.
What specifically attracted me to the game itself, regardless of stretch goals was the vibrant look and feel of the game, the four levels of complexity allowing for simpler games to be played with kids, which means I'll have another game I can introduce my nieces and nephews to, and at the same time have a game that I can play with fellow gamers.
Active | Currently 330% funded | Estimated Delivery: May 2016
When this game popped up on the campaign list, I knew it would be extremely hard for me to resist. It combines two of my absolute favourite things; dragons and worker placement. I initially tried to convince myself to hold off and instead wait for it to reach retail because the game plus shipping plus import fees would amount to a lot, but it took a mere hour or so before I gave in and not only pledged for the game, but the expansion as well, as I might as well just go all in and save in the long run as my instincts say I will probably love this game.
Pretty much everything about this game drew me to it. The art is phenomenal, it's pretty much the most beautiful game I've ever come across, really colourful and detailed. The mechanic is my favourite mechanic in gaming, the theme is pretty much the ultimate theme for me. And within a few days only, the game has already blazed through 20 stretch goals and there's more to come. I'm extremely excited about this game, and it's the biggest rush to check in and see it approach another stretch goal. It's currently the biggest amount I've pledged to a game so far, but I think it will be very worthwhile.