A new quarter of the year has passed, with its lot of alluring Kickstarters. So here is a recap of my own latest ventures into the wonderful world of pledges, stretch goals, VAT, and exorbitant All-Ins.
Shula the Toad
Let’s start with Deliverance. Ah! This is a game I had long waited for! Angels pitted against demons is a theme that, somehow, speaks to me. It reminds me of the Darksiders video games that I love, and I like that the “lore” of these games is deeply intertwined with actual pieces of our culture. And the rules looked great, not too light, not too fiddly, with a good variability for the bosses, differences between characters that are truly impactful on the gameplay, interesting loot, deterministic attribution of hits, a short playtime…
So, what did go wrong? Why am I left with a $1 pledge in the end?
The truth is, I got severely disappointed with the campaign. I did not like the split in contents between core and deluxe, with the deluxe forcing bling components upon you to get the full roster of characters, especially when these characters are so prominently featured, both in the campaign and the rulebook. I did not like that the stretch goals were mostly fake, adding characters that had been advertised as part of the game from the very start. I also did not like that they added “bogus” angels such as Shula, while letting culturally important angels out, especially Raphael. It’s a bit as if you were to remove Donatello from a Ninja Turtles game to add Bob the Toad in its place.
Finally, due to the advertised religiosity of the campaign, the creators put themselves above criticism (a bit like Earthborne Rangers, in a completely different register), and I cherish the possibility to criticize. Finally, that they prominently featured praise from a journal with explicit political connections was a bit too much for me to bear in the end. And so I dropped.
I did not drop from every pledge though. One I kept, against good reason perhaps, was the one for the Rat Queens game. I did not go all-in because I don’t care for playmats and metal coins, but I grabbed all the gameplay components, that is, the Bragga expansion (one of my favorite characters of the comics) and the Evil Hannah campaign (which seems quite a must-have as it ties to the main narrative arc of the series). Honestly, the game does not look too good, and I hope to be positively surprised when I will try it. At least they did not try to implement too much narrative stuff or whatever, and it remains quite focused on a small boss battle with a few deckbuilding components. Maybe it is a bit weak though, and I would have preferred a focus on adventure. Going on a quest is the leitmotif of the series, and it feels lacking there, as you just defend a city against a big baddie. It also felt quite expensive for the limited amount of content I will get. Anyway. It’s the Rat Queens. I was doomed from the get-go.
Another summer pledge (they all crippled me in the same month) is Spire’s End: Hildegard. Some of you may remember that I once tell that this was the Kickstarter campaign I was most excited for in the whole year. So I backed it. Simple and predictable. Perhaps it’s a bit more expensive than I would have been comfortable with. But truly I don’t care. I’m so happy to get this game. It looks lovely, with fun dice checks that seem more interesting than the more traditional “beat the Defense value of the Monster with a d6 + a modifier given by your fire sword” we usually encounter in this sort of game.
In the “pledge I’m feeling good about” category, there is certainly Beyond the Rift. I don’t know anything about the Perdition’s Mouth universe, but this looks like a mechanically solid Fantasy adventure card game. It’s really sober, both in terms of graphic design and in terms of components, and although I would have welcomed some improvement for the former, I cannot but applaud the latter.
I can pass any time
Well, Soul Raiders could not really convince me: the sessions are too long, the art is clean and eye-pleasing but not to my taste (it feels a bit… soulless, ironically), and I am just not a fan of heavily narrative-driven games.
Dungeons of Infinity, on the other hand, checks all my criteria, but I cannot really afford another giant box right now (12 pounds of content for the core only!). I also feel that I already have my share of dungeon crawlers. Nevertheless, it certainly seems really good, and it does most things exactly as I wish a dungeon crawler would do them. Let’s just say I’m glad I could have a $1 pledge option that may be upped later, even though I usually end up staying at this level (if I managed to pass once, I can pass any time).
But wait, there's more
Three games do seem a reasonable amount in the end. Except there are more of these, but not solo: Ultia and Reapers, two trick-taking games, A kindly world, because I love these small Japanese games and they often cannot be obtained outside of the Kickstarter campaign, and of course, the Reiner Knizia’s Criminal Capers Collection. I had also backed Bug Council of Backyardia, but it did not reach its goal, unfortunately.
Add to that a video game (Crowsworn), and now it sure begins to be too much!