Know what I did this year? The answer may surprise you. I lost at some board games!
I sat down to write my Losing at Board Games Year in Review (LaBGYiR!) and realized that this was the first year I was aware that board games were being Kickstarted. Have you heard of Kickstarter? Of course you have. You read venerable game sites like Troll in the Corner, and follow kick-box columns like “Kick the Box”. (See what I did there, Jason?)
But I hadn’t heard about Kickstarter until 2013.
I’m super hip, so I also started streaming music this year (Pandora? Spotify? Never used either. But now I can stream WXPN on my Roku box, and so let the streaming music revolution begin!)
But back to Kickstarter. Many of my favorite gaming moments of this year came from games that had successful Kickstarter campaigns.
Biggest Solitaire Surprise
This year there was a little game called Dungeon Roll. Dungeon Roll crept under the radar, raising a mere 1667% of the initial target of $15,000. This game is fantastic, and features dungeon dice-rolling. Lots of it. It is a tremendous two player game, and plays well with 3 or 4 as well.
The shock to me was that I loved it as a solitaire game. This game shouldn’t work as a solitaire game. It is meant to be a game where you throw dice across the table, daring your friends to beat your score.
But I love playing it solitaire. Perhaps it is my love of dungeon crawling. Perhaps it is the joy of chucking colorful dice. Whatever it is – I can’t get enough. The Political Mastermind wonders why this game stays out even though she doesn’t enjoy playing it. It stays out because I wake up in the middle of the night with a compulsive need to chuck dungeon dice and level up my hero.
So that makes me a weirdo. But at least I’ve heard of Kickstarter!
Fantastiqa: The Re-Awakening
I don’t want to write too much about how Fantastiqa re-awakened my interest in board gaming. Or about how it showed me how inventive game design could be.
I don’t want to talk about how the Political Mastermind and I played nothing else for a great while once we learned this game.
I certainly don’t want to talk about the Peaceful Dragon, which may be the coolest card ever created.
What do I want to talk about? The Kickstarter campaign. This game raised 235% of the initial goal of $10,000.
Remember how I didn’t know about Kickstarter last year? Yeah, I missed this one. I need to keep reading Kick the Box so I don’t miss any other key games. (Or maybe I can just re-read my column on Fantastiqa, or Ben Gerber’s Fantastiqa review.)
Roman Poultry Wars
Nevermore Games kickstarted Chicken Caesar. I was hanging out in The Wandering Dragon, looking at cool game boxes, and I saw Chicken Caesar. With some splattered blood across the box. I vowed to keep an eye on Nevermore games, because this game intrigued me.
Enter Mars Needs Mechanics. I wasn’t convinced I was going to like this game. Sure, it has really great art. And when I opened the box it felt like a lot of passion had been poured into the game. But that doesn’t mean I’d like it, or that my gaming crew would like it.
What game did it unseat at our table as a gateway game? Ticket to Ride.
This game isn’t similar to Ticket to Ride, except in the sense that it is easy to learn. The gameplay is beguiling, and deceptive. There is a bit of bluffing. There is a bit of pushing one’s luck. There is a bit of a Union Jack Space Race.
All three of these games became instant classics at our gaming table. Stay tuned for part 2 of my LaBGYiR! where I talk about other, non-Kickstarted, games.
If you need me I’ll be drinking coffee at my gaming table, rolling dungeon dice at 3 in the morning with a crazed look in my eye.